051-00758 Isaiah 55:1-13
I. John Calvin.
A. Prolific writer and theologian.
1. Calvin was a passionate believer who had a disciplined and logical mind and who worked tirelessly teaching the Scriptures.
2. John Calvin is in a significant way the greatest theologian of the Reformation for though there are many great theologians, none compare to the breadth and consistency of Calvin’s overall teachings on Scripture and life in Christ.
3. This year we celebrate the 500th birthday of John Calvin.
4. Let’s see how much we know about this man of God.
a) John Calvin's birthname is? Jean Cauvin
b) Calvin's first published book was a commentary on Seneca's De Clementia.
c) The first edition of Institutes was published in: 1536
d) In 1537, to protest an order given by the council in Geneva, what did Calvin do during the Easter service? Not administer communion
e) After being forced to leave Geneva, Calvin settled in: Strasbourg
f) Calvin's wife's name was: Idelette
g) Calvin was born in what year? 1509
B. Listen to how Calvin is described by others:
1. “The longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin’s system is the nearest to perfection.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
2. “Calvin’s theology interests us in its historical context as an outstanding record of Reformation theology that historically—and at times even legally—has served as a basis of proclamation in modern Protestant churches.” — Karl Barth
3. “Calvin’s theological heritage has proved fertile perhaps to a greater extent than any other Protestant writer. . . It is impossible to understand modern Protestantism without coming to terms with Calvin’s legacy to the movement which he did so much to nourish and sustain.” — Alister E. McGrath
4. “The fundamental issue for John Calvin—from the beginning of his life to the end—was the issue of the centrality and supremacy and majesty of the glory of God.” — John Piper
5. “It would hardly be too much to say that for the latter part of his lifetime and a century after his death John Calvin was the most influential man in the world, in the sense that his ideas were making more history than those of anyone else during that period. Calvin’s theology produced the Puritans in England, the Huguenots in France, the ‘Beggars’ in Holland, the Covenanters in Scotland, and the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, and was more or less directly responsible for the Scottish uprising, the revolt of the Netherlands, the French wars of religion, and the English Civil War. Also, it was Calvin’s doctrine of the state as a servant of God that established the ideal of constitutional representative government and led to the explicit acknowledgment of the rights and liberties of subjects. . . . It is doubtful whether any other theologian has ever played so significant a part in world history.” — J. I. Packer
6. “I have been a witness of him for sixteen years and I think that I am fully entitled to say that in this man there was exhibited to all an example of the life and death of the Christian, such as it will not be easy to depreciate, and it will be difficult to imitate.” — Theodore Beza
7. “After the Holy Scriptures, I exhort the students to read the Commentaries of Calvin. . . . I tell them that he is incomparable in the interpretation of Scripture; and that his Commentaries ought to be held in greater estimation than all that is delivered to us in the writings of the ancient Christian Fathers: so that, in a certain eminent spirit of prophecy, I give the pre-eminence to him beyond most others, indeed beyond them all. I add, that, with regard to what belongs to common places, his Institutes must be read after the Catechism, as a more ample interpretation. But to all this I subjoin the remark, that they must be perused with cautious choice, like all other human compositions.” — Jacob Arminius
II. This last quote is significant because Jacob Arminius was the focus of a major theological controversy among the Netherlands Reformed Churches during the early 17th Century.
A. As a theological professor at Leiden University, Arminius questioned some of the teachings of Calvin.
1. Even though he did so quietly, things like theological disagreements become public quickly.
2. Following his death, some of his students formed a strong statement which included 5 points of doctrine in which they disagreed with the accepted and dominant theology presented in the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.
3. Tensions rose and the whole Reformed world watched.
B. Eventually a synod was called and held in Dordrecht in 1618-19.
1. At that Synod, the five points of the theology presented by the Arminians were judged heresy and a document was drafted defining the true Calvinistic position on each of the five points and a rejection of Arminius’ five points.
2. This document is called the Canons of Dordt and it is one of the confessions we hold in the CRC.
C. Now this is all a prelude to what we are going to spend six Sundays during this summer talking about.
1. For the so called 5 points of Calvinism which come from the Canons are:
a) Total depravity.
b) Unconditional election.
c) Limited atonement.
d) Irresistable grace.
e) Perseverance of the saints.
(1) TULIP. We will look at each one separately this summer.
2. Three things must be noted up front:.
a) The “5 points” of both sides were a result of a debate between the followers of Calvin and the followers of Arminius. They are derived from the teachings and writings of the two men yet they are synthesized and formulated by others. Both Calvin and Arminius would have responded in horror to know their names were attached to theological systems.
b) The teachings of Jacob Arminius are not strictly original with him. They are rooted in the teachings of an priest who argued with Augustine named Pelagius (whose theology is called Pelagianism). Arminius simply found Pelagianism enticing and was questioning the popular understanding of Calvin.
c) Neither system is a full theological position and they only deal with five particulars. These five topics have serious ramifications for the whole of theology but they are not the whole. It would be unfair to judge either man’s total body of work on the conclusions of Dordt.
III. With all of this in background, I would like to turn for a few moments to Isaiah 55, for in this passage we are invited to participate in God through Christ and such invitation is at the heart of the conclusions from Dordt.
A. The Invitation to Come.
1. The words of Isaiah are clearly metaphorical where water, wine, milk and bread refer to the necessities of life.
2. Money is the human way of getting these things and refers to our labor.
3. So Isaiah is saying, “The true needs for life cannot come through human effort because human effort does not fill and does not buy satisfaction. Rather, those who thirst after that which fills one and gives life can only receive it apart from their efforts, apart from their earnings.”
4. Now hear what is taught in these verses: The invitation of God is limited and yet without condition.
a) It is limited for it is a call to those who thirst.
(1) There are many who need water but they do not thirst.
(2) Others thirst but they try to quench their thirst with something that only makes one thirstier.
b) Yet it is an unconditional grace that the only water that fills and satisfies is free; it can be acquired without money and without cost.
5. To accept the invitation one must first be thirsty.
B. Yet as we have already noticed, there are those who are thirsty who do not come to the waters of life.
1. To find this water one must be thirsty but must also hear the call to come.
2. Paul said how can they come if they do not hear?.
3. The grace of God is unlimited for there will be people from all nations who know thirst and hear the call.
4. Those who hear are those who are to seek.
a) But the invitation is not open forever.
b) We cannot put off our coming to the Lord for there is an opportune time and there is an inopportune time.
(1) Seekers must come while the Lord may be found; God must reveal himself for seekers to find him.
(2) Seekers must come while the Lord is near; God always comes to us before we can come to him.
C. Then how do we come?.
1. We turn away from our depraved way of life.
2. We turn away from our depraved thinking which is behind our living.
3. And when we turn away we turn toward the Lord for our depravity lets us thirst but prevents us from drinking.
4. But the waters of the Lord when one turns to the Lord are free pardon and great mercy.
D. This invitation from God is rooted in God’s very nature.
1. He is much greater than we are.
2. He is much loftier than we are.
3. His thoughts and his ways are different from ours because -.
a) What God chooses to do gets done.
b) What God chooses to say becomes real.
c) Just as God said “let there be” and there was, God says come and those who he desires will come.
4. What he desires is that those who come, be filled, blessed and satisfied.
5. And those who come will then go and enjoy all of God’s greatness.
6. And enjoying all the life of God within them they become the glory of God forever displaying his glory.
IV. Lost in sin, with nothing to offer, with nothing of worth, God calls us to himself and gives us mercy and forgiveness because he does what he pleases and because he pleases to save those he calls.
A. Can you hear the call of God? Then come.