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Calvin as Gadfly

01 March 2012 by Frank Turk


Usually I paraphrase John Calvin for the rest of us when we post him as Gadfly, with commentary on a Catechism prooftext.  Today I offer him up on John 14:13 unconstrained:

The Spirit, whom Christ promised to the apostles, is declared to be perfect Master or Teacher 96 of truth And why was he promised, but that they might deliver from hand to hand the wisdom which they had received from him? The Spirit was given to them, and under his guidance and direction they discharged the office to which they had been appointed.

He will lead you into all truth. That very Spirit had lead them into all truth, when they committed to writing the substance of their doctrine. Whoever imagines that anything must be added to their doctrine, as if it were imperfect and but half-finished, not only accuses the apostles of dishonesty, but blasphemes against the Spirit If the doctrine which they committed to writing had proceeded from mere learners or persons imperfectly taught, an addition to it would not have been superfluous; but now that their writings may be regarded as perpetual records of that revelation which was promised and given to them, nothing can be added to them without doing grievous injury to the Holy Spirit.

When they come to determine what those things actually were, the Papists act a highly ridiculous part, for they define those mysteries, which the apostles were unable to bear, to be certain childish fooleries, the most absurd and stupid things that can be imagined. Was it necessary that the Spirit should come down from heaven that the apostles might learn what ceremony must be used in consecrating cups with their altars, in baptizing church-bells, in blessing the holy water, and in celebrating Mass? Whence then do fools and children obtain their learning, who understand all those matters most thoroughly? Nothing is more evident than that the Papists mock God, when they pretend that those things came from heaven, which resemble as much the mysteries of Ceres or Proserpine as they are at variance with the pure wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

If we do not wish to be ungrateful to God, let us rest satisfied with that doctrine of which the writings of the apostles declare them to be the authors, since in it the highest perfection of heavenly wisdom is made known to us, fitted to make the man of God perfect (2 Timothy 3:17.) Beyond this let us not reckon ourselves at liberty to go; for our height, and breadth, and depth, consist in knowing the love of God, which is manifested to us in Christ. This knowledge, as Paul informs us, far exceeds all learning, (Ephesians 3:18;) and when he declares that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ,  (Colossians 2:3,) he does not contrive some unknown Christ, but one whom by his preaching he painted to the life, so that, as he tells the Galatians, we see him, as it were, crucified before our eyes,(Galatians 3:1.) But that no ambiguity may remain, Christ himself afterwards explains by his own words what those things are which the apostles were not yet able to bear.

So basically, Calvin Says the Holy Spirit comes to debunk all the fraudulent religions that spring up around the true faith in Christ, the true salvation in the Gospel, and the true people of God.  Nice Work.