by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. —Colossians 1:21
For if it were not clearly expressed that we are obnoxious to the wrath and vengeance of God, and to eternal death, we should not so fully discover how miserable we must be without the Divine mercy, nor should we so highly estimate the blessing of deliverance.
For example, let any man be addressed in the following manner: "If, while you remained a sinner, God had hated you, and rejected you according to your demerits, horrible destruction would have befallen you; but because he has voluntarily, and of his own gratuitous kindness, retained you in his favor, and not permitted you to be alienated from him, he has thus delivered you from that danger"; he will be affected, and will in some measure perceive how much he is indebted to Divine mercy.
But if, on the contrary, he be told what the Scripture teaches, "that he was alienated from God by sin, an heir of wrath, obnoxious to the punishment of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, a total stranger to the Divine blessing, a slave to Satan, a captive under the yoke of sin, and, in a word, condemned to, and already involved in, a horrible destruction; that in this situation Christ interposed as an intercessor; that he has taken upon himself and suffered the punishment which by the righteous judgment of God hung over all sinners; that by his blood he has expiated those crimes which render them odious to God; that by this expiation God the Father has been appeased; that this is the foundation of peace between God and men; that this is the bond of his benevolence towards them"; will he not be the more affected by these things in proportion to the more correct and lively representation of the depth of calamity from which he has been delivered?
In short, since it is impossible for the life which is presented by the mercy of God to be embraced by our hearts with sufficient ardor, or received with becoming gratitude, unless we have been previously terrified and distressed with the fear of the Divine wrath, and the horror of eternal death, we are instructed by the sacred doctrine that irrespective of Christ we may contemplate God as in some measure incensed against us, and his hand armed for our destruction, and that we may embrace his benevolence and paternal love only in Christ. —Institutes, II, xvi, ii
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.