Archive for the ‘Calvin’ Category

Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone… (John Calvin)

“Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for Our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt cancelled, labour lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune. For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.” (John Calvin, in his Epistle to the Faithful – preface to French NT)

 

God calls us to rejoice in suffering, but that doesn’t make suffering any less painful… (John Calvin)

Calvin reminds us of this precious truth in the section in his Institutes called “The Golden Booklet of the Christian Life” (Book III, chapters 6-10).  Having called us to a cheerful joy in the midst of affliction, he speaks words of sober truth:

Yet such a cheerfulness is not required of us as to remove all feeling of bitterness and pain. Otherwise, in the cross there would be no forbearance of the saints unless they were tormented by pain and anguished by trouble. If there were no harshness in poverty, no torment in diseases, no sting in disgrace, no dread in death – what fortitude or moderation would there be in bearing them with indifference? But since each of these, with an inborn bitterness, by its very nature bites the hearts of us all, the fortitude of the believing man is brought to light if – tried by the feeling of such bitterness – however grievously he is troubled with it, yet valiantly resisting, he surmounts it. Here his forbearance reveals itself: if sharply pricked he is still restrained by the fear of God from breaking into any intemperate act. Here his cheerfulness shines if, wounded by sorrow and grief, he rests in the spiritual consolation of God. (III.viii.8)

 

John Calvin on the benefits we have in Christ, especially justification…

“Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ’s spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life…[We must] bear in mind that [justification] is the main hinge on which religion turns, so that we devote the greater attention and care to it. For unless you first of all grasp what your relationship to God is, and the nature of his judgment concerning you, you have neither a foundation on which to establish your salvation nor one on which to build piety toward God…” (Institutes, III.xi.1)

John Calvin on the progressive nature of sanctification – “…this warfare will end only at death.”

The Ashley Madison hack continues to reveal what has been hidden (how we need to remember Luke 12:2-3!), and wreak divine, Nathanic truth and havoc upon Davidic husbands (cf. II Samuel 11-12; Psalm 51). There is much to be said and much that has been said. Yet as we reel and rock from the exposures, let us not forget the nature of the Christian life – every day, Christians need to be reminded that sanctification is a process, that the Christian life is a journey, a marathon and not a sprint. We need to be reminded about this for ourselves, and as we relate to other people around us. John Calvin beautifully expresses this truth:

…[W]e are restored through the benefit of Christ into the righteousness of God; from which we had fallen through Adam. In this way it pleases the Lord fully to restore whomsoever he adopts into the inheritance of life. And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them to himself as temples renewing all their minds to true purity that they may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this warfare will end only at death…[N]o one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength to press on with due eagerness, and weakness so weighs down the greater number that, with wavering and limping and even creeping along the ground, they move at a feeble rate. Let each one of us, then, proceed according to the measure of his puny capacity and set out upon the journey we have begun. No one shall set out so inauspiciously as not daily to make some headway, though it be slight. Therefore, let us not cease so to act that we may make some unceasing progress in the way of the Lord. And let us not despair at the slightness of our success; for even though attainment may not correspond to desire, when today outstrips yesterday the effort is not lost. Only let us look toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal; not fondly flattering ourselves, nor excusing our own evil deeds, but with continuous effort striving toward this end: that we may surpass ourselves in goodness until we attain to goodness itself. It is this, indeed, which through the whole course of life we seek and follow. But we shall attain it only when we have cast off the weakness of the body, and are received into full fellowship with him. (Institutes, III.iii.9; III.vii.5)

If we forget the slow reality of sanctification for ourselves, our hearts will be cast into despair. If we forget it for others, our hearts will be lifted up in pride. But as Calvin reminds us, we may never use the slowness of sanctification as an excuse for sin. May the Lord help us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to press on in the race, for He is at work in us by His Holy Spirit.

John Calvin on the task of preaching and the 2nd commandment

The second commandment forbids images of the persons of the Godhead. In the month of December it is easy to forget this. So how can Paul say that Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified before the eyes of the Galatians (Galatians 3:1-5)? Did he draw them a picture, or put on a tragic drama? No, in the new covenant, we see Jesus publicly portrayed as crucified in the preaching of the word, and in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (the symbol of His sufferings that He Himself has authorized). John Calvin speaks beautifully of the former: “Let those who want to discharge the ministry of the gospel learn aright to speak, to penetrate into consciences, so that people may see Christ crucified and his blood flow. When the church has such painters as these, she no longer needs wood and stone, that is dead images, she no longer requires pictures and icons.” (Quoted by Carl Kalberkamp in his sermon on Galatians 3:1-5, 12/7/14)

Preachers, pray that we will grow in our ability to penetrate the consciences of God’s people with artistry and skill, setting forth the sufferings of Christ in verbal form such that our people, and the lost, are convicted of their sin and of the sufficiency of Jesus’ atoning work. Brothers and sisters, pray for us (Colossians 4:3)!

 

Calvin on praying aright, from Deuteronomy 3:23ff.

“But as for us, we must assure ourselves of the love of God, and that he is much readier to grant than we be to require, yea and that he is so pitiful and has such a respect of our miseries and necessities to relieve them, that he even prevents [goes before] us. We must be thoroughly persuaded of this when we pray. But how shall we know it? We must not bear ourselves on hand that we hold God bound unto us, and that we shall make him to grant all our desires: for what a malapertness were that? And what an honoring of God were it, if every man should say, I believe God will do whatever I command him? But we must rest upon his promises. You see then that faith is requisite in our prayers: that is to wit, that no man thrust forth himself upon his own head, but that having the promise whereby God allures us unto him, we go unto him boldly, not doubting but that he will keep touch with us.”

Calvin’s Institutes on Sale

Here is where to buy Calvin’s Institutes, if you don’t already own them.