From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre-Robert Olivétan’s 1535 translation of the Bible.

“To all those who love Christ and his gospel,” Calvin writes:

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom, folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God,

brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ,

by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinners justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

The gospel is the Word of life.

In Institutes 2.16.19 he explains that “We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ [Acts 4:12]. 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;

in 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.

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2 thoughts on “Calvin on the Good News in Christ”

  1. MIke says:

    Interesting, “if reconciliation, in his descent into hell.”

    I never know that Calvin embraced Jesus descending into hell after the crucifixion. Does anyone have any further clarity on this? I do not recall reading about this in the Institutes.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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