Calvin on Jesus as Shepherd

John CalvinCommenting on Jesus as Shepherd in Psalm 110, John Calvin says,

“As a shepherd he is gentle towards his flock, but fierce and formidable towards wolves and thieves; in like manner, Christ is kind and gentle towards those who commit themselves to his care, while they who willfully and obstinately reject his yoke, shall feel with what awful and terrible power he is armed.”

Evangelism and the Day of the Lord

Locust

There is a day coming when the Lord will return and judge all nations. All those not following Jesus will be slain by the Lord.

Joel 2 Pictures this Day

As a watchman, Joel sounds the trumpet warning of an approaching enemy. An enemy that ultimately destroys Israel. Their destruction points to the Day of the Lord.

Commenting on Joel 2:1-11, John Calvin says,

The object of the narrative, then, is to make the people sensible, that it was now no time for taking rest; for the Lord, having long tolerated their wickedness, was now resolved to pour upon them in full torrent his whole fury.

Table Talk magazine commenting on Calvin says,

Calvin reminds us the final end is not to preach judgment for judgement’s sake, but to warn people to turn from sin.

Challenge

The many disasters lately – New Orleans; New York; Moore, OK; West, TX – should bring to mind the Day of the Lord. Knowing it is approaching and may occur at any moment, should cause us to eagerly call others to repent. Friends, neighbors, family members, and even strangers need the gospel. It is our only hope as the Day draws near. May we bravely and boldly proclaim it to all who will listen.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Does impending judgment motivate you to preach the gospel to your neighbors?
  2. Are you satisfied others will face judgment, or does it motivate you to share Jesus?

Resources

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Table Talk Magazine, June 2013, The Army of the Lord, Friday, June 14

What are the Types of Idols We Make?

Idolatry is just as common today as it was in the ancient world. While we often do not make man-made statues, we do produce idols. John Calvin once said that the heart is an idol factory. He meant that we constantly produce idols because we are good at making just about anything into an idol.

What is an Idol?

An idol can be anything that comes before or occupies the place of God in our lives. It is anything other than God that we allow to dominate and control us. It is any activity that we do more for our own self-image and unmet emotional needs than for the pure pursuit of Christ’s Kingdom [1]. We can make idols out of just about anything: our children, our work, our success, our church involvement, our home maintenance, our family obligations, or anything else that we find more joy, peace, acceptance, or worth in other than God. We all have them, we just need to know how to find them, so we can uproot them.

Three Categories of Idols

In Subversive Kingdom, Ed Stetzer, pulling from one of Tim Keller’s sermons, says that our idols tend to orient themselves around three broad categories: Personal, Religious, and Cultural [2]. Here is how he defines each of these categories:

Personal Idols

These are those desires and temptations that individuals commonly pursue: greed, sex, power, various forms of personal indulgence and experience.

Religious Idols

These are those beliefs and practices we employ to quiet our fears and invite inner comfort without having to resort to dependent devotion toward God.

Cultural Idols

These are those idols that present themselves whenever we pursue our hopes and ambitions through the deceptive promises of our world’s ideologies and values.

Conclusion

While we are good at making idols, we have been given the power through Jesus Christ to root these idols out of our lives, and that we must do. As Christians, we are to have no other gods before the One true God (Ex. 20:2). Our God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5). He desires our singular devotion. So we must fight to shut down the idol making factory in our heart, keeping it closed for business.

The first way for us to rid idols from our lives is to understand the types of idols we make, those being personal, religious, and cultural. In addition, we must then pray that God, through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, would shut our idol factory down. After which, we must preach the gospel to ourselves. Always reminding ourselves of what Jesus has done for us, that we are fully accepted in Him, and that we have more joy, peace, and worth in Him than in any man-made object.

Questions for Reflection

  • Do you know the common idols in your life?
  • Are you willing to ask God to reveal your idols?
  • What do you think about the three categories Stetzer uses? Are they helpful?
  • Do you see your heart as an idol making factory?

Resources

[1] Ed Stetzer, Subversive Kingdom, 144-145.
[2] Ibid.

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