Blog 46: 2.2.18 - 2.2.21

Sean Lucas

Having talked about the knowledge of "earthly matters" which reason can attain by God's common grace (2.2.13-16), Calvin argues that spiritual insight--knowledge about "heavenly matters"--consists in three things: knowing God; knowing his fatherly favor in our behalf; and knowing how to frame our lives according to his law (2.2.18). This spiritual insight does not come through reason alone or even reason coupled with God's general grace. Rather, this knowing comes only when our minds have been made new by the illumination of the Holy Spirit (2.2.20).

With this emphasis upon the work of the Spirit, it is easy to see why Calvin has long been called "the theologian of the Holy Spirit." A generation later, John Owen was called the same. And yet few of our theologians and ministers today would bear that title. We often talk about God as a whole, God the Father, and especially Jesus; we also recognize that our justification and sanctification come by grace. Yet we fail to recognize that it is God the Holy Spirit whose "wonderful and singular power forms our ears to hear and our minds to understand" and our wills to act.

How often do we pray for the Holy Spirit to accompany his Word to change people's hearts in the reading and preaching of it? How often do we pray for the Spirit to dispel the darkness in the hearts of our loved ones, neighbors, friends? Do we really believe that "wherever the Spirit does not cast his light, all is darkness" (2.2.21)?