John Calvin is both one of the greatest theologians of all time and one of the most polarizing theologians of all time. He lived from 1509-1564 and was a brilliant writer and preacher. Calvin’s greatest work was his voluminous theological treatise “Institutes on the Christian Religion.” It’s a summary of Calvin’s theology for which he is best known and a theological system that was later simply called Calvinism. Within Calvin’s theological understanding of the Bible, people were viewed as being so sinful that even the act of coming to God in faith was a supernatural work of grace and sovereignty that came from God. This is summarized in technical theologies concepts such as “unconditional election,” “limited atonement,” and “irresistible grace.”
Regardless of if someone is a Calvinist or not, John Calvin had one of the greatest theological minds of all time. And his ideas are worth studying and being familiar with.
Faith and works
It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone.
Joy and suffering
You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.
Grace and judgment
God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.”
Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection.
Peace is not to be purchased by the sacrifice of truth.
If a preacher is not first preaching to himself, better that he falls on the steps of the pulpit and breaks his neck than preaches that sermon.
The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages-such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
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.
However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.
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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.