Meet John Calvin, the Preacher
The Expository Genius of John Calvin, by Steven J. Lawson, considers Calvin’s life and work, surveying the distinguishing marks of his pulpit ministry and the core presuppositions that undergirded his biblical preaching.
In Chapter 1 Dr. Lawson reveals Calvin’s sudden conversion. “It was while he was studying at Bourges that Calvin came in direct contact with the biblical truths of the Reformation. Upon being introduced to the gospel, a growing restlessness with his way of life came upon him, and a deepening conviction of his sin drove him to seek relief in the grace and mercy of God. Here is how Calvin later described his encounter with Christ and its immediate effects:
“God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame, which was more hardened in such matters than might have been expected from one at my early period of life. Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, yet I pursued them with less ardour.
“Of this ‘sudden conversion,’ Alexandre Ganoczy wrote, ‘Calvin understood his life story as analogous to that of the Apostle Paul, who on the way to Damascus, suddenly turned from the sin of opposing Christ to unconditionally serving Christ.’ Indeed, Calvin emulated Paul in that, upon his conversion, he immediately changed his allegiance, abandoning the Roman Catholic Church to join the growing Protestant cause…. Calvin soon met opposition for his new faith in Christ.”
Chapter 3, “Preparing the Preacher,” begins with Calvin’s life-consuming passion: “In all of life, one supreme passion consumed John Calvin: the glory of God. All truth revealed in Holy Scripture, Calvin believed, was intended to make known God’s glory and to lead the reader to behold and adore His majesty. Likewise, sin was a frontal attack on the majesty of God; any motive, thought, or deed contrary to Scripture marred God’s glory. Calvin, then, saw it as his chief duty to uphold the honor of the divine name. The cornerstone of his theology, life, and ministry was soli Deo gloria “‘the glory of God alone.’”
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