Week 30 of 50 in the Institutes: God’s Humbling of the Whole World

Carl Trueman’s blogs on the Reformation 21 website for this week’s assignments are not to be missed (see links below).

For my part I want to draw attention to Calvin’s comments in 3.20.42 on the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, “thy kingdom come.”  Calvin defined the kingdom as follows (emphasis added):

God reigns when men, in denial of themselves and contempt of the world and this earthly life, devote themselves to righteousness and aspire to heaven.  Thus this kingdom consists of two parts; the first is, when God by the agency of his Spirit corrects all the depraved lusts of the flesh, which in bands war against Him; and the second, when he brings all our thoughts into obedience to his authority.Squadron photo

In contrast to “which in bands war against him” of Beveridge’s translation (used above), the McNeill-Battles rendering is: “the desires of the flesh which by squadrons war against him,” which I find to be a much more vivid portrayal of the relentless assaults of the flesh.

Calvin went on to assert that God sets up his kingdom by humbling the whole world in various ways, but ultimately at the end of the age (emphasis added):

This petition, therefore, is duly presented only by those who begin with themselves; in other words, who pray that they may be purified from all the corruptions which disturb the tranquillity and impair the purity of God’s kingdom. Then as the word of God is like his royal sceptre, we are here enjoined to pray that he would subdue all minds and hearts to voluntary obedience. This is done when by the secret inspiration of his Spirit he displays the efficacy of his word, and raises it to the place of honour which it deserves. We must next descend to the wicked, who perversely and with desperate madness resist his authority. God, therefore, sets up his kingdom, by humbling the whole world, though in different ways, taming the wantonness of some, and breaking the ungovernable pride of others. . . . For such is the nature of the kingdom of God, that while we submit to his righteousness he makes us partakers of his glory. This is the case when continually adding to his light and truth, by which the lies and the darkness of Satan and his kingdom are dissipated, extinguished, and destroyed, he protects his people, guides them aright by the agency of his Spirit, and confirms them in perseverance; while, on the other hand, he frustrates the impious conspiracies of his enemies, dissipates their wiles and frauds, prevents their malice and curbs their petulance, until at length he consume Antichrist “with the spirit of his mouth,” and destroy all impiety “with the brightness of his coming,” (2 Thess. 2:8).

Thy kingdom come, Lord!

Links to Reformation 21 blogs through the Institutes:

July 27: 3.20.18 – 3.20.22

July 28: 3.20.23 – 3.20.27

July 29: 3.20.28 – 3.20.30

July 30: 3.20.31 – 3.20.36

July 31: 3.20.37 – 3.20.42

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