I have been reading through the book of Acts over the past few weeks. I am coming to the end of the book and I am so encouraged at the apostle Paul’s steadfastness even in the midst of suffering, persecution and death. As a great hero of the faith Paul reached the end with great confidence. Another hero of the faith who faithfully served until the end was John Calvin(July 10, 1509 - May 27, 1564). Calvin was a pastor and leader during the reformation. Although he faced opposition throughout his ministry, his confidence grew in the atoning work of Christ until the end. Consider the words of Calvin just a few weeks prior to his death:
I have no other defense or refuge for salvation than his gratuitous adoption on which alone my salvation depends. With my whole soul I embrace the mercy which he has exercised towards me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my sins with the merits of his death and passion, that in this way he might satisfy for all my crimes and faults, and blot them from his remembrance.
I testify also and declare that I suppliantly beg of Him that he may be pleased so to wash and purify me in the blood which my Sovereign Redeemer has shed for the sins of the human race, that under his shadow I may be able to stand at the judgement seat. I likewise declare that, according to the measure of grace and goodness which the Lord hath employed toward me, I have endeavored, both in my sermons and also in my writings and commentaries, to preach His Word purely and chastely, and faithfully to interpret His sacred Scriptures. (quoted in Calvin on the Christian Life, pgs. 259-260)
John Calvin was uniquely gifted to communicate some of the lofty theological truths of God. Many have over the years have profited from his leadership and writings. As I consider the faithful model of Calvin, I believe there were some core convictions that he possessed that enabled him to reach the end with confidence. He held these positions because of his deep belief in the teaching and authority of scripture. Here are just a few:
• Calvin believed that humanity was broken and because of the fall of Adam. Because of the depravity of the human condition the natural condition is to follow the passions of the flesh.
• Calvin also believed the doctrine of irresistible grace. Because man is born dead in their sin they are unable to repent and come to God. Those whom God elected in Christ would be brought to repentance through faith and be justified by the perfect work of Christ. Repentance is a gift by God and not the work of man.
• Another theological conviction that Calvin held was the perseverance of the saints. This doctrine simply holds that regardless of physical or spiritual affliction God through the work of the Holy Spirit will work in the believers life the persevere through the affliction.
Obviously there are many more theological positions that Calvin held as deep convictions, but these three seem to be essential in his life. These biblical truths allowed him to know the grace of God in a special way that fostered confidence in Jesus until the very end. It is this same confidence that we have been studying throughout the book of Hebrews. My prayer is that by God’s grace we will continue to grow in the confidence of biblical faith until we see Jesus.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.