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November 29, 2021 12:01 am
John Calvin's A Little Book on the Christian Life has helped people grow in the Christian faith for generations. Today, Burk Parsons demonstrates the enduring value and significance of this book for growing believers.
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I was moved to teach on the doxology and the benedictions first of all because of what they mean to me.
Devotional. I turned to them in my own private meditations for refocus for worship for self-examination for building up of faith and then as a result of that, I've been looking for opportunities to teach them to our church because I believe they aid to people of God in looking up and seeing the greatness of God in these succinct statements of blessing and/or doxology that are memorable and meaningful. We take them for granted like they are there for blessing, blessing and praise by HB Charles Junior visit Lincoln here.org/teaching series to learn more today on Renewing Your Mind. We've all heard the phrase people say that some people are so heavenly minded there no earthly good.
Calvin would've said stop. It's only those who are the most heavenly minded who are the greatest earthly good Christian faith is contains just five short chapters but it's worked for Christians to turn to for centuries. It's appropriately titled a little book on the Christian life. Dr. Burke person served as one of the editors and translators for this book we are pleased to publish an offer to you Dr. Parsons as senior pastor of St. Andrews Chapel in one of our teaching fellows here at Wagoner ministries joins me here in the studio along with our president and CEO Chris Larson Parsons. This is actually a book within a book. Would you talk about that and what prompted you to translate. Surely this booklet, this little book on the Christian life by Calvin was taken from Calvin's classic theological work the institutes of the Christian religion, and this was translated from the last version from the Latin of Calvin's institutes from book 3 chapters 6 through 10 and so this was developed by Calvin over the course of five different additions and this is from the last addition from the Latin and what what prompted your interest in it. I first came across this work of Calvin's years ago and realized very quickly that it was one of the most helpful classic works on Christian living and the doctrine of sanctification, and especially with so much of the confusion that is surrounded Christian living in sanctification. I realize that this book was one of the most helpful and clear booklets that gives a summary of the Christian life in a in a very accessible and simple manner. So for years I wanted to do a new translation to provide for Christians of this generation.
Both the younger Christians and older Christians. Mature Christians a booklet that would really help them understand the basic biblical tenants of how we as Christians live the Christian life Burke when I hear your passion for getting this book to this generation is the me so much excitement because Calvin's heartbeat as a pastor comes through.
He desires to lift up Jesus Christ and in our day and age where there's so much narcissistic social media around us we can almost help running into ourselves and instead Calvin takes us to the path of suffering in the shape of this life to be able to remind us to not have our thinking conform to the pattern that is in this world. Worldly thinking self-referential thinking, but instead encourages us towards self forgetfulness and to lift up Jesus Christ, and make sure that he is on display in our lives is the type of book that I want to make sure were putting into as many hands as possible if I just a couple months ago we gave this book away on the radio just in the space of five days we gave away 10,000 copies through this radio broadcast and so I'm eager to make sure that folks who are listening today have an opportunity to get this for themselves and also to get one for a friend never got like to talk more about Calvin. You know, this is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and much of the focus is been on Martin Luther. After all, it was in 1517 that he nailed his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, but we cannot talk about the Reformation without talking about John Calvin can absolutely hear exactly rightly in many ways. Calvin was the systematize of the doctrinal systematize her in many ways meant there were certainly theologians such as Lutheran lengthened others at Wittenberg, but it Calvin very carefully very slowly over the course again. Of these five additions.
These revisions of his institutes from firmly starting at the age of 26, 27, and to the rest of his life he really carefully sought to put together the theology of the Christian faith, and in what we see in that theology.
What we see in his institutes of the Christian religion is theology for all of life. Theology for real life and this this booklet is that excerpt which Calvin wanted to be published separately, which is one of the best classic summaries of Christian living and how we live out our theology in all of life.
You're right in the preface that your aim was to produce a translation that Calvin himself would be pleased with faithful to his meaning and his words, that that's a tall order it. It really is Lee Dr. Aaron Dellinger and I spent may be close to two years working on this translation from the Latin of course, considering the French and looking at other English translations from time to time but really trying to produce something translation here that was truly faithful to Calvin.
We had to spend a lot of time discussing Calvin's theology. We had to reference commentaries and other portions of the institutes to make sure that we are being faithful to the exact phrasing wording that we think Calvin would've likely used and so is we spent that time together we really became sort of conversation partners with Calvin as if you were sitting right there in my study is this living theologian among us. I remember your excitement as you would come out of some of these translation sessions, and just over that period of a couple years you would let me end on a little bit of what was happening and it became very clear early on that we had something special here in the works and the way that you and Aaron were carefully approaching this and trying to let Calvin stand on his own.
Help me to realize that at Lincoln Aaron through Reformation trust. We had something special to Stuart as a book and to see this get to another generation. So I'm just grateful for your care and precision and what you've tried to do with John Calvin's little book Burke if you will, that there's a passage in chapter 2 that I think is so meaningful and would you talk about how you wanted to translate this and edited for for our 21st century years and I and I think that this passage really reflects Calvin's pastoral heart doesn't it really does this. This is one of the more well-known quotations from John Calvin. In general, and it appears in this booklet. As you mentioned in Chapter 2 enters four more to this but I just read an excerpt. Calvin writes we are not our own. Therefore neither our reason, nor our will should dominate our plans and actions.
