Stumbling in the Dark


Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translated by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God

Post#9

Nevertheless, whatever light is kindled for us as we behold God’s works, our mind, in attempting to picture both him and his eternal kingdom, is so carnal that these very clear proofs convey no more to us about them than they do to the blind. When it comes to the structure of the whole wide world, how many of us lift our eyes heavenward? Or in surveying every country on earth, how many think to remember the Creator? And how many, ignoring the workman, look no further than the creature? As for what lies outside the ordinary course of nature, how many there are who only see chance at work, as it tosses and tumbles men about, instead of God’s providence which in fact governs them! And if, as inevitably happens to all men, we are sometimes forced to consider God’s role in all of this, we no sooner have a vague inkling of some deity or other than we return to the foolish notions of the flesh, and in our vanity we corrupt God’s pure truth.

This sphere of green and blue in which we exist tells us something about God. But most of the time we aren’t looking for the answers to the questions we aren’t asking. In my pre-conversion mind I thought little about God’s role in creation. Perhaps because that would force me to consider MY role in God’s creation. I didn’t want to be a character in someone else’s play. This is my story and I’ll write my own happy ending thank you very much. On the rare occasion that I would consider God, I imagined Him unconditionally benevolent, always smiling down on my silly antics. Without a deeper, more complete revelation (that I had no interest in discovering) I could not know the whole truth of His nature. Continue reading

True Godliness


Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translation by Robert White

Chapter 1: The knowledge of God

Post#6

The believing heart does not haphazardly forge for itself some kind of god. Rather it looks to him who is the true and only God. It does not ascribe to him whatever qualities it pleases but is content to take him as he shows himself to be: it is always careful not to depart from God’s will through headstrong pride. Knowing him thus, and understanding that he governs all things by his providence, it confidently accepts him as guardian and protector, and thus entrusts itself to his keeping, since it knows him to be the author of all that is good.

A contrite heart doesn’t work to construct a god acceptable to its own liking. On the contrary it willingly accepts the testimony of Scripture of who God is, of what it tells us is pleasing and acceptable to Him. A believing heart is a trusting heart. God’s providence over all creation and world events gives Christians security and comfort. This faith helps believers overcome sufferings and trials. They are ordained by God for His purposes and our eternal good (Rom 8:28 ESV). Continue reading

Adam, Eve & Noah


Bible Inquiries and Explanations

Question 1:

Q: If God knew he was going to destroy the Earth before the flood and start all over with Noah, why did he take the time to create Adam/Eve and all that before Noah? Why didn’t he just start with Noah?

A: Maybe for the same reason God doesn’t just start with the promised new heavens and earth at the end of Revelation. It wasn’t part of His eternal plan. I mean, all injustice, suffering and human cruelty could’ve been bypassed altogether if he had done so but God ordained the course of human history to go exactly as it has gone. Why God chose to permit sin and evil in his universe is one of those questions that brings us to the cliff’s edge of God’s secret knowledge. How a good and sovereign God can allow evil to exist has been debated by scholars, theologians and skeptics for centuries. But that’s not the question you asked, so –  moving right along.

Your question appears to suggest that from the time of Adam up until the Flood was just a supreme waste of time and effort, since most of humanity ends up washed away by the Flood. However, the story of Adam and Eve explains mankind’s original honor and dignity in the garden of Eden. They lived in paradise and had communion with God. They had dominion and authority over the earth. They didn’t toil with the soil, feel pain, sorrow or suffer from sickness and death. Life was good. Then the Fall happened. Unbelief and pride entered their hearts and shattered the sweet fellowship with God they had enjoyed. Continue reading

Bible Inquiries and Explanations


I have a good friend who is determined to read through the entire bible, from Genesis to Revelation. She is currently plowing through the first book but has been troubled with nagging questions in just about every chapter. Like any studious reader, she has jotted down questions that need answering. She contacted me for help and I proposed to use my blog as a forum for discussing the issues she comes across in her readings.

