Wednesday, February 21, 2018

John Calvin on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit


"The best proof to us [of the divinity of the Spirit] is our familiar experience.  For nothing can be more alien from a creature, than the office which the Scriptures ascribe to him, and which the pious actually feel him discharging - his being diffused over all space, sustaining, invigorating, and quickening all things, both in heaven and on the earth.  The mere fact of his not being [defined] by any limits raises him above the rank of creatures, while his transfusing vigor into all things, breathing into them being, life, and motion, is plainly divine.  Again, if regeneration to incorruptible life is higher, and much more excellent than any present quickening, what must be thought of him by whose energy it is produced?  Now, many passages of Scripture show that he is the author of regeneration, not by a borrowed, but by an intrinsic energy; and not only so, but that he is also the author of future immortality.  In short, all the peculiar attributes of the Godhead are ascribed to him in the same way as to the Son.  He searches the deep things of God, and has no counselor among the creatures; he bestows wisdom and the faculty of speech, though God declares to Moses (Exod 4:11) that this is his own peculiar province.  In like manner, by means of him we become partakers of the divining nature, so as in a manner to feel his quickening energy within us.  Our justification is his work; from him is power, sanctification, truth, grace, and every good thought, since it is from the Spirit alone that all good gifts proceed.  Particular attention is due to Paul's expression that though there are diversities of gifts, 'all these [are empowered by] one and the self-same Spirit' (1 Cor 12:11), he being not only the beginning or origin, but also the author; as is even more clearly expressed immediately after in these words 'dividing to every man severally as he will.'  For were he not something subsisting in God, will and arbitrary disposal would never be ascribed to him.  Most clearly, therefore, does Paul ascribe divine power to the Spirit, and demonstrate that he dwells [fundamentally] in God" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.13.14).

Monday, February 19, 2018

John Calvin on Christ as Eternal God

"If [outside] of God there is no salvation, no righteousness, no life, Christ, having all these in himself, is certainly God.  Let no one object that life or salvation is transfused into him by God.  For it is said not that he received, but that he himself is salvation.  And if there is none good but God, how could a mere man be pure, how could he be, I say not good and just, but goodness and justice?  Then what shall we say to the testimony of the evangelist, that from the very beginning of creation 'in him was life, and this life was the light of men'?  Trusting to such proofs, we can boldly put our hope and faith in him, though we know it is blasphemous [irreverence] to confide in any creature.  'Ye believe in God,' says he, ' believe also in me' (John 14:1).  And so Paul (Rom 10:11 and 15:12) interprets two passages of Isaiah, 'Whoso believeth in him shall not be confounded' (Isa 28:16); and, 'In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for [a banner] of the people; to it shall the gentiles seek' (Isa 11:10).  But why adduce more passages of Scripture on this head, when we so often meet with the expression, 'He that believeth in me has eternal life'?" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.13.13).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

John Calvin on Christ's Eternal Godhead (Part 2 of 2)

"It was [Jesus Christ] who arose and pitied Zion - he who claimed for himself dominion over all nations and islands.  And why should John have hesitated to ascribe the majesty of God to Christ, after saying in his preface that the Word was God? (John 1:14).  Why should Paul have feared to place Christ on the judgment-seat of God (2 Cor 5:10), after he had so openly proclaimed his divinity, when he said that he was God over all, blessed for ever? And to show how consistent he is in this respect, he elsewhere says that 'God was manifest in the flesh' (1 Tim 3:16).  If he is God blessed forever, he therefore it is to whom alone, as Paul affirms in another place, all glory and honor is due.  Paul does not disguise this, but openly exclaims, that 'being in the form of God (he) thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation' (Phil 2:6).  And lest the wicked should clamor and say that he was a kind of spurious God, John goes farther, and affirms, 'This is the true God, and eternal life.'  Though it ought to be enough for us that he is called God, especially by a witness who distinctly testifies that we have no more gods than one, Paul says, 'Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lord many), but to us there is but one God' (1 Cor 8:5,6).  When we hear from the same lips that God was manifest in the flesh, that God purchased the church with his own blood, why do we dream of any second God, to whom he makes not the least allusion?  And there is no room to doubt that all the godly entertained the same view.  Thomas, by addressing him as his Lord and God, certainly professes that he was the only God whom he had ever adored (John 20:28)" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.13.11).

Monday, February 12, 2018

John Calvin on Christ's Eternal Godhead (Part 1 of 2)

"Though the apostles spoke of [Jesus] after his appearance in the flesh as Mediator, every passage which I deduce will be sufficient to prove his eternal Godhead.  And the first thing deserving of special observation is that predictions concerning the eternal God are applied to Christ, as either already fulfilled in him, or to be fulfilled at some future period.  Isaiah prophesies, that 'the Lord of hosts' shall be 'for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense' (Isa 8:14).  Paul asserts that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ (Rom 9:33), and therefore declares that Christ is that Lord of Hosts.  In like manner, he says in another passage, 'We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.'  Since in Isaiah God predicts this of himself (Isa 45:23), and Christ exhibits the reality fulfilled in himself, it follows that he is the very God, whose glory cannot be given to another.  It is clear also, that the passage from the psalms (Ps 68:19) which he quotes in the Epistle to the Ephesians, is applicable only to God, 'When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive' (Eph 4:8).  Understanding that such an ascension was shadowed forth when the Lord exerted his power, and gained a glorious victory over heathen nations, he intimates that what was thus shadowed was more fully manifested in Christ.  So John testifies that it was the glory of the Son which was revealed to Isaiah in a vision (John 12:41; Isa 6:4), though Isaiah himself expressly says that what he saw was the majesty of God.  Again, there can be no doubt that those qualities which, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, are applied to the Son, are the brightest attributes of God, 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, ' etc., and, 'Let all the angels of God worship him' (Heb 1:6).  And yet he does not pervert the passages in thus applying them to Christ, since Christ alone performed the things which these passages celebrate" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.13.11).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

