Our Whole Salvation Comprehended in Christ

John Calvin at his God-glorifying best: We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we see redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness

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John Calvin on the True Church

Sinclair Ferguson: When is a “church” not a church? How do we recognize the true church of Jesus Christ? And how do we discern the false? Calvin’s answer, in the Institutes 4.2.1 – 4.2.12, to what was in his day–and remains–an important question, is, essentially: the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the hallmarks of the true church. Where these are lacking, “surely the death of the church follows.” Why should this be so? Because the church is built on the prophets and apostles (Eph. 2:20). They have a primacy of role in person in the course of redemptive history; but their teaching is the foundation for every generation of Christian faith. Substitute another foundation for the church and the whole building will crumble. But in Calvin’s eyes Roman Catholic theology failed to grasp this, and effectively transferred the authority of the once-for-all written apostolic word to the questionable strength of a

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Calvin on Why God Raised Up Luther to Reform the Church

  Tomorrow is Reformation Day. Here is John Calvin, writing in 1543 (26 years after Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the Wittenberg Door), explaining why the Reformation needed to happen: At the time when divine truth lay buried under this vast and dense cloud of darkness; when religion was sullied by so many impious superstitions; when by horrid blasphemies the worship of God was corrupted, and his glory laid prostrate; when by a multitude of perverse opinions, the benefit of redemption was frustrated, and men, intoxicated with a fatal confidence in works, sought salvation anywhere rather than in Christ; when the administration of the sacraments was partly maimed and torn asunder, partly adulterated by the admixture of numerous fictions, and partly profaned by traffickings for gain; when the government of the church had degenerated into mere confusion and devastation; when those who sat in the seat of pastors first did most vital injury to the church by the dissoluteness

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Christ’s resurrection bestows the benefits of his death on us

  By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? How could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest? Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ: by the former sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter. — John Calvin, quoted by Adrian Warnock in Raised with Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 118 (HT: Of First Importance)

Calvin on Typology

John Calvin: “For this is eternal life, to know the one and only true God, and Him who He sent, Jesus Christ, whom he constituted the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. This One is Isaac the well-beloved Son of the Father, who was offered in sacrifice, and yet did not succumb to the power of death. This is the vigilant Shepherd Jacob, taking such great care of the sheep He has charge over. This is the good and pitiable Brother Joseph, who in His glory was not ashamed to recognize His brothers, however contemptible and abject as they were. This is the great Priest and Bishop Melchizedek, having made eternal sacrifice once for all. This is the sovereign Lawgiver Moses, writing His law on the tables of our hearts by His Spirit. This is the faithful Captain and Guide Joshua to conduct us to the promised land. This is the noble and victorious King David, subduing

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John Calvin – The Undoubted Power and Majesty of God’s Word

John Calvin: Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit

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John Calvin on the Great Exchange

Nicholas Batzig: In his Preface to the Geneva Bible of 1550, titled Christ the End of the Law, John Calvin gave one of the most succinct and powerful explanations of the great exchange that occurs in the Gospel because of what Christ has done for believers. He wrote: He humbled Himself, to exalt us; He made Himself a servant, to set us free; He became poor, to enrich us; He was sold, to buy us back; a Captive, to deliver us; Condemned, to procure our pardon; He was made a curse, that we might be blessed; the Oblation for sins, for our justification; His face was marred, to re-beautify ours; He Died, that we may have life. In such sort, that by Him, hardness is softened; wrath appeased; darkness made light; iniquity turned into righteousness; weakness is made strength; despair is consoled; sin is resisted; shame is despised; fear is emboldened; debt is paid; labor is lightened; Sorrow is turned into joy; Misfortune into

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Something Better than Sovereignty

Kevin DeYoung: When John Piper preached at our church two weeks ago, he talked about the very high view Muslims have of the sovereignty of God. They believe in a God who ordains whatsoever comes to pass. They believe in a God who knows the hairs on our heads. They believe in a God who can do as he pleases. So is there any difference between a sovereign Allah and the sovereign God of the Bible? Piper argued that in Islam the sovereignty of God operates independently of his other attributes, such that Allah can be capricious and arbitrary in his exercise of divine power. This is, no doubt, how some Christians see the Reformed view of God and why they reject it so strenuously. But when Calvin and other early Reformed thinkers exulted in God’s design and decrees, they typically did so with a different word besides “sovereignty.” They much preferred to talk about providence. Obviously, the two are related. There

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Without the Gospel

Just started Mike Bird’s superb ‘Evangelical Theology’. In the front-piece he quotes John Calvin: Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe. It follows that 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

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Two Kinds of Popularity

Tim Keller: For much of his life, John Calvin had two close friends — Farel and Viret. Farel was very hot-headed and out-spoken, while Viret was of very mild temperament, an instinctive peace-keeper. Farel often came to Geneva and stayed at Calvin’s home, where, sometimes with Viret, the friends would have long talks about theology and current events over a glass. Calvin delighted in the company of his zealous friend. Nevertheless, as time went on he came to see that Farel’s inflexible nature made him a doughty defender but a limited propagator of the gospel. He often sent his own discourses and letters to Viret, whose job was to moderate his language. Calvin himself had been more hot-headed as a young man, and he worked to curb his own tongue. After Farel inappropriately denounced a prominent woman in Geneva from the pulpit, which turned her whole family against him, Calvin wrote him a remarkable letter: “When you have Satan to

