John Calvin understood that men will often run after great orators who only seek to tickle the ears of their audience. He also understood that articulate preachers might arise that seek a large audience rather than the salvation of men. Calvin writes:
But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)
The doctrine which is set forth to us in God’s name, to be the food of our souls, will be corrupted by the devil, if in his power; when he cannot destroy it, he blends things with it, in order to bring it into contempt, and destroy our knowledge of the will of God. There are many in this day who put themselves forward to teach; and what is the cause of it? Ambition carries them away; they disguise the Word of God, and thus Satan goes about to deprive us of the spiritual life.
But this he is not able to accomplish, unless by some means the doctrine of God be corrupted. St. Paul repeats the exhortation: that we must shun all unprofitable babbling, and stay ourselves upon plain teaching – which is forcible. He not only condemns manifest errors, superstition, and lies, but he condemns the disguising of the Word of God: as when men invent subtleties, to cloy men’s ears; bringing no true nourishment to the soul, nor edification in faith, and the fear of God, to the hearers.
When St. Paul speaks of vain babbling, he means that which contents curious men; as we see many that take great pleasure in vain questions, wherewith they seem to be ravished. They do not openly speak against the truth, but they despise it as a thing too common and base; as a thing for children and fools; as for them, they will know some higher and more profound matter. Thus they are at variance with that which would be profitable for them. Therefore, let us weigh well the words of St. Paul: vain babbling; as though he said, if there be nothing but fine rhetoric and exquisite words to gain him credit that speaks, and to show that he is well learned, [but not Bible truth and sound doctrine] none of this should be received into the church; all must be banished. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church Leadership, Evil, God, John Calvin | Tagged: Bible, Satan, Second Epistle to Timothy, Sermon | Comments Off