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“Christ has His arms outstretched to embrace us” by John Calvin

“Let everyone one of us know for his own part, how we had forgotten God and were quite turned away from Him in our dissoluteness until He called us again to Him.

When we know this, let us learn to magnify His grace for vouchsafing to reconcile us to Himself and to put away all the enmity that was between Him and us, and to make us His children who were His deadly enemies, assuring ourselves that all this is done through our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that out of that fountain we should draw all that belongs to our salvation.

And furthermore, let us consider also what encouragement we have by the helps God has given us by which to come to Jesus Christ, and to confirm us in Him in order that we may have a settled and sure doctrine.

When the gospel is daily preached to us, Jesus Christ is offered in it to us, and He, for His part, calls us to Himself. To be short, He has His arms outstretched to embrace us. Let us understand that.

And afterwards let us add the sacraments. And, seeing that Jesus Christ has not only commanded the open preaching of the gospel, by which He shows Himself to be our Shepherd and that He will have us to be His flock, but also confirms it by baptism and by the Supper, let us take good heed that we do not make those signs useless through our own evil and ingratitude.

But let us rather consider to what end God has ordained them, and let us so use them that we may grow more and more in faith and be thereby inflamed with such zeal that we may endeavor to give ourselves wholly to God, since it has pleased Him also to give Himself to us.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 183. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.

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“All kinds of blessings are treasured up in Jesus” by John Calvin

“When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutest portion of it from any other quarter.

If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that He possesses it.

If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in His unction; strength in His government; purity in His conception; gentleness in His nativity, in which He was made like us in all respects, in order that He might learn to sympathize with us.

If we seek redemption, we shall find it in His passion; acquittal in His condemnation; remission of the curse in His cross; satisfaction in His sacrifice; purification in His blood; reconciliation in His descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in His sepulchre; newness of life in His resurrection; immortality also in His resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in His entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in His kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to Him.

In fine, since in Him all kinds of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from Him, and none from any other quarter.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2, trans. Henry Beveridge (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 2: 72–73, (2.16.19).

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“A sign and a token of His vast grace and goodness” by John Calvin

“‘And He stretched forth His hand, and touched him.’ (Matt. 8:3)

In the Law, the touch of the leper was contagious, but as there is such purity in Christ He absorbs all uncleanness and pollution, He does not contaminate Himself by touching the leper, nor does He transgress the Law.

For in assuming our flesh, He has granted us more than the touch of His hand. He has brought Himself into one and the same body with us in order that we should be the flesh of His flesh.

He does not only stretch out His arm to us, but He comes down from heaven, even to the very depths. Yet He catches no stain thereby, but stays whole, clears all our dirt away, and pours upon us His own holiness.

Now, while He could heal the leper by His word alone, He adds the contact of His hand to show His feeling of compassion: no wonder, since He willed to put on our flesh in order that He might cleanse us from all our sins.

So the reaching out of His hand was a sign and a token of His vast grace and goodness.

Here is a thing which we pass over without much impression at an idle reading, but must certainly ponder, with much awe, when we take it properly—that the Son of God, so far from abhorring contact with the leper, actually stretched out His hand to touch his uncleanness.”

–John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol. 1; trans. A.W. Morrison, Ed. David Torrance and Thomas Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972/1994), 1: 244. Calvin is commenting on Matt. 8:3; Mark 1:41; and Luke 5:13.

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“Doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart” by John Calvin

“Nominal Christians demonstrate their knowledge of Christ to be false and offensive no matter how eloquently and loudly they talk about the gospel. For true doctrine is not a matter of the tongue, but of life; neither is Christian doctrine grasped only by the intellect and memory, as truth is grasped in other fields of study.

Rather, doctrine is rightly received when it takes possession of the entire soul and finds a dwelling place and shelter in the most intimate affections of the heart. So let such people stop lying, or let them prove themselves worthy disciples of Christ, their teacher.

We have given priority to doctrine, which contains our religion, since it establishes our salvation. But in order for doctrine to be fruitful to us, it must overflow into our hearts, spread into our daily routines, and truly transform us within.

Even the philosophers rage against and reject those who profess an art that ought to govern one’s life, but who twist that art hypocritically into empty chatter. How much more then should we detest the foolish talk of those who give lip service to the gospel?

The gospel’s power ought to penetrate the innermost affections of the heart, sink down into the soul, and inspire the whole man a hundred times more than the lifeless teachings of the philosophers.

I’m not saying that the conduct of a Christian will breathe nothing but pure gospel, although this should be desired and pursued. I’m not, in other words, talking about gospel perfection, as if I were unwilling to acknowledge or recognize a man or a woman as a Christian who has not obtained perfection.

If that were the case, everyone would be excluded from the church, since we do not find any in it who are close to being perfect. Indeed, we find many in the church who have progressed little toward perfection, but who, nevertheless, it would be unjust to reject as Christians.

What I am saying is this: Let us fix our eyes on the goal and sole object of our pursuit. Let that goal, toward which we must strive and contend, be established from the beginning.

