Voices From the Past: John Calvin on Blessings Tied to Union with Christ


I love statements that make me open my eyes wide and read faster. Every time I read something that really catches my attention or is startling (in either a good or bad way), I will typically start reading faster and my eyes are usually open wider than usual. I read such a statement yesterday. Kevin DeYoung wrote “John Calvin writes, in one of the best paragraphs you’ll ever read…” (“The Hole in Our Holiness”, p. 123, emphasis mine). Wow! Needless to say, I read this paragraph fast with eyes wide open. I mean, c’mon, the best paragraph I will ever read? Are you serious? And by the dreaded John Calvin, nonetheless (sarcasm mine)! Well, while I read this paragraph fast, I also read it again, more slowly. Oh, and it is a gem of a paragraph! From one of my favorite theologians and maybe the most influential theologian in history, Calvin provides us with a description of how all blessings that we have as Christians are found in Christ. Union with him is the root of all spiritual blessings from now and into eternity. Read this glorious paragraph with eyes opened and heart softened. It is okay to clap…or cry.

John Calvin

“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’ [1 Cor. 1:30]. 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 [Heb. 2:17] that he might learn to feel our pain [cf. Heb. 5:2]. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross [Gal. 3:13]; 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; if 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.” – John Calvin, Institutes 2.16.19

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