Monday, December 08, 2008

0 Riches, and God's Gracious Salvation

Speaking of Job's wealth, as exhibited in Job 1:2-5, Calvin notes that while wealth is a snare to many, it was not to Job - that Job displayed uprightness and soundness of character, all the while enjoying what God had given him as it was his right to do. He lavished his love on his children and his household with what God had given him - and was nevertheless one who abstained from evil and humbled himself in thanksgiving to and devotion to God. Calvin at this point notes that riches, though many (if not most) stumble if given great wealth as Job had, are not in and of themselves to be considered evil. From this he then begins a discursus on God's purposes for both rich and poor:

Hereby then we be warned not to condemn riches in themselves, like also as we see how our Lord Jesus Christ shewed us, by matching the poor and the rich together in the kingdom of heaven, when he speaketh of Lazarus in St. Luke. He saith there, that the angels carried Lazarus - for albeit that he was an outcast among men, and a poor creature of whom no account was made, in so much that he was forsaken of all men - yet nevertheless, behold how the angels carry his soul into Abraham's bosom. And what was this Abraham? A man
rich in both cattle and in money, and in household, and in all other things saving houses and lands, for those were not lawful for him to have, because it behooved him to tarry God's leisure, till he gave him in the land of Canaan to inherit. True it is, that he purchased a burying place, but he had not any inheritance, notwithstanding that his posessions were very great. Therefore when we see the soul of Lazarus carried by angels into the bosom of Abraham, who is the father of the faithful, we perceive that God of his infinite grace and goodness calleth both rich and poor to salvation. And unto this purpose maketh that also which St. Paul saith: namely that God will have all men to be saved. For he speaketh of kings and princes, who of ordinary do misbehave themselves in their greatness, and can not find in their hearts to stoop unto God, yea it seemeth to themselves that they be no mortal men; and yet God picketh out some of them to himself, and will not have all to be lost and to perish. (pp 6-7, Sermons on Job, Banner of Truth.)

The passage from the 1st epistle to Timothy referred to above is chapter 2, verse 4 - "who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. (ESV)" - is presented here as is only reasonable... that what is spoken of by the apostle is the fact that God saves from all classes, nations, races, social strata, etc. In context in 1 Tim 2, one can readily see what is often misunderstood or ignored - that Paul is addressing the concern that ALL be prayed for, since we cannot see God's eternal plan. We ought to pray for all, because God saves all kinds of men. It is interesting to see Calvin marshall this particular scripture to support the argument in expositing Job that both rich and poor are recipients of God's grace. Indeed, all sorts of men - from the poorest of the outcasts in the slums of Mumbai to the multi billionaires of this world - are those from whom God has chosen his people.

From Calvin's discussion here, and his insertion of the discussion from 1 Timothy, I am again made aware of the graciousness of God in salvation - and the glory of God's sovereignty as he elects his people based on NOTHING (not to those who have great riches as an earned reward, not those who by God's providence live in gross poverty as a consolation for their physical situation) in themselves - for HIS purposes alone. God is gracious and glorious. May his name be praised.



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