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Some interesting Calvin comments

October 10, 2007

I was following a link and that let me to this.

But first, on the pyromaniacs blog there is a discussion on Common Grace and related topics. Our friend, YnottonY posted this verse:

Acts 3:26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

No one on took him up on this verse. I think its very powerful.  Here is some more of the context:

Acts 3:11-26  11 And while he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.  12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?  13 “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.  14 “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,  15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.  16 “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.  17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.  18 “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  19 “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;  20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,  21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.  22 “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you.  23 ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’  24 “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.  25 “It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’  26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

That’s all pretty astounding. Christ was appointed to them, was sent to bless them and turn them from their sinful ways. This speaks to the mission of Christ.

So then I think to myself, “What did Calvin say on this?”

Here are two snippets:

“And God.” Hereby it appeareth more plainly to what end he made mention of ignorance; for when he telleth them that God hath accomplished those things which he had foretold, he doth so touch their offense in the death of Christ, that it turneth to their salvation. Ignorance, saith he, hath made you guilty, yet God hath brought that to pass which he had determined, that Christ should redeem you by his death. This is a most notable consideration, when as we ponder and consider with ourselves, that through the wonderful counsel of God our evils are turned to another end to us, yet this doth no whir excuse us, for so much as in us lieth we cast away ourselves by sinning; but that conversion whereof I have spoken is a notable work of God´s mercy, whereof we must speak, and which we must extol with humility. The Jews did what they could to extinguish all hope of life in the person of Christ; and yet, nevertheless, that death gave life as well to them as to the whole world. We must also remember that which we saw elsewhere, lest there should any false and absurd opinion creep in, that Christ was laid open to the lust of the wicked, that God is made the chief author by whose will his only Son did suffer.  Calvin, Commentary, Acts 3:18.

That’s very interesting.

And then this from a little further:

Wherefore the message of the last judgment must sound as a trumpet to cite us to appear before the judgment-seat of God. For then at last being truly awaked, we begin to think of a new life. In like sort, when Paul preached at Athens, God saith, that he doth now will all men to repent; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, (Acts 17:30, 31.) The sum is this, that Christ, who is now unto us a Master, when as he teacheth us by the gospel, is appointed of the Father to be a Judge, and shall come in his due time; and that, therefore, we must obey his doctrine betimes, that we may gather the fruit of our faith then.  Calvin, Commentary, Acts 3:20

These two comments are not related for sure. The last one refutes the mad claims of some that Calvin denied that God wills the salvation of all men.

The first claim is interesting. The only way to avoid the apparent force is to make the whole statement purely hypothetical. Something like this, ‘God determined to bring about a state of affairs that should have obtained the redemption of you all.’ Of course, that makes me ask, if so, why did God do that? And did he fail? He still would speak to the intention of God, as Calvin saw it (allegedly). But aside from that, his other remarks (giving life to them, etc) and the context make that sort of claim hardly plausible.

David

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