Preachers, Prayer and Gospel Progress

It should go without saying that preaching, praying and the progress of God’s kingdom through the gospel are inseparably bound up with each other. Jesus taught his people to pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’ and made it clear that all believers are all involved in the answer to this request as they obey his great command to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.

There is, however, a sense in which we can be so familiar with these truths that they weigh more lightly on us than they should. We lose the sense of urgency bound up with them and are too slack when it comes to the disciplines they entail. This was certainly the case with the church of the Old Testament that was entrusted with the very same revelation and responsibility, albeit in an anticipatory way. Despite the very dramatic way in which God freed his people from bondage in Egypt, kept them through the wilderness and established them in the Promised Land, they forgot all too quickly and easily what it meant to learn from him and lean on him in order to enter more fully into what he had promised for them.

So, in the days of the prophets, God’s message repeatedly brought them back to the basics of the faith. And nowhere is this seen more plainly than in Isaiah’s prophecy. But what is so very interesting about his message with regard to the place and importance of preaching and prayer in the life of the church, is that he provides an angle on them that goes deeper than much of what we find elsewhere, even in the New Testament. We see this especially in what he says about God’s ultimate purpose for his people and the means by which he will bring about its ultimate outworking (Isa 62.1-12).

The section begins with a voice speaking in the first person singular: ‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet’ (62.1). The ‘I’ in question is the one who spoke at the beginning of the previous chapter saying, ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news’ (61.1). It is the voice of Christ and these are the words he read and explained as being fulfilled in himself the day he spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth (Lk 4.16-19).

Here, then, he speaks of his determination to carry his saving work through to completion – not just in the salvation he would accomplish, but also in terms of what it will ultimately achieve. Nothing less than his people’s becoming ‘a crown of splendour in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of [their] God’ (62.3). But by what means would this come about? How would his saving action, with its climax on the cross, secure its worldwide and history-spanning goal?

The pre-incarnate Christ answers, ‘I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night’ (62.6). The ‘watchmen’ he has in mind are not merely the spiritual equivalent of sentries who keep watch against an enemy. He uses a word that is elsewhere associated with God’s prophets who were indeed entrusted with ensuring the spiritual safety of God’s people, but they were to do it in a very unmilitary way.

The obvious sense in which they were to safeguard God’s flock was to protect them from false prophets. By only proclaiming the message God had either already revealed or was now revealing through them, they were ensure the faith of Israel was firmly placed in the God who had revealed his truth to Israel. But this was not the only, or indeed primary function of the prophets. The very first time the word ‘prophet’ appears in the Bible is when God speaks to Abimelech after he had taken Abraham’s wife, Sarah, for himself without realising she was his wife. God said to him, ‘Now return the man’s wife to him [Abraham], for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live’ (Ge 20.7).

Prophets were not only to be men of the pulpit, but men of prayer. And their sacred charge to keep watch over the people of God was as much about their responsibility to pray for them as it was to preach to them.

This carries over into the New Testament. We don’t have to travel very far into the growth and development of the church in the pages of Acts before we see its need to appoint a new class of church officers – Deacons. And this need arose so that the Twelve (and, by inference, the proto-Elders who shared the pastoral responsibility for the church with them) could devote themselves to ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Ac 6.4).

As we look more closely about what is said through Isaiah about these ‘watchmen’ we read that they ‘will never be silent day or night’ (62.6). That is, both in their praying as much as in their preaching they will be speaking – to God on the one hand and for him on the other – but in both for the benefit of his people.

The striking thing about this little detail is that is echoes what the pre-incarnate Christ has already said about himself in the first verse. As one commentator has paraphrased his statement there, he in effect declares, ‘I will not sit still until my work in salvation sees its ultimate fruition’. This tirelessness on Christ’s part is not merely obvious throughout his earthly ministry, but it is equally evident in his ongoing High Priestly ministry in heaven, where ‘…he always lives to make intercession for [his people]’ (He 7.25). He will only rest when he comes again and all his people are brought safely home forever.

It would be easy to be myopic in the way we view the prophet’s words up to this point, but Isaiah takes them one step further when he says – with a change of pronoun – ‘You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth’ (62.6-7). He has the church in its entirety in view.

No congregation should think that it is safe for them to sit back and leave the work of praying, or even the task of proclaiming the gospel, to the paid professionals who are over them. Every Christian is called to share in this task, not least because in Christ we are all prophets, priests and kings in a derivative sense. And as such we are to give ourselves no rest in what Alec Motyer calls ‘the urgency and discipline of prayer’ and, more strikingly, we are to ‘give him [God] no rest until he establishes Jerusalem’. That is, until the heavenly Jerusalem is fully and finally in place.

If the gospel is to make its God-ordained inexorable progress throughout the world as it is proclaimed publicly through preaching and privately through the witness of the saints, then it must go hand in hand with the ‘give-yourselves-and-God-no-rest’ kind of praying of which Christ speaks in these verses.

Calvin’s Theology: Predestination

John Calvin lived from 1509-1564. He was an influential Reformer for his ministry in Geneva. By many accounts he was an excellent writer, preacher, and theologian. When people hear his name today, they often think of him as associated with the doctrine of predestination—that God elects before the foundations of the world a people unto salvation apart from any goodness or foreseen faith in man. Predestination entails God’s sovereignty in every area of life. As Eph. 1:11 says, God “works all things according to the counsel of his will,”

It is worth noting three caveats when it comes to thinking about Calvin and predestination. First, later interpreters have often given it more prominence in Calvin’s thought than Calvin himself did. They assume that all his theology bends around this one magisterial doctrine. Unfortunately, this distorts Calvin and creates an unbalanced picture of him. No doubt, predestination was important but so were other doctrines like Christology, the work of the Holy Spirit, justification by faith and union with Christ.

