Category Archives: John Calvin

31 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Living the Word

Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. Galatians 6:11

suggested further reading: 1 Peter 1:13–25

When our Lord Jesus Christ was sent to the world in the fullness of time, he declared everything that was needful for our salvation. Even today, he still raises up people as instruments of his Spirit to proclaim his will, to bring others the message of salvation, and to bear witness to that which otherwise would be hidden from us.

In light of these things, may we all be of one mind, and, whether we read in private or are taught in public, let us become stronger in the Word that God has been pleased to communicate to us. We need to remember that so we might have much greater love for his holy Word and give ourselves wholly to it. May we receive Scripture with more reverence, as, indeed, it is most worthy to be received.

Now let us fall before the majesty of our great God and Father, acknowledging him as our judge, who buries our sins in his infinite mercy. Let us pray that it might please him to accept us in mercy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May he also give us grace to walk in such a fashion that we truly confirm that we are his children and that he has not called us in vain. May this grace so benefit our hearts that we grow in it and become increasingly enabled to serve and adore him throughout our lives in true obedience to his holy Word. May he show this grace, not only to us, but also to all people and nations on earth.

for meditation: Too often we do not realize the specialness of the Word of God. I recently read a study of boat owners in Florida and in Michigan. The former could use their boats twelve months a year; the latter, about four months. The study concluded, rather surprisingly, that Michigan boat owners used their boats more than their peers in Florida. Michigan boat owners take advantage of nearly every nice summer day, while Floridians postpone, thinking there is always another day to sail.

Don’t treat the Word of God this way. Ask for grace to live more fully out of God’s Word next year. Search the Scriptures, know the Scriptures, love the Scriptures, and live the Scriptures. You will never be sorry.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 384). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

30 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Doing Good in the Household of Faith

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

suggested further reading: Luke 10:25–42

Paul tells us that believers and those who profess to follow the same gospel form a household; in other words, they are of the same house. Indeed, the church is called the house of God, and he dwells among us (1 Tim. 3:15).

When Scripture speak thus, it does not mean that we need to be in a material building to be joined together; for even when we are in our own homes, we are still members of the same household. We are in that household because God has truly gathered us to himself. Thus, when Scripture says that the children of God are of the same household, it is to show that we have fellowship with each other.

Although earthly brothers and sisters separate and go different ways, we always remain in this union established by God among us. When we hear these things, are we not worse than stupid if we are not moved to use what God has given us to help our neighbors as well as fellow believers?

We now see Paul’s intention here; since God has given us the responsibility of doing good to all people because they are made of the same flesh, let us not be hindered by malice of any kind from striving to carry out our general duty toward those whom God sets before us to test our humanity. But since he has gathered believers into his flock and united us in his name, and since we call upon him with one voice as our Father, we must show love to one another in the family.

If we want God to acknowledge us as his children, we must value the adoption by which he has chosen us. To do this, let us sincerely declare by our lives that we long to demonstrate that we regard those whom God has called into his household and church as our brothers and sisters.

for meditation: Are you taking every opportunity to reach out to your neighbors—especially your believing neighbors—with kind words, loving actions, and all kinds of good? Can your neighbors see and feel that you are a giving Christian?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 383). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

29 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Rightly Motivated to Serve Others

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9–10

suggested further reading: Matthew 22:33–40

Paul says we must seek to do good to all, even to those who are not worthy and are even our mortal enemies!

It is true that this is hard work and contrary to our natural instincts, but it is how God proves and tries us. For if we were to do good only to those who deserved it or to those who could repay us, we would not be showing that we are motivated to serve God at all, for it is possible that we would have an eye only toward our own profit. As our Lord Jesus says, the pagans do as much, and so do the worse people in the world (Matt. 5:46).

Why? They reason, “I need to be looked after; therefore, I must acquire some friends.”

If, therefore, we seek to distinguish those who are worthy of our good deeds and have the means to return our favors, this is not proper proof or a sure test of our desire to do what has been commanded by God. But if we close our eyes to people’s ingratitude and feel led to pity people solely because of their poverty and misery, then we serve God.

