Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Put away all self-assurance

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 3 of 4 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ

Chapter 20 - Prayer as exercise of faith and way we receive God's benefits
Sections 4-16 - Rules of prayer
Sections 8-10 - Come humbly, with no confidence in self

8. OT saints prayed for forgiveness acknowledging nothing in them or in Israel deserved it - Dan 9:18-19; Ps 143:2; Isa 64:5-9; Jer 14:7. Calvin also quotes the Apocryphal book Baruch 2:18-19; 3:2 to the same purpose.

9. Repentance is the main part of prayer, even when asking for other things - Ps 25:7, 18; 51:5. We can't pray for deliverance from bondage to sin, or for alleviation of consequences of sin, without confessing them - Matt 9:2; 1 John 1:9. "Under the law prayers had to be consecrated with blood atonement" - Gen 12:8; 26:25; 33:20; 1 Sam 7:9.

10. What does it mean when OT saints ask God to answer them because they are righteous? Ps 86:2; 2 Kings 20:3; Isa 38:3. "By their regeneration itself they are attested as servants and chileren of God to whom He promises that He will be gracious." See Ps 34:15. "He does not set the value of prayer according to the merits of works," but assures us as we are free of guile. He won't listen if we "slumber and repose in [our] own sins without any desire for righteousness." Answered prayer still depends on God's mercy, not anyone's personal righteousness.

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