05.31.2018: One Chapter of Nonfiction

Today's soundtrack is Burn the Priest: Burn the Priest.

This evening, I'm reading chapter 2 of John Calvin's The Institutes of Christian Religion, "What it is to know God and where that leads."

To know God is to recognize that God exists, and to realize His effect on our personal lives. God is revealed to us first as the Creator and then as the Redeemer. God is the source of all goodness. Everything that was and is and is to come would not be without God. Thus, God is the one who we must ask everything of, and God is the one we must thank for everything we receive. We must put our happiness into God's hands.

Seeking to define God's essence is a fruitless pursuit; instead, we should learn His nature. We should seek to understand God's character because this will inspire deeper reverence of His holiness, and because knowing God's character will help us to understand His will and what things we should seek from Him. Since God is the Creator, we are his creation; we must submit to His authoritative will. Learing God's will begins with recognizing His role as fountain of all goodness. The true seeker of God's nature will not attribute characteristics to God that are not actually God's; rather, he looks for the character that God reveals about himself in the Bible. Once we see God's true nature, we will realize that it is only through Him that we live; it is only on God that we can rely for help and for protection. We will know that God's authority supersedes all else, that His will is always satisfied, that His holiness and justice will never be denied. We will recognize how terrible God's wrath is, and we will control ourselves to avoid incurring that wrath. We do not control our lives simply out of fear, but out of love for God and in awe of His holiness and goodness and the forgiveness and eternal life that He has given to His children. So those whose hearts have been opened by the Holy Spirit would still avoid sin even if there were no hell, just so that they could avoid offending God.

Calvin concludes thus: "So this is pure and true religion: it is confidence in God coupled with genuine fear. This fear comprises willing reverence and true worship as God has commanded. All men give indiscriminate homage to God, but very few truly worship him. There are plenty of pretentious rituals but little sincerity of heart" (p. 27).