Second, for Calvin the doctrine of predestination is primarily a Biblical doctrine not a philosophical doctrine. He holds to it because he finds it in the Bible. Calvin is clear that we should only seek to understand election and predestination so far as God has revealed it. Our speculation should not try to look into things God has not made known (Institutes 3.21.1). Calvin was a pastor and expositor. He wrote commentaries and homilies as much, if not more, than he wrote theology. In the final version of his Institutes, he begins his discussion of election in book 3, chapter 21, which is after he has discussed union with Christ, faith, and justification by faith.

Finally, John Calvin was not the first person in church history to teach the doctrine of predestination and unconditional election. For example, Augustine had articulated aspects of these doctrines. Even in his day, John Calvin was not the only reformer holding to these doctrines. Sometimes we do a disservice to the larger history of the church when we simply call a doctrine of predestination “Calvinism.”

What are some things we can learn from John Calvin?

First, the doctrine comes from the Bible. In his institutes as well as his other writings, John Calvin is careful to tie his doctrine to Scripture and explain the Scriptures. He examines passages like Eph. 1 and Rom. 9. He covers these passages in his commentaries and sermons, as well as bringing them to bear in his Institutes and his Treatise on Eternal Predestination.

Second, faith is not the cause of God’s election. God does not foresee ahead of time that we will believe and then choose us on that basis. Calvin writes on Eph. 1:4 “Therefore you can safely infer the following: if he chose us that we should be hold, he did not choose us because he foresaw that we would be so” (Institutes 3.22.3). “To make faith the cause of election is altogether absurd and utterly at variance with the words of the apostle [Paul]” (Calvin’s Calvinism, 45).

Third, Calvin’s overarching concern is to give glory to God and help the believer understand the grace and mercy of God. He understands that any doctrine of election that gives credit to make or makes election based upon man’s work, faith, or personal holiness, God will not get the glory because God is merely responding to men. The Bible teaches that God’s election is according to his will alone (Rom. 9:15-16) and for the purposes of the praise of God’s glorious grace (Eph. 1:6). For Calvin, the doctrine of predestination is important because it is in Scripture but it also has a practical effect: it humbles the sinner. It makes us turn and praise God for the depths and power of his mercy.

We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the wellspring of God’s free mercy until we come to know his eternal election, which illumines God’s grace by this contrast: that he does not indiscriminately adopt all into the hope of salvation but gives to some what he denies to others. (Institutes 3.21.1)

Finally, Calvin does not deny the necessity of the preaching of the gospel. While the benefits of Christ are “extended unto, and belong to, none but the children of God” (Calvin’s Calvinism, 94), the gospel offers salvation to all. He writes, “That the Gospel is, in its nature, able to save all I by no means deny. But the great question lies here: Did the Lord by his eternal counsel ordain salvation for all men? It is quite manifest that all men without difference or distinction, are outwardly called or invited to repentance and faith” (Calvin’s Calvinism, 94-5). So, John Calvin holds that God’s election of individuals unto salvation is God’s eternal decree. God ordains individuals to salvation and its benefits but there is the free outward call of the gospel where the listener is invited to believe. Calvin distinguishes this outward call from the inward work of the Holy Spirit who regenerates and enlivens, inwardly drawing the sinner to God’s grace and enabling them to receive it by faith.

John Calvin is a stalwart in church history and is worth reading today even if you are not a church historian or academic theologian. His works are filled with a pastoral tone and a clear explanation of Scripture. In this respect, we can still learn from Calvin on the doctrine of predestination as he points us back to what the Bible says and upward to see the glory of God in the accomplishment of redemption.

John Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal Predestination of God and the Secret Providence of God. Translated by Henry Cole. Reformed Free Publishing Association: Grand Rapids, Mich.: No date.

Tim Bertolet is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College and Westminster Theological Seminary. He is an ordained pastor in the Bible Fellowship Church, currently serving as pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in York, Pa. He is a husband and father of four daughters. You can follow him on Twitter @tim_bertolet.

John Foxe and a Book That Inspired Generations

          In 1563, the Protestant scholar John Foxe published a book with the typically long title Actes and Monuments of these latter and perilous days, touching matters of the Church, wherein are comprehended and described the great persecutions and horrible troubles that have been wrought and practiced by the Romish prelates, specially in this realm of England and Scotland, from the year of our Lord 1000 unto the time now present; gathered and collected according to the true copies and writings certificatory, as well of the parties themselves that suffered, as also out of the bishops’ registers, which were the doers thereof; by John Foxe. The book, immediately known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, became one of the most influential texts in Europe, remaining recommended reading in England for centuries.

The Author

           Born at Boston, Lincolnshire, in 1517, John Foxe lived during turbulent times, witnessing England’s shift from the Roman Catholic Church to an independent state church run by King Henry VIII, then to a fully protestant church under Edward VI, going back to the Church of Rome under Mary I, and finally returning to Protestantism with Elizabeth I.

            While some English people resisted change and clung to the safety of the religion they had known, Foxe embraced enthusiastically the teachings of the Protestant Reformation – probably, as it was the case with many young men, while he was in college. His tendencies were noticed by the conservative masters, who pressured him to the point that he called his college “a prison.”

            Due to this pressure, and to a statute requiring every university fellow to take vows as Roman Catholic priest, he left his studies in 1545, preferring to face poverty and insecurity than to pursue a stable career against his conscience. He found work as private tutor. Around the same time, he married Agnes Randall, a “woman of some position.” Their marriage was happy. Foxe called Agnes his “faithful comfort.” Apparently, he learned an important lesson for husbands: when it was his wife’s turn to need comfort, if he couldn’t find a remedy, he would, “in assurance of his love … weep for her.”[1]

            While tutoring, he met and conversed with many English Reformers. He was especially influenced by the historian John Bale, who became one of his closest friends and introduced him to valuable historical manuscripts.

            In the early months of 1554, after Mary’s ascension to the English throne, Foxe reluctantly set sail with his pregnant wife, reached the continent and settled first in Strasbourg, then in Zurich, and, for a short time, in Frankfurt.

