Since the 1980s, I’ve been giving away copies of John Calvin’s “Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life” (in modern translation) and I’m doing it again lately. I’ll tell you why below. If you’d like a copy, please let us know and we’ll get it to you. It’s not a dense theological booklet, but rather a pastoral work written out of loving care for Jesus’ followers.
John Calvin (1509-1564) was a French theologian and pastor serving in Geneva, Switzerland during the Protestant Reformation. Calvin is hated by many who’ve never read him, but when I re-read this little book (less than 100 pages) I find Calvin to be a lovable and faithful spiritual father. Calvin describes what authentic, God-centered Christian life looks like when believers really live by God’s Scriptures, not just talk about them. He reminds us that Christian doctrine, devotion, and duty need to remain linked together, otherwise knowledge alone puffs us up with pride.1 The Golden Booklet is a clear and concise classic that challenges and encourages us in our daily walk with Christ.
Calvin reminds us that Christians are God’s adopted sons and daughters who obey Him out of grateful love for Him. We are simultaneously saints and sinners who must be active (not passive) in working out our sanctification and growing in Christ-likeness until we reach Heaven. Scripture reminds us that since we have been raised with Christ, we are to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at God’s right hand. For we died to our old way of life and our life is now hidden with Christ in God, so we are to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature.2 These are Calvin’s emphases too.
Sample Quotes: A true Christian will not ascribe any prosperity to our own diligence or industry, but acknowledge that God is the Author and Giver of it….Christians ought to imagine themselves in the place of the person who needs our help and to sympathize with them as though we ourselves were suffering….The most effective poison to lead people to ruin is to boast in themselves, in their own wisdom and willpower….Jesus’ gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart….The proper use of all the good gifts we have received is free and generous sharing with others….When Christ orders you to forgive people for whatever sin they have committed against you, He calls you to do so not because that person deserves it, but because God Himself has forgiven you.
To signify Calvin’s willingness to sacrifice everything to the Lord’s service, his seal pictured a burning heart in a hand accompanied by this motto: “I offer my heart to you, O Lord, promptly and sincerely.” Calvin knew that Christ calls us to sacrifice of our whole being to Him in gratitude for our great salvation,3 and he tried to live that way. As the Holy Spirit blesses His Scripture truth, Calvin’s Golden Booklet can help us follow Christ too.
Very gratefully in Jesus’ love, Bob
From the blog
Blogs posted since our October 2018 update:
- One Anothering, Part 1 (Fellowship Among Christ’s People)
- One Anothering, Part 2 (Fellowship Among Christ’s People)
- One Anothering, Part 3 (Fellowship Among Christ’s People)
- One Anothering, Part 4 (Fellowship Among Christ’s People)
- Adopted into God’s Family (Our Privileges)
- Adopted into God’s Family (Our Responsibilities)
- Asking, Seeking, Knocking
Notes: 1 1 Cor 8:1. 2 Col 3:1-5. 3 Rom 12:1-2.