Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 9, 2009

Calvin500 Concludes in Geneva

(Geneva, Switzerland) – July 9, 2009 – On the eve of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration concluded tonight at St. Pierre Cathedral in the old town of Geneva. Following a week of over 20 academic lectures, 15 expository sermons, with numerous other associated meetings, the commemoration concluded with a closing luncheon at Restaurant La Broche, with the Rev. Geoff Thomas of Wales, addressing the banquet.

Later that afternoon, Dr. Henry Krabbendam and Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda spoke on “Reformation and Revival.” Nearly 1000 participants enjoyed the festivities and addresses during the week. The conferences concluded with sermons by Ted Donnelly from Northern Ireland, Hywel Jones from Wales, and Derek Thomas from the USA.

Executive Director, Dr. David W. Hall summarized: “We could not be more pleased—the speakers were superb, this has been the only conference to date to focus on Calvinistic preaching, our hosts were simply magnanimous, and we could not be more pleased. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

In addition, the publishing Sponsor, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, is releasing an 8-volume set as THE CALVIN500 SERIES. Four volumes are now available, and the fifth one, Calvin and Commerce by David W. Hall and Matthew D. Burton, was announced at the conference. All volumes are also available at or may be ordered at a local bookstore.

For a description of each volume, see here.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 9, 2009

Calvin500 Day Four – An Edifying Smorgasboard

(Posted by Ray Pennings)

It’s late – a long Wednesday at the Calvin 500 conference has passed and I am feeling exhausted although edified by this day. The morning started with five academic papers as usual. Dr. George Knight led off with a paper on “Calvin as New Testament Exegete” which for a good portion, was an informative survey paper Calvin’s NT work concluding with some observations about the strengths and weaknesses of this work for use in the church today. The next two papers complemented each other well. Dr. R. Scott Clark spoke on “Calvin’s principle of Worship.” He was followed by Dr. Terry Johnson who read a paper written by Dr. Hughes Old on “Preaching as Worship in the Pulpit of John Calvin.” Both papers raised many profound insights, too many to atttempt to summarize here. Two samples:

“Piety in godliness is the result of attendance at public worship, preaching and the sacraments. It is meaningless to speak of righteousness without religion of which public worship is the highest expression. To avoid or neglect this is spiritual theft.” (wording not exact, but my notes from Clark.)

On the place of the sermon in the liturgy of the sevice, “There is a doxological intention in preaching. Preaching is both an answer and a call to prayer. The word is an answer to prayer and the prayer is an answer to the word. The sacrament is like a signature on a letter or a seal on a charter. That is why the sacrament should be administered without preceding word. Without the word preceding the sign, the sign has no meaning.” (wording not exacdt, but my notes from Olds.)

Dr. Henri Boucher followed with a paper on “Calvin the Frenchman” in which he documented the French influences in the life of Calvin and suggested some implications and Dr. William McCormish on “Calvin’s Children” in which he quite masterfully demonstrated the scope of Calvins influence, both from a geographic and sphere perspective.

Following the monring session, a number of us had the priviledge of touring the Reformation Museum. This evening was a time for worship again following a similar format as the previous evenings, but this time using a liturgy that was derived from John Knox’s 1556 Form of Prayers.

The first sermon this evening was on Ephesians 1:3-14 enttiled “Election” by Rev. Geoffrey Thomas. He expounded the text with five points:

1. Election is a simple doctrine to understand. A useful illustrative narrative between a pastor and parishoner who was confused about election was used to make his point.

Pastor – How are you saved? Parishoner – By God’s grace.

Pastor – Did God save you or did you save yourself? Parishoner – God did.

Pastor – Did He do so on purpose or by accident?

2. We should not have small or shrinking thoughts of God’s election. He has saved a great multitudes of His people.

3. God chose multitudes because He loved them. “We cannot speak of God without speaking of Him as being in love with His people.”

4. The teaching of election effects us by (a) humbling us; (b)encouraging us; (c)providing support for evangelism; (d) making us courageous.

5. How can we know we are elect? We know our election by having Christ. “A faith as thin as a spiders thread, in Christ, will carry us across the fire.”

The second sermon was delivered by Dr. Joel Beeke on Matthew 16:18b entitled “Cherishing the Church.” Dr. Beeke opened by outlining the opposite extremes of “absolutism and clericalism” (which he identified with a Roman Catholic view of the church) and “a “subjectivism and individualist” view of the church (which he identified with modern evangelicalism.) He suggested that the teaching of Matthew 16:18 provided us the key for a balanced and biblical view. He expounded his text using three points.

1. The Status of the Church as Belonging to Christ. It is His by gift from the Father, by promise, and by purchase. Dr. Beeke powerfully described the price paid on Golgotha as the “dowry price” for the church, asking with the words of Calvin: “If Christ cherished the church that he died for her, is it too much to ask his followers to live for her?” But not only did Christ die for her, He lives for her (referencing the work of His intercession) and He sends out preachers to gather her.