            Due to a controversy involving the use of the Book of Common Prayer among English exiles (Foxe defended John Knox who was expelled by Richard Cox – an excellent set up for a children’s rhyme), Foxe moved from Frankfurt to Basel, Switzerland, where he was reunited with Bale and began working with the city’s printers.

            By this time, he had already written a first work of martirology, Commentarii rerum in ecclesia gestarum, focusing largely on English martyrs such as the Lollards. When, by early 1555, Mary started to burn Protestants, Foxe received a large number of reports by those who had managed to flee. It was an enormous amount of information, because Mary managed to execute over three hundred people over matters of faith. He also received news from other countries. His work of research, verification, and compilation of sources continued after Foxe’s return to England in 1559. The ensuing book, Acts and Monuments, first published in Latin in 1559 and then in an updated English version in 1563, was an immediate bestseller and was reprinted in three subsequent editions just during Foxe’s lifetime.

            Less known is Foxe’s role as pastor (he was ordained priest in the Church of England in 1559), translator, and author of lesser works. Some of these were exhortations on several issues, such as a reform of canon law (including a controversial track on the abolition of the death penalty for adultery) and an appeal to Elizabeth’s council to desist from burning Anabaptists. He also wrote a plea to the Anabaptists to abandon their doctrines which he, as other orthodox Protestants, considered heretic. He participated in the controversy about vestments and wrote a collection of articles on the Lord’s Supper (begging Catholics to consider the irrationality of transubstantiation).

            In 1563, he was among those who stayed in London to minister to those who had been afflicted by the plague, and wrote a booklet of comfort to the sufferers and bereaved, which included a passionate appeal to the wealthy to provide financial aid. One of his daughters might have died at this time.

            Foxe died in 1587, famous but not wealthy. We know he had at least four children, but only two survived to adulthood, Samuel the diarist and Simeon the physician.

The Book

            The first English edition of Acts and Monuments was published by John Day, who invested much time and money on this project, paying for expensive woodcuts portraying terrifying scenes of burnings and torture. The result was a massive volume, containing about 1800 pages. It included the Commentarii rerum and an introductory overview of church history, linking the suffering of the early church martyrs to the present.

            It was, in part, an answer to a question Roman Catholics had posed to Protestants ever since Luther began to question unbiblical traditions and papal authority, “Are you alone wise?” In other words, “After 1500 years of church history, you have suddenly found the only truth?” Foxe showed continuity in the history of a persecuted church, this time with the papacy on the side of the antichrist. After all, over three hundred Christians had just been burned on the stake in England. Foxe included a calendar of martyrs.

            The information contained in Foxe’s book was obviously challenged by Roman Catholics. Foxe responded by accepting some of the corrections and contesting others. Overall, Foxe’s work as historian remains impressive, meticulously correlated with references (many of which are now lost). While he had an obvious agenda and was therefore selective in his choice of accounts, later research has confirmed most of his descriptions, making the book a valuable source of historical information.

            Though pricey (a middle-class man would have had to save his pay for three months in order to buy it), the book was a great success, and Foxe and Day immediately considered a second edition, enriched by the large quantity of new information Foxe continued to receive. The second edition, published in 1570, was even bulkier and more graphic than the first.

            By the 17th century, the book was present in virtually every English parish, together with the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It continued to inspire generations of Christians, and was still regularly read to children in the 19th century.

[1] Quotations from a memoir written by Simeon Foxe, son of John and Agnes, annexed to the 1641 edition of Acts and Monuments. Quoted in Carole Levin, Anna Riehl Bertolet, Jo Eldridge Carney, eds., A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen: Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, 1500-1650, Routledge, 2016, p. 150.

Calvin’s Theology: The Lord’s Supper

For John Calvin, worship was central to life – it is why man exists. Worship was also central to his understanding of the Reformation, for he believed that the church’s return to true worship was the flowering fruit of all that was being done in his time. Other than the preaching of God’s word, it is no exaggeration to suggest that the sacraments took a central role in Calvin’s theology of worship. About 14 percent of his entire Institutes is directed towards the topic of the sacraments.[1]

And yet Calvin was clear that all true worship hinges on the person of Jesus Christ, especially so when it comes to his theology of the Lord’s Supper. What we do at the Table is not only about what Jesus has done as our sacrificial Redeemer, but it is also about who he is as the Son of God and who we are in Him. And so it is that the Lord’s Supper is God’s gracious way of not only communicating this truth but also nourishing us in assurance of this truth! “Since this mystery of Christ’s secret union with the devout is by nature incomprehensible, he shows its figure and image in invisible signs best adapted to our small capacity. Indeed by giving guarantees and tokens he makes it as certain for us as if we had seen it with our own eyes.”[2]

Calvin, in a nod to Augustine, defined Communion as “an outward sign by which the Lord seals on our consciences the promises of his good will toward us in order to sustain the weakness of our faith. And we in turn attest our piety toward him in the presence of the Lord and of his angels and before men.”[3] But what undergirded Calvin’s understanding of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, was his understanding of our union in Christ.

Keith Mathison, recently writing on Calvin’s understanding of union with Christ and the Lord’s Supper, points out that, for Calvin, a believer first enjoys a mystical union with Christ, namely our becoming one with him through faith and enjoying all the benefits of salvation in all that he is and has accomplished for us. But secondly, believers also enjoy a spiritual union in Christ which is the effect and fruit of that mystical union. “It is an ongoing and progressive union”, says Mathison, “it can grow and be strengthened throughout the believers life.”[4]

And so it was out of this spiritual union that Calvin understood Communion, the body and blood of Christ given to nourish and strengthen believers. Indeed, meditating upon John 6 Calvin noted that “just as bread and wine sustain physical life, so are our souls fed by Christ. We now understand the purpose of this mystical blessing, namely to confirm for us the fact that the Lord’s body was once for all so sacrificed for us that we may now feed upon it, and by feeding feel in ourselves the working of that unique sacrifice; and this his blood was once so shed for us in order to be our perpetual drink.”[5]

In Calvin’s commentary on Ephesians 5:30, a text where Paul explicitly lays out the believers union in Christ, Calvin writes that “as Eve was formed out of the substance of her husband Adam, and thus was a part of him, so, if we are to be true members of Christ, we grow into one Body by the communication of His substance. In short, Paul describes our union to Christ, a symbol and pledge of which is given to us in the holy Supper.”[6] Hughes Oliphant Old notes that for Calvin here, the Lord’s Supper was not just a commemoration of what Christ did on the cross but it was also a communication of himself to us. Calvin by no means saw the bread and wine as transubstantiated in the Roman Catholic sense becoming the actual body and blood of Christ, but rather as a sign and seal of a very real spiritual reality, namely our union in Christ by faith.