We are not our own. Therefore let us not make the gratification of our flesh are and we are not our own. Therefore, as much as possible. Let us forget ourselves and our own interests. While that is really good and then you go on to translate in the The two.
Since we are not her own, we belong to God that there we are his right.
That's right. Rather, we are God's. Calvin writes we belong to God.
That is, therefore, let us live and die to him.
We are God's.
Therefore let his wisdom and his will govern all our actions. We are God's. Therefore let us in every way, and all our lives run to him as our only proper and as we mentioned this work is taken from just five chapters of Calvin's institutes but why has this particular portion of the institutes been the focus of so much attention over the centuries with a reason. Calvin's booklet here is unique in the reason why it has been so loved as a Christian classic among believers.
For centuries now is because it points us to Christ and his Chris mentioned it is rooted in our union with Christ. That was one of Calvin's most foundational tenants of his theology that we are united to Jesus Christ and so Calvin's theology of sanctification is birthed from that flows from our union with Christ as it points us to Christ, and so even through Calvin's writing, he makes it very clear that were to die to self or to take up our cross and follow Christ that we are to kill us in the flesh. He talks so much about the trials and miseries and burdens of life, but he doesn't leave us there. He doesn't leave us hanging. He says let us not forget our future life. Let us live in this life. With her eyes set upon the future upon heaven upon what awaits us. Let us fix our gaze upon the author and finisher of our faith know we've all heard the phrase people say that some people are so heavenly minded there no earthly good. Calvin would've said stop.
It's only those who are the most heavenly minded who are the greatest earthly good and as Christians, our hope is not derived from the things of this world are our joy is not in this life.
Ultimately, our joy, our hope is as we look to Christ as we look to heaven as we look to that day when there will be no more tears and no more burdens no more trials no more miseries no more diseases and no more death.
I can't help but think what an encouragement that would be for someone who's going through a very difficult struggle in life either physically or emotionally absolutely in Calvin himself faced many of those he and his family and he himself was a pastor and a lot of people look at Calvin is just some ivory tower theologian that was an academic well. He was a theologian, but he was a real pastor among real people and he got dirty and he got hurt and he walked with people through dark valleys. He struggled in life, and he knew of his own sin of his own weaknesses and that's what we see in this classic work.
Calvin is a real man is a sinful human being resting in the grace of God looking to Christ all by the power of the Holy Spirit. We look at him as the theologian, as you say of the Reformation, but there is nothing cold, sterile, distant, or removed when you read this little book. So, again, that heartbeat of the pastor comes through down through the generations right to us and Chris. I'm so glad you're part of this conversation not only because your role in leadership here at Lincoln here but your committed churchman you take discipleship seriously and you've led men discipleship groups before. How might a book like this be a good a good resource for that purpose.
While I can think from personal experience I've used in earlier addition of this book, and discipleship groups with men and sat with even just one-on-one counseling with younger men and trying to get them familiar with Calvin. First of all, and I would say just if you're listening today and you've never picked up Calvin. This is a great place just to reach just to introduce yourself to John Calvin's thinking. It's very accessible can sit down, jump right in and you can finish the book and just 45 minutes or so for me it's difficult to read a paragraph without having to stop and pray, and as I've led other men. Through this study looking at the book it's evident that we need to pause and truly meditate on what the Lord is teaching us because it's so scriptural and the way Calvin fits in his thinking with what the Bible teaches. It drips the Bible throughout it. And so it takes you to different passages as you go into different sections and so it's not just that you can read it all at once. He certainly can and I would actually encourage many people to do so by that the same time, you can just taste it and go in look at different sections and then do the biblical study that flows from it so it works so well both individually but also in a small group setting. Berg week we got a sense of Calvin's pastoral heart in the passage that you read earlier but the 80s. He doesn't mince words in. This is a passage that struck me in it. It's the kind of wording that you're not going to find in many contemporary evangelical books and it it's a warning and he says for those whom the Lord has chosen and condescended to welcome in the fellowship with them should prepare themselves for a life that is hard, laborious, troubled and full of many and various kinds of evil. It's beautiful, and Calvin understood that that when Christ calls a man is spun over said he bids him come and die die to self and that is a daily thing in the school of Christ is Calvin often spoke of us as Christians, we are pupils in the school of Jesus Christ as his disciples. And it's not easy but it is a life of peace and joy. True hope and grace. Calvin brings out the tension that exists in the Christian life. The tension that every believer feels the war that every believer experiences, yet he also brings out that the joy in the peace in the Christian life and he explains it in a way that very few have ever done in and really the history of Christendom and in one section he says and whatever trouble comes to us. We should always set her eyes on God's purpose to train us to think little of this present life and inspire us to think more about the future life.
