Calvin-the Theologian by J I Packer

 

J I Packer’s—“Calvin the Theologian” (by J I Packer)

These are the big points of take away I got from reading JI Packer’s writing on Calvin. Indeed very inspiring & God anointed or what he calls as “unction”. Love to be shaped and molded by his teaching.

  • For the latter part of his life and a century after his death John Calvin was the most influential man in the world, in the sense that his ideas were making more history than those of anyone else during that period.—This is very inspiring. Amazing thinker who loves the Lord.
  • Calvin’s doctrine of the state as a servant of God that established the ideal of constitutional representative government and led to the explicit acknowledgment of the rights and liberties of subjects.
  • He produced the most fundamental ingredients in post-Renaissance Western Civilization.
  • Common grace, operating through conscience, law, and civil government, constantly restrains the full outworking of human corruption, and moves ungodly men to social and cultural enterprises of abiding worth.
  • Each man is responsible to God for his won choices, and that God works out His purposes through intelligent action on man’s part.—WOW!
  • Calvin’s writings breathe more of the spirit of awe and adoration in the realized presence of almighty God.
  • Calvin has unction. Read him, and he brings you into the presence of the God before whom he stood. He is one of the few who have written of God in a way that makes their readers worship.
  • Calvin is the one to make the complete adequacy of Christ’s saving work explicit—to present Christ as prophet, teaching his people by his word and Spirit; priest, securing their salvation by his blood-shedding and intercession; and King, ruling, not them only, but the hole created order for their sake; thus, by His threefold ministry, compassing their whole salvation.
  • God’s sovereignty is absolute, that history was imply the temporal outworking of His eternal plan, that some had been unconditionally chosen for salvation while the rest had been reprobated.
  • The Calvinist is the man who sees God behind all phenomena, and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God, working out His will.

 

 

 

 

 

Waging a war that we will win (Numbers 22-24)

Introduction/Background

Our Covenant God is determined to bless Israel no matter what the outward circumstances are because He is a covenant God. It is comforting and reassuring to know that He is the one in charge. History is really about Him; it is His Story. The main character or protagonist is definitely Balaam, the pagan diviner. Israel was on the march after exodus from the land of slavery Egypt, God delivered them from all enemy fronts, and made sure they were protected. Balak, the king of Moab a godless nation, in fear of an invasion by Israel, tried to bribe the pagan diviner to proclaim cursing upon Israel. It seems that Balaam is a man of considerable power by the influence he can exert on Israel as we see in later chapters. And of course, God would have nothing of that. We need to see the subtlety of these all and be prepared to wage a spiritual warfare that we will win. In this passage under study, I will label Balaam and Balak as the enemies of Israel, and by extension, compared to the forces of darkness that war against the church today.

Balaam is no godly prophet, but a pagan wicked diviner

We need to, first and foremost, establish what kind of man is this protagonist, Balaam. There are many gifted people in the world today and at those times too, but being gifted does not mean you will be a good man. Characters trump gifting’s.

15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:15-16). Balaam loved gain from wrongdoing. He was a greedy man. He loved money more than his principle. From here and also in Numbers 22:  And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”

Balaam’s way was perverse to God. It seemed initially that God allowed him to go to meet Balak supposedly was going tom hire Balaam to curse Israel, but later he seemed to have changed his mind, but that’s because of Balaam’s evil intention in his heart. He wanted money. Balaam not only was greedy, but he was also wicked and evil. Therefore it is really hard to judge a person from his gifting. “14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.”  (Rev 2)

In Revelations, bible says that Balaam taught Balak (King of Moab) to seduce the sons of Israel to eat sacrificed food to idols and practice sexual immorality. That is evil. This reminds me of the liberal affirming churches that teach people of God that homosexuality is right before God and encourage inclusivity by their progressive and revisionist theology. This is particularly relevant and alarming to the churches of Jesus Christ today in America. Orthodoxy is under attack. So, Balaam is an evil man with foretelling ability. He seemed to fear God in some way but on the other hand he could be outrageously evil, like seducing young men of Israel to commit sexual immorality, which is no simple matter. This calls for wisdom and insight. It is particularly disturbing that Christians today are swamped with modern identity (abortion, homosexuality, co-habit) and we, the church, have lost considerable ground. And it is precisely this kind of subtlety that confused many churches because the enemy is not a straightforward bad guy. But the warfare runs deep. The entire modern city society and colleges of America are generally very much against the Bible identity, and they are very “smooth” just like Balaam. But while all is aghast, we take comfort that our God is still absolutely in control like the way he dealt with Balaam.

The subtle darkness of Balaam’s heart-as in the world today

And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. (Numbers 23)

It is amazing that Balaam even asked Balak to build seven altars and bulls & rams for his sacrifice to hear from God. The entire intention of Balak is to have Balaam curse Israel, and Balaam knew that. But he also knew that God wanted to bless his people. In such tension, he chose to go with Balak and basically wait and see if God would change his mind. This is after God told him that his heart is perverse. He actually repented but his actions do not carry him too far. In fact, in Numbers 31, 16 Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord. (Numbers 31) Six chapters down the line, it was written in Numbers 31 that he (Balaam) advised the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord which caused the plague to fall upon Israel that resulted in the deaths of thousands of young men in Israel. What an abomination! Life is almost too cheap. It is unbelievable how dark this Balaam really is. We can easily underestimate him, with the damage he caused upon Israel, is of unbelievable magnitude & grief.

I believe that Christians today underestimated the damage and grief that progressive Christianity has inflicted upon the body of Christ today. The damage is far reaching and growing. It is definitely fashionable to go with the liberals and with the state of our college campuses across the country; we have essentially lost the bulk to them. The wind of change is blowing and we need to have God’s direct intervention like what he did with Balaam and reverse it.

The Sovereignty of God in spite of the evils

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel! “Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the Lord, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets;  their seed will have abundant water “God brought them out of Egypt;  they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them? “May those who bless you be blessed  and those who curse you be cursed!” (Numbers 24)

What beautiful blessings that proceeded out of the mouth of Balaam, the pagan diviner, in spite of the constant barrage of pressure from the King of Moab, Balak, to curse Israel. The prophecy given describes the beauty of Israel like gardens, aloes, cedars planted by the Lord and the strength, power of Israel like a lion. God turned the evil intent of the bad guys into some of the most beautiful prophetic blessings upon Israel.

This should speak volume to us all in our spiritual warfare as we serve God in this broken and darkened world. And of course, God is not going to let Balaam curse Israel, and He will not let his church to be cursed by the forces of the world and powers of darkness. Even though we may feel weak and troubled at difficult times, we will soar because we have a God who watches over us, and promised to take us into our promised land. When God is on your side, nothing can stop him from blessing you & using you to accomplish his purpose. Remember, God is sovereign; He is not in the same league. He is transcendent and beyond the league of the forces of darkness, human effort and philosophers.

Amen.