Posts Tagged ‘John Calvin’

On Learning from God
Yet nothing shall ever hinder me from openly avowing what I have learned from the Word of God; for nothing but what is useful is taught in the school of this master. It is my only guide, and to acquiesce in its plain doctrines shall be my constant rule of wisdom. (From History of the Christian Church, Vol. VIII: Modern Christianity: The Swiss Reformation)

On God’s Perfect Timing
God is not to be rashly judged of on account of his delay, when he does not immediately execute his judgments; for he waits for the seasonable opportunity. But, in the meantime there is no reason for us to think that he forgets his office when he suspends punishment, or for a season spares the ungodly. When, therefore, God does not hasten so very quickly, there is no ground for us to think that he is indifferent, because he delays his wrath, or retains it, as we have already said; for it is the same thing to retain wrath, as to be the Lord of wrath, and to possess it. (From Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets)

On Salvation
Let us, therefore, understand that there is no salvation whatsoever outside of Jesus Christ, for He is the beginning and the end of faith, and He is all in all. Let us continue in humility, knowing that we can only bring condemnation upon ourselves; therefore, we need to find all that pertains to salvation in the pure and free mercy of God.(From John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians)

On Our Debt to Christ
Let us draw from these words a good general principle: namely, in order to worship God, we do not need to look around either here or there to figure out how much we owe him. For we owe him a hundred thousand times more than we can ever pay, and though we try as much as possible, still we must confess that we are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10). (From Sermons on 2 Samuel: Chapters 1–13

On Christ’s Sacrifice When We Are Apart from Him
We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. . . . We also, in turn, are said to be “engrafted into him” [Rom. 11:17], and to “put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]; for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him. (From Institutes of Christian Religion)

On the Power of the Cross
In all the creatures, indeed, both high and low, the glory of God shines, but nowhere has it shone more brightly than in the cross, in which there has been an astonishing change of things, the condemnation of all men has been manifested, sin has been blotted out, salvation has been restored to men… (From Commentary on the Gospel According to John)

On “Whosoever”
Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. . . . And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life. (From Commentary on the Gospel According to John)

On the Consistency of the Gospel
Our forefathers had no other way of obtaining salvation than that which is preached to us today. This is a very important point, for some muddle-headed fools believe that no-one had heard the gospel in those days. Indeed, there are even some profane mockers of God who seek to limit the authority of God and of His gospel by saying that the gospel has only existed for these sixteen hundred years and that previously it was unknown. What! (From John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians)

On Faith
Faith then is not a naked knowledge either of God or of his truth; nor is it a simple persuasion that God is, that his word is the truth; but a sure knowledge of God’s mercy, which is received from the gospel, and brings peace of conscience with regard to God, and rest to the mind. The sum of the matter then is this,—that if salvation depends on the keeping of the law, the soul can entertain no confidence respecting it, yea, that all the promises offered to us by God will become void: we must thus become wretched and lost, if we are sent back to works to find out the cause or the certainty of salvation . . . for as the law generates nothing but vengeance, it cannot bring grace. (From Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans)

On Hope
Let us learn, therefore, not to become drunk on our foolish hopes. Rather, let us hope in God and in God’s promises, and we will never be deceived. But if we base our hopes on our own presumptuousness, God will strip everything away. This is one of our most essential doctrines, since human nature is so driven by presumptuousness. For we are so inflamed by an insupportable pride that God is forced to punish us harshly. We think we are so much higher than God that we ought to be more powerful than God. Consequently, seeing how inclined we are toward this vice, all the more then ought we pay heed to what Micah says here: that we must not rest content with the thought that whatever happens will happen. Rather, we must realize that so long as God’s hand is upon us, we are condemned to be miserable. For there is no other cure shy of our returning to God and founding our hopes on His promises. Therein lies our surest remedy, equal to any and all disasters that might befall us. (From Sermons on the Book of Micah)

On God Manifesting in Sermons
It is certain that if we come to church we shall not hear only a mortal man speaking but we shall feel (even by His secret power) that God is speaking to our souls, that He is the teacher. He so touches us that the human voice enters into us and so profits us that we are refreshed and nourished by it. God calls us to Him as if He had His mouth open and we saw Him there in person. (From Manifestation of God in Public Exposition)