For God knows well what we are greatly inclined to love in this world by natural instinct. Thus he uses the best means to draw us back into shake us from our slumber so that we don't become entirely stuck in the mire of our love for this world. And he talks a great deal about our love for this world and how or not to love this world were not to be clinging to this world rather were to be clinging to Christ and to the cross of Christ and then he says a little bit later on in the same chapter he says contempt for this present life. That believer should cultivate, should produce hatred of this life or in gratitude toward God this life.
Though bursting at the seams with every kind of misery should still be considered one of God's blessings that shouldn't be dismissed through talks about gratitude.
Gratefulness in this life and that we as Christians are to be grateful people. Yes, we deal with sin and misery not only the sins and miseries of others and the sins and miseries of the world. But our own sins and mysteries which are the worst form, he says, yet we still are called by God to live lives of gratefulness contentment. As we set our gaze upon Christ as we set our gaze upon heaven.
Think about Dr. still picking the name of this program.
Renewing Your Mind.
It comes right from Romans 12 to and then the other impulse for looking at ministries that we would proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all of its fullness. The right understanding of God's holiness also leads us to a holy living. And in this day and age, least common denominator.
Christianity seems to pass for what's acceptable, but the Lord calls us to something greater.
He calls us to deny ourselves as you say to this battle that is in the Christian life. He calls us to holy living. In this book provides the shape of what that would look like directly from Scripture. I totally agree, Chris, and that's one of the reasons why I'm so grateful that this book has been published at this particular time in church history for this new generation because there has never been perhaps greater confusion on this whole matter of Christian living and sanctification and holiness because it is a holiness that comes from God and it's a holiness that were called to pursue with all our passion in our lives that it's a holiness that were called to pursue fueled by the grace of God, fueled by the Holy Spirit working in us and fueled by arc fixing our gaze on Jesus Christ, who declared it is finished.
That is the basis of our motivation for pursuing the holiness of Christ and its again as we are talking about earlier early.
It is a holiness that is flowing from is a beautiful fountain.
Our union with Jesus Christ. There's another quote in the book that really struck me in it.
It's this unless we are devoted even addicted to righteousness, we will face closely abandon our creator and disown him as our Savior, because it doesn't pull any punches in this book and it's like you said Chris earlier it's it's why you feel like you need to bow your head in prayer.
After reading a line or two of this great work of work. We certainly appreciate the work that you and Dr. Aaron then lingered did in translating and editing this this treasure, but Berg lets let Calvin have the last word he writes at the end. Each person and whatever his station in life will endure and overcome troubles, inconveniences, disappointments and anxieties convinced that his burden has been placed upon them by God.
Great consolation will follow from all of this for every work performed in obedience to one's calling, no matter how ordinary and common is radiant and most valuable in the eyes of that is Dr. Burke Parsons reading from a little book on the Christian life. Dr. Parsons and Wagoner Pres. Chris Larson. It helped us understand why this little book has been so important to Christians through the years were glad you joined us today for Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Lee Webb and we would like for you and your family to have a copy of this classic work by John Calvin is lifted from book 3 of Calvin's institutes of the Christian religion.
Dr. Parsons and Dr. Aaron. Then when you're teamed up to translate and edit a little book on the Christian life as the title implies that this is not a log book of just over 100 pages but it's packed with biblical wisdom. Call us today with your donation of any amount and we will send you this valuable resource. Our phone number is 800-435-4343.
You can also go online to make your request and give your email@example.com before he went home to be with the Lord in 2017 and I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. RC Sproul about this little book in what he had to say and of itself. This is a classic and deserves to be a classic. It's called the Golden book and one of the things about it is that it just smashes to smithereens the false image that so many people have about the person John Calvin. I don't know of any theologian in history who's been more vilified by his critics then was John Calvin. When I used this teach in the seminary and have my students read Calvin's institutes I would make them start not at the beginning, but by reading Calvin's section on prayer which is one of the most majestic portions of his work that you would ever read, and that people be immediately exposed to the tender heart and the warm spirit that the man that exuded and again this Golden book, as is called. This lifts out of the three passages are few chapters of the institutes does the same thing. It reveals the warm heart. But not only the warm heart but the brilliant mind and biblical insight that Calvin had this little book is so edifying not just for the benefit of improving Calvin's reputation, but for spiritual growth for Christians who immerse themselves in, and again we are so pleased to make this treasury of wisdom available to you so request a little book on the Christian life. When you call us with your donation of any amount or number again is 800-435-4343. You can also make your request online and Renewing Your Mind.org.
We will hear from Dr. Parsons again tomorrow as he delivers a message titled, is Calvinism good for the church are Calvinism, if it is biblical. Calvinism will be a thorough ever deepening knowledge, understanding and love of the God whom we worship, and if your version of Calvinism doesn't do that in your Calvinism is not the Bible's Calvinism is certainly friend isn't good for the church are Calvinism is not to be a Calvinism that we wear on a T-shirt on a bumper sticker Calvinism. We are on our sleeves set up badge that we put on sagged into a leak in your conference.
See, I truly am Calvin is a gospel religion. I hope you make plans to join us Tuesday the of Renewing Your Mind