Blogging the Institutes–1.6.4–Scripture is the School

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

Scripture is the School

In Psalm 19, the author declares that creation shows the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). But he also makes mention of God’s Word:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9).

The psalmists main point is this: although God’s Word has other uses, it is the school which educates God’s children. Since the invitation to know God through creation goes unheeded by the nations, God’s Word is necessary to educate us. The same truth is reiterated in Psalm 29. After the psalmist speaks of God’s dreadful voice—which, through thunder, wind, rain, cyclones, shakes the earth, makes mountains trembles, and breaks oak trees—he concludes, “in His temple everything says, ‘Glory!’” (Psalm 29:9). Yet, unbelievers are deaf to all of God’s words even when they echo through the air. In another Psalm, after describing the raging seas, the author concludes: “Your testimonies are fully confirmed, holiness befits your house” (Psalm 93:5).

Jesus says pretty much the same thing. When having a conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus says that the nations worshipped what they did not know, and the Jews alone had true worship to God (John 4:22). The human mind is weak. It is unable to come to God unless it is aided by God’s sacred word. Therefore, all people—except the Jews to the degree that they sought God through His Word—work in vain, trying to know God.

Blogging the Institutes–1.6.3–Error Cannot Be Erased Until the Truth is Planted

“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List

Error Cannot Be Erased Until the Truth is Planted

God had to enshrine the truth in the Bible because of our fallen human condition. We easily forget God. We fall into error. We invent new religions to escape the truth. Therefore, God wrote down the truth so that it would not pass away, either through neglect or purposeful corruption. God has given us His Word because He knew that people would not respond to the knowledge of Himself which comes from looking at creation. If we want to truly know God, then, we must go directly to His Word which accurately describes God’s character and works. The work which God does must be evaluated by His eternal truth, not by our own depraved estimation. If we turn aside from the truth found in Scripture, we will never reach the goal of knowing God. In fact, we will only get to ignorance quicker.

God’s essence, His character and works—which Paul describes to be inaccessible (1 Timothy 6:16)—is like a maze which we will never figure out, unless the Word serves as a guide for us. It is better to limp along slowly on the path of true knowledge of God than to sprint down the halls of ignorance. For example, the Psalmists repeatedly declare that all false beliefs about God should be exiled from the world so that the truth about God would flourish (Psalm 93, 96, 97, 99). Furthermore, the Psalms describe God as “reigning.” Describing God as reigning does not refer to His sheer power by which He runs the whole universe, but rather, it refers to the way He maintains His supremacy in the world. God reigns through His truth, because error can never be erased from our hearts until the true knowledge of God has been implanted in it.