Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Martyr for Calvin

It is often said that the Reformed are followers of a man, John Calvin, rather than Christ. Charles Spurgeon responded to this charge by pointing to the substance of what Calvin preached and identifying it as merely the gospel:

I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

Wilhelmus à Brakel once wrote a long pastoral letter to the persecuted saints of the Netherlands titled "A Letter of Exhortation to Be Steadfast in the Confession of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Truth in Time of Persecution and Martyrdom." This letter is found in The Christian's Reasonable Service, Vol. 3, pp. 359-376. In it, he discusses various temptations that persecuted believers were subject to, among which is this charge:

The best they can do is laugh about me, calling me a martyr -- not of the Lord Jesus, but of Calvin.

His counsel in the face of such a charge is this:

...there is the temptation of suffering from an evil reputation of being disobedient to the government, of having committed a given evil, of being stubborn, and being but a martyr for the sake of Calvin and his errors. You must skillfully resist this temptation for you know very well that they do not have an evil deed as a basis for torturing you, but they rather do so to cause you to deny the truth. They have but fabricated this evil reputation. You know indeed that Calvin is not the issue; you do not esteem him more highly than other faithful ministers. You do not rely upon his word but only upon the Word of God. God, angels, and believers also know this -- yes, it is even known to the enemies, and they take occasion to harden their heart and render yours weak by way of this evil reputation. Thus, the Jews dealt with the Lord Jesus and said, "For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy" (John 10:33); "This man calleth for Elias...let us see whether Elias will come to save Him" (Mat. 27:47, 49). It is therefore no wonder that the enemies, having the same nature, do the same things. The Lord will reveal the reason for your suffering in the day of judgment, and your glory in heaven will not be diminished, but be increased. Be therefore faithful.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Unique. I'll remember the biblical example of "This man calleth for Elias..."