I wanted to publicize our correspondence because I imagine the questions she’s wrestling with are likely to be shared by many others who try to seriously tackle the Bible for the first time. It can be a peculiar tome to those who may not have been raised on a steady diet of bible stories and memory verses in Sunday school as a child. I didn’t read the bible until I was 23. It took awhile for the whole work to make cohesive sense. Frankly, to this day I’m still connecting theological dots between biblical concepts. Mastering Scripture is a lifetime pursuit. It is akin to comprehending the mind of God. Since His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isa 55:9) Scripture can be perplexing and confounding to finite minds. Continue reading

An Empty Show of Righteousness


Blogging The Institutes

Excerpts taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) By John Calvin

Translation by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God

Post #2

Deeply rooted in all of us is an arrogance which persuades us that we are righteous, truthful, wise and holy. Only clear evidence that we are unrighteous, deceitful, foolish and vile will convince us of the contrary. We feel no such conviction if all we do is look upon ourselves and not also upon the Lord. He is the one and only standard with which our judgment must accord. But because hypocrisy is something to which we are all naturally prone, we are quite content with an empty show of righteousness rather than with its reality.

John Piper once wrote that the problem with mankind is not that we are difficult to please but that we are too easily satisfied. We settle for less than God’s best at every turn. People worship lifeless idols rather than the living God. We become distracted from God’s glory by every sparkling bauble. We are seduced by carnal longings that come and go but refuse to satiate our soul with the living water of Christ (John 7:38). Continue reading

A Tale of Two Conversions: Shallow


My junior year of high school marked a significant milestone in my transition from hopeless daydreamer to somewhat functional member of society. I began obsessing less with the fantasy realms I entered in through books, movies, D&D and other vehicles that would transport me away from the dreary existence of my everyday life. I shifted my focus to more worldly concerns: What would I be when I grew up? Who would I date and someday marry? Am I making the grades I need to pursue a higher education? How much money did I need to put away to help upgrade my girl-repellant vehicle? The nebulous lands of my vivid imagination dissipated under the relentless rays of reality.

I had a close-knit group of friends I hung out with. I had a car, a job and a measure of independence I had never felt before. Times were good. I felt content – aside from the occasional pangs of teen angst over my considerable lack of ability to charm the ladies.

God.

Sin.

Judgment.

Salvation.

Christ.

These were alien words in my high school vocabulary. I never heard them – I never spoke of them. Most importantly I never pondered their significance. However, this all changed sometime during the fall semester of 1988. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Conversions: Hardened


I grew up in a small western Oklahoma rural community with little to no religious convictions. I suppose that’s not the norm for a lad raised smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, but nobody has ever accused me of being normal. Oh, I remember attending a Sunday School class as a 5-year-old at a local Baptist church. I recall lots of coloring – and growing bean sprouts in a cup. I remember nothing else about it at all. After that stimulating experience I did not darken a church door again (weddings and funerals excluded) until I was well into my teenage years.

I’ve always believed in God. I suppose my parents ingrained that in me, though I can’t recall any specific instruction. I conceived Him as the ever watchful eye in the sky, who loved and protected me. The first traumatic moment of my early years came one July 4th evening as we went to a stadium to watch a fireworks display. It was an impressive exhibition of pyrotechnics. The crowd oohed and aaahed at every burst of light and color. However, I wasn’t impressed; I fretted through the entire show. With brow furrowed I tugged at my mother’s hand and whispered, “Are those fireworks hurting God?” My 5-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend an omnipresent God that transcends the material creation. Obviously I didn’t grasp his omnipotence either, else I wouldn’t have been concerned for his well-being in the wake of a few heavenward explosions.

So there you have it, perhaps my one and only childhood contemplation of God. I have no other memory I can recall that invoked God into the forefront of my conscience. I simply assumed God’s love, protection and providence. I had other, more important stuff to think and daydream about – with a heavy emphasis on daydreaming. Continue reading