Blog 93: 3.2.16 - 3.2.21

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In these paragraphs, Calvin continues his discussion of faith when, having distinguished the true from the false, he addresses the manner in which the believing individual experiences the world.  What is particularly significant here is the way in which Calvin moves seamlessly from theological exposition to pastoral concern.
 
Central to the believer's experience is the internalizing of the promises.  It is of the very nature of faith that it is not mere assent to truth but that it involves an existential commitment to that truth.   The words of Kierkegaard come to mind: it is not necessary that something simply be true; it must be true for me.  So with Calvin: the promises cannot remain outside of us and have the same relation to us as, say, a mathematical equation; instead, we must grasp them in a way that changes our very lives by giving us confidence, peace of conscience, and assurance of God's love. 
 
Now Calvin is a good enough pastor to know that such is the ideal but that each believer is divided, fighting an internal battle between the new nature in Christ and the remaining old in Adam.  The life of David, particularly as expressed in the poetic wrestling evidenced by the Psalms, gives ample evidence that the life of faith is not a life of unfettered joy and assurance.  God will at times seem distant, if not absent; at other times he might seem angry; yet in all of these times of darkness, true faith clings to his revelation, to Christ, and to his promises in a way that prevents despair.  For all of the struggles which the believer may endure, externally and especially internally, the word of God is clear and the faith that rests upon it cannot ultimately be shaken.   Believers may be, as it were, divided against themselves, and faith may ebb and flow in terms of its strength, but even weak faith is true faith, and its strength is not intrinsic to itself but derived from the word of God.
 
For this reason, it is surely incumbent upon us today to prioritise the reading and the hearing of God's word.  Too often our instinct is that, when times are tough and we feel that God is distant or even absent, we respond by distancing - or even absenting - ourselves from the humble reading of and listening to God's word. How many times have I listened to the woes of those who think God has forsaken them; when really it is they who have forsaken God's word.  The thirsty man who refuses to drink cannot complain that his throat remains parched; and to neglect God's word is lethal.  Indeed, it cuts faith off from its very life source and is a recipe only for further mischief and disaster.
Posted May 13, 2009 @ 9:43 AM by Carl Trueman
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