Sunday, January 25, 2015

genuine religion

A friend and I are currently reading through John Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion. Though I am merely through the first few chapters, I am amazed at so much of Calvin's insights and wisdom. Even more so as I consider Calvin was only 27 when he wrote the Institutes and had only been converted for 4 years...

I was re-reading a portion of it just a few moments ago, and I wanted to share it here, hoping that through the typing of these words, they may grain a greater footing in my soul and ring truer in my mind:

"For, first of all, the pious mind does not devise for itself any kind of God, but looks alone to the one true God; nor does it feign for Him any character it pleases, but is contented to have Him in the character in which He manifests Himself always guarding, with the utmost diligences to have him in transgressing His will, and wandering, with daring presumptions from the right path. He by whom God is thus known perceiving how He governs all things, confides in Him as his guardian and protector, and casts himself entirely upon His faithfulness, -- perceiving Him to be the source of every blessing, if he is in any strait or feels any want, he instantly recurs to His protection and trusts to His aid, --persuaded that He is good and merciful, he reclines on Him with sure confidence, and doubts not that, in the divine clemency, a remedy will be provided for his every time of need, --acknowledging him as Father and Lord he considers himself bound to have respect to His authority in all things, to reverence His majesty aim at the advancement of His glory, and obey His commands, --regarding Him as a just judge, armed with severity to punish crimes, he keeps the Judgment-seat always in his view. Standing in awe of it, he curbs himself, and fears to provoke His anger. Nevertheless, he is not so terrified by an apprehension of Judgment as to wish he could withdraw himself, even if the means of escape lay before him; nay he embraces Him not less as the avenger of wickedness than as the rewarder of the righteous; because he perceives that it equally appertains to His glory to store up punishment for the one, and eternal life for the other. Besides, it is not the mere fear of punishment that restrains him from sin. Loving and revering God as his father, honoring Him as master, although there were no hell, he would revolt at the very idea of offending Him.

Such is pure and genuine religion, namely, confidence in God coupled with serious fear-- fear, which both includes in it willing reverence, and brings along with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed by the law. And it ought to be more carefully considered that all men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare." John Calvin, 1539(ish)

   I long to be of this pious mind. I want to recline on God with the sure confidence in the divine clemency of God. I want to live my life cloaked in the righteousness of Christ, such that it is not the mere fear of judgment that prevents my sin, but that it is out of love and reverence for my Lord. I want to live in light of the glory of heaven, not of the fear of hell... I want pure and genuine religion.

I want it for myself, I want it for my family, I want it for my church, I want it for each of my brothers and sisters on this earth... I want to throw off the ostentatious ceremony for the sincere heart of worship. 


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