Last Sunday night we studied Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount regarding fasting. One of the things that stands out is that fasting is nowhere commanded in Scripture, but rather is simply expected of those who follow the Lord. In preparation for the lesson, I found these paragraphs from Calvin’s Institutes to be of great help, especially in answering the questions: “Why should I fast?” and “What good does it do?”
From Light and Truth, Bible Thoughts and Themes by Horatius Bonar, in reference to Adam and Eve covering themselves with fig leaves after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden.
Man thinks he can cover himself. He knows not the greatness of the evil; he does not calculate on the penetration of the all-seeing eye. He sets to work and makes himself a covering, and he says this will do. What sin is, or what the sinner needs or what God requires, he has no idea of. Each sinner has his own way of covering himself; he weaves his own web, whatever may be the substance of which it is composed. He wishes to be his own coverer, the maker of his own raiment. He thinks he can do it himself. He has no idea that it is utterly beyond his power. He trusts to the skill of his own hands to provide the dress that shall hide his shame from the eye of God and man. He thinks it an easy thing to deal with shame, and fear, and conviction, and conscience. He will not believe that these can only be dealt with by God. This is the last thing […]
From The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (Book 3, 23:12):
Another argument which they employ to overthrow predestination is that if it stand, all care and study of well doing must cease. For what man can hear (say they) that life and death are fixed by an eternal and immutable decree of God, without immediately concluding that it is of no consequence how he acts, since no work of his can either hinder or further the predestination of God?”
Calvin then responded to this charge of predestination leading to inactivity. How? He reminded those opposed to it what the predestinated are predestined to do! He quoted from Ephesians 1:4, where Paul states believers are elected “that we should be holy, and without blame before him.” Calvin then followed with this statement.
If the end of election is holiness of life, it ought to arouse and stimulate us strenuously to aspire to it, instead of serving as a pretext for sloth.
Taken from Mere Christianity, chapter 9, Counting the Cost:
“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and
seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he
often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come
along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed.
These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old
days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into
situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever
dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the
slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.
I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is
getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the […]
A little while ago, I began noticing facebook links with a similar pattern:
“The Cutest Kittens Ever! #3 Will Leave You Smiling for Days!”
“You Won’t Believe These Sunrises! #20 Made Me Cry!”
“This three year old is the funniest dancer ever!!”
And so on. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why these things bothered me so much; I just knew they did. My only rebuttal was simply not clicking on the links. Until now.