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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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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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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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)