Calvin on Sacramental Efficacy

Calvin offers these helpful insights in his comments on Deuteronomy 30.6.

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6. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart. This promise far surpasses all the others, and properly refers to the new Covenant, for thus it is interpreted by Jeremiah, who introduces God thus speaking,—“Behold, the days come that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, … which covenant they brake, … but … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” (Jer. 31:31–33.) Moses now declares the same thing in different words, that, lest the Israelites, according to their wonted instability, should fall back from time to time into new rebellions, a divine remedy was needed, i.e., that God should renew and mould their hearts. In short, he reminds them that this would be the chief advantage of their reconciliation, that God should endow them with the Spirit of regeneration. There is a metaphor in this word circumcise; for Moses alludes to the legal sign of consecration, whereby they were initiated into the service of God. The expression, therefore, is equivalent to his saying, God will create you spiritually to be new men, so that, cleansed from the filth of the flesh and the world, and separated from the unclean nations, you should serve Him in purity. Meanwhile, he shews that, whatever God offers us in the Sacraments, depends on the secret operation of His Spirit. Circumcision was then the Sacrament of repentance and renewal, as Baptism is now to us; but “the letter,” as Paul calls it, (Rom. 2:27,) was useless in itself, as also now many are baptized to no profit. So far, then, is God from resigning the grace of His Spirit to the Sacraments, that all their efficacy and utility is lodged in the Spirit alone.

Calvin, J. & Bingham, C.W., 2010. Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Emphasis added.)

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Tributes to John Calvin

Tributes to John Calvin

At Reformation Heritage Books: The essays in Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary illuminate Calvin’s times, thought and legacy, and provide a celebratory tribute to one of the most influential people in history. This book commemorates the quincentenary of Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), and attests to the remarkable fact that a French religious leader from a tiny village is still remembered half a millennium later.

Twenty-three leading Calvin scholars exhibit a firm understanding of Calvin’s era, theology, and the heritage he bequeathed the church. Their articles cover Calvin’s theology, soteriology, and ecclesiology, as well as his doctrines of assurance, worship, and Scripture. They examine Calvin as a Frenchman, lawyer, and liturgist. Other articles explore Calvin’s impact on the arts, Calvinism in Asia, and the influential women in Calvin’s life.

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Calvin on prayer

A friend of mine posted this on facebook. I don’t know where in Calvin’s writings it’s found, but it is a beautiful summary of the biblical doctrine of prayer.

Believers do not pray, with the view of informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray, in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from Him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things. God himself, on the other hand, has purposed freely, and without being asked, to bestow blessings upon us; but he promises that he will grant them to our prayers.

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