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Calvin on Christ in All of Scripture

John Calvin, writing in the preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the New Testament: He [Christ] is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land. He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing his kingdom in

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John Calvin’s 4 Rules of Prayer

From Joel Beeke: For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.” He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer. 1. The first rule is a heartfelt sense of reverence. In prayer, we must be “disposed in mind and heart as befits those who enter conversation with God.” Our prayers should arise from “the bottom of our heart.” Calvin calls for a disciplined mind and heart, asserting that “the only persons who duly and properly gird themselves to pray are those who are so moved by God’s majesty that, freed from earthly cares and affections, they come to it.” 2. The second rule is a heartfelt sense of need and repentance. We must “pray from a sincere sense of want and with penitence,” maintaining “the disposition of a beggar.” Calvin does not mean that believers should pray for every whim that

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Calvin’s pastoral piety

The Christian life is: “Intensely personal but never individualistic. Woven through with the great doctrines of justification by faith and regeneration of life, the glory of God and providence. Undergirded with prayer, proclaimed in word and shared in sacraments, sung in psalms. Embodied in action and demanding respect for the neighbor and solidarity with those who suffer in spirit, mind, or body. Not an easy or comfortable piety; it asks for one’s all. Sturdy and down to earth, lived in the mundane context of daily work, yet always conscious of the presence of the transcendent God and the high calling of living before God. An energizing, lifelong response to God’s liberating claim, God’s righteous mercy, God’s compelling love, a belonging that is all our joy.” –Elsie McKee, ed., John Calvin: Writings on Pastoral Piety (Paulist, 2001), 34-35 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

No longer blind to the gospel of the glory of Christ

“For as God, the Creator of the world, pours forth upon us the brightness of the sun, and gives us eyes to receive it, so, as the Redeemer, in the person of His Son, He shines forth, indeed, upon us by His gospel, but, as we are blind, that would be in vain, if He did not at the same time enlighten our understandings by His Spirit. His meaning, therefore, is, that God has, by His Spirit, opened the eyes of our understandings, so as to make them capable of receiving the light of the gospel. John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. 20, p. 200 (HT: John Fonville)

Let Us Drink Our Fill From This Fountain

  John Calvin: If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him” [1 Cor. 1:30]. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [cf. Heb. 5:2]. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13]; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood, if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection,

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On Union With Christ

John Calvin: 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. (Institutes, 3.1.1.) Jonathan Edwards: The Scripture is very plain and evident in this, that those that are in Christ are actually in a state of salvation, and are justified, sanctified, accepted of Christ, and shall be saved. . . . But those that are not in Christ, are not united to Him, can have no degree of communion with Him. For there is no communion without union. The members can have no communion with the head or participation of its life and health unless they are united to it. (A Treatise on Grace) Adolf Schlatter: [T]he spiritual process occurring in us through faith can never by itself provide the grounds for God’s justifying verdict. It can do so only because it establishes our union

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The Missional Calvin

“Calvin so believed in the importance of the everyday activities of Christian life and mission that he had a strange but telling practice in Geneva. He was eager to see Jesus’ church gathered on Sundays, but he was not happy for his flock to retreat from everyday life and hide within the walls of the church during the week. So to prod his congregants to be fully engaged in their city of Geneva — in their families, in their jobs, with their neighbors and coworkers — he locked the church doors during the week. It must have been hard not to get the point. He knew the place of God’s people — gathered together to worship on Sunday, but during the week not hidden away behind thick walls of separation, but on mission together in God’s world, laboring to bring the gospel to metro Geneva in their words and actions, in all their roles and relationships.” — David Mathis, in

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Calvin on Remaining Sin in the Regenerate

Helpful realism from the reformer– The children of God are freed through regeneration from bondage to sin. Yet they do not obtain full possession of freedom so as to feel no more annoyance from the their flesh, but there still remains in them a continuing occasion for struggle whereby they may be exercised; and not only be exercised, but also better learn their own weakness. . . . [T]here remains in a regenerate man a smoldering cinder of evil, from which desires continually leap forth to allure and spur him to commit sin. In regeneration, Calvin goes on to say, the sway of sin is abolished in them. For the Spirit dispenses a power whereby they may gain the upper hand and become victors in the struggle. But sin ceases only to reign; it does not also cease to dwell in them. –John Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.10-11 Sin dwells, but no longer reigns, in believers. (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Without the Gospel…

Justin Taylor posted this wonderful quote from John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the Bible. “To all those who love Christ and his gospel,” Calvin writes: Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom, folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinners justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. The gospel is the Word of life.

Every Kind of Good Abounds in Him

“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ.  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.   If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is of him.  If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing.  If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth.  For by his birth he was made like us in all respects, that he might learn to feel our pain.  If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection;

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