Sermons on Genesis 11-20 : Review
John Calvin’s sermons are very different to his commentaries, they are also as helpful as the day they were delivered.
There are 47 expositions of Genesis 11:5-9 to Genesis 20:4-7, in this latest book, published for the first time in the English language. Those who already have Professor McGregor’s first volume, Genesis 1-11, will want to own a copy of this latest publication. Indeed, those who have read Calvin’s sermons on Deuteronomy and Job (in facsimile) or Leslie Rawlinson’s translation of Calvin’s Ephesians, or Kathy Childress’s work on Galatians, will know the real value of Calvin in the pulpit. He was no ivory-towered theologian but a man fully committed to reform and gospel-preaching in the city of Geneva.
Which Christian does not face a thousand difficulties and more in his pilgrimage through this life? How often are we battling against the world, the flesh, and the devil? We are tempted to pride and need to be humbled often. We need to know that God protects and increases his church. There is the need for obedience, strong faith, and reliance upon our Great God in times of trouble and danger. God is not only a God of grace and comfort, he is also a righteous and just God who sometimes has to judge and punish, bringing us also through the blessings and curses of wealth and poverty. Chastisement is a fruitful lesson to learn.
What could be more relevant than a need to understand God’s mind on sodomy? The need to ‘flee the wrath to come’. How often do we need to flee to Christ as our only Sanctuary and Saviour, our Melchizedek? And then there is justification, beginning with Abraham, set forth in Romans and Galatians, centred in Christ alone. Calvin has four sermons here on justification. Then there are lessons for a Christian of patience, self-sacrifice, the value of a good conscience, of being tested in the life of faith, and the need to copy, or avoid, the faults of others, Sarah and Hagar, in particular, both of whom made bad decisions.
Are we struggling to understand the Covenant of Almighty God, fundamental to our true grasp of God’s call and election? Do we really understand, as we should, the relationship between circumcision and baptism (two sermons)? And what about the struggles and conflicts of Israel and the Arab world today? Ishamel’s primogeniture and Isaac’s election continues to be basic for TV news.
These are a few of the lessons and ways through temptation and sin, to the eternal city, by which we are helped. Calvin is unquestionably ‘a master in Israel’ and a pastor/preacher par excellence, touching us in the 21st century as he warmed and inspired the multitudes in the sixteenth.
And there are the fruit of the Spirit: truth, godly fear, humility, sobriety, as well as the avoidance of gluttony, drunkenness, incest, adultery, prostitution, sexual immorality, intentional and inadvertent sins, as much with us as centuries before the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ on earth. Nothing more prepares the Christian to be what he is called to be, under God, than exposure to God’s own Word. And John Calvin is among the elite in this respect, preaching the word both in season and out of season, touching on these and other timeless themes.
The scriptural text (King James Version) is given in full at the head of the sermon. The translation-language flows and is easy to follow and assimilate. Each sermon concludes with a prayerful and thoughtful meditation. There is robust application throughout and, for the modern preacher, thought-provoking sermonic material, without necessarily falling into the reformer’s own 16th century style. The material is so readable, any intelligent and spiritually-hungry Christian, should profit immensely from having (and using!) this outstanding and handsomely produced volume. These 900+ pages will furnish mountains of spiritual food for years to come, especially if prayerfully and minutely applied to our own hearts, as we pass through this wicked world, on our way to the Celestial City and to the marriage-feast of the Lamb.
Of Further Interest
John Calvin’s sermons are very different to his commentaries, they are also as helpful as the day they were delivered. There are 47 expositions of Genesis 11:5-9 to Genesis 20:4-7, in this latest book, published for the first time in the English language. Those who already have Professor McGregor’s first volume, Genesis 1-11, will want […]
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