2. The Substance of the church founded on Christ. Noting that a great deal of blood and ink had been spilt over the meaning of the phrase “on this rock I will build my church”, Dr. Beeke dealt with the theological controversy briefly and then proceeded to use the biblical imagery of stones and a building to describe the church. Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone; the teaching of the apostles are built upon that cornerstone; and all believers are become living stones, fitly framed together into a glorious structure. Listening to this in a majestic stone cathedral, the imagery was especially powerful. Dr. Beeke challenged his audience always to keep this identity of the church in mind, noting that even though the church may appear at times to be aging and failing, she remains the bride of Christ and we should not abandon our mother.

3. The success of the church as the workmandship of Christ. He noted how the church has a wonderful indestructability; how she is a wonderful institution; how her members have a wonderful individuality; how she has a wonderful inheritance; and how she is able to give a wonderful invitation.”The church is not a closed society, or you and I would never have been able to join.”

The final sermon of the evening was delivered by Dr. Martin Holdt on Psalm 110. He noted how this Psalm is rarely preached on, in spite of it being quoted 27 times in the New Testament, surmising that it is due to the difficult subject matter of God’s sovereign judgment on His enemies. Yet it is a Messianic psalm, and with a verse-by-verse exposition, Dr. Holdt worked through the truths of the sovereignty of God as it will bring down the enemies of God and bring all of the elect safely home.

Throughout the day, there was much to edify as well as challenge the mind and, when combined with the interesting conversations with fellow-beleivers around the globe, which reminds one of both the joys and challenges of the Christian life, I go to bed with my mind and heart having been filled at the smorgasboard feast that was offered in the day, and looking forward to the final day of this special conference tomorrow.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 8, 2009

Thoughts on Calvin500

See Dr. Derek Thomas’s thoughts on Day Three and Four of the Calvin500 Tour.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 8, 2009

Calvin500 Recognizes Young Scholars in Geneva

(Geneva, Switzerland) – July 8, 2009 – Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), recognized several promising prize-winning Young Scholars as part of its commemoration of John Calvin.

As its own symposium within the Quincentenary of John Calvin’s birth, Calvin500 is pleased to announce that the following will be recognized at the Young Calvin Scholars Symposium at the Auditoire in Geneva on July 8 at 15h00. The public is cordially invited to hear synopses of these award-winning papers below.

The Calvin Prize will be awarded to Michael Habets of New Zealand for his essay, “Calvin’s Reformed Doctrine of Theosis,” at 15h10.

The Beza Prize will be awarded to Sebastian Heck of Heidelberg, Germany for his essay, “Elements of Innatism in the Thought of John Calvin,” at 15h30

The Viret Prize will be awarded to Matthew Burton of Atlanta, Georgia for his essay, “The Spirit of Calvinism in Business,” at 15h50.

The Zwingli Prize will be awarded to Michael Dewalt & Maarten Kuivenhoven of Grand Rapids, Michigan for his essay, “Calvin’s Practical View of Adoption,” at 16h10.

The Bucer Prize will be awarded to Timothy Gwin of Atlanta, Georgia for his essay, “Piety in Calvin and Erasmus, at 16h30.

The Farel Prize will be awarded to Joseph Fleener of New Zealand for his essay, “Exploring, with John Calvin, Our Adoption as Sons,” at 16h50.

Moderators for the Symposium will be Drs. David Hall, Darryl Hart, and Jon Payne.

Throughout the week, scholars and ministers are presenting lectures and sermons in these historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan reformer.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 8, 2009

Calvin500 Day Three

(Post by Ray Pennings)

Once again we gathered in the cathedral at 7 for a time of worship which included singing, a communal confession of sin, pastoral prayer, and the reading of the creed from John Calvin’s 1545 Catechism of the Church of Geneva. We also listened to three sermons. The first was by Dr. Stephen Lawson on Galatians 1:6-10 entitled “Guarding the Gospel.” He expounded the text with four points: Paul’s amazement, Paul’s adversaries, Paul’s anathemas, and Paul’s anger. The final sermon was by Dr. J. Ligon Duncan on Philippians 2:13-14 which he expounded under three points: A Challenge for the Indolent; A cure for pride; and a Comfort for the discouraged.

The middle sermon way by Dr. Ian Campbell on Romans 8:26,27, and 34 and was entitled “Three Great Intercessions.” In his first point “The Intercession within the veil”, Rev. Campbell used the two altars in the Old Testament as illustrative of Christ’s work of intercession. There was the altar of sacrafice and the altar of incense, the first which pointed to Christ’s work of atonement and the second which pointed to His intercession. Paul can ask rhetorically “Who is he that condemns?”, speaking of the security of the believer, not only because of what Christ has done in the atonement but what He is doing in intercession. The two are closely linked. “The atonement is real because in its very nature, it is an intercession. the intercession is real because in its very nature it is an atonement.” Christ’s very presence in heaven is an intercession — a reminder of the work he finished on earth. But although His work on earth was finished, His work itself is not finished. Although the sacrafice on the cross no longer needs to be offered, it is being continually presented.

