Over the next few months I’m making my way through Romans with Calvin’s Commentary. In his introductory remarks Calvin says “if we have gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have an open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture”.

I have been very struck by his comments on Roms 3:21, 22:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – (even) the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction…….”

Calvin does the medieval thing of splitting an action into its component parts saying, when we are justified, the efficient cause is the mercy of God, Christ is the substance (materia) of our justification, and the Word, with faith, the instrument.

I find those distinctions helpful.

However he goes on to say something  I’ve never thought of:

When we are made partakers of Christ, we are not only ourselves righteous, but our works also are counted righteous in the sight of God, because any imperfections in them are obliterated by the blood  of Christ.  The promises,  which were conditional,  are fulfilled to us also by the same grace, since God rewards our works as perfect, inasmuch as their defects are covered by free pardon.

Our own works, not just ourselves are counted righteous in God’s sight, of course subject to the qualifications given by Calvin!

This insight brought to my mind something else.

I’ve always been fascinated by Rev 21:24 where John in speaking of the new Jerusalem writes, by its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, ever since I read Anthony Hoekema’s comments many years ago (The Bible and the Future) to the effect that a reasonable conclusion to be drawn from Rev 21:24 is that there will be some kind of continuity between the culture of the present world and that of the world to come.

In fact Hoekema goes further (p 286) asking;

Is it too much to say that, according to these verses, the unique contributions of each nation to the life of the present earth will enrich the life of the new earth? Shall we then perhaps inherit the best products of culture and art which this earth has produced?

Well, we don’t know the answer to that, but I do find it a tantalising question and I’d like to think the answer is, yes!

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