Calvin on the Book of Psalms

Calvin on the Book of Psalms

John Calvin, the sixteenth century pastor-theologian in Geneva, known most often for his theological treatise, The Institutes for the Christian Religion, should equally be remembered for his commentaries on almost every book of the Bible. As I finish an overview of the book of Psalms at my church, consider how Calvin introduced his commentary on this penetrating part of Scripture: The wearied and resplendid riches which are contained it this treasury 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 to 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...
Cap-Quotes: Desiring God Chapter 2

Cap-Quotes: Desiring God Chapter 2

Each Wednesday evening through the summer months, a group of adults are reading through and discussing the implications of John Piper’s book, Desiring God. If you have opportunity, come join us each Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at Summit Woods Baptist Church.  Here are a few highlights from chapter two. God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are one and the same pursuit. God’s quest to be glorified and our quest to be satisfied reach their goal in this one experience: our delight in God, which overflows in praise.   …no one is a Christian who does not embrace Jesus gladly as his most valued treasure, and then pursue the fullness of that joy in Christ that honors Him.   The best explanation of Romans 3:23 is Romans 1:23. It says that those who did not glorify or thank God became fools “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” This is the way we “fall short” of the glory of God: We exchange it for something of lesser value. All sin comes from not putting supreme value on the glory of God—this is the very essence of sin.   The wickedness of sin is owing to the implicit disdain for God.   Quoting Jonathan Edwards: Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority.… But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty.… So sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving infinite punishment.… The eternity of the punishment of...
Enjoying God and the Best of Human Friendships

Enjoying God and the Best of Human Friendships

From Jonathan Edwards’ sermon I referred to yesterday (God’s Excellencies), here is an end of the day meditation on why the enjoyment of God exceeds all that the best of human friendship can produce. How great must be the happiness of the enjoyment of him. The happiness of society, and the enjoyment of entire friends, is one of the highest sorts of pleasures, next to the pleasures of religion; if that be so sweet, how inexpressibly sweet and delightful must it be to enjoy this excellent being, who is infinitely more excellent, more lovely, than the most perfect, than any of our fellow creatures. There is inexpressibly more pleasure and delight in the enjoyment of God, than in the enjoyment of the most excellent, dear, and entire friends upon earth, and that upon these several accounts: 1. God is every way transcendently more amiable, than the most perfect and lovely of all our fellow creatures. If men take great delight and pleasure in beholding and enjoying the perfections and beauties of their fellow mortals, with what ecstasies, with what sweet rapture, will the sweet glories and beauties of the blessed God be beheld and enjoyed! 2. God loves those that he admits to the enjoyment of him with far greater love than the highest love of fellow creatures. 3. Those that enjoy God shall love him with transcendently greater love than it is possible to love the most lovely creature, so that the love will be mutual; the glorified saint shall be all transformed to love to God, and shall be all transformed to joy at the thought of God’s so dearly loving...
Edwards on the Psalms

Edwards on the Psalms

In preparation of my own heart for preaching a second message on the psalms, I perused one of Jonathan Edwards’ sermons on Psalm 89:6. It is entitled, “God’s Excellencies.” I recommend a read of the whole sermon. It details how God, and his specific attributes of excellence, should motivate us to respond to him in repentance and in worship. Below is merely a few excerpts that might prove helpful as God’s people prepare to gather together to worship God in his excellency on the Lord’s Day. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord, and who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? Psalms 89:6 This book of Psalms has such an exalted devotion, and such a spirit of evangelical grace every[where] breathed forth in it! Here are such exalted expressions of the gloriousness of God, and even of the excellency of Christ and his kingdom; there is so much of the gospel doctrine, grace, and spirit, breaking out and shining in it, that it seems to be carried clear above and beyond the strain and pitch of the Old Testament, and almost brought up to the New. Almost the whole book of Psalms has either a direct or indirect respect to Christ and the gospel which he was to publish…   The infinite excellency, greatness, and glory of God is the foundation of all religion, for except we believe the perfections of God, we shall never worship him and love him as he ought to be worshipped and loved; except we believe his power and justice and holiness, we shall not...
Cap-Quotes: The Race to Be Run

Cap-Quotes: The Race to Be Run

A few more quotes from my reading through Thomas Schreiner’s book, The Race Set Before Us. …we have affirmed that although eternal life is God’s prize of salvation that we  pursue with eager hope, eternal life is also the gift of grace that already invigorates us with resurrection life so that we run the race with perseverance. Eternal life is the reward that we trust God will give to us who faithfully endure to the end of the race. Yet eternal life is also the very breath of heaven that already fills our hearts by God’s Spirit and enlivens our “feeble arms and weak knees” (Heb 12:12) to “run the race set before us” (Heb 12:1). 88   We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order to receive the prize of eternal life….We make this crucial distinction between the objective basis and the subjective means of salvation to make it clear from the outset that what believers do in order to attain the prize of eternal life does not add to or nullify God’s grace in the saving work of Jesus Christ. The reward we receive by faith in Christ is based on grace alone; it is not grounded on our achievement. Only  those who exercise faith in the one true God will receive this reward. 89   If we conceive of Christian faith as only a passive resting on God, we have an inadequate concept….God does not commend a person for a singular act of faith that fails to endure. God does not reward faith that does not go the distance. 95   Faithfulness is the proof of faith….All...
What Are You Doing With Your Sundays?

What Are You Doing With Your Sundays?

For the past number of weeks, I have been suggesting practical steps you can take to deepen your discipleship in Christ, primarily through engaging in closer relationships with others. I have emphasized you and one or two others getting together to challenge, encourage, pray, and study. In talking about small group or more personal means of discipleship, one might think that discipleship is best accomplished by these means. While such personal means of discipleship are necessary, they must come in tandum with your participation in what we could call corporate discipleship. In fact, I do not think you can define discipleship apart from your participation in the life of a local church. What is involved in what I am referring to as corporate discipleship? While there is much I could say, consider the following elements: Commit yourself to giving Sundays to God’s people. Consider clearing your calendar of any other significant events other than gathering and engaging with God’s people. Why not? Make it your aim to have the gathering of the church be the most important, time-consuming, focus of your day. Plan on having lunch with someone from church. Plan to engage with someone from church on Sunday evening, or attending the evening service. Do not limit your thinking, expectations, or schedule to a small portion of the day. The more significantly you engage the church on each Lord’s Day, the more significantly your relationships with others will grow. Singing with Understanding and Zeal With the Congregation. Our staff seeks, in advance, to inform the church each week about what songs we will sing. We provide links to...
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