John Calvin

10 Reasons Why You Can Trust That The Bible Is God's Word

In our “What Is Calvinism?” Sunday School class this past Sunday, we looked at the doctrine of Scripture along with the Holy Spirit’s role in using Scripture in the Church and Christian’s life. Towards the end of the class, I quickly mentioned 10 ways Calvin brings up about why we can trust that Scripture really is God’s Word. Here are the ten with some brief explanation:

  1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
    Calvin says, “What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings. But our hearts are more firmly grounded when we reflect that we are captivated with admiration for Scripture more by grandeur of subjects than by grace of language.”

  2. Not style but content is decisive
    Even though there is, as Calvin says, “an elegant and clear, even brilliant, manner of speaking, so that their eloquence yields nothing to secular writers” it is not the style of Scripture that captivates us so much as the content. What Scripture says is what gives more of a testimony to the Bible being God’s Word than anything else. Scripture is “clearly crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived” says Calvin.

  3. The age of Scripture
    This has often been a very helpful argument for believers to be more convinced and for unbelievers to begin to see the truth of Scripture. The “great antiquity” of Scripture far outstrips all other writings. The fact that Scripture has been around for so long and through so much persecution should give divine testimony to men and women that only God could preserve such a Book. Not only that but if God were speaking from the beginning of time then He certainly would’ve have had His words recorded by men in order to preserve the truth. Why should it surprise us that the God who spoke thousands of years ago made sure that people wrote it down and kept it alive for us today? Isn’t that a sign that He loves us? When we say that Scripture is outdated then we not only call God outdated but we also doubt His love for us since He could not give us relevant truth for today.

  4. The truthfulness of Scripture seen in men proclaiming their own faults
    The Bible does not hide the shame and sin of its “own” people. The Bible, more than any other book and religion, shows the depravity of man and the sinfulness of sin. Why would men write so much of their own sinfulness and shame for all to read throughout history if they were making up their own religion? Certainly, the Bible shows not only the sin of unbelievers but also of believers. All stand in need of Christ and His grace and this is the testimony of Scripture from beginning to end.

  5. Miracles authorizing God’s messengers
    The Bible is a record of eyewitness accounts. The miracles that are recorded in the Bible did not happen behind closed doors for only the writers to see. Rather, the miracles were before the public eye and many gave testimony to them and then they were written down to be remembered. Take the gospel according to Mark, Mark is all about the eyewitness account of Jesus in which there are details that only people who were there could give. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus is said to have fallen asleep on the cushion in the boat. There is no need for that comment to be there except for the fact to show that the person who saw Jesus calm the stormy sea was actually there and remembers everything.

  6. The amount of prophecies that have come true (All of them!)
    There have been some calculations of over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus coming as the Messiah. How many of them have come true? All of them. On the contrary, can you predict one thing that will happen fifty years from now? How do you know that will happen?

  7. The preservation of the Law and Prophets
    Calvin says, “But even though all wicked men, as if conspiring together, have so shamelessly insulted the Jews, no one has ever dared charge them with substituting false books. For whatever, in their opinion, the Jewish religion may be, they confess Moses to be its author.” God has preserved His Word from the worst tyrants and persecutions in history.

  8. Simplicity and heavenly character
    The content of Bible is so simple than anyone who can read may understand it but it is also so heavenly that anyone who reads is confronted with a “heavenly character”. Calvin comments that “the truth cries out openly that these men who, previously contemptible among common folk, suddenly began to discourse so gloriously of the heavenly mysteries must have been instructed by the Spirit.”

  9. Unvarying testimony of the church to Scripture
    Although it is the Holy Spirit and not the Church who testifies that Scripture is God’s Word, nevertheless, the Church has throughout the centuries been unified in their recognition that the canon of Scripture is God’s Word. No matter what age, people, or culture, there has been a unity in the true Church that the Bible we have today is God’s Word.

  10. Martyrs who died
    Why would men and women die for a book that weren’t true? If they made it all up, why would someone choose to be burned alive as William Tyndale was? Even under the worst torture, why didn’t anyone just say, “You’re right! We came up with it ourselves!” These people would’ve had everything to lose by their deaths if the Bible was not God’s Word. But, if the Bible is God’s Word then they had everything to gain by their deaths if they died holding onto their confession of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Holy Scripture.