If we operate like this, it is certain that we will seek to do good to all, for we cannot destroy the unbreakable bond by which God has joined and united us to others. Even the most distant strangers in the world are our neighbors, though they are neither our relatives, cousins, nor members of our household. We are all of one flesh, and we bear a mark that ought to induce us to do all that we possibly can for one another.

for meditation: How easy is it to press on when our efforts to show kindness are met with nothing but ingratitude? If gratitude and reward are our motivations for doing good, we will do good to very few people. If, however, our motivations are based on unconditional love for humanity, we will press on, no matter what the response, displaying the love of Christ as we go.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 382). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

28 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Sowing Seeds in Well-Doing

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9–10

suggested further reading: James 1:26–2:13

Here we learn we must use all that God has bestowed to serve him and his own, even all people in general. As God distributes different abilities and gifts to each of us, we are obliged to use them for those who need us and whom we can help. We must, therefore, make up our minds not to be idle or fruitless and consider the means that God has given us so that each one of us can use those gifts as an offering to him.

To further encourage us, Paul tells us that by doing this we are sowing seeds. God will not allow us to be disappointed when we have sought to do what he has commanded. It may seem to us that we waste our efforts when we do not seek our own profit and give ourselves over to self-advantage, yet the opposite is true. For even though a person who helps his neighbor loses whatever he has given, he is laying up treasure like the one who sows seed upon the soil to reap a crop in due season.

On the other hand, all is lost when we are too anxious to become wealthy in this life and only care about our own advancement, for in that we will reap corruption. Indeed, this entire world is passing away and its shadow is fading, yet this is the only treasure that those who study to enrich themselves in this world can possess. Just as our lives are transitory and fleeting, so are the goods we have collected, for everything will rot away to nothing.

But if we rid ourselves of earthly cares and consider God’s kingdom, even though it seems that in well-doing we are becoming impoverished and depleted, nevertheless, this treasure will never perish. It will be well guarded by the hand of God until the last day.

for meditation: Doing good to others may not be the best way to gain earthly goods, but it does provide a harvest of its own. It can often be wearying and draining, but the harvest will come. Let us take this as an encouragement, then, to not give up on treating others well when the rewards seem few.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 381). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

27 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Reproving without Harshness

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1

suggested further reading: Proverbs 4

The opposite sin in rebuking one who has fallen is excessive harshness.

Hypocrites often use this kind of rebuke, for when they see a speck in their neighbor’s eye, they cry out in alarm, yet they have a large beam in their own eye that they do nothing about, as our Lord Jesus says (Matt. 7:4). Since many people enlarge their consciences to swallow an entire camel yet strain at a gnat when it comes to the faults of others, we must guard against being too harsh or too severe when we reprove others. It seems to some that they are only correctly doing their duty if they loudly sound the trumpet when another person falls.

How many cautionary words today spring from righteous concern? If a person sees his neighbor doing evil, he should, if he has an opening and an opportunity, show him his fault, yet we see nothing of this! For if each one spies on his friends and listens as he keeps watch to see if he can find anything to reprove, then he will be severe in the extreme.

However, those who are severely dealt with in this way certainly cannot complain. After all, why else has evil become so prevalent in today’s society? Indeed, few people are admonished in private anymore to bring them back to God; rather, the sins that were hidden are slanderously published abroad.

Why? We cannot bear to hear the truth about ourselves. We want to cleave to our sins, as if no one has any authority or jurisdiction over us. True community cannot exist among us without such mutual correction, in which we all willingly submit to one another.

for meditation: Paul’s advice explained here by Calvin is sorely needed in our families, churches, and work environments today. Loving correction of an offending brother that follows Matthew 18:15–17 is seldom followed today. Most people operate in one of two extremes: either they think that this is the work of a minister or a church and they neglect their own responsibility as a member of Christ’s corporate family, or they overreact in harshness and neglect to approach their bother in love and humility. Are you lovingly and tenderly correcting your brothers and sisters in the faith when they fall into some sin?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 380). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

26 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Rebuking with Gentleness

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1

suggested further reading: Colossians 3:1–17

We must aim to bring back to the right path those who have turned away from it. If we have no kindness or humanity within us, we may plunge someone deep into despair the minute we see him committing a sin. This is why Paul says the children of God must show kindness and gentleness so those who have fallen through weakness can be helped up, knowing that we seek their salvation.

There are two extremes here. The first is that we often close our eyes if one of our friends offends God and creates a scandal; we let it slip by because we do not want to stir up ill will by reproaching them. This is how friendships work today; each person permits all kinds of evil.

No one wants to have their sore skin scratched; therefore, people will not listen to warning unless God first touches them and gives them an obedient spirit that makes them teachable. Such people would say with David that they would prefer to be scolded harshly, indeed, even with austerity, rather than to be surrounded by a crowd of flatterers who would lull them to sleep in their sins (Ps. 141:5).