In his second point, “The intercession within the church”, Rev. Campbell quoted Calvin noting that Christ’s interceding for us does not prevent us from interceding for each other within the church. In fact, Christ’s intercession provides every reason for believers to be bold in their prayers for each other as “the intercession of Christ has changed the throne of dread for glory into a throne of grace.” He challenged the audience with the question not did you pray, but who did you intercede for?

In his final point, “The intercession within our hearts”, Rev. Campbell focused on the words “groanings which cannot be uttered.” He used the illustration of a personal care health worker who needs to take care of our most intimate needs, and some do it with a grace and respect that we hardly realize what has happened. So the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, turning our incoherence whose meaning is lost even to ourselves into something that is perfectly heard as eloquence in heaven. He notes the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is coordinated with the work of the Son in heaven, and so “heaven is brought to earth before the believer is ever brought to heaven.” He urged his hearers to be active in using “the inconceivable preciousness of the throne of grace.”

The lighting in the cathedral was sombre as a thunderstorm brought down rain and the stained glass looked very different with the backdrop of a darkened sky. Yet, I was not alone in sensing a particular power in the worship, having been given by the preaching a chance as it were, to stand on our tippy-toes and see something of the glories of the redemption wrought by God in His people. Dr. Duncan concluded his sermon noting that the reason Jesus named Lazarus when he called him from the grave — “Lazarus, come forth” — was that His word is so powerful that had he not named Lazarus but just said “Come forth”, every person would have come from the grave. Such is the power that is at work in the lives of believers! After three verses of build-up with the assistance of the majestic organ, the final verse of the final song was sang acapella with a particular fervour:

Hallelujahs render

To the Lord most tender

Ye who know and love the Saviour.

Hallelujahs sing ye,

Ye redeemed, oh bring ye

Hearts that yield hiim glad behaviour.

Blest are ye


Sinless there forever,

Ye shall laud him ever.

(from Wondrous King All Glorious, Joachim Neander, 1680)

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 8, 2009

Calvin500 Day Two

The Calvin500 Anniversary Conference officially started their events this morning with five papers presented between 9:00am – 1:00pm. This morning was like what we will be seeing for the rest of the week: every morning there are addresses given by a number of well-known Calvin scholars from around the world. The speakers and their papers this morning (July 6th) included:

Dr. Douglas Kelly: “The Catholicity of the Theology of John Calvin”

Dr. Richard Gamble: “Recent Research in Calvin Studies”

Dr. Darryl Hart: “Calvin Among Nineteenth-Century Reformed Protestants in the United States”

Dr. Robert Kingdon: “Calvin and Ecclesiastical Discipline”

Dr. John Witte: “Reading Calvin as a Lawyer”

The papers presented throughout the week include a number of different studies on Calvin and about Calvinism. From dealing with “The Catholicity of the Theology of John Calvin,” all the way to “Calvin and his Children.”

The addresses this week are all given in the The Auditorie de Calvin. For those of you who do not know exactly what that is—it is where John Calvin taught his students during the Reformation. This particular building is one of the many that the Lord has used for His church and it has a very long history of Christian worship since the 15th century. The Auditorie de Calvin became a significant center for the development of the new Reformed thinking that was shaking the foundations of medieval Europe. Calvin would hold meetings in the building in 1557, as he and his other theologians would teach, take questions, and allow debates. It was also the church in which John Knox the Scotsman ministered in English between 1556—1559.

For a taste of what is going on, here is a small tidbit of Darryl Hart’s paper:

“Church life in the newly established United States presented an unusual set of circumstances for most Protestants. The disestablishment of religion that the Constitution’s First Amendment codified set most communions on a voluntaristic footing. Unlike previous arrangements where churches received subsidies from the state as part of the official apparatus of the nation, disestablishment in principle leveled all churches, made them dependent on their own followers for financial support, and freed each denomination to regulate its own affairs independent from the oversight of government. To be sure, at the state level ecclesiastical establishments remained in place after 1789, and those legal arrangements lasted the longest in New England thanks to the Standing Order among Congregationalists in Connecticut and Massachusetts. But despite the longevity of state churches in various places, the First Amendment signaled the future of church life; denominations would not receive state subsidies and in turn would be free to pursue their ministries as they deemed best.10