11 Reasons Why You Should Study John Calvin

This Summer I will be teaching one of the adult Sunday School classes on the Theology of John Calvin (formerly known as Calvinism). In light of this, I would like to offer 11 reasons why you should study John Calvin this Summer.

  1. John Calvin is the biggest influence on Western civilization.
    You cannot read the history of the Western civilization accurately without considering John Calvin. It is a shame that any history book would not mention the man who shaped the largest group of organized people in the Western world. Calvin was at the forefront of the Reformation and was one of the pioneers of bringing the gospel back to the Church and to the world. The Reformation did not just change the Church but changed the entire world. To take John Calvin out of our history books is like trying to take the light out of the Sun.

  2. John Calvin was very practical.
    First and foremost, Calvin was a pastor. Everything that Calvin wrote was for the purpose of application. He wrote for the church and for the people. Even when Calvin gets into the depths of theological arguments in The Institutes he is writing for the purpose of the truth changing our lives. Theology is meant for living and we “do” theology wrong if it is only an intellectual activity. Calvin didn’t fall into this trap of keeping theology only intellectual. In this class, we will be working out how each of the doctrines discussed applies to all of life.

  3. John Calvin’s “Big God” theology is the most needed theology today.
    We are living in an age that is plagued with self-centered theology, self-esteem movement, and raising the “Selfie Generation”. What we desperately need is someone like Calvin to speak loudly and clearly into our culture to show us how “big” God is. Calvin is completely and entirely God-centered in his theology. True Calvinism is God-centered and not man-centered. In an age that is filled with many self-help books and other books that some often consider to be “solid” Christian books are mostly man-centered writings that treat God like a reputation builder or self-esteem booster. Calvinism takes our eyes off of ourselves and rightly places them on Him.

  4. Calvinism Counsels
    Because Calvin’s “Big God” theology is also pastoral and practical, we can see that true Calvinism counsels the soul. In an age that is overly obsessed with psychological theories and self-esteem fixes, we need to have the answer to true heart change and we find it in true Calvinism. Calvin shows us that when we truly understand and grasp God’s gospel by faith we are changed. True life change happens after true heart change. In this Sunday school class on Calvinism, we will not only study his theology but we will see how it actually changes and counsels our souls.

  5. John Calvin is one of the biggest influences on the PCA.
    The PCA, and other Reformed denominations, owe deep gratitude to John Calvin. Without Calvin, and without Calvin’s Institutes, we would not have such lasting influence on the Church. The PCA is deeply influenced by Calvin and Calvinism at its core and to truly understand the PCA we must understand Calvin.

  6. John Calvin had a massive influence on the founding fathers of America.
    One historian has said, ““Calvin was virtually the founder of America.” Another has said, “[The] Earliest and most influential settlers...were Calvinists and brought with them the Bible and the Reformed confessions of faith.” We when forget Calvin we forget much of the values of the founding fathers.

  7. John Calvin and Calvinism is often misrepresented (even by “Calvinists” at times).
    We have often met self-proclaimed “Calvinists” who fail to proclaim what Calvinism really is. We often give lip service to the TULIP but this is not all of Calvinism. There is so much more to Calvinism and to being Reformed. This Sunday school class will explore more important themes such as the doctrine of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the place of the Law, the person and work of Christ, and especially prayer. There are several people who say they are Calvinist but do not have a full awareness (and sometimes accurate perception) of what Calvinism is.

  8. Calvinism is Missions Minded.
    Calvin was very influential on developing and sending out missionaries. When someone grasps the depths of Reformed Calvinism they are propelled to proclaim this glorious God to the people. Doctrine doesn’t disrupt missions but rather empowers missions. The more we know the more we can show. As we will see in the first week, Calvin was a major influence on the men who transformed France, Scotland, America, Holland, and England.