After all, it’s not right to barter with God regarding what we will and won’t undertake from those things He has prescribed for us in His Word. God always commends—as of utmost importance—integrity as the principal part of His worship.

And by the word integrity He means sincere simplicity of heart, free from pretense and deceit, which is the opposite of duplicity of heart. In other words, right living has a spiritual basis where the inner affection of the soul is sincerely devoted to God for the nurture of holiness and righteousness.”

–John Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life, Trans. and Eds. Aaron C. Denlinger and Burk Parsons (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2017), 12-16.

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“Then Luther arose” by John Calvin

“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 of their lives, and, secondly, exercised a cruel and most noxious tyranny over souls, by every kind of error, leading men like sheep to the slaughter;

then Luther arose, and after him others, who with united counsels sought out means and methods by which religion might be purged from all these defilements, the doctrine of godliness restored to its integrity, and the church raised out of its calamitous into somewhat of a tolerable condition.

The same course we are still pursuing in the present day.

All our controversies concerning doctrine relate either to the legitimate worship of God, or to the ground of salvation.

As to the former, unquestionably we do exhort men to worship God neither in a frigid nor a careless manner, and while we point out the mode, we neither lose sight of the end, nor omit any thing which is of importance.

We proclaim the glory of God in terms far loftier than it was wont to be proclaimed before, and we earnestly labour to make the perfections in which His glory shines better and better known.

His benefits towards ourselves we extol as eloquently as we can, while we call upon others to reverence His Majesty, render due homage to His greatness, feel due gratitude for His mercies, and unite in showing forth His praise.

In this way there is infused into their hearts that solid confidence which afterwards gives birth to prayer. And in this way, too, each one is trained to genuine self-denial, so that his will being brought into obedience to God, he bids farewell to his own desires.

In short, as God requires us to worship Him in a spiritual manner, so we most zealously urge men to all the sacrifices of spirit which He recommends.”

—John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Trans. Henry Beveridge (London: W.H. Dalton, 1544/1843), 39-40, 43-44.

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“The whole sum and all parts of our salvation are contained in Jesus Christ” by John Calvin

“Now since we see that the whole sum and all parts of our salvation are contained in Jesus Christ, we must beware of ascribing the tiniest portion of it to anything else.

If we are looking for salvation, the name of Jesus alone tells us that salvation is in Him (Acts 4:12).

If we desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we will find them in His anointing.

If we seek strength, it is in His sovereign power.

If purity is our aim, it is set before us in His conception.

If we would find gentleness and kindness, it is in His birth, through which He was made like us, that He might learn compassion (Heb. 5:2).

If we ask for redemption, His passion provides it.

In His condemnation we have our absolution.

If we want pardon from sins curse, that gift lies in His cross.

Atonement we have in His sacrifice, and cleansing in His blood.

Our reconciliation was effected by His descent into hell: the mortification of our flesh is in His burial, and newness of life in His resurrection, through which we also have the hope of immortality.

If we look for the heavenly inheritance, it is attested for us by His ascension.

If we seek help and comfort and abundance of all good things, we have them in His kingdom.

If we would safely await the judgment, we have that blessing since He is our Judge.

In sum, since the rich store of all that is good resides in Him, we must draw it from Him and from no other source.

For there are those who, not content with Him, shift restlessly from one hope to another; and though they continue perhaps to look mostly to Him, they fail to follow the proper path because they direct some of their thoughts elsewhere.

Even so, our minds can never entertain such feelings of distrust once we have truly experienced Christ’s riches.”

–John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (trans. Robert White; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1541/2014), 256-257.

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“We also pray to You, true Father and Savior, for all the pastors” by John Calvin

“We also pray to You, true Father and Savior, for all those whom you have ordained as pastors for the faithful, and to whom You have entrusted the charge of souls and the dispensation of Your holy gospel.

We pray that You would guide them by Your Holy Spirit, that they may be found to be faithful and loyal ministers of Your glory, always having this aim, that all the poor, lost sheep would be gathered and brought back to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd and Prince of the overseers, so that they would benefit from, and grow in Him, day by day, in all righteousness and holiness.

Moreover, be pleased to deliver all churches from the mouths of ravenous wolves and from all the hired hands who seek their own ambition or profit and not the exaltation of Your holy name alone and the salvation of Your flock.

We also pray to You, most kind God and merciful Father, for all people generally, since You desire to be known as Savior of the whole world, through the redemption accomplished by Your Son Jesus Christ.

We pray that those who are still estranged from the knowledge of Him, in darkness and the captivity of error and ignorance, would be brought back to the straight way of salvation, which is to know the only true God and Him whom You sent, Jesus Christ, through the illumination of Your Holy Spirit and the preaching of Your gospel.

May those whom You have already visited in Your grace and illumined with the knowledge of Your Word grow daily in goodness, being enriched with Your spiritual blessings, that we may adore You altogether with one heart and one mouth and give honor and homage to Your Christ, our Master, King, and Lawgiver.”

–John Calvin, “Form of Ecclesiastical Prayers (Geneva 1542),Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 322-323.

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