Hence, Calvin in his Institutes wrote: “I indeed admit that the breaking of the bread is a symbol; it is not the thing itself. But having admitted this, we shall nevertheless duly infer that by the showing of the symbol the thing itself is also shown. For unless a man means to call God a deceiver, he would never dare assert that an empty symbol is set forth by him. Therefore, if the Lord truly represents the participation in his body through the breaking of bread, there ought not to be the least doubt that he truly presents and shows his body.”[7]

For John Calvin, true worship was only possible by our very real participation in Christ.  This was a covenant relationship secured by the onetime event of his broken body and pouring out of his blood on the cross, but continually assured to us through the broken bread and the pouring of the wine. The Lord’s Supper nourished us in our worship and thus grew us in conformity to our Head! “Godly souls can gather great assurance and delight from this Sacrament; in it they have a witness of our growth into one body with Christ such that whatever is his may be called ours… This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him.”[8]

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary) serves at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Maricel and their two children, Ambrose and Lilou.

[1] W. Robert Godfrey, “Calvin, Worship, and the Sacraments” in A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, ed. David Hall and Peter Lillback (P&R Publishing), 372.

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.1 (Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeil), 2:1362

[3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.14.1 (Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeil), 2:1277.

[4] Keith A. Mathison, “The Lord’s Supper” in Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2017), 666.

[5] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.1 (Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeil), 2:1361.

[6] Commentary on Eph. 5:30 in John Calvin, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, trans. T.H.L. Parker, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), p. 208. This quote was found in Hughes Oliphant Old, Holy Communion: In The Piety Of The Reformed Church, ed. John Payne (Powder Springs, GA: Tolle Lege Press, 2013), p. 61.

[7] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.10 (Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeil), 2:1371.

[8] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.2 (Library of Christian Classics, ed. John T. McNeil), 2:1361-1362.

Calvin’s Theology: The Aim & Purpose of the Institutes

It would be difficult to underestimate the impact John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion have had on the Church.  Yet while Calvin’s most significant theological work has been highly valued as a theological exposition of the Christian faith, his magnum opus was not conceived from the outset as a systematic theology text.  Calvin had other purposes for his small work; his two-fold aim was education and apologetics.  Dismayed by the biblical ignorance of his fellow countrymen, and anxious to defend them from the attacks of “certain wicked men,” Calvin declared in his dedication to King Francis I, ruler of France, “…it seemed to me that I should be doing something worthwhile if I both gave instruction to those I had undertaken to instruct and made confession before you with the same work.”[i]

Calvin’s declared intent to “transmit certain rudiments”[ii] of doctrine as a basis for instruction in the true faith is seen in the content of the first edition (published 1536) of the Institutes.  There he followed the traditional catechetical content of expositions of the Decalogue, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer.  These three categories of Law, Faith, and Prayer were sufficient in Calvin’s mind to represent the bare minimum of biblical teaching “by which those who are touched with any zeal for religion might be shaped to true godliness.”[iii]  In his French edition of 1541, Calvin is even more explicit about his educational purpose: “Although the teaching contained in holy Scripture is perfect and cannot be added to, since there our Lord has chosen to display the infinite treasures of his wisdom, nevertheless someone who is not well trained in it needs a certain amount of guidance and direction in order to know what to look for, what mistakes to avoid and what path he may safely keep to; that way he will be sure of attaining the goal to which the Holy Spirit is calling him.”[iv]

Calvin’s dedication spelled out the Institutes’ other purpose, a defense of his fellow French Protestants.  The exiled French humanist-turned-Protestant-defender laid his concern before the king that “the fury of certain wicked persons has prevailed so far in your realm that there is no place in it for sound doctrine.”[v]  Calvin went on to assure Francis that the doctrine which his Protestant subjects – and Calvin himself – embraced was neither heretical nor treasonous, and certainly not deserving of harsh measures: “From this [the Institutes] you may learn the nature of the doctrine against which those madmen burn with rage who today disturb your realm with sword and fire.  And indeed I shall not fear to confess that I have here embraced almost the sum of that very doctrine which they shout must be punished by prison, exile, proscription, and fire, and be exterminated on land and sea.”[vi]

We must add a third, unstated purpose for the Institutes.  The content of Calvin’s book also plainly shows that his third purpose was polemics.  Polemics is the other side of the coin of apologetics; if apologetics is the defense of true doctrine, polemics is the attack of false doctrine.  Calvin understood that it was not enough to defend his own views; it was also essential that false doctrine not be allowed to hold the field with impunity.  And so in the 1536 edition Calvin assailed the errors of his opponents by refuting the Mass and attacking “The Five False Sacraments.”  So important was this third purpose, that as his book evolved through five major editions over a span of some twenty four years, the polemical content grew larger.

Apart from the actual content of the Institutes, Calvin’s overall aims for his monumental theological achievement are helpful reminders that for theological knowledge to be truly Christian and truly practical, it’s not enough just to inform our minds with God’s truth; truth must be defended and error defeated.  So armed with this knowledge, let’s commit ourselves to the same relentless pursuit and defense of “Christ’s truth,” while giving error no quarter.  Perhaps Calvin’s words of exhortation can augment his enduring example: “But our doctrine must tower unvanquished above all the glory and above all the might of the world, for it is not of us, but of the living God and his Christ whom the Father has appointed King to ‘rule from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the ends of the earth’ (Psalm 72:8).’”[vii]

James Rich is the Assistant Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Harleysville, PA, and holds a Ph.D. in Church History from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He taught high school history and Bible and has served as an adjunct faculty member at the college and seminary level.

