“No Excuse, Sir!”

I have been told that when a freshman in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) at our local university is confronted by an upper-classman about  inappropriate behavior or conduct, he will snap to attention and shout out, “No excuse, Sir!”

In Wednesday’s reading of the Institutes, 1.4.1 – 1.5.1., Calvin declares that no one has an excuse regarding the knowledge of God.

Calvin began Chapter 4 by saying that “a seed of religion is divinely sown in all.” Despite this, the reformer says that man attempts, by four means, to stifle or corrupt the knowledge of God in this world. Those means are:

  1.  Superstition – “they do not conceive of Him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine Him to be whatever their own rashness has devised.” (1.4.1)
  2. Conscious turning away from God – “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” and they “rob Him of His glory by denying His power.” (1.4.2)
  3. Fashioning God according to man’s whim – “…religion must be conformable to the will of God as its unerring standard; that He can never deny Himself, and is no spectra or phantom, to be metamorphosed at each individual’s caprice.” (1.4.3)
  4. Hypocrisy – When Calvin wrote that “when they do think of God it is against their will; never approaching Him without being dragged into His presence, and when there, instead of the voluntary fear flowing from reverence of the divine majesty, feeling only that forced and servile fear which divine judgment extorts judgment which, from the impossibility of escape, they are compelled to dread, but which, while they dread, they at the same time also hate.” (1.4.4), my thought was that: “When my mind and thoughts and heart are drawn toward God, it is meant that I should worship.”

Despite man’s greatest efforts to suppress and obliterate the knowledge of God, Chapter 4 concludes by saying that “a sense of Deity is naturally engraven on the human heart.”

Calvin dedicates all of Chapter 5 to how creation declares the existence, power, wisdom and glory of God.

A friend of mine at school recently showed me a picture that he had taken at his in-law’s ranch in the hills of deep southwest Texas during our recent Christmas break. It was the picture of a magnificent sunset. Layers of pink, deep red and almost purple clouds were spread across the horizon with rays of the sinking sun streaking through. It was, indeed, a beautiful sight.

Later that afternoon I read in 1.5.1 that while the LORD has deposited in our minds “the seed of religion”, He also manifests “his perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place(s) himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold him. His essence, indeed, is incomprehensible, utterly transcending all human thought.”

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”      Psalm 19:1

Whether He reveals Himself to us by the implanted “seed of religion” or through creation, we are “without excuse.”

“LORD, grant me the grace to sense and know You by whatever means You choose to reveal Yourself to me, and then to respond to You so that You might receive glory and honor in and through me.”

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