John Calvin – inspires us to trust in God’s sovereignty in our salvation
1509 – 1564
John Calvin was a French pastor and theologian used mightily by God to re-shape his church under the Scriptures in the 16th Century. The medieval church had moved away from dependence upon the Scriptures and had replaced the authority of God’s Word and the sufficiency of the grace of Christ with the words and actions of the church.
Calvin was converted several years after the first wave of the Reformation, leaving the Roman Catholic Church around 1530 and fleeing to Switzerland when persecutions broke out against Protestants in France. In 1536, at the age of only 27, he published his most significant work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion and in the same year became a leader in the Reformation, serving as a preacher in Geneva. He was expelled by the city authorities opposed to the Reformation in 1538, but returned in 1541 and spent the remainder of his life supporting the return of the church across Europe to biblical faith.
Calvin’s biblical faith naturally impacted all areas of his life; he established care programs for orphans, refugees, and others in need and provided education for children of families outside the aristocracy. The academy he began in Geneva featured two streams, one for the training of gospel ministers, and another for the education of the city’s youth.
Calvin’s goal in writing The Institutes was to explain “the whole sum of godliness and whatever it is necessary to know about saving doctrine.” His works were translated into many languages and have hugely blessed God’s people ever since with wonderful truths re-discovered during the Reformation: the universal sinfulness of humanity, the sovereignty of God in all things – including his gracious election, predestination and preservation of his people. He is probably the greatest theologian so far given by God since the Apostles.