  9. Calvinism restores the centrality of the Word.
    Calvinism moves us from our opinions about God to God’s Word. The Scripture index at the end of the Institutes is several pages long. There are around 3,000 Scripture references. Calvin “reformed” Europe to put the Bible back at the center of the Church and, therefore, also the pulpit. Preaching became central to not only worship but also even in the architecture of the buildings. Instead of the sacraments being in the center the pulpit was moved to the center. The Reformation is centrally a restoration of preaching God’s Word. For today, we need this now more than ever because of our emphasis on entertainment, seeker sensitive messages, and programmatic-centered churches. Where the truth of God is pushed to the side, God is pushed to the side.

  10. Calvinism shapes your entire worldview.
    John Calvin wholly embraced the theme of the Reformation which was “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God alone be the glory). Calvinism is not a theology that stays in the church but rather overflows into every area of life. The Bible should not only influence us on Sunday but rather should be our worldview for everything that we do. Whenever someone teaches on Calvinism they must never stop at merely what Calvin says but rather show how it changes the way we live. The Bible never gives us content that is simply meant to stay in our heads. That’s what the Pharisees did. True knowledge turns into true living.

  11. Calvinism changes the way you work.
    One of the specific ways Calvinism changed much of the European culture during the Reformation was in the area of work. When God is big, work becomes a way to worship God. Our work is not primarily for financial gain, social status, or self-fulfillment. All of work is for worship and Calvin applied his theology to the everyday workers.

John Calvin on the Beauty and Advantages of the Psalms

We are beginning a new Sunday evening sermon series on some selected Psalms this coming Lord's Day. In my preparation this week for the introductory sermon, I read again John Calvin's preface to his commentary on the Psalms. I encourage you to read it for yourself, so that you might be spurred on to spend more time in God's hymnal:

The varied and resplendent riches which are contained in this treasure it is no easy matter to express in words; so much so, that I well know that whatever I shall be able to say will be far from approaching the excellence of the subject. But as it is better to give my readers some taste, however small, of the wonderful advantages they will derive from the study of this book, than to be entirely silent on the point, I may be permitted briefly to advert to a matter, the greatness of which does not admit of being fully unfolded.

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, "An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;" for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us. But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular, in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and of the man vices with which we abound, may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, will be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine.

Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God. It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book. And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds. Although distrust may shut the gate against our prayers, yet we must not allow ourselves to give way, whenever our hearts waver or are agitated with inquietude, but must persevere until faith finally come forth victorious from these conflicts.

In many places we may perceive the exercise of the servants of God in prayer so fluctuating, that they are almost overwhelmed by the alternate hope of success and apprehension of failure, and gain the prize only by strenuous exertions. We see on the one hand, the flesh manifesting its infirmity; and on the other, faith putting forth its power; and if it is not so valiant and courageous as might be desired, it is at least prepared to fight until by degrees it acquire perfect strength. But as those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright will be found scattered through the whole of this Commentary, I will not now stop to treat of topics which it will be necessary afterwards to repeat, nor detain my readers from proceeding to the work itself. Only it appeared to me to be requisite to show in passing, that this book makes known to us this privilege, which is desirable above all others - that not only is there opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted us to lay open before him our infirmities, which we would be ashamed to confess before men.

Besides, there is also here prescribed to us an infallible rule for directing us with respect to the right manner of offering to God the sacrifice of praise, which he declares to be most precious in his sight, and of the sweetest odor. There is no other book in which there is to be found more express and magnificent commendations, both of the unparalleled liberality of God towards his Church, and of all his works; there is no other book in which there is recorded so many deliverances, nor one in which the evidences and experiences of the father providence and solicitude which God exercises towards us, are celebrated with such splendor of diction, and yet with the strictest adherence to truth; in short, there is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise.

Moreover, although the Psalms are replete with all the precepts which serve to frame our life to every part of holiness, piety, and righteousness, yet they will principally teach and train us to bear the cross; and the bearing of the cross is a genuine proof of our obedience, since by doing this, we renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose of our life according to his will, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest and most severe to our nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed from him. In one word, not only will we here find general commendations of the goodness of God, which may teach men to repose themselves in him alone, and to seek all their happiness solely in him; and which are intended to teach true believers with their whole hearts confidently to look to him for help in all their necessities; but we will also find that the free remission of sins, which alone reconciles God towards us, and procures for us settled peace with him, is so set forth and magnified, as that here there is nothing wanting which relates to the knowledge of eternal salvation.