08 February, 2017

John Calvin (1509-1564) on Ezekiel 33:11



Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezek. 33:11 KJV)


(I)

[Source: Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.24.15, pp. 982, 983, emphasis added]

A passage of Ezekiel’s is brought forward, that ‘God does not will the death of the wicked but wills that the wicked turn back and live’ [Ezek. 33:11]. If it pleases God to extend this to the whole human race, why does he not encourage to repentance the very many whose minds are more amenable to obedience than the minds of those who grow harder and harder at his daily invitations? Among the people of Nineveh [cf. Matt. 12:41] and of Sodom, as Christ testifies, the preaching of the gospel and miracles would have accomplished more than in Judea [Matt. 11:23]. If God wills that all be saved, how does it come to pass that he does not open the door of repentance to the miserable men who would be better prepared to receive grace? Hence we may see that this passage is violently twisted if the will of God, mentioned by the prophet, is opposed to his eternal plan, by which he has distinguished the elect from the reprobate. Now if we are seeking the prophet’s true meaning, it is that he would bring the hope of pardon to the penitent only. The gist of it is that God is without doubt ready to forgive, as soon as the sinner is converted ... Let us therefore regard the prophet’s instruction that the death of the sinner is not pleasing to God as designed to assure believers that God is ready to pardon them as soon as they are touched by repentance but to make the wicked feel that their transgression is doubled because they do not respond to God’s great kindness and goodness. God’s mercy will always, accordingly, go to meet repentance, but all the prophets and all the apostles, as well as Ezekiel himself, clearly teach to whom repentance is given.

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(II)

More to come! (DV)




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