Here indeed is pure and real religion; faith so joined with an earnest fear of God that this fear also embraces willing reverence, and carries with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed on the law. And we ought to note this fact even more diligently: all men have a vague general veneration for God, but very few really revenge him… (INSTITUTES, Battles edition, I:43)
2009 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, the great Protestant Reformer, theologian and pastor of Geneva. Many are commemorating his life and work. I am resolved to re-read Calvin’s great work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, in their entirety. (When I first read them in seminary, I thought they should be read by every serious pastor at least every few years; I am long overdue).
Can I share some insights here this year? I hope so. Today I read the following (in I.1.3)
“…we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.”
We must preach a big and glorious God, so that men might, in comparison, see their baseness and be humbled. Too much preaching tries to ‘bring God down’ to man’s level, or, to only emphasize the meekness of the incarnate Jesus Christ — and in the process looses the majesty of Almighty God! It is in Hebrews 12:28b-29, we read, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.