No Such Thing as Popular Christianity!

John Calvin did not want to return to Geneva, he and his confederate, William Farrell, were thrown out of Geneva and John Calvin had found a lovely, comfortable place in Strasbourg. He loved the place, he had found a congregation that loved him and loved his ministry. He had time to write his books, to study all day long, he was very comfortable. When Farrell came knocking on his door a couple of years later and declared to him, “we are going back to Geneva”.“No” said Calvin, “it is the last place in the world I want to be”. He was comfortable where he was in Strasbourg, and Geneva was an evil place. William Farrell said to Calvin, that if he stayed there and wrote his books, enjoyed his church and his comfort, that God would curse his comfortable life. Calvin heard a higher voice in those words than that of William Farrell’s, he went back to Geneva. He did not want to go to Geneva. All that has been said about Calvin’s life and ministry, it has all stemmed from that relationship that began in his youth when he was converted, a deep love for God. He would not move to the left, he would not move to the right, without divine permission. God said go, so Calvin went. He did not want to go to Geneva, with its immoral and vice-ridden culture, its bloody riots that abounded. He was faced with ugly scenes outside his house, mobs stoning his house, muskets fired. He was threatened with death, arriving in his pulpit one morning he found a note telling him if he did not shut-up he would be killed. Geneva was distinguished by a lack of morals, just like our vile society in the United Kingdom today. But he went, and he went with a serious and determined purpose. And I mean a very serious purpose. He went to challenge that culture with the divine Law, not to tickle it with an effeminate, lawless, benign preaching ministry. And it cost him, Oh, it cost! You say if I began to preach this way, to preach and seriously apply the principles of the Law of God, why I’ll empty my church! I would not be surprised if you did. You most certainly wouldn’t be the most sought after, conference-chasing, platform, celebrity minister in the world. Calvin was hated. But he transformed Geneva with his preaching. And may I suggest that if the United Kingdom is going to be turned around then we are going to need some John Calvin’s. We are going to need men, men with the courage to stand up and boldly declare and seriously apply the word of God. There has been an awful lot both said and written about John Calvin by academics and all kinds of people who have been eulogizing him up one side and down the other. But I honestly think if he were around today, I do not think many of us would be able to stand him or his ministry. His preaching was provocative, penetrating, he gave no quarter, none at all. But he transformed Geneva. Unless the Law of God, the divine, the moral code is brought to bear on this church and this society of ours by the preaching of men with the courage to stand up and be counted and proclaim the divine requirements, I do not think we are going to see any change in this society of ours, none at all. It will cost! They will hate you, vilify you and some of you might even go to jail, or worse. Are you, am I willing to pay the price for a Reformed Church and nation?

(©️ James R Hamilton, February 2020)


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