Quotes of Author: John-calvin
There is no erratic power, or action, or motion in creatures, but that they are governed by God’s secret plan in such a way that nothing happens except what is knowingly and willingly decreed by Him.
Reference: Institutes of Christian Religion, Westminster Press, 1960, 1:201.
We are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, [progressive] sanctification is just as much included as [imputed] righteousness.
Reference: Institutes 3.16.1.
Justification and sanctification, gifts of grace, go together as if tied by an inseparable bond, so that if anyone tries to separate them, he is, in a sense, tearing Christ to pieces. Sanctification doesn’t just flow from justification, so that one produces the other. Both come from the same Source. Christ justifies no one whom He does not also sanctify. By virtue of our union with Christ, He bestows both gifts, the one never without the other.
Reference: Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:30, Volume XX, Baker, 1993, p. 93.
Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. When we see those who previously stood firm and secure so quaking with terror, that the fear of death takes hold of them, nay, they are, in a manner, swallowed up and annihilated, the inference to be drawn is that men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.
Reference: Institutes, Chapter 1.
Let us therefore, leaving off all other things, aim exclusively at this - that we may be approved by God and may be satisfied to have His approbation alone, as it justly ought to be regarded by us as of more value than all the applauses of the whole world.
The testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to His own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit... For though [Scripture] in its own majesty has enough to command reverence, nevertheless, it then begins truly to touch us when it is sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Reference: Institutes, 1:7, 4-5.
The simple and external demonstration of the Word of God ought, indeed, to suffice fully for the production of faith, did not our blindness and perversity interfere. But such is the propensity of our minds to vanity that they can never adhere to the truth of God, and such is their dullness that they are always blind even to his light. Hence, without the illumination of the Holy Spirit the Word has no effect.
Reference: Institutes III.2.xxxiii.
Let us know, then, that the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning; and let us embrace and abide by it resolutely. Let us not only neglect as doubtful, but boldly set aside as deadly corruptions those pretended expositions which lead us away from the natural meaning.
Since no daily responses are given from heaven, and the Scriptures are the only record in which God has been pleased to consign His truth to perpetual remembrance, the full authority which they ought to possess with the faithful is not recognized unless they are believed to have come from heaven as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.
The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.
Reference: Commentary, Exodus 21:22, 1563.
Having become with us the Son of Man, He has made us with Himself sons of God. By His own descent to the earth He has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, He has bestowed on us His immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, He has made us strong in His strength. Having submitted to our poverty, He has transferred to us His riches. Having taken upon Himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, He has clothed us with His righteousness.
Let us consider this settled: that no one who has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection... Let us not hesitate to await the Lord’s coming, not only with longing, but also with groaning and sighs, as the happiest thing of all. He will come to us as Redeemer.
Reference: Institutes, 3.9.5.
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; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in His entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in His Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to Him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in Him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.
Reference: Institutes, 2.16.19.
Here is a beautiful antithesis. In ourselves we are scattered, in Christ we are gathered together. By nature we go astray and are driven headlong to destruction, in Christ we find the path that leads us to the gate of salvation. Our sins overwhelm us, but they are laid on Christ by whom we are unburdened. Therefore, when we were perishing and, alienated from God, were hastening to hell, Christ took upon Himself the filthy depths of our sins, to rescue us from eternal destruction.
Reference: Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, p. 66-67.
God declares to us that Jesus Christ, who once had His side pierced, today has His heart open, as it were, that we may have assurance of the love that He bears us; that as He once had His arms fastened to the cross, now He has them wide open to draw us to Himself; and that as once He shed his blood, so today He wishes us to be plunged within it. So, when God invites us so sweetly and Jesus Christ sets before us the fruit of His death and passion...let us all come to take our stand with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reference: Sermons on Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Death and Passion of Christ, p. 82.
Now, in order that true religion may shine upon us, we ought to hold that it must take its beginning from heavenly doctrine and that no one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture.
