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short, sweet, but oh so refreshing

25 July, 2008

I’ve recently cracked open our wedding present from Dr. Hywel Jones of WSC. He has been an encouraging father of the faith, mentor, and an inspiring preacher that my wife and I listen to off the internet as often as we can. So I was eager to make time in my crazy schedule to dig into his gift to us, “The Expository Genius of John Calvin,” by Steve Lawson. It’s only a short read as Dr. Joel Beeke describes at the front of the book, “a Homiletics I refresher course that can be read in one evening.”

The first chapter titled Calvin’s Life and Legacy might well be read to our Calvary Chapel friends who have unfortunately been subject to some very unrepresentative stereotypes of Calvin. These stereotypes are quickly shattered throughout the chapter and we are left with gratitude for what God has done for the church in this humble reformer, admiration for this man’s unbending faithfulness and jealousy for God’s word and table, and a deep sense of conviction in response to his God glorifying preaching method. Calvin is certainly not the dark figure he is made out to be by protestants who will not embrace their Reformed roots.

In the second chapter titled Approaching the Pulpit Dr. Lawson gives us a short but vivid account of how exciting it must have been to sit under the preaching of Calvin after he returned to Geneva from banishment. Persecuted French Huguenots, Scottish and English refugees fleeing the wrath of “Bloody Mary” joined the Genevan congregants and found their comfort in the words that poured forth from the pulpit of Saint Pierre.

I then read the first four of many distinctives listed by Lawson that set Calvin’s preaching apart from the rest: 1. Biblical Authority 2. Divine Presence 3. Pulpit Priortiy and 4. Sequential Exposition.

This is as far as I’ve gotten this morning. Before setting out for a day’s work, I was arrested by this thought from pg. 35:

“”In Calvin’s own words, preaching is “the living voice” of God in “His church.” He reasoned: “God begets and multiplies His church only by means of His Word…It is by the preaching of the grace of God alone that the church is kept from perishing.””

In view of the the current trend of the Church’s overcommitment to the listener, which inevitably dims zeal for the “Speaker” (eg. taking polls to determine what interests people most for sermon topics, using drama as an alternate means of ‘preaching’ the word because we live in a visually stimulated culture, etc.) Lawson gives a very solemn charge to those of us who desire to administer God’s word to his sheep :

“Where are such men of God today? Where are the preachers like Calvin, who will preach the Word with unwavering commitment? Where are the pastors who believe that God is uniquely with them as they mount their pulpits for the exposition of His Word? Where are the shepherds who have prioritized the preaching of the Word in public worship? Where are the expositors who will preach entire books of the Bible consecutively month after month and year after year?”

I can’t wait to return to this gem of a little book tomorrow morning after coffee.

Even my wife, who is new to all things Reformed, and hasn’t had the misfortune of being pummeled with the slanderous caricatures of this humble man, has picked up this fine little read and is discovering her rich heritage in the church of Jesus Christ.

~chaos

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9 Comments
  1. 26 July, 2008 9:09 am

    Dear Chaos:

    Today, as I read this post, I thought of my devotion today which included the following verse. “But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” Acts 3:12.

    If Peter was willing to deflect such praise to Jesus Christ, I presume that Calvin would do the same thing. I think that Calvin would answer the following questions something like as follows:

    “Where are such men of God today? Where are the preachers like Calvin, who will preach the Word with unwavering commitment? Where are the pastors who believe that God is uniquely with them as they mount their pulpits for the exposition of His Word? Where are the shepherds who have prioritized the preaching of the Word in public worship? Where are the expositors who will preach entire books of the Bible consecutively month after month and year after year?”

    Answer: I think Calvin would answer the question something as follows:
    Those men are raised up by God like He rose up the lame beggar. Just as God gave faith and strength to the lame beggar and me (Calvin), God will give faith and strength to those men whom He chooses to be His preachers. “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.” Acts 3:16. Those men may very well include creed and chaos.

  2. creedorchaos permalink*
    26 July, 2008 12:32 pm

    thanks Bill. yeah, that’s the thing u notice about Lawson’s account of the real Calvin…very humble…soli deo gloria…all the way.

    we must continue to pray that Good Shepherd sends his Spirit to raise up more and more faithful servants to feed his lambs. And may God alone be Glorified in his own workmanship.

  3. 26 July, 2008 1:47 pm

    Thanks Chaos!

    My son John just asked me this Saturday afternoon if I would have devotion with him. I was pleased to do so, and he chose a review of I Corinthians Chapters 1 through 7.

    As I came across I Corinthians 2:3-5, I thought that Calvin must have read it and received faith that “God is uniquely with them as they mount their pulpits for the exposition of His Word”.

    “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” I Corinthians 2:3-5

    Yours truly,
    Bill

  4. creedorchaos permalink*
    26 July, 2008 2:23 pm

    yeah Bill, that’s a good attitude to take to the pulpit.

    Wow. Sounds like the Lord has blessed your covenant relationship with your son. That’s the best.
    I’ve only been Isabelle’s step-dad for about 5 months. A year ago they were afraid she wouldn’t be able to talk well. Since she and her mom came into the Reformed church (beginning with Springfield URC in MO)Iz has really come out of her shell. She can recite the first 4 answers of the Shorter Catechism fairly well (she could still use some work on her annunciation) and I’m going through Genesis with her before bed. She can also sing a few psalms from the Psalter too.
    Alisia and I have been praying that God would give Iz faith at an early age.

    Sounds like the Lord has been answering your prayers. stay faithful brother. and keep us posted.

    ~chaos

  5. 26 July, 2008 2:44 pm

    Sounds like you are the one who is faithful.

    Dear Father in Heaven:

    Thank You for Your faithfulness to our spouses and our children. We are reminded of Acts 2:39. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

    Please continue to guide, bless, and protect Phil, Alisia, and Iz.

    In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

    – Bill

  6. 26 July, 2008 3:24 pm

    amen

  7. 30 July, 2008 8:59 pm

    Thanks for the review and the reminder. May God’s grace keep us from preaching what our itching ears want to hear. I hope I can borrow your book sometime!

  8. 30 July, 2008 11:23 pm

    sure nathaniel,
    i’ll probably finish next week after the youth camp. so of course you can borrow it. dude, you are a super talented photographer. i don’t know anything about technique, but many of those photos tell a story or at least demand one from the imagination.
    between you and mark alisia and i get to relive some great memories.

    stay kool. you alicia are great friends.

  9. jlofton permalink
    1 August, 2008 9:10 am

    Calvinist site; please visit/comment.

    TheAmericanView.com

    JLof@aol.com

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