The new political context for the churches gave an advantage to denominations that were either independent of tax support or less particular about a learned ministry. Baptists and Methodists expanded dramatically during the first half of the nineteenth century while Episcopalians and Congregationalists lagged behind. Because Presbyterians had never enjoyed an establishment status in any of the American colonies or states, they had figured out ways to minister without the support their counterparts in places like Scotland possessed. Even so, demands for pastors who knew Greek and Hebrew, not to mention a prior training in the liberal arts, put Presbyterians at a disadvantage in American church life, perhaps not as great as that experienced by Episcopalians and Congregationalists, but sufficiently burdensome to prevent Presbyterians from competing with Baptists and Methodists as the most popular and rapidly growing Protestant denominations in the new nation.”11

For the evening sessions:

Ray Pennings writes:

“This evening, we had a time of worship in the cathedral that included three sermons. Dr. Philip Ryken preached on I Corinthians 16:5-11, “A Wide Door for Spreading the Gospel in which he highlighted (1) the constraints of the call; (2) the openness of the doors; and (3) the strength of the opposition. Dr. Peter Lilliback preached on I Corinthians 1:29-31, “All the Glorious Offices of Christ” in which he described how Christ as a Redeemer functions as prophet, priest and king. In the final message, Dr. Robert Godfrey expounded John 17:3 focusing on (1) the life that is eternal; (2) the God who is true; and (3) the Christ who God has sent.”

10 Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 143-53, provides a helpful overview of the new American environment for church life.

11 See Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy, 2nd ed., (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2005), for a provocative study of Protestants in America’s religious free market.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 6, 2009

Vacationing with a Calvinist Work Ethic

(Post by Ray Pennings)

The Calvin500 conference began in full swing today with a morning session that included five thirty minute papers (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.), a three-hour afternoon cruise on Lake Geneva, and a three hour time of worship in the evening (with three sermons interspersed with psalm singing.) It was a full day by any standard, but a stimulating and a rewarding one.

The first paper this morning came from Dr. Douglas Kelly entitled “The Catholicity of John Calvin.” His basic thrust was that rather than thinking of Protestant as an opposite of Catholicism, we should understand Protestantism as opposing the papacy and abuses in the church, as there was a lot ofed continuity between the reformers and the catholics as well. He emphasized small c Catholicism which he suggested was more properly understood as “seeking to expound the entire word of God to the people of God and the reading public.”

This was followed by a survey paper by Dr. Richard Gamble who reviewed 15 books and 7 edited collections which have been published about Calvin since 2000. Dr. Daryl Hart followed with a paper “Calvin among 19th century Reformed Protestants in the United States. He reviewed the details of three debates among American protestants – a debate about the atonement, a debate about language and metaphor, and a debate about the spiritual presence in the Lords supper – and demonstrated through this how individualism and egalitarianism had become significant influences affecting both sides of these debates, such that the corporate character of the faith emphasized in Calvinism has been neglected.

The final two papers of the morning both dealt with discipline. A paper byRobert Kingdom was read by Dr. William McCormish and provided a most interesting summary of the development of the system of discipline and the role of the consistory in Geneva. Dr. Kingdon is heading a team that is transcribing, translating, and publishing the 21 volumes of minutes of the registry of pastors in Geneva which is providing fresh source material to better understand the system of discipline in Geneva. This was followed by a keynote talk by Dr. John Witte on “Reading Calvin as a lawyer.” Dr. Witte highlighted the balance between law and liberty in Calvin noting the development of rights talk began with the Calvinists such that “by 1650, European Calvinists had died for every right” that was eventually included in the American Bill of Rights. However, this “rights talk was never divorced from duties talk.” Dr. Witte developed Calvin’s three uses of the law – its civil use to restrain the sinfulness of unbelievers; its theological use to convict men of their sinfulness; and its educational use to teach believers towards sanctification. He highlighted how Calvin, with reference to both church and state, highlighted the division of powers (between judicial, legislative and executive functions), a mixed system of governments, and federal systems of government as a check against the abuse of power by authorities. He concluded with several reflections on the enduring contribution of Calvin to law, noting the respect for the rule of law within the church, respect for the democratic process within the church, liberty within the church, and a healthy respect for human sinfulness. In the final section of his paper, he noted how Calvin may not have contemplated a neutral or secular state in his sixteenth century context, but how Calvinist since, building on the doctrine of creation and the resurrection, developed systems of pluralism claiming as their seeds Calvin’s thought.

The format was intense with five papers delivered in four hours, with no time for questions or interaction in a room whose acoustics were less than ideal. Nonetheless, these papers did provide some stimulating discussion (not all agreement) over our water breaks between.

We had to rush to refresh ourselves for a three-hour cruise on Lake Geneva where the beautiful scenery was looked at only between the interesting conversations we were able to have, as many of us mingled and met others we knew through their writings but had never had the opportunity to meet before.

