Wayne, Garth and John Calvin

My attitude towards  Top 10 lists may be summed up with one word, to quote Brick Top, “Ehh.”

However that didn’t stop me from recruiting Wayne and Garth to present my Top 10 dishes (below) or previously posting the Top 10 quotes of 2007.

waynes-top10-list
A list only a cardiologist and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals could love.

In my previous post I intimated that 2009, for me, would be the year of Calvin, this in reference to my stated goal of getting through his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

I’m roughly following the reading plan found here.

The same folks (Reformation21) also published a post titled, Why read through Calvin’s Institutes in 2009? , in which Pastor Ligon Duncan gives his Top 10 answers to that very question.

My ehhness toward Top 10 lists doesn’t prevent me from listing Pastor Duncan’s Top 10, they are as follows:

  1. Because it is the most important book written in the last 500 years.
  2. Because it is foundational for every Reformed systematic theology ever since.
  3. Because Calvin was the best exegete in the history of Christianity.
  4. Because Calvin is one of the five greatest theologians in Christian history.
  5. Because he wrote it as a “sum of piety” not as an arid, speculative dogmatic treatise.
  6. Because it gave J.I. Packer the idea for “Knowing God.”
  7. Because Calvin thought and wrote succintly and clearly. “Brevitas et claritas” was his motto – brief and clear!
  8. Because you will know God better, if you read it prayerfully and believingly.
  9. Because it’s the 500th anniversary year of Calvin’s birthday. Don’t be a party pooper.
  10. Because I agree with what Derek and Iain say in their posts.
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God Loves Sinners

Paul wrote to the church in Rome,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Humbling words to be sure, what is more, the Truth therein is one more glorious testimony of the love of God who sent His Son to die for creatures whose best efforts are, according to Isaiah, like a “filthy garment” (the Hebrew being a bit more specific).

I recently downloaded some of the lectures from the 2008 T4G conference and have been listening to them on the way to work.

Ligon Duncan’s treatise, Sound Doctrine, is not only riveting but much needed salve in an age where it seems that doctrine is deemed a hobby (at best) or irrelevant (at worst).

At around minute 45, Duncan hit a raw nerve. He’s explaining how doctrine is for our assurance. He exposits John 15 and settles on this part of Jesus’ words to His Apostles,

You did not choose Me but I chose you

He expounds on why Jesus thought it necessary to teach the 11 (Judas had left already) about election. Duncan’s conclusion is that because Jesus knew that every last one of them would desert Him later that night. Then Dr. Duncan ties it together with these words,

And if they’re going to have one shred of assurance left in them it is not going to be based on the fact that they have chosen Him because everything about their actions will be screaming to their hearts and consciences that they have no part of Him unless they hear the Master say, “Dear child, dear friend, I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway.”

“I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway”, those words shattered whatever self-righteousness I carried with me this morning. Shattered whatever thoughts I might have had that somehow I had been elected based on something inherently good within. Shattered the illusion that maybe, just maybe, there is some shred of good in me apart from Christ.

My eyes watered in a mix of contrition and gratitude. The former for my arrogance and the latter for the power and extent of God’s love, that even one such as I can be reconciled to Him.