On Pastor’s Shepherding
The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both. (From Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon)

On if the Spirit Is Not Present
Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the Word of God, of which they are constituted administrators. Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this Word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan’s reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose, thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the Word of God. (From The Relevance of Preaching, by Marcel)

On the Strength of the Church
No matter how many strong enemies plot to overthrow the church, they do not have sufficient strength to prevail over God’s immutable decree by which he appointed his Son eternal King. (From Institutes of Christian Religion)

On Heresy
When it comes to heresies and wicked perversions of the truth which distort everything, we should react as if we have been punched or stabbed in the stomach or neck. For in what does the life and well-being of the church consist, if not in the pure Word of God? If someone came and poisoned the meat which we needed for food, would we tolerate it? No, it would make us strike out! The same reasoning applies to the gospel. We must always raise our hands to defend the purity of its doctrine, and we must not allow it to be corrupted in any way whatever. (From John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians)

On Pride
The law prepares us for the gospel, for where men are puffed up with pride, they cannot know the grace of God. If a container is full of air, and you were to try to put liquid into it, none of it would be able to enter because the air would prevent it. We might also think of the human body. . . . If a man is starving, he will, nevertheless, have such a swollen stomach that he can take nothing in—he will be full. But he will only be full of wind and not food. The wind prevents him from taking down anything that will sustain or nourish him. The same applies to our foolish pride. We think we have everything we need, but all we have is like air which excludes the grace of God. (From John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians)

On Self-Examination
We must all, therefore, examine our lives, not against one of God’s precepts but against the whole law. Can any of us truly say that we are blameless? (From John Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians)

A Prayer of Submission
Now let us fall before the majesty of our great God, acknowledging our sins, and praying that He would make us increasingly conscious of them. May our consciences be truly pricked, that we might hate our sin and embrace His mercy, and may His grace be poured upon us in ever-increasing measure. May His hand support and sustain us in our weakness, until we are brought to holy perfection in the kingdom of heaven, which has been bought for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. (From Sermons on the Book of Micah)

On Reverence in Church
Moreover, let us learn that God does not intend there to be churches as places for people to make merry and laugh in, as if a comedy were being acted here. But there must be majesty in His Word, by which we may be moved and affected. (From Calvin’s Preaching)

On Following God
As the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God. By service, I mean not only that which consists in verbal obedience, but that by which the mind, divested of its own carnal feelings, implicitly obeys the call of the Spirit of God. (From Institutes of Christian Religion)

On Piety
I call “piety” that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him—they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him. (From Institutes of Christian Religion)

On Self-Denial
No one has rightly denied himself unless he has wholly resigned himself to the Lord and is willing to leave every detail to His good pleasure. If we put ourselves in such a frame of mind, then, whatever may happen to us, we shall never feel miserable or accuse God falsely because of our lot. (From Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life)

When Calvin Was Nearing Death
In the name of God, I, John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, . . . thank God that He has shown not only mercy toward me, His poor creature, and . . . has suffered me in all sins and weaknesses, but what is much more, that He has made me a partaker of His grace to serve Him through my work. . . . I confess to live and die in this faith which He has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than His predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which He has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of His suffering and dying, that through them all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg Him to wash me and cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer, . . . so that I, when I shall appear before His face may bear His likeness. Moreover, I declare that I endeavored to teach His Word undefiled and to expound Holy Scripture faithfully, according to the measure of grace which He has given me. (From The Life of John Calvin, by Beza)

*     *     *     *     *


John CalvinJohn Calvin (1509-1564) was a prominent French theologian during the Protestant Reformation. Calvin moved to Strasbourg where he pastored from 1538-1541. When Calvin’s supporters won the election to the Geneva city council in 1541, he was invited back to the city where he remained until his death in 1564. John Calvin was a prolific writer of theology. His most notable work was the Institutes of the Christian Religion. The final edition differed radically from the original 1536 edition as it was no longer merely a manual for new believers. Instead, it had grown into a thorough systematic theology comprising four books (or “volumes”) and dealt with more doctrines of the Christian faith. Calvin also published commentaries on twenty-three of the Old Testament books and all of the New Testament books except 2-3 John and Revelation. Calvin founded a school to instruct men in Reformed theology and then train them to return home, preach the Gospel, and plant churches. The missionary influence of Calvin extended not only to his native France, but also to Scotland (home of the Presbyterian Church), England, northern Italy, the Netherlands, and even Poland; for example, in 1561, 140 missionaries are recorded as having left Geneva.  Calvin also sent out the first two overseas missionaries in the history of Protestantism: an expedition to Brazil in 1556. He is the father of the theological system known as Calvinism. Martin Luther and Calvin are arguably the most significant architects of the Reformation. “If Luther sounded the trumpet for reform, Calvin orchestrated the score by which the Reformation became a part of Western civilization.”