This evening, we had a time of worship in the cathedral that included three sermons. Dr. Philip Ryken preached on I Corinthians 16:5-11, “A Wide Door for Spreading the Gospel in which he highlighted (1) the constraints of the call; (2) the openness of the doors; and (3)the strength of the opposition. Dr. Peter Lilliback preached on I Corinthians 1:29-31, “All the Glorious Offices of Christ” in which he described how Christ as a Redeemer fuctions as prophet, priest and king. In the final message, Dr. Robert Godfrey expounded John 17:3 focusing on (1) the life that is eternal; (2) the God who is true; and (3) the Christ who God has sent.

It was a full day with hardly enough time to absorb, let alone process, the significant and rich content that was shared. However, it was also a time in which communion with the saints and with God was felt as we worshipped together, singing with alternate verses accompanied by the organ and accapello, with (among many other songs), from a 1707 hymn written by Isaac Watts:

Great Prophet of my God

My tongue would bless thy name

By thee the joyful news

Of our salvation came,

The joyful news of sins forgiv’n

Of hell subdues and peace with Heav’n

Jesus my great High Priest

Offered his blood and died

My guilty conscience seeks

No sacrifice besides.

His powerful blood did once atone,

And now it pleads before the throne.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 6, 2009

Calvin500 Roundabout – Day Two

Calvin500 Twubs:

LigonDuncanBob Godfrey will preach next. Peter Lillback just brought the word.#calvin500

graceforumsRT @eqdj @TGCN I prefer London Times and The Australian articles on John Calvin #calvin500

TenthPresRT @LigonDuncan: Phil Ryken preaching first sermon tonight at St. Pierre.#calvin500

mmdewaltback to the hotel after hearing 5 papers this morning and going on a cruise on lake Geneva this afternoon at the #Calvin500

Derek Thomas Thoughts,

“In an acoustically challenged building (actually it must be the worst acoustics I have ever heard), some truly memorable things were said, none more so than Dr. Godfrey’s plea that when someone hears the term “Reformed” they would immediately think of someone who preaches the gospel and invites sinners to believe in Jesus Christ.”

If you know of something else going on this week during the 500th birthday of John Calvin, email or comment here on the blog and let us know. Thanks for following along with us during our conferences and tour.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 6, 2009

Calvin500 Bestows Lifetime Achievement Awards in Geneva

(Geneva, Switzerland) – July 7, 2009 – Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), is bestowing three Lifetime Achievement Awards this week in Geneva to honor exceptional scholarship and achievement.

The Lifetime Achievement Award for Reformation Scholarship was awarded on July 6th to Robert Kingdon, “Scholar par Excellence in the history of the Reformation, who led the way to a greater appreciation of Calvin’s work by his own study of Calvin’s life and times,” said Dr. David W. Hall, Executive Director of Calvin500.

The Calvin500 Executive Committee bestowed this award with its deepest thanks and in honor of Dr. Kingdon’s Lifetime Contribution to Reformation Scholarship. John Witte, Jr., of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Kingdon on July 6, who is recovering from an illness in Wisconsin.

On July 8, the Calvin Quincentenary in Geneva will award its Lifetime Achievement Award for Liturgics to Hughes Oliphant Old, “Dean of Reformed liturgical scholars in our day, for calling the Church back to the sources for worship according to Scripture, affirmed by the Fathers and the Reformers: Chrysostom, Augustine, and Calvin.” Dr. David W. Hall, Executive Director will present the award “with our deepest thanks and in honor of his Lifetime Contribution to the Recovery of Reformed Liturgy,” which will be accepted by Dr. Terry L. Johnson of the Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia.

In addition, at its closing banquet on July 9 in Geneva, the Calvin Quincentenary will award its Lifetime Achievement Award for Pastoral Ministry to Rev. Geoffrey Thomas, ”Reformed pastor in the tradition of Calvin, Baxter, Spurgeon, and Lloyd-Jones, for exemplifying the life of a godly pastor and mentoring many others, and for your years of pastoral ministry that adorns the profession.” At the closing banquet, Rev. Geoffrey Thomas will address the gathering on “What I learned from John Calvin and Martin Lloyd-Jones,” and the award will be presented by Drs. Derek Thomas and David Hall.

Throughout the week, scholars and ministers are presenting lectures and sermons in these historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan reformer.

For more information and updates, visit Live blogging information will also be available from that page.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 6, 2009

Calvin500 Day One

It’s been years since I’ve had such a good sleep as I had last night. After a little jetlag and walking miles throughout the day, it was also the first time in a long time that I was able to go to bed as early as 10pm. After a great night’s rest, attendees of the Calvin500 Tour and Conference spent their Lord’s Day worship in Calvin’s St. Pierre Cathedral in downtown Geneva.

During the morning worship, Rev. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson preached from Philippians 3:8-12. The sermon was entitled “In Christ Alone.”

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

His three points focused on:

What Paul was by nature

What Paul found in Christ

What he became by grace

Dr. Ligon Duncan on twitter commented on the message saying, “Glorious. Convicting. Strengthening.”

