The following is a summary of and reflection upon an abridged version of Calvin’s Institutes produced by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne (see it here on Amazon). I should note that I did not read the final book, Book IV: Outward Means by which God Helps Us, in its entirety; and therefore, it was directly not taken into consideration in the writing of this review.
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Calvin’s understanding of how men know God, know themselves, and the relationship between these two types of knowledge is seemingly foundational to the entirety of his theology (1:1:1). For Calvin, knowledge of self is intrinsically linked to knowledge of God while knowledge of God results in proper assessment of self (1:1:1). Genuine knowledge of self necessarily assumes knowledge of God. One cannot fully grasp the existence of the creature apart from his fundamental relationship to his Creator and Sustainer (1:1:1). Comprehension of man’s falleness assumes an ideal, one that is rooted in God’s creative-design; transgression implies the reality of Judge (1:1:1). On the other hand, without knowledge of God, no one ever truly knows himself (1:1:2). Lacking insight into the purpose for which He was created, ignorance of his original nature and its divine intent flourish. Unaware of God’s standard of righteousness, man consequently assesses his moral condition inaccurately (2:1:1).
What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert is a great little book explaining the Gospel in an unintimidating 121 pages of colloquial language .
The book provides an accurate, concise, clear presentation of the Gospel in very a Pauline, protestant, evangelical, and Reformed fashion. He explains the Gospel in very “Romans’ road”-like terms and uses penal substitution as his foundational motif in explaining the Gospel (hence very Pauline, protestant, evangelical, and Reformed). Gilbert uses the well-known, often used, and quite excellent, “God, man, Christ, response” outline to explain the Gospel. This outline demonstrates a fantastic and simply model to help one get a solid grasp of what the Gospel is really all about. It also prompts one to ask important questions about what the Gospel message assumes (sometimes called the “bad news”), means, and implies.
The following belongs to a series entitled “An Introductory Biblical Theology of Resurrection.” Read other posts belonging to this series here.
The Pauline Epistles
Of all Biblical authors, the resurrection is most prolific in Paul’s writings. Of first importance, Paul confesses the bodily resurrection and appearance of Christ (1 Cor 15:3-8; Gal 1:1; 1 Thes 1:10; 2 Tim 2:8). Christ is raised for the imputation of His righteousness to all who are united to Him by faith (Rom 4:25), and lives to make intercession for all those for whom He died (Rom 8:34). But even more so, the central motif in Paul’s resurrection-framework is union with Christ.
In contemporary Christianity it is very common to hear that someone “got saved” or to have someone tell you that they were “saved” at such and such a time. But beyond that, the concept of “salvation” remains dormant. I believe this stems from a misunderstanding of salvation, that is, salvation in its entirety.
Now, it is true that many believers can point back to a specific moment of turning from sin towards initial trust in Christ for salvation. In theology we call this moment conversion and it is also the moment we are regenerated (given spiritual birth and life) and justified (counted as righteous before God). In this sense, then, we can rightly say that we were saved upon our conversion. But the idea of “salvation” is Biblically and theologically much more comprehensive than just that one precise moment.
Ephesians 2:8 states that one is saved by grace through faith. Now, this is a relatively well known verse. And the concept of salvation by means of faith in Christ and His saving work alone is also relatively well known, at least among evangelicalism.
Maybe your familiar with this truth. I hope you are. But have you ever thought to yourself, “why faith? Why is it that faith saves as opposed to something else like good deeds, joy, sorrow, gladness, or a sense of surreal peace?” Obviously it was God who determined faith to be the means of man’s salvation; it’s not as if this was some external law or obligation that was imposed on Him. So, why faith? Why is God’s plan of saving people by His grace through faith. Why does He count those with faith as righteous (Rom 4:3; cf. Gen 15:6)?