As we recall the 16th century Reformation, we praise God for the great work He has done through the Reformers. Among the Reformers, John Calvin (1509-1564), though regarded as a second generation Reformer, had played a definitive role in the Reformation. Calvin is credited, along with Martin Luther and John Knox, for helping to revive biblical Christianity.
It is reported that more than 30,000 English-speaking congregations around the world trace their lineage through John Calvin. He was a figure of remarkable significance in the history of the Reformed tradition.
John Calvin was a theologian, pastor, biblical exegete and tireless apologist for Reformed Christianity. His theological works, biblical commentaries, tracts, treatises, sermons and letters helped to spread the Reformation doctrines throughout Europe. He ranks among the most important thinkers in church history. No theologian has been as acclaimed or assailed as much as Calvin.
Calvin’s greatest single work in Christian theology is “The Institutes of Christian Religion”. He wrote it at the age of 27 (though he continued to update and republish it throughout his life). It has altered the course of Western history as much as any other book. It is still read by theological students today. It covers a broad range of theological topics from justification by faith alone to Christian liberty and the doctrines of church and sacraments. The overarching theme of the book - and Calvin’s greatest theological legacy - is the idea of God’s total sovereignty, particularly in salvation and election.
During his pastoral ministry in Geneva, Calvin tirelessly preached over two thousand sermons. He preached twice on Sunday and almost every weekday. It is reported that his sermons lasted more than an hour. Church historians note that Calvin worked himself nearly to death. When he could not walk, he was carried to church in a chair to preach. Even when the doctor forbade him to go out in the winter, he would welcome people into his bedroom and give lectures there. When some urged him to rest, he would ask them, “What? Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?”
To provide a glimpse of this giant of theology, here are some quotes from Calvin’s pen. (These quotes are adapted from http://www.calvin500.com/ john-calvin/quotes-by-calvin)