Reference: Institutes, Scripture.
[The elect] are gathered into Christ’s flock by a call not immediately at birth, and not all at the same time, but according as it pleases God to dispense His grace to them. But before they are gathered unto that supreme Shepherd, they wander scattered in the wilderness common to all; and they do not differ at all from others except that they are protected by God’s special mercy from rushing headlong into the final ruin of death.
Reference: Institutes, 3.24.10.
The Lord bids each one of us in all life’s actions to look to his calling. For He knows with what great restlessness human nature flames, with what fickleness it is borne hither and thither, how its ambition longs to embrace various things at once. Therefore, lest through our stupidity and rashness everything be turned topsy-turvy, He has appointed duties for every man in his particular way of life. And that no one may thoughtlessly transgress his limits, He has named these various kinds of living “callings.” Therefore each individual has his own kind of living assigned to him by the Lord as a sort of sentry post so that he may not heedlessly wander throughout life.
Reference: Institutes, III.x.6.
When divisions are rife in religion, it is bound to happen that what is in men's minds will soon erupt in real conflict. For while nothing is more effective for joining us together, and there is nothing which does more to unite our minds, and keep them peaceful, than agreement in religion, yet if disagreement has somehow arisen in connection with it, the inevitable result is that men are quickly stirred up to engage in fighting, and there is no other field with fiercer disputes
Reference: 1 Corinthians, p. 26-27.
And we know how necessary it was that Christ should come forth as God and man; for salvation cannot be expected in any other way than from God; and Christ must confer salvation on us, and not only be its minister. And then, as He is God, He justifies us, regenerates us, illuminates us into a hope of eternal life; to conquer sin and death is doubtless what only can be effected by divine power. Hence Christ, except He was God, could not have performed what we had to expect from Him. It was also necessary that He should become man, that he might unite us to Himself; for we have no access to God, except we become the friends of Christ; and how can we be so made, except by a brotherly union?
Reference: Commentary, Jeremiah 23:5-6.
It is entirely by the intervention of Christ’s righteousness that we obtain justification before God. This is equivalent to saying that man is not just in himself, but that the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation, while he is strictly deserving of punishment.
All God’s promises depend upon Christ alone. This is a notable assertion and one of the main articles of our faith. It depends in turn upon another principle – that it is only in Christ that God the Father is graciously inclined towards us. His promises are the testimonies of His fatherly goodwill towards us. Thus it follows that they are fulfilled only in Christ… Secondly, we are incapable of possessing God’s promises till we have received the remission of our sins and that comes to us through Christ.
When certain days are represented as holy in themselves, when one day is distinguished from another on religious grounds, when holy days are reckoned a part of divine worship, then days are improperly observed… When we, in the present age, make a distinction of days, we do not represent them as necessary, and thus lay a snare for the conscience; we do not reckon one day to be more holy than another; we do not make days to be the same thing with religion and the worship of God; but merely attend to the preservation of order and harmony. The observance of days among us is a free service, and void of all superstition.
Let us say something about fasting, because many, for want of knowing its usefulness, undervalue its necessity, and some reject it as almost superfluous; while, on the other hand where the use of it is not well understood, it easily degenerates into superstition. Holy and legitimate fasting is directed to three ends; for we practice it either as a restraint on the flesh, to preserve it from licentiousness, or as a preparation for prayers and pious meditations, or as a testimony of our humiliation in the presence of God when we are desirous of confessing our guilt before him.
Nothing will be ambiguous if we hold fast to what ought to be clear from the foregoing: that there are two kinds of call. There is the general call, by which God invites all equally to Himself through the outward preaching of the word – even those to whom He holds it out as a savor of death (cf. 2 Cor. 2:16), and as the occasion for severer condemnation. The other kind of call is special, which He designs for the most part to give to the believers alone, while by the inward illumination of His Spirit he causes the preached Word to dwell in their hearts.
Reference: Institutes, 3.24.8.
Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God’s wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls “works of the flesh” [Gal. 5:19].
Reference: Institutes, II:1.8.
Believers do not pray with the view of informing God about things unknown to Him, or of exciting Him to do His duty, or of urging Him as though He were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse to seek Him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on His promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into His bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from Him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.
Reference: Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Eerdmans, n.d., p. 314.
Now, because no description can deal adequately with the gravity of God’s vengeance against the wicked, their torments and tortures are figuratively expressed to us by physical things, that is, by darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 8:12; 22:13), unquenchable fire (Mt. 3:12; Mk. 9:43; Isa. 66:24), an undying worm gnawing at the heart (Isa. 66:24). By such expressions the Holy Spirit certainly intended to confound all our senses with dread.
To know God as the Master and Bestower of all good things, who invites us to request them of Him, and still not go to Him and ask of Him – this would be of as little profit as for a man to neglect a treasure, buried and hidden in the earth, after it had been pointed out to him.
Reference: Institutes, p. 850.
[Only those] who have learned well to be earnestly dissatisfied with themselves, and to be confounded with shame at their wretchedness [truly understand the Christian gospel].
Reference: The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and Thessalonians, Eerdmans, www.eerdmans.com, 1979, 8:135.
I can say as to myself, that I have been assailed on all sides, and have scarcely been able to enjoy repose for a single moment, but have always had to sustain some conflict either from enemies without or within the church.
Reference: Preface to the Commentary on the Psalms.
When Christ returned to heaven, He withdrew His physical presence from our sight. He didn’t stop being with the disciples but by the ascension fulfilled His promise to be with us to the end of the world. As His body was raised to heaven, so His power and reign have spread to the uttermost parts.
There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbour.
Form the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and – what is more – depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to Him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves… Accordingly, the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find Him.
Reference: Institutes, The Knowledge of God.
The fanaticism which discards the Scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle of Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit, the tendency is always to bury the Word of God so they may make room for their own falsehoods.
Wherefore all theology, when separated from Christ, is not only vain and confused, but is also mad, deceitful, and spurious; for, though the philosophers sometimes utter excellent sayings, yet they have nothing but what is short-lived, and even mixed up with wicked and erroneous sentiments.
We should therefore learn that the only good we have is what the Lord has given us gratuitously; that the only good we do is what He does in us; that it is not that we do nothing ourselves, but that we act only when we have been acted upon, in other words under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit.
Reference: Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960, p. 317-318, www.eerdmans.com.
[The one] who judges according to the word and law of the Lord, and forms his judgments by the rule of charity, always begins with subjecting himself to examination, and preserves a proper medium and order in his judgments.
Reference: Quoted in: Tabletalk, March 2008, p. 39.
[Man never achieves] a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God's face, and then descends from contemplating Him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy – this pride is innate in all of us – unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity. Moreover, we are not thus convinced if we look merely to ourselves and not also to the Lord, who is the sole standard by which this judgment must be measured.
Reference: Institutes, Westminster Press, 1975, book 1, I:2.
Whomever the Lord has adopted and deemed worthy of His fellowship ought to prepare themselves for a hard, toilsome, and unquiet life, crammed with very many and various kinds of evil. It is the Heavenly Father’s will thus to exercise them so as to put His own children to a definite test. Beginning with Christ, His first-born, He follows this plan with all His children.
Whenever God reproves us, not only in words, but in reality, and reminds us of our sins, we do not so suffer for one fault as to be free for the future, but that until we from the heart repent, He ever sounds in our ears these words, Still God will contend with you: and a real contention is meant.
Reference: Commentary, Jeremiah 2:9.
Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.
[Many] falsely suppose that the feelings, which God has implanted in us as natural, proceed only from a defect. Accordingly the perfecting of believers does not depend on their casting off all feelings, but on their yielding to them and controlling them, only for proper reason.
Reference: Commentary on Acts 20:37.