[i] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

[ii] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

[iii] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

[iv] “Outline of the Present Book,” Institutes, 1541 edition).

[v] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

[vi] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

[vii] Preface, Institutes, 1536 edition.

John Calvin: Method of Preaching

While Calvin’s life certainly did leave ministers a worthy example, we will consider now the second matter of whether his method of preaching was likewise exemplary. It is perfectly possible for a man to be marked by great measures of grace in his life and yet to be woefully lacking in his ability to preach God’s Word, and thus to be no example for those who would be ministers after him.

What kind of preacher was John Calvin? It is important to note firstly, that he was one who preached through entire books, chapters, or larger groupings of Scripture, opening and explaining the meaning of various passages, and then applying the truths of those passages to the hearts and consciences of his hearers. This type of preaching has commonly been called expository preaching.[1]

Let us examine Calvin’s preaching to see if indeed he preached the Word of God in this fashion, thus leaving us an example to follow. First, we will consider Calvin’s method of preaching and second, Calvin’s example of preaching.

Calvin’s Method of Preaching

Can it be proved that Calvin was one who “preached through entire books, chapters, or larger groupings of Scripture?” The evidence for this fact is overwhelming. Concerning Calvin’s preaching method, Steven Lawson says,

One noted expositor who “gave attention” to biblical preaching was the monumental reformer of Geneva, John Calvin. His passionate commitment to Word-centered, text-driven preaching remains second to none. For twenty-three years (1541-1564), this Swiss pastor carefully expounded God’s Word to his congregation . . . In fact, Calvin was so devoted to preaching through books of the Bible that his expositional series often took several years to complete. For example, his weekly preaching through the book of Acts took over four years. He then preached 46 sermons on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 186 sermons on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 85 sermons on the Pastoral Epistles, 43 sermons on Galatians, and 48 sermons on Ephesians. In his later years he began preaching a harmony of the Gospels in the spring of 1559 and continued to do so until his death five years later, on May 27, 1564. During this same time he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah, 123 on Genesis, along with other exposition as well.[2]

James F. Stitzinger commenting on Calvin’s preaching said,

The evidence of his sincerity was a life spent expounding God’s Word. As senior minister of Geneva, Calvin preached twice each Sunday and every weekday on alternating weeks from 1549 until his death in 1564. He preached more than two thousand sermons from the Old Testament alone. He spent a year expositing Job and three years in Isaiah.”[3]

Surely, one is taken aback when considering these figures. To think that one man preached so many sermons is staggering, but this was Calvin’s method. Hughes Oliphant Old rightly remarked concerning Calvin’s preaching that, “the thoroughness and completeness, the systematic nature, of his expository preaching is truly remarkable.”[4]

Calvin’s Example of Preaching

Here we’re going to examine some sample excerpts of Calvin’s sermons to see if indeed he was one who opened and explained the meaning of texts and applied the truth of God’s Word to his hearers.

Consider firstly, Calvin’s sermon from John 1:1-5. Note closely his expounding of the text to his hearers. After introducing his passage he says,

We come now to the text. The Word, says he, was in the beginning. The intention of St. John is to show us that, as the Son of God did not begin to exist when He appeared to the world, so also He did not begin only when His virtue spread everywhere. For He already was, from all time and before time. Already His virtue resided in Him and was not taken from elsewhere, but there was a virtue which was in the Word of God at the beginning. But finally it was manifested. We know it now since Jesus Christ was sent into the world. St. John, then, here wishes to show us that when Jesus Christ came into the world, it was our Eternal God Who came, Who redeemed us to Himself. But to still better understand the whole, we must note item by item the things said here.

Calvin then carefully goes on to open up the meaning of each phrase of the passage verse by verse. He ends this sermon by applying the passage to his listeners by saying,

This is how (say I) Saint John wishes to prepare us to know the effect of our redemption. Then he also wishes to show how the Word of God declares Himself in His creatures, since all things are preserved by His power. However, he exhorts us to know the graces God has given us, by which we excel other creatures, so that we might magnify Him. Besides, to know that, since He has imprinted on us His living image from the beginning and He makes us to experience His power, it is only reasonable that we should learn to cling to this Word and to know in general the benefits God has given to mankind, in order that the light He has poured upon us by His grace may not be extinguished by our wickedness, but that Jesus Christ may so dwell in the midst of us that, being led by the Holy Spirit, we may be able to have such access to the Father that He may introduce us into his heavenly glory.[5]

Secondly, consider an excerpt from Calvin’s sermons on the Ten Commandments. Preaching on Deuteronomy chapter five verse six, Calvin, after introducing his passage, begins to open and explain every aspect of the text:

When he says, “I am the Lord,” it is in order to exclude all the gods which have so been invented by men. It’s as if he said: “There is only one sole deity, and that will be found in me. Thus it follows that those who have known me who turn aside to serve their idols, have no excuse, provided to their knowledge, they have not renounced the living God.”

Now when he adds that he is the God of this people, his purpose is to show that he was adequately revealed. It’s as if he said: “I have separated you from all the rest of men. You see how the others rave. But this is due to the fact that they have neither guidance nor direction. But I have chosen you for my people and I have revealed myself to you. Moreover, since I am your God, cling therefore to me, or you will have even less of an excuse than the pagans. . .