And it was.

During the evening service there were two messages. The first was by Rt. Rev. Henry Orombi, who preached from Matthew 24:45-51 a sermon entitled “Be a Faithful Servant.” Rev. Orombi brought four thoughts to mind in his message for today’s church:

In order to be a faithful servant, one must understand what it means to “feed my sheep.”

In order to be a faithful servant, one must love the church with boldness.

In order to be a faithful servant, it takes a willingness to make a sacrifice.

In order to be a faithful servant, a true and pure love for one’s Savior will love his sheep.

The last message of the evening was given by Rev. Dr. Bryan Chapell, who was preaching from Ephesians 1:3-6 a sermon entitled “In Praise of Predestination.”

Dr. Chapell’s core theme was built around Paul’s concern in writing Ephesians 1—that is, to reveal God’s Fatherhood in His sovereignty. Chapell stressed that we, the church, serve a God that blesses His children—blesses them with a union with Christ, and blesses them with the righteousness of Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-6 reads,

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

This brought a great reminder to me, that when talking about Predestination it is nothing to be argued about, or something to bring up to debate. Rather, it is something that we stand back as believers of the wonderful Gospel and look at the beauty, the awe, and wonder of our precious God in whom we serve, who predestined His elect before all of creation.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 5, 2009

Calvin500 Roundabout – Day One

Derk Thomas posted his thoughts,

“The evening was brought to a close with a truly wonderful exposition of Ephesians 1:3-6 by Bryan Chapell, a sermon which he called “In praise of predestination.” With some memorable illustrations from Calvin and elsewhere, he carefully took us through the text urging us to see Paul’s commitment in showing us more of God’s Fatherhood than his sovereignty. God, he told us, is shouting: “I’ve been in love with you longer than the stars have been in sky or the fish have been in the sea.””

Michael Horton on Calvin500,

“This week marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of Protestant Reformer John Calvin. Who was Calvin and why is he worth remembering? On this edition of the program Michael Horton talks with church history professor W. Robert Godfrey about his brand new book on this subject titled, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor.”

Ligon Duncan on Twitter,

“The Gospel resounded in St. Pierre’s, Geneva this morning as Sinclair Ferguson preached Philippians 3:8-14 “In Christ Alone” #calvin500

Ray Pennings thoughts on Day One,

“St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva as unusually full for a morning worship service on July 5th, but admittedly a congregation that includes at least one archbishop, six seminary professors, twenty-four seminary professors, approximately 100 Reformed pastors from around the world and the author of over 300 books on Calvinist themes do not make up an ordinary congregation. As Dr. Ferguson noted, “Calvin would be surprised to see us here, and I am not sure he would have approved”however hopefully he would approved of the text.”

Twitter Twubs #calvin500

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 5, 2009

Calvin500 Opens in Geneva

(Geneva, Switzerland) – July 5, 2009 – Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), opened today at St. Pierre Cathedral in the old town of Geneva. Beginning with a welcome by Mr. Guillaume Taylor from the St. Pierre Parish Council, approximately 500 worshipers attended the opening convocations, featuring morning worship from Calvin’s time and a sermon on Philippians 3:8-12 by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

The evening services featured Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, much psalm singing, and a sermon by Dr. Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

”Calvin is one of the most important thinkers in history, said Calvin500 Executive Director Rev. David Hall, who also is pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in America located in Powder Springs, GA. “His ministry and writings left an indelible impression on the modern world, and especially Western culture. It would be hard to find a figure from history more worthy of remembering, if lasting impact for good is the standard”

Throughout the coming week, scholars and ministers will present lectures and sermons in these historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan reformer. The public is invited.

For more information and updates, visit Live blogging information will also be available from that page.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 5, 2009

Pre-day Conference Trip

Crossing the pond for the first time took a little longer than what I had thought it would be. I simply could not sleep for more than 10 minutes on the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam without someone screaming in my ear, kicking my seat, or puking behind me. Instead, I spent most of the time reading a book, listening to my iPod, and I did watch one movie, Monsters vs. Aliens. But at last I made it safe to Amsterdam, and for that I am very thankful. I now stand in the Amsterdam Airport, which seems to either not have AC or they don’t use it, because I am sweating like mad in this place! I walked around trying to find somewhere to connect to the Internet, and happened to come across an “Internet-café,” where they wouldn’t allow me to use their wifi because I wouldn’t spend $10 on a cup of coffee. So I asked one of the ladies in those bright blue jumper outfits to aid me in finding some wifi so I could work, and she pointed me in the right direction. What she didn’t tell me was that it cost $6.00 American dollars for every 15 minutes. I think I’ll pass, and post tonight at the hotel.

