Old Words, Fresh Relevence

This coming July 10, a very significant and special birthday will be celebrated. On that day 500 years ago, in the small town of Noyon, France, one of the prominent figures in church history was born – John Calvin. While Calvin only lived 54 years on this earth, in God’s providence his Christ-exalting, Biblically-saturated influence continues all around the world even to this day. Indeed, because Calvin was first and foremost a preacher of God’s Word, his works are perhaps more relevant today than ever.

My son, Zach, gave me a special book this last Christmas that was compiled in honor of this great reformer’s 500th birthday. It is entitled 365 Days With Calvin (Day One Publications, 2008.) It is edited by Joel R. Beeke, and has daily readings based on excerpts from Calvin’s Commentaries. Each reading is followed by a brief meditation from Beeke. The entry from January 23 was
particularly convicting, and therefore encouraging to my soul – I trust it will be to yours as well. It’s entitled “Ungodly Society.”

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

Calvin’s Comments: “The psalmist says it shall go well with God’s devout servants whose constant endeavor is to progress in the study of His law. Most people derided the conduct of the saints as mere simplicity and regarded their labor as useless. So it was important that the righteous should be confirmed in the way of holiness. This is done, first, by considering the miserable condition of all men who are without the blessing of God. It is supported by the conviction that God favors no one but those who zealously devote themselves to the study of divine truth. Moreover, as corruption has always prevailed in the world to such a degree that the general direction of men’s lives is nothing but a continual departure from the law of God, the psalmist admonishes believers to beware of being affected by the ungodliness of the multitude around them. Beginning with a declaration of his abhorrence of the wicked, the psalmist teaches us how impossible it is for anyone to meditate upon God’s law without first withdrawing and separating himself from the society of the ungodly. This is surely a needful admonition, for we see howthoughtlessly men will throw themselves into the snares of Satan and how few there are who guard against the enticements of sin.

“To be fully apprized of our danger, we must remember that the world is fraught with deadly corruption. The first step to living well is to renounce the company of the ungodly; otherwise their conduct is sure to infect us with pollution.”

Beeke’s Meditation: “Calvin’s comment that it is impossible to meditate upon God’s law when surrounded by the ungodly is very applicable today. Cell phones, iPods, e-mail, and other technology can dominate our lives and surround us with ungodly influences. In our use of these technologies, are we taking care to avoid what the psalmist warns us against in Psalm 1:1?”