Iain Murray on John Calvin

In the week we are meant to be moving to Cambridge I have broken my arm (actually I broke it 10 days ago but only made it to A&E this week).  Having moved our goods down there on Friday we are due to go down tomorrow.  This is dependent on the results of a hospital appointment tomorrow.  Whatever the outcome, it is good to know these things are ordered by a gracious God who works all things for the good.

Anyway, back to the free offer.  Here are some comments from Iain Murray from the introduction he wrote for John Calvin: A Heart For Devotion Doctrine & Doxology (Reformation Trust, 2008):

We have found it easier to be “teachers” and “defenders” of the truth than to be evangelists who are willing to die that men might be converted. Sometimes the impression can be given … that we think all gospel preaching can be fitted into the five points [of Calvinism]. The five points are not to be depreciated, but God is incomprehensibly greater than our understanding, and there are other truths to be preached far beyond our capacity to harmonize.

Calvin cautions us here. In speaking of the indiscriminate invitations of Christ in John 5, he observes, “He is ready to give himself, provided that they are only willing to believe.”  He can say that “nothing of all that God wishes to be saved shall perish” and yet warn his hearers lest the opportunity of salvation “pass away from us.”  He speaks of Christ’s “great kindness” to Judas and affirms, “Christ does not lay Judas under the necessity of perishing.”  If on occasions, when in controversy with opponents of Scripture, Calvin unduly presses the implications of a doctrine, he guards against that temptation in his general preaching and teaching. He does not hesitate to teach that God loves those who will not be saved; indeed, he writes that God “wishes all men to be saved,” and to the objection that God cannot wish what He has not ordained, it is enough for Calvin to confess: “Although God’s will is simple, yet great variety is involved in it, as far as our senses are concerned. Besides, it is not surprising that our eyes should be blinded by intense light.” Our duty, he would say, is to adore the loftiness of God rather than investigate it.

Where Calvinistic truth is presented as though there is no love in God to sinners as sinners – that His only regard is for the elect – it is no wonder that evangelistic preaching falters. The preacher has to be possessed with a love for all or he will not represent the Savior in whose name he speaks. The men of Calvinistic belief who have stood out as evangelists and missionaries have always been examples of this…

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