Raised for our Justification

Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justificationRomans 4:24, 25

As it would not have been enough for Christ to undergo the wrath and judgment of God, and to endure the curse due to our sins, without his coming forth a conqueror, and without being received into celestial glory, that by his intercession he might reconcile God to us, the efficacy of justification is ascribed to his resurrection, by which death was overcome; not that the sacrifice of the cross, by which we are reconciled to God, contributes nothing towards our justification, but that the completeness of his favor appears more clear by his coming to life again.

- John Calvin

Calvin on Thankfulness

John Calvin's little work, The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, has proved to be one of the most helpful reads in my life outside of Scripture. I'm encouraging you all to get it if you don't already have it. It's a short book that can and should be read multiple times. I have shared this particular quote before on the blog, but at this time of year when Thanksgiving and Black Friday combine to lead us into a kind of grateful gluttony it's a helpful word. Calvin argues that when we see all good things as gifts from God and receive them with gratitude and enjoy them in faith, we will not abuse or misuse them. Thankfulness will lead us to enjoy the gift fully without turning it into an idol, or our pleasure into our highest virtue. Here's a quote.

First of all if we want to curb our [ungodly] passions we must remember that all things are made for us, with the purpose that we may know and acknowledge their Author. We should praise his kindness toward us in earthly matters by giving him thanks.

But, what will become of our thanksgiving, if we indulge in danties, or wine, in such a way that we are too dull to carry out the duties of devotion or of our business?

Where is our acknowledgment of God, if the excesses of our body drive us to the vilest passions, and infect our mind with impurity, so that we can no longer distinguish between right and wrong?
(Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, pg. 89)

You can find online versions of this, but newer translations are better. I encourage you to buy a new copy.

Making Progress

calvin_homeboySunday I preached on "Sinners and Saints," leading our people to see that as followers of Christ we are both, simultaneously. Understanding this reality promotes much needed humility and hope. I've already recommended one relevant book, but it's kind of a biggie. Let me recommend another, much smaller book that has a tremendous influence in my life. John Calvin's Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life is a must have. Check out some of Calvin's words on spiritual growth, aims and expectations.

We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however much we may strive for it ourselves.

It would be unfair to demand evangelical perfection before we acknowledge anyone as a Christian. There would be no church if we set a standard of absolute perfection, for the best of us are still far from the ideal, and we would have to reject many who have made only small progress.

... No one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength of his own to press forward with a sure degree of watchfulness, and the great majority [of Christians]  are kept down with such great weakness that they stagger and halt, and even creep on the ground, and so make very slight advances.

But let everyone proceed according to his given ability and continue the journey he has begun. ...Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the smallness of our accomplishment.

This book finds its way into my hands at least a couple time a year. If you don't have it, get it.