Calvin on Wives Submitting to Their Husbands

I’m preaching through 1 Peter and decided to read Calvin’s Sermons on Ephesians for the corresponding passage dealing with wives submitting to their husbands. I love reading commentaries from men of Calvin’s generation in helping me understand how the text has been viewed in history given that our culture is so completely inundated with the idolatry of the individual, also known as radical feminism.

I was going to use the following quote but decided that it was too controversial in nature. Heidi told me it was what we call a “parachute illustration.” That comes from a fellow pastor, Grover Gunn, who used an opening sermon illustration that was so horrifying in its description that, I didn’t hear the rest of his sermon. That illustration involved a man who was parachuting with a group of others and his job was to film everyone else. As they were descending, one after another pulled their chute and he continued to fall. After the last of the group opened his chute, the view from the camera became erratic, and it started spinning. The man who was filming the others, forget to put his shoot on before jumping out of the plane. He fell to his death. But alas, the camera survived and we have this horrible story to share with our congregations.

OK, if that doesn’t bother you, then Calvin’s quote will not bother you either. But it was so strong, I decided not to use it in my sermon on wives submitting to their husbands. Calvin is writing against women giving excuses for not submitting to their husbands. Peter, in his treatment, rules out the use of excuses in his passage.

Calvin writes:

“It is true that they will be so proud and arrogant to say, ‘Must my husband have authority over me?’ But in this she shows that she is unwilling for God to have any superiority over her, and that she would like to put under her foot God’s law… However, since there is no other remedy except that women have to humble themselves and to understand that the ruin and confusion of the whole human race came in on their side, so that we are all lost and cursed and banished from the kingdom of heaven—when women (I say) understand that all this came from Eve and the feminine sex there is no other way for them but to humble themselves and to bear patiently the subjection that God has laid upon them, which is nothing else but a warning to keep themselves lowly and modest.”[1]

I took it out of my sermon because it seemed to be a parachute illustration, in other words, it would detract from the larger message.

 

 

[1] John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Banner of Truth, 569.

 

God’s Provision

Here is a gracious fact: “We receive support from the palace” (Ezra 4:14). Both the upper and the lower springs from which we drink are fed by the great King’s eternal goodness. In every moment we have been supplied with food and clothing.

Sometimes we have been reduced to a pinch. Then through our infirmity, fermented with the irritability of our unbelief, we ask, “What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?” (Matt. 6:31). Still we have lived in the land and we have been fed. It has been especially gratifying to receive a loaf of bread from our Father’s hand. You have known poverty, but there has been a special sweetness in the daily bread that has been sent in answer to prayer. Although we do not drink water from the rock (Ex. 17:6) or find daily manna (Ex. 16:4), God’s providence still produces the same results, and we are fed and satisfied.

— Charles H. Spurgeon

A.W. Pink Defines What is Meant by God’s Sovereignty

A.W. Pink defines the sovereignty of God in the following way:

“What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Daniel 4:35).

“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalm 115:3).

“To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’ (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the ‘Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords’ (1 Timothy 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.”

Calvin on 1 Peter 2:9 A Chosen Race

“…it appears more fully how incomparable is God’s goodness towards us; for He sanctifies us, who are by nature polluted; He chose us, when He could find nothing in us but filth and vileness; He makes His peculiar possession from worthless dregs; He confers the honor of the priesthood on the profane; He brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty.”

 

Spurgeon on a Rock of Refuge

Be a rock of refuge for me,

a strong fortress to save me!

Our reliance on God in adversity is a principle method of glorifying Him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in God’s sight.

The words appear to embrace and fasten on the LORD with a confident grip of faith that is not to be relaxed. The personal pronouns lay hold on the LORD’s faithfulness. We need grace to have our hearts fixed in a firm belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated by the fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by enemies but never wrested from its defenders. Ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by modern warfare, were important in those remote ages. Fleeing to the mountains, feeble bands felt secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the LORD to be his rock, because He was his rock. Let us learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer.

Charles H. Spurgeon, from The Treasury of David, Psalm 31:2.

The Clearest View of the Moral Law

It is only gross ignorance of the requirements of God’s law which makes people undervalue the Gospel. The man who has the clearest view of the moral law, will always be the man who has the highest sense of the value of Christ’s atoning blood.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, Chapter XII, 28–34.

The Gospel is Transcultural

The Gospel is transcultural and in a sense, hyper-cultural, or above all cultural interpretations, judging them all. The Gospel is identical in every culture into which it comes and has no cultus as a referent which is not subordinate. As such there is no “Chinese Gospel” and a “European Gospel” an American Gospel and an African Gospel. There is exactly one Bible, one Gospel, one Christ and one Church, and these have no shift nor can they be, contextualized. These rather, are the context for every other thing that claims to be, Christianity.

In this, the ordained practice of the Church, prayer and praise, sacraments and worship, preaching and teaching, singing and believing, are identical in every true church. For them to differ does not mean that a church has a different cultural context, it implies that some church has a misunderstanding. Difference in the carpet color and the style of the architecture are the effects of applied human reason; it is hard for them to be “wrong” in the significant sense.

But differences in theology raise the necessity of someone being wrong. In the laws of God, the Gospel and the signs of a true church (the right preaching, right administration of the sacraments and the exercise of church discipline) these are either in accord with the divine mandate, or not. It matters not upon which continent they occur.

Taken from Christopher Neiswonger’s Facebook post, which can be found here.

Gender Apartheid?

On the face of it, the claim that there is “gender apartheid” in NAPARC is not only implausible but even offensive. First, those who make the claim did so on their own, public podcast. Under apartheid black South Africans were not freely, without government interference, doing the equivalent of podcasts. Our podcasters were in no danger of authorities breaking down the door of their studio. Indeed, our podcasters have the ability to control with whom they will talk—they block on social media even the mildest critics and potential dialogue partners. Further, our female podcasters were theologically educated or had other advanced academic degrees. Again, for prosperous females in North America, who have earned masters and doctoral degrees, to complain of apartheid is just silly. It is offensive because it demeans the very real oppression that black South Africans suffered under apartheid. It is the equivalent of comparing standing in line at Starbucks to standing in a chow line in prison. It is not a thoughtful way to argue.

R. Scott Clark, “Gender Apartheid” And “Toxic Masculinity” In NAPARC?