He cites still further the grace which he bestowed upon the people, saying, when he took them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. By this he means that he has truly bound them to himself so that the people cannot revolt against him without further punishment. For seeing that they shall have forgotten redemption by which they were redeemed, their ingratitude will be double. For since they were purchased by the hand of God, it was imperative that they give themselves in service to him who was their redeemer.[6]

Calvin concludes his exposition of this verse by saying, “Now let us apply all of this doctrine to our usage” and then goes on for several pages to make plain and pointed applications to his listeners. Leon Nixon in his book entitled, John Calvin, Expository Preacher, said,

The man of Geneva drew all of his sermons from the Bible. He preached from it as he found it, book by book, and passage by passage. Instead of “going everywhere preaching the Gospel,” he stayed by the passage in hand. He strove to show clearly and strongly what the passage meant, and what difference it ought to make in the hearts and lives of the hearers.[7]

Finally, note Calvin’s example of expounding the Word of God from Ephesians chapter two verses eight to ten. The Apostle Paul there says, that we are saved not by works, “. . . lest any man might boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ.” Commenting on this passage Calvin says,

Furthermore, this word is well worth weighing, when he says, ‘lest any man might boast’. For from this we have to learn that it is not enough for us to attribute some part of our salvation to God, but we must come to the point of yielding so far as not to pretend to it at all. We must agree to have all our own glory so humbled that God alone may have the preeminence, as we have seen in other texts . . . For neither the virtue, nor the wisdom, nor the ability, nor the righteousness of man must be advanced if we intend that God should retain what is his own and what he reserves to himself . . . For as long as a man imagines himself to have any drop of goodness of his own, he will never give himself up to God, but be puffed up with vain presumption, and rest on himself.

Calvin continues to expound the text by saying,

Now to confirm this, the apostle adds that we are God’s workmanship. . . It is as if he said, God must go before us with his own free grace. For what can we do, seeing we are as rotten carcasses until God has renewed us again by the power of the holy Spirit? So then, if a man intends to find any good in himself, he must not seek it in his own nature, nor in his former birth, for there is nothing but corruption, but God must reform us before we can have a single drop of goodness in us. Since this is so, we have to conclude that our salvation has no other spring, and no other foundation than God’s mercy alone, seeing we cannot by any means help ourselves. Thus you see in effect what St. Paul meant . . . Furthermore, let us carefully note that his saying, ‘in Jesus Christ’, is to send us back to the corruption that we have in Adam, for we can never find in our hearts to acknowledge ourselves to be guilty, until we feel convicted ourselves.

Calvin then ends this sermon with these words of application:

Now since it is so, let us learn to humble ourselves before God, both for what is past and also for what is to come . . . So then, as often as we feel our own weakness, let us flee to him for refuge, and when we have done any good, do not let it puff us up with any pride, but let us always regard ourselves as so much the more tightly, even doubly, bound to God . . . Wherefore, let us throughout our life walk in such a way that we may still from year to year, from month to month, from day to day, from hour to hour, and from minute to minute continually acknowledge ourselves indebted to God for the goodness he has given us through his pure mercy alone.[8]


We have been considering the life and labors of John Calvin. By examining historical data about his manner of life and written material from his method of preaching, I have deliberately aimed to prove that he is a worthy example for ministers of the Word of God. 

Yes, of course, Calvin had his faults, but I am convinced that in him we have much to challenge us as Christians. In Calvin we have a man who gave his all for Christ. In him we have one who sought to “spend and be spent” for His glory, honor and praise. May the same be true of us all of our days by God’s unfailing grace.

The words of Theodore Beza are worth quoting one last time at this point when at the end of his lengthy biography on Calvin, he wrote, “Having been a spectator of his conduct for sixteen years, I have given a faithful account of his life and of his death. I can now declare that in him all men may see a most beautiful example of the Christian character, an example which it is as easy to slander as it is difficult to imitate.”[9]

Rob Ventura is one of the pastors of Grace Community Baptist Church of North Providence, Rhode Island and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Baptist Seminary. He is an author and blogger for Reformation 21 and has co-authored two books on Reformation Heritage Books A Portrait of Paul and Spiritual Warfare.

[1] This is the definition that Albert N. Martin gives in his soon to be published lecture notes on Pastoral Theology. Others such as John A. Broadus, On Preparation and delivery of Sermons, (Harper and Row, 1926 pp.58-59) and John MacArthur Jr, Rediscovering Expository Preaching (Word Inc., 1992, pp.9-14 have stated similar thoughts.

[2] Steven J. Lawson, Famine in the Land; A Passionate Call for Expository Preaching (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003), pp. 110-111.

[3] James F. Stitzinger, “The History of Expository Preaching,” Rediscovering Expository Preaching, (Word, Inc.1992), p. 50.

[4] Hughes Oliphant Old, in vol. 4 The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), p. 91.

[5] Leroy Nixon, The Deity of Christ and Other Sermons by John Calvin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), pp. 18, 34

[6] Benjamin W. Farley, John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), pp. 57-58.

[7] Leroy Nixon, John Calvin, Expository Preacher (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 9.

[8] John Calvin, Sermons on The Epistle to the Ephesians trans. Arthur Golding (Philadelphia: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1973), pp. 156,158, 164-167.

[9] Theodore Beza, “The Life of John Calvin,” Banner Of Truth Issue 227-228 (Aug/Sept.1982), p. 68.

Calvin’s Theology: Nearly All the Wisdom We Possess

John Calvin is widely known as an accomplished Reformer, Bible commentator, theologian, and preacher. He was these things and more. He also had keen insight into the human soul and contributed greatly to our understanding of a Christian epistemology and theological anthropology. In other words, Calvin helps us to understand the nature of human thinking about ourselves and God.

In the opening to his Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin devotes two sections of the first chapter to the inextricable connection between our knowledge of ourselves and of God.

Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern (I.1.i.).

This fact is not a mere happenstance. God has determined that we cannot really get a grasp on ourselves without also grappling with him. As the apostle Paul told the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, “…in him (God) we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28). Calvin admits here that he is not able to figure out which comes first, knowledge of God or of ourselves. Perhaps that is not so important to know this as long as we see ourselves in the light of God.