John Calvin on the Deity of Jesus in the Old Testament (Part 2 of 2)

"The same thing is intimated by Hosea, who, after mentioning the wrestling of Jacob with the angel, says, 'Even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial' (Hos 12:5).  Servetus again insinuates that God personated an angel; as if the prophet did not confirm what had been said by Moses, 'Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?' (Gen 32:29, 30).  And the confession of the holy patriarch sufficiently declares that he was not a created angel, but one in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelled, when he says, 'I have seen God face to face.'  Hence also Paul's statement, that Christ led the people in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4. See also Calvin on Acts 7:30, and infra, c. 14 s. 9).  Although the time of humiliation had not yet arrived, the eternal Word exhibited a type of the office which he was to fulfill.  Again, if Zech 1:9, etc., and Zech 2:3, etc., be candidly considered, it will be seen that the angel is immediately after declared to be the Lord of Hosts, and that supreme power is ascribed to him.  I omit numberless passages in which our faith rests secure, though they may not have much weight with the Jews.  For when it is said in Isaiah, 'Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him and he will save us; this is the Lord: we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation; (Isa 25:9), even the blind may see the the God referred to is he who again rises up for the deliverance of his people.  And the emphatic description, twice repeated, precludes the idea that reference is made to any other than to Christ.  Still clearer and stronger is the passage of Malachi, in which a promise is made that the messenger who was then expected would come to his own temple (Mal 3:1).  The temple certainly was dedicated to almighty God only, and yet the prophet claims it for Christ.  Hence it follows, that he is the God who was always worshiped by the Jews" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion).

Monday, January 29, 2018

John Calvin on the Deity of Jesus in the Old Testament (Part 1 of 2)

"But if this does not satisfy the Jews, I know not what [irritating and trivial objections] will enable them to evade the numerous passages in which Jehovah is said to have appeared in the form of an angel (Judg 6,7,13,16-23, etc.).  This angel claims for himself the name of the eternal God.  Should it be alleged that this is done in respect of the office which he bears, the difficulty is by no means solved.  No servant would rob God of his honor, by allowing sacrifice to be offered to himself.  But the angel, by refusing to eat bread, orders the sacrifice due to Jehovah to be offered to him.  Thus the fact itself proves that he was truly Jehovah.  Accordingly, Manoah and his wife infer from the sign, that they had seen not an angel, but God.  Hence Manoah's exclamation, 'We shall die; for we have seen the Lord.'  When the woman replies, 'If Jehovah had wished to slay us, he would not have received the sacrifice at our hand,' she acknowledges that he who is previously called an angel was certainly God.  We may add, that the angel's own reply removes all doubt, 'Why do ye ask my name, which is wonderful?'  Hence the [the lack of reverence to God] of Servetus was the more detestable, when he maintained that God was never manifested to Abraham and the patriarchs, but that an angel was worshiped in his stead.  The orthodox doctors of the church have correctly and wisely expounded, the the Word of God was the supreme angel, who then began, as it were by anticipation, to perform the office of Mediator.  For though he were not clothed with flesh, yet he descended as in an intermediate form, that he might have more familiar access to the faithful.  This closer intercourse procured for him the name of the angel; still, however, he retained the character which justly belonged to him, that of the God of ineffable glory" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

John Calvin on Asserting the Divinity of Christ

"When it is said in Ps 45, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,' the Jews quibble that the name Elohim is applied to angels and sovereign powers.  But no passage is to be found in Scripture, where an eternal throne is set up for a creature.  For he is not called God simply, but also the eternal Ruler.  Besides, the title is not conferred on any man, without some addition, as when it is said that Moses would be a God to Pharaoh (Exod 7:1).  Some read as if it were in the genitive case, but this is too [anemic].  I admit, that anything possessed of singular excellence is often called divine, but it is clear from the context, that this meaning here is harsh and forced, and totally inapplicable.   But if their perverseness still refuses to yield, surely there is no obscurity in Isaiah, where Christ is introduced both as God, and as possessed of supreme power, one of the peculiar attributes of God, 'His name shall be called the might God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace' (Isa 9:6).  Here, too, the Jews object, and invert the passage thus: This is the name by which the mighty God, the everlasting Father, will call him; so that all which they leave to the Son is, 'Prince of Peace.'  But why should so many epithets be here accumulated on God the Father, seeing the prophet's design is to present the Messiah with certain distinguished properties which may induce us to put our faith in him?  There can be no doubt, therefore, that he who a little before was called Immanuel, is here called the mighty God.  Moreover, there can be nothing clearer than the words of Jeremiah,

     'This is the name whereby he shall be called,
     "The lord our righteousness"' (Jer 23:6)" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.13.9).

John Calvin on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit

"The best proof to us [of the divinity of the Spirit] is our familiar experience.  For nothing can be more alien from a creature, than...