John Calvin On Continuing RevelationAll the Principles of Piety Subverted By Fanatics, Who Substitute Revelations For Scripture.Sections:
1. The temper and error of the Libertines, who take to themselves the name of spiritual, briefly described. Their refutation.
(a). The Apostles and all true Christians have embraced the written Word. This confirmed by a passage in Isaiah; also by the example and words of Paul.
(b). The Spirit OF Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly.
(2) Refutation continued.
a) The impositions of Satan cannot be detected without the aid of the written Word. First Objection. The Answer to it.
3. Second Objection from the words of Paul as to the letter and spirit. The Answer, with an explanation of Paul's meaning. How the Spirit and the written Word are indissolubly connected.
1.The fanatics wrongly appeal to the Holy Spirit
Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy men have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit,
reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter. But I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish.
If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous;since they will, I presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly testify.
And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of Isaiah. For when he says,
"My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,"
he does not tie down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere teacher of elements; he rather shows that,
under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God.
Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union.
Add to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular excellence, to give attention to reading, (1 Tim. 4: 13.)
This is Paul's unique word for worship in Spirit and in Truth: give attention or give heed. This is the same word in Hebrew used by David when he "worshiped" and sang songs upon his bed and meditated in his heart.
And the eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be remembered, viz., that
"it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect," (2 Tim. 3: 16.)
What an infatuation of the devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use?
Again, I should like those people to tell me whether they have imbibed any other Spirit than that which Christ promised to his disciples. Though their madness is extreme, it will scarcely carry them the length of making this their boast.
But what kind of Spirit did our Saviour promise to send? One who should not speak of himself, (John 16: 13,)but suggest and instil the truths which he himself had delivered through the word.
Hence the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.
2. The Holy Spirit is recognized in his agreement with Scripture
Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God, (just as Peter praises those who attentively study the doctrine of the prophets, (2 Pet. 1: 19,) though it might have been thought to be superseded after the gospel light arose,) and, on the contrary,
that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God's Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood.
Since Satan transforms himself into an angel of light [knowledge], what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark? And assuredly he is pointed out to us by the Lord with sufficient clearness; but these miserable men err as if bent on their own destruction,
while they seek the Spirit from themselves rather than from Him.
But they say that it is insulting to subject the Spirit, to whom all things are to be subject, to the Scripture: as if it were disgraceful to the Holy Spirit to maintain a perfect resemblance throughout, and be in all respects without variation consistent with himself.
True, if he were subjected to a human, an angelical, or to any foreign standard, it might be thought that he was rendered subordinate, or, if you will, brought into bondage, but so long as he is compared with himself, and considered in himself, how can it be said that he is thereby injured? I admit that he is brought to a test, but the very test by which it has pleased him that his majesty should be confirmed.
It ought to be enough for us when once we hear his voice; but lest Satan should insinuate himself under his name, he wishes us to recognise him by the image which he has stamped on the Scriptures.
The author of the Scriptures cannot vary, and change his likeness. Such as he there appeared at first, such he will perpetually remain. There is nothing contumelious to him in this, unless we are to think it would be honourable for him to degenerate, and revolt against himself.
3. Word and Spirit belong inseparably together
Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles, (2 Cor. 3: 6,) who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived the people of the benefit of the New Covenant,
by which the Lord engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and engrave it on their inward parts.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Cor 3:6
The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart.
But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple.
Jesus said: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Nay, in the very same passage, the apostle calls his own preaching the ministration of the Spirit, (2 Cor. 3: 8,) intimating that the Holy Spirit so cleaves to his own truth, as he has expressed it in Scripture,
that he then only exerts and puts forth his strength when the word is received with due honour and respect.
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 2 Cor 3:7
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 2 Cor 3:8
There is nothing repugnant here to what was lately said, (chap. 7) that we have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit.
> He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. John 3:31And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. John 3:32
He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. Jn.3:33
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God:for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. Jn 3:34The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. Jn 3:35He that believeth (past tense) on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36> This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. Jn.21:24
> If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 1Jn.5:9
For the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit,that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognise him in his image, that is, in his word.Thus, indeed, it is. God did not produce his word before men for the sake of sudden display, intending to abolish it the moment the Spirit should arrive;but he employed the same Spirit,
by whose agency he had administered the word,
to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word.
Paul wrote: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:37
In this way Christ explained to the two disciples, (Luke 24: 27,) not that they were to reject the Scriptures and trust to their own wisdom, but that they were to understand the Scriptures.
> Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, Phil 2:5who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, Phil 2:6
but laid aside his MIGHTY POWER and GLORY, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. Phil 2:7
And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal's death on a cross. Phil 2:8
Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, Phil 2:9
> Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? Luke 24:26And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27> And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Luke 24:44Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: Luke 24:46
> And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:47
The nations include all who are not Jews: Gentiles:
Ethos (g1484) eth'-nos; prob. from 1486; a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; spec. a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by impl. pagan): - Gentile, heathen, nation, people.
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. Ga.2:2
Gentiles would not be circumcized to become Jews before they could become Christians because Paul disputed it. The gospel of Paul was the Gospel of Christ and:
Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Gal 2:10
> And ye are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:48
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. Luke 24:50And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. Luke 24:51
> Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. Matt 28:16And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. Matt 28:17
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth Matt 28:18
Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matt 28:19
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matt 28:20
Of a qualified elder:
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Titus 1:9
Their belief in the truth that they have been taught must be strong and steadfast so that they will be able to teach it to others and show those who disagree with them where they are wrong. Titus 1:9LIV
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Titus 1:10
Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucres sake. Titus 1:11
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Mark 16:14
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; Mark 16:17
Jesus did not say that the baptized believers would perform signs.
The word "follow" is:
Parakoloutheo (g3877) par-ak-ol-oo- theh'-o; from 3844 and 190; to follow near, i.e. (fig.) attend (as a result), trace out, conform to: - attain, follow, fully know, have understanding.
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:18
So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. Mark 16:19
In like manner, when Paul says to the Thessalonians, "Quench not the Spirit,"
he does not carry them aloft to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, "Despise not prophesying," (1 Thess. 5: 19, 20.)
By this, doubtless, he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment prophesying fall into contempt.
How is this answered by those swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their minds?
Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God.As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid of the light of truth,
so they are not ignorant that the word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed.
They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the apostles--the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the hearing of the word.
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 2 Corinthians 3:13
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:14Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:15
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16
Now the Lord (Christ) is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
If Christ is the Spirit and the Lord, and His Word is Spirit and Life, imagining that we have another "person" inside of us to guide us above and beyond the Scripture is to deny Christ. Only by accepting the Word of Christ (Colossians 3:16) do we have the Spririt (Ephesians 5:19) with which to sing and speak one to another. One who insists that they have some message beyond that revealed by Christ and the Apostles and protected by the Spirit God we are in the midst of one who wants to steak the disciples of Christ to become disciples of the new but false "prophet."
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