As the great Genevan Reformer points out, among other things, we are led to an awareness of our Creator because we did create ourselves. We are not the sources of whatever greatness and giftedness we may possess. Our dependent nature is there for all to see, if we have the eyes to see. This is all true apart from any consideration of our present sinful and miserable condition.

While we were created holy and righteous and good and knowledgeable, we are no longer that pristine condition. We are fallen creatures. First, we are creatures and our dependence upon the Triune God of Scripture is real and constraining on us apart from our sinful rebellion. But sinful rebels we in fact are. Second, we are fallen, sinful creatures. Calvin goes on to tell us that if all we had to go on to assess ourselves and our world around us, we no doubt would think of ourselves more highly than we ought (to borrow the language of the apostle Paul).

The miserable ruin, into which the rebellion of the first man cast us, especially compels us to look upward. Thus, not only will we, in fasting and hungering, seek thence what we lack; but, in being aroused by fear, we shall learn humility. For, as a veritable world of miseries is to be found in mankind, and we are thereby despoiled of divine raiment, our shameful nakedness exposes a teeming horde of infamies. Each of us must, then, be so stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to attain at least some knowledge of God. Thus, from 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 (Institutes I.1.i.).

True wisdom comes from above and that involves our knowing God and understanding ourselves in light of this God who has revealed himself to us in nature and Scripture. We were never meant to understand ourselves and our world without reference to God. This is especially true now that we are in rebellion against the holy God of the universe.

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. John Calvin reminds us that true wisdom is rooted and grounded in the God of the Bible. As Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In the end, the eighteenth-century Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant was wrong. Enlightenment, true enlightenment that is, is not the overthrowing of the bonds of a self-incurred tutelage. Nearly all the wisdom that we possess is founded in knowledge of ourselves as it relates to our knowledge of God. If you would seek to follow the advice of the Greek Delphic oracle and “know thyself,” know God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as he has revealed himself in the world and the Word. Master Calvin reminds us of this. And for that we should be grateful.

Jeffrey C. Waddington (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) is stated supply at Knox Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  He also serves as a panelist at Christ the Center and East of Eden and is the secretary of the board of the Reformed Forum.  Additionally he serves as an articles editor for the Confessional Presbyterian Journal.

The Theology & Influence of John Calvin Podcast

This week on Theology on the Go, our host, Dr. Jonathan Master is once again joined by Dr. Bruce Gordon. Dr. Gordon taught at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he was professor of modern history and deputy director of the St. Andrews Reformation Studies Institute, before joining the faculty of Yale Divinity School in 2008.

Dr. Gordon’s research and teaching focus on European religious cultures of the late-medieval and early modern periods, with a particular interest in the Reformation and its reception. His most recent book is John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (Princeton 2016), which looks at the reception from the sixteenth century to the age of YouTube of one of the defining works of the Reformation. He is the author of Calvin (Yale, 2009), a biography of the Genevan reformer, and the Swiss Reformation (Manchester, 2002), a Choice Magazine “Outstanding Publication” (2003). Dr. Gordon teaches and supervises graduate students in a broad range of medieval and early modern subjects and their resonances in contemporary historiography and society. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Zurich.

Today Dr. Master will continue his discussion with Dr. Gordon in the second of a two part series on John Calvin. Today’s talk will cover the theology and influence of the Reformer of Geneva. 

So, grab that cup of coffee and meet us at the table!

Just for listening, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals would like to give you a free resource. If you would like to win a copy of Bruce Gordon’s biography of the Institutes, go to!

John Calvin: Life of Perseverance

To say that Calvin had a difficult life is an understatement. He suffered many bodily ailments such as asthma, migraine headaches, ulcerated hemorrhoids and stomach ulcers, and yet by God’s grace, he continued to persevere through all of these trials, even to the point of his death from tuberculosis. Calvin refused to let any of his physical problems stop him from doing his Master’s work. He was determined that, as long as he had breath in his lungs, he was going to continue in the things that God had given him to do. Concerning Calvin’s disposition in difficult times, in 1562 Beza wrote,

His infirmities were also increasing so much that it might already have been seen he was advancing rapidly to a better life. He, however, did not cease to comfort, exhort and even to preach and deliver his lectures on theology . . . In the following year (1563) Calvin’s diseases had so increased and were so numerous that it was almost impossible to believe that so strong and noble a mind could be confined in a body so frail, so exhausted by labour and so broken down by suffering. But even then he could not be persuaded to spare himself. If at any time he abstained from public duty (which he never did without the greatest reluctance), he still gave answers to those who consulted him at home, or wore out his amanuenses by dictating to them, though unwearied himself. As evidence of this, we have his two very serious Admonitions to the Poles against the blasphemers of the Holy trinity; also the answers that he gave, both by word and writing, to those brethren who were sent to him from the Synod of Lyons; the Commentary on the Four Books of Moses, which he wrote in Latin and which he afterwards himself translated into French; and finally, his Commentary on the Book of Joshua, which was the last of his labours. He began it at this time and brought it to a close just before his death.

Beza went on to say,

While oppressed with so many diseases he was never heard to utter a word unbecoming a man of firmness, far less unbecoming a Christian. Only, raising his eyes towards heaven, he would say, ‘O Lord, how long!’ Even when he was in health this was an expression which often he used in reference to the calamities of his brethren, which night and day affected him much more than his own sufferings. When we advised and entreated him that while sick he should desist from the fatigue of dictating, or at least of writing, ‘What’, he would say, ‘would you have the Lord find me idle?’[1]

One is struck as they read these words with how much we all fall short compared to John Calvin. It seems at times that whenever even the slightest afflictions come our way, many of us quickly find ourselves completely out of commission, but not Calvin. He by the grace of God, was determined, to give his all to the Lord even though his outward man was decaying.

As we close this portion of this post, what conclusions must be drawn? Is it not plain that John Calvin has left his fellow ministers an excellent example to follow? As was noted in the outset, preachers of God’s Word are to live exemplary lives which others should be able to copy. John Calvin led such a life. As a student, as a man of humility, and as a man who persevered through various trials, in all of these areas he commends himself to us as a model worthy of our most continual imitation.