After waiting a few hours in Amsterdam for my last flight, Ligon Duncan and Derek Thomas came walking up to where I was sitting. It was most certainly nice to see some faces that I knew and have a conversation for once in the last 15 hours. After we arrived in Geneva, we ran into Bryan Chapell at the Geneva Airport while getting our luggage. From there, all four of us squeezed into a taxi and headed to the hotel. Now I am sitting down here finishing up the small ends of this post and am in need of a nap since I have not yet slept. I heard a rumor that there is an organ show tonight at Calvin’s Cathedral, but I am not sure, nor know yet if I am going to go.

Here are a few shots of the city from my hotel window, and stay tuned for more to come on the events that are taking place this week.


Pre-day Conference Thoughts

What I liked

Free food is always a favorite of mine, so the meal and drinks on the plane I enjoyed.

Being able to get sushi with my fiancée before I left Michigan for my flight.

My flight from Grand Rapids to Detroit was on a plane fit for 200, and only had 20 people on it.

What I disliked

The 3 kids that sat behind me on the plane, and kicked the back of my seat for a strait 7-hours.

The women in the Amsterdam Airport that keep walking up to me, asking me to smell cologne in their stores.

The fact that everything seems to cost 2-times as much as it does back in Ohio or Michigan.

What I noticed

Everyone cares about how they smell, or what fragrance they have.

Everyone’s shoes are crazy; just different then what I am used to.

There are wine stores everywhere, not really a fan, but never saw them this large in an airport.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 3, 2009

My Thoughts and Prep for Calvin500

My Thoughts

I was talking to a friend of mine just the other day through text-messaging about the coming Calvin500 Tour & Conference. In the conversation he mentioned in some matter to me that “it is about God, and not John Calvin” and in another text mentioned something to the effect that Calvin wouldn’t have wanted such a conference. The past week I have thought constantly about his comments, but how true it can be for us that are a part of the Reformed Faith to place such a emphasis on the “clay” that the Lord molds and shapes for his handy-work, this being John Calvin. Believers of the Gospel must be carful when dealing with our rich heritage (that the Lord has given us), but has used for his work, his church, and his glory.

So why gather in Geneva to celebrate John Calvin’s birthday, why spend the money to fly there, hotels, meals, why read papers written on and about John Calvin, why preach sermons on specific text in which are devoted to the ministry in which John Calvin had? These are a number of the thoughts that I have been thinking the last few days in preparing to fly “across the pond” before celebrating John Calvin’s 500th birthday in Geneva. I for one coming from America, and being a believer of the Gospel at the same time can easily see how the American-culture so easily makes idols. I cannot speak for all when blogging, but I can speak for myself in why I’m headed for the Calvin500 Tour and Conference.

I will gathered in Geneva for the 500th birthday of John Calvin—not merely to popularize him or idolize him, because John Calvin would have never wanted that.  I will be there, rather, to make known and lift up John Calvin’s God—my God—The Supreme Being, The LORD who sits in authority and reigns over all things in complete sovereignty. For those who will attend, they will be blessed by…

For those or you in attendance… I hope this is as well your focus celebrating John Calvin’s 500th Birthday!

My Prep

As for my prep, I have packed, I have spent the morning with my fiance and am now ready to start the long trip from Grand Rapids to Detroit to Amsterdam(4-hour layover) and then finally to Geneva. For those of you who will be reading these post and following along on my journey to Europe for the Calvin500 Conference, please I ask three things of you.

1. Be easy on me, my grammar and sentence structures may not be the best. I am a redneck from hickville small-town Ohio and have a long way still to go on my english. But for the most part, I write like I talk, which is not the best to read, but can be refreshing (different) at times.

2. For those that read my blog, “Gospel-Centered Musings,” I’ll be mostly double posting there and here on the Calvin500 Blog for the next 8 days or so. You’ll be able to see pictures, read articles, highlights from the day, and whatnot at either blog. For those that want to follow the Twitter account of my experience and read the post, I recommend my personal blog, because the twitter account is on the right hand side of my blog.

3. Lastly, I have no clue in what to expect for internet access (besides my hotel-room). I have contacted a number of individuals, but have not had much success, so bare with me.

To follow in whatever way you wish:

Twitter – follow his experience in Geneva while attending the Calvin500 Tour and Conference

Facebook – look for updated status’s on what is going on during the Calvin500 Tour and Conference

Calvin500 Blog – Blogging the papers and sermons given during the Calvin500 Tour and Conference

Calvin500 Twubs – Live twitter updates from all who are twittering the Calvin500 Tour and Conference

Gospel-Centered Musings – personal blog post on the experience in Geneva during the Calvin500 Tour and Conference

If any of you have questions of what is going on or would like me to find out any information for you dealing with the conference in Geneva during the 500th birthday of John Calvin, I’ll try my best. You can either email, facebook, twitter is the better, and I’ll do my best in trying to answer your questions.

