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John Calvin and Grace Alone

In our summer sermon series we are going to look at 5 truths that matter. When people take their eyes off God’s word and begin to establish ‘manmade religion’ the truths of God’s word are quickly lost.  Today we begin by looking at the truth, “Grace alone”.  As we do this we are also going to have the opportunity to find out about some of the people in our past who were prepared to risk everything to make sure God’s word was taught clearly. We will begin by looking at John Calvin.

John Calvin is, after Augustine, the most influential theologian since the writing of the New Testament. He was born in 1509 in north-western France. By the time he went to the University of Paris, the Protestant Reformation was having a significant impact across Europe.

Calvin was forced to flee Paris in 1534 when, in a Roman Catholic crackdown, his mentor Nicolas Cop (the rector of the University of Paris) was accused of heresy over a lecture that it is thought Calvin helped him to write. In 1536 Calvin stopped over in Geneva as he journeyed to Strasbourg. It was here that he was convinced by a fellow Reformer, William Farel, to stay and work to reform the church in Geneva. This became his major life’s work.

Five hundred years after it was published in 1536, Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion is still one of the most influential and significant theological works ever written. In the Institutes Calvin shows that it is by the grace of God alone that we can approach a holy God, through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. He explains that it is not of ourselves that we can attain salvation by works of some kind, but that it is a gift from God alone.

As Calvin wrote: “Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.”

 Calvin had a very organized mind. He organized Protestant theology and the Geneva Church, taking the church away from the traditional Catholic order of worship. His reforms influenced the whole city as he attempted to bring everything—be it cultural, economic, social or political activity—under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Under Calvin’s lead, Geneva moved from being one of Europe’s most immoral cities to being the Protestant capital of the Reformed Church.

(Taken from Ideas that changed the world, Matthias Media)