Rob Ventura is one of the pastors of Grace Community Baptist Church of North Providence, Rhode Island and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Baptist Seminary. He is an author and blogger for Reformation 21 and has co-authored two books on Reformation Heritage Books A Portrait of Paul and Spiritual Warfare.

[1] Theodore Beza, “The Life of John Calvin,” Banner Of Truth Issue 227-228 (Aug/Sept.1982), pp. 54-56.

John Calvin: Life as a Student

Calvin’s Life as a Student

John Calvin was a man who gave himself completely to his studies. Regardless of his particular course work (whether Latin, Logic, Law, Greek, Hebrew, etc.), he applied himself entirely to it with much earnestness and discipline. B. B. Warfield commenting on Calvin says, “He was an eager student, rapidly and solidly mastering the subjects to which he turned his attention, and earning such admiration from his companions as to be esteemed by them rather a teacher than a fellow pupil.”[1] Theodore Beza, a personal friend of Calvin’s, wrote in his memoir of his companion,

Calvin afterward removed to the College of Mont Aigu, and there had a Spaniard as his master, a man of considerable attainments. Under him Calvin, who was a most diligent student, made such progress that he left his fellow-students behind in the Grammar course, and was promoted to the study of Dialectics and other so-called Arts.[2]

Concerning the type of rigorous schedule that Calvin kept in his early college days, T. H. L. Parker says that a day for Calvin would typically be like this:

Up at four o’clock for the morning office [a prescribed devotional service], followed by a lecture until six, when mass was said. After mass came breakfast, and then, from eight until ten, the grande classe with a discussion for the ensuing hour. Eleven o’clock brought dinner, which was accompanied by readings from the bible or the life of a saint and followed by prayers and college notices. At twelve the students were questioned about their morning’s work, but from one to two was a rest period with public reading.

Parker continues,

Now vespers [evening prayers] were said, and after vespers a discussion on the afternoon class took place. Between supper, with its attendant readings, and bed-time at eight in winter or nine in summer there was time for further interrogation and for chapel.[3]

This kind of earnest, rigorous and disciplined life that Calvin had developed as a student would mark him all his days. Throughout the entirety of his life, he was a man who worked tirelessly and effectively for the kingdom of God. It is clear that whatever his field of study, Calvin was a student of the highest order. He was committed to nothing short of academic excellence in all that he did.

Calvin’s Life of Humility

True humility is something that all ministers of the Word of God must regularly strive for all of their days. In being humble, preachers are being most like our Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 2:1-8). Commenting on the Apostle’s words as found in Titus 1:7 that a pastor must not be “self-willed,” Calvin remarked,

Thus we have the meaning of St. Paul in a few words: namely, those who are called to preach the Word of God, must take heed that they be not self-willed, but be willing to be taught: they must be meek and quiet spirited; not puffed up with pride, but endeavoring to edify others; they must not think that they know all things, but on the contrary desire to learn continually, and be gentle in behavior.[4]

Commenting on Calvin’s humility William Wileman writes,

Calvin was not without meekness and humility . . . a good deal of trouble had been given in Geneva by Troillet, who was unworthy of the position to which he aspired. But when death laid his finger on this man, he sent for the pastor he had so abused and wronged. Calvin hastened to the dying man, forgave him, and comforted him.

Wileman goes on to say concerning Calvin,

He has been charged with fierceness and bigotry. The charge comes with ill grace from the lips that speak it. When disputes ran high between Luther and some other reformers concerning the manner of Christ’s presence in the bread and wine, Luther whose temper was naturally warm heaped many hard names upon those who differed from him. Calvin came in for his share of this. In a letter to Henry Bullinger he says: “I hear that Luther has at length published an atrocious invective, not so much against you as against us all. In these circumstances I can scarcely venture to ask for your silence; since it is unjust that the innocent should be thus attacked without having an opportunity to clear themselves; although it is at the same time difficult to decide whether that would be expedient. But I hope that you will remember in the first place how great a man Luther is, and how many excellent endowments he excels; with what fortitude and constancy, with what dexterity and efficacious learning, he has hitherto applied himself, both to overthrow the kingdom of the Antichrist, and to spread the doctrine of salvation. It is a frequent saying with me that, if Luther should even call me a devil, my veneration for him is notwithstanding so great that I shall ever acknowledge him to be an illustrious servant of God.[5]

This letter proves much concerning Calvin’s disposition of humility. Although at various other points in this letter he had to comment about Luther’s behavior and said, for example, that he wished Luther would “direct the vehemence which is natural to him against the enemies of the truth, and not brandish it also against the servants of the Lord,” nevertheless, we see that Calvin was still willing to hold Luther in high esteem, as a real man of God, not reacting with angry passion or arrogant pride against him.

Today sadly, there seem to be many who are quick to pick up pens and cut men into pieces with their verbal assaults, showing little or no grace toward those with whom they differ, but not Calvin. In the above-cited instances, we see a man who was willing to forgive one who wronged him, and he was willing to regard a man who had written slanderously about him as, nonetheless, a choice servant of Christ.

Rob Ventura is one of the pastors of Grace Community Baptist Church of North Providence, Rhode Island and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Baptist Seminary. He is an author and blogger for Reformation 21 and has co-authored two books on Reformation Heritage Books A Portrait of Paul and Spiritual Warfare.

[1] Benjamin B. Warfield, Calvin and Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1932), p. 3.

[2] Theodore Beza, “The Life of John Calvin,” Banner Of Truth Issue 227-228 (Aug/Sept.1982), p. 11.

[3] T. H. L. Parker, John Calvin: A Biography (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), p. 25.

[4] Leroy Nixon, John Calvin, Expository Preacher (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), pp. 61-62.

[5] William Wileman, John Calvin, His life, His teaching and His Influence (Choteau, Old Paths Gospel Press, 1981), pp. 130-131.