Thabiti Anyabwile on Transforming Work of Spirit

“Because of the rudeness and weakness that is in us, we must allow ourselves to be governed by God’s Spirit, which is the chief key by which the gate of paradise is opened to us.” – John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, 1562

Our Reformation forebears understood clearly that the church constantly needed reforming according to the Word of God.  Their rallying cry became “Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda” (“the church reformed, always reforming”).  Reformation was their goal and their strategy, all in accord with the plumb line of God’s infallible Word.

In our day, however, the Reformers’ rallying cry has faded into a distant and indistinguishable whisper.  On the one hand, many exhibit zeal for reforming the church, but not according to the Word of God.  They appear to prefer business techniques, psychology, and cultural trends as standards of reform over the Word of God.  They are zealous, but not according to knowledge.  Then there are those who seem to think the church is not in need of reform at all.  Many are indifferent to the cancerous infections of worldliness and doctrinal drift.  Where the Reformers would have taken up arms, today some church leaders and Christians shrug in disinterest and carry on without recognizing the great eclipse of biblical truth that is taking place among us.

What the church needs today is a recovery of the vision and zeal of men like Calvin – a vision and zeal informed from first to last by the loftiness, centrality, authority, and glory of God’s Word… What we seem to be missing, which Calvin comprehended, is a firm commitment to the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners, as well as a deep dependence upon the ongoing work of the Spirit in the Christian life and the church…

It is really no wonder, then, that evangelism and gospel preaching appear to be largely non-existent and ineffective in some quarters today.  Instead, outreach and preaching seem to be designed around the persuasiveness of the preacher and emotional appeal rather than the sovereign and secret working of the Holy Spirit.  We desperately need to recover a biblical view of conversion and the Holy Spirit’s sovereign working in saving sinners so that we might free ourselves from the tyranny of methodological pragmatism and faddish trends.”

Above Excerpted from Chapter 10, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology, edited by Burk Parsons with contributions by Iain Murray, Derek Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, W. Robert Godfrey, Phillip Johnson, Eric Alexander, John MacArthur, Thomas Ascol, Jay Adams, Phillip Ryken, Michael Horton, Jerry Bridges, et al.   A thoroughly enjoyable and edifying work, it went back into my library leaving me greatly challenged and bowing in worship.