Read Full Post »


My cousin, Susan, brought my attention to an article entitled ‘John Calvin: Comeback Kid’ by Timothy George posted in Christianity Today on September 8, 2009.  Although I do not fully agree always with some of the  views of the various contributors published in this magazine, may I direct you to view the full printer-friendly article though this LINK, while an excerpt is pasted below.  Indeed there is a resurgence of Reformed Theology today, thank God! The article is a primer of sorts in answer to the the following questions: Why does Calvin persist as such a controversial—and monumental—figure in the Christian story? Why does he still generate such contrary emotions? What has kept Calvin from fading into the shadows of church history? 

‘John Calvin: Comeback Kid’ contain the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Late Bloomer
  • Ministry ‘On the Boundary’
  • A Churchly Reformer
  • ‘Preforeordestination’
  • Theology for Trekkers
  • Complex, Inconsistent
  • Calvinism Reborn

I pasted an excerpt below which brings a testimony to fore on  the fact that Reformed Christians (or Calvinists) were instrumental to a robust missionary movement in the last few hundred years contrary to what others have said concerning predestination-election theology that purports to make one complacent in the Great Commission.

Timothy George (ThD, Harvard University) is founding dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, and a senior editor of Christianity Today. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Theology of the Reformers and God the Holy Trinity. He also serves as the general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, a 28-volume work of 16th-century biblical comment forthcoming from InterVarsity Press.


Excerpt from John Calvin: Comeback Kid

Theology for Trekkers

In Calvin’s day, Geneva became a great center for church planting, evangelism, and even “foreign” missions: a group of Protestants supported by Admiral de Coligny carried the message of Christ to the far shores of Brazil in 1557, more than 60 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. William Carey, the father of modern missions in the 18th century, went to India with a Calvinist vision of a full-sized God—eternal, transcendent, holy, filled with compassion, sovereignly working by his Holy Spirit to call unto himself a people from every nation, tribe, and language group on earth.

In Book Three of the Institutes, Calvin treats predestination and prayer in contiguous chapters (Institutes3.20-21). The universal appeal of Calvin’s thought is expressed clearly in this petition he prepared for his liturgy “The Form of Prayers”:

We pray you now, O most gracious God and merciful father, for all people everywhere. As it is your will to be acknowledged as the Savior of the whole world, through the redemption wrought by your son Jesus Christ, grant that those who are still estranged from the knowledge of him, being in the darkness and captivity of error and ignorance, may be brought by the illumination of your Holy Spirit and the preaching of your Gospel to the right way of salvation, which is to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

…One of the mysteries of the mystique of Calvinism is how such a high predestinarian theology could motivate so many of its adherents to such intense this-worldly activism. Calvinism was certainly a dynamic force in shaping the contours of the modern world, including features of it that most of us would not want to live without, such as the rule of law, the limitation of state power, and a democratic approach to civil governance. Though Max Weber was off the mark in identifying the “spirit of capitalism” with the Puritan desire to find assurance of election in a joyless acquisitiveness, he was right to point to the importance of Calvinist ideals—thrift, hard work, fair play, personal responsibility—in the development of a robust economic system.

Calvin’s theology was meant for trekkers, not for settlers, as historian Heiko Oberman put it. In the 16th century, Calvinist trekkers fanned out across Europe initiating political change as well as church reform from Holland to Hungary, from the Palatinate to Poland, from Lithuania to Scotland, England, and eventually to New England. In its drive and passion, in its world-transforming vision, Calvinism was an international fraternity comparable only to the Society of Jesus in the era of the Reformation. It is perhaps ironic that Calvin and Ignatius Loyola studied at the same time in the same school in Paris.

Read Full Post »