Thankfully I am not traveling through Atlanta airport in any way, the last three times I have been there this past year, they lost my luggage all three times!

Take care for now, I have a flight to catch in an hour and will blog my 20-hour trip across the pond.

Family Reformation, by Scott T. Brown

reformationWhile the doctrine of salvation was being reformed during the sixteenth century, so was marriage, manhood, womanhood, courtship, child raising, fertility, abortion, and almost every area that touches family life.
John Calvin never wrote a book on the family, but he touched off a family reformation. He was the instigator of a massive restructuring of the most fundamental institution of society.

Like no other reformer, Calvin provided the exegetical precision that defined the terms for a biblical vision of family life. With crystal clarity he explained the details of the how the family had exchanged the glory of God for a lie. We should be thankful to this dear brother for excavating the gold mines of the Bible and exposing the raw biblical language and bedrock principles that form the doctrine of the Christian family.

This book seeks to communicate the main themes of Calvin s teaching on family life in his own words, using quotes from his books, sermons, letters, and other writings. In Geneva there were many victories in the battle to reform the family. Let me suggest that it may be difficult to win today s battles for the family unless we understand the victories of the sixteenth century.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 3, 2009

Press Releases from Calvin500

(post by David Hall)

We’ll have press releases from Calvin500 most days, July 5-9, for our readers. They will be found first on Stay tuned for those and for Michael Dewalt’s blogging, twittering, facebooking, etc.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 2, 2009

Cherishing the Church – Dr. Joel R. Beeke

For a taste of what will take place in less than one week in Geneva at the Calvin500 Conference, here is Dr. Joel R. Beeke’s sermon that he will be giving, “Cherishing the Church.”

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | July 1, 2009

Speakers for the Calvin500 Tour & Conference are…

The Speakers of the Calvin500 Tour and Conference
See the Calvin500 Tour and Conference Schedule here

Commemorating Calvin Conference: A 5-day international symposium with leading Ministers in Geneva (July 5-9, 2009).

Joel R. Beeke, PhD
Iain D. Campbell, PhD
Bryan Chapell, PhD
Edward Donnelly, MTh
Ligon Duncan, PhD
W. Robert Godfrey, PhD
Martin Holdt, PhD
Sinclair Ferguson, PhD
Hywel R. Jones, PhD
Steven Lawson, DMin
Peter Lillback, PhD
Henry Orombi
Philip Ryken, DPhil
Derek Thomas, PhD
Geoffrey Thomas

Tribute Conference begins: A 4-day international symposium with leading scholars in the historic Auditoire in Geneva (July 6-9, 2009).

Henri Blocher, PhD
Richard Burnett, PhD
R. Scott Clark, DPhil
William Edgar, PhD
Isabelle Grassle, PhD
Richard Gamble, PhD
Darryl Hart, PhD
Michael Horton, PhD
Terry L. Johnson, DMin
Douglas Kelly, PhD
Jae Sung Kim, PhD
Robert Kingdon, PhD
Anthony N. S. Lane, PhD
William McComish, PhD
Bruce McCormack, PhD
Andrew McGowan, PhD
George Knight, PhD
Hughes Old, PhD
Herman Selderhuis, PhD
John Witte, Jr., JD

The Young Calvin Scholars Symposium: July 8th in the historic Auditoire.

Matthew Button, MBA
Michael M. Dewalt, MAR
Tim Gwin, MDiv

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | June 30, 2009

Calvin’s Practical View of Adoption: Its Privileges and Duties

Many who know me, know I love focusing my studies on Central-Gospel themes, doctrines, and issues of today that deal with the Gospel its’ self. I have wanted to spend sometime during my Masters of Arts writing on Calvin’s view of the Gospel truths in adoption and what it detailed. My last semester I was able to do so, and work with a fellow brother at seminary who helped me. Here is the paper Maarten Kuivenhoven and I worked on together, Calvin’s Practical View of Adoption: Its Privileges and Duties.

Posted by: Michael M. Dewalt | June 29, 2009

Calvin for the 21st Century

Ligon Duncan writes,

“This year the reformed world has seen a number of books and conferences related to the life and work of John Calvin.  For instance, Derek and I will be participating in the “Calvin 500” in Geneva next week.  Of course, many who would love to attend a Calvin conference will not be able to make the pilgrimage all the way to Geneva!  Thus there are many other conferences devoted to Calvin all over the United States.  In an age that lacks appreciation of and is at times generally ignorant of history, one of the most important of the Calvin conferences, in my estimation, is “Calvin for the 21st Century,” sponsored by the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  As with all things under the direction of Joel Beeke, you can expect that the conference will be first rate and excellently demonstrate the relevance of one of the greatest reformers of all time. And Derek and I will be there too!

If you would like more information about “Calvin for the 21st Century,” check out this website  Those interested should take advantage of the preregistration discount being offered through July 24th. Space is limited.”

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