However, generally speaking, people want to be spared this shame. They prefer that we not utter a word against them, let alone assail their ears with a list of their vices and transgressions. People are happy with this silence, yet in it God is forgotten. As the prophet Isaiah says, no man was found in any of the streets who upheld the truth (Isa. 59:14–16). There is confusion and worse injustice than ever before, yet we let it continue unchecked.

for meditation: Our best friends are those who tell us the most truth about ourselves in a loving and caring way. Are we serving our friends in this manner as well?

If we do not remember from where we have come and the grace God has shown to us, we will rebuke our brothers and sisters in a harsh and unloving manner. But if we remember God’s grace, we will restore those who have fallen in meekness, knowing that only God’s grace keeps us from the same fault.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 379). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

25 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Led by the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22–23

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 2:10–16

Paul now adds gentleness and goodness to the fruits of the Spirit. Without these fruits, it is impossible for us to unite together; there would be no harmony among us whatever. For if each of us was determined to be horrible and unkind to one another, we would do better as wild beasts. We must show that we want to communicate with those whom God has placed around us. In short, we must maintain love by the gentleness, goodness, and meekness that Paul refers to here.

He also mentions temperance, which means that we must abstain from plundering one another’s goods and that we must live sober lives and keep ourselves from intemperance and excess.

To summarize, the virtues that Paul mentions here are for Christians. It is as if he were saying, “If we are led by the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, it will be evident and visible in our lives. We will be kept from wandering like those who lead dissolute lives; we will be loving and kind to everyone and will not harbor iniquity, deception, or extortion within us. We will be content with what we have and will seek only to serve one another.”

We have seen, therefore, that all good proceeds from the Spirit of God.

But we also see here that our Lord Jesus is the fountain from which we must draw water; if we are in him and belong to him as members of his body, he will demonstrate in our lives that it was not in vain for him to have received and acknowledged us as his own.

for meditation: How dependent we are on the Holy Spirit to work real and abiding virtues and graces in us! Ask God for more of the leading of his Spirit. Find honest friends who will alert you to any word or action you indulge in that runs counter to the fruit of the Spirit.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 378). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

24 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Being Faithful to One Another

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Galatians 5:22

suggested further reading: 1 Peter 2:11–25

The word faith here means faithfulness and integrity. The faith that relates to God is the certainty that we will see the fulfillment of his promises. Scripture says we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), meaning that God begins the process of mortifying everything in us that pertains to our sinful nature. We need to be grounded upon the mercy of God alone, as revealed to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do we possess this gift of faith? By believing the promises of God and accepting them in obedience; also by entirely leaning upon God once we have confessed that we are lost and condemned. Thus, the faith that relates to God is the assurance of his goodness and love, making it possible for us to approach him with confidence because we know that he will hear us.

Paul says those who have such faith steadfastly trust in God and therefore possess the liberty and boldness to come to him in repentance.

But in this passage, Paul speaks of another kind of faith. It is the faithfulness we show to one another when we walk in integrity. With this kind of faith, we do not attempt to cheat anyone out of malice or craft. We are not two-faced. There should be no deception in us whereby we seek to influence the simple-minded, but we should treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. That is the faith that Paul refers to here as a fruit of the Spirit.

for meditation: When Christians maintain integrity in the face of criticism and persecution, the world sits up and pays attention. The integrity of a clear conscience is priceless. Rendering good for evil is always far better than rendering evil for evil. Ask for grace to maintain integrity by refusing to descend to the level of your persecutors. Pray for strength to fight God’s battles, not your own, and you will discover that he will fight yours.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 377). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

23 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Living in True Joy

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Galatians 5:22

suggested further reading: Nehemiah 8:9–18

Paul here adds joy to love in naming the fruits of the Spirit. He not only means that we will be at peace with God and have cheerful hearts because God has mercifully received us and declared his kindness to us. He also implies another kind of joy here, which is that we ought not to grieve or upset one another or to alienate ourselves from our neighbors by disdaining them.

We are to be easy-going and friendly, even finding pleasure in being able to help and assist those who require our aid. In Romans 14:17, Paul says the kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Ghost. However, here he uses this word in a different sense. He says we can rejoice in God when we testify that we have found acceptance in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this, we would be transfixed and numbed with fear. For this reason, we would always be troubled in spirit.

Those who have contempt for God may seem happy enough in their pride, but they do not have true peace or joy. Inwardly, they are burning, for God pricks their consciences with remorse so they are always sorrowful and agitated. Even when they want to rejoice, their minds become increasingly darkened. They have no more feeling because their ability to discern between good and evil is dead.

When people stray from God in this way, their joy is cursed, and they forget who they are. But, as I have already said, Paul speaks here of the joy we have when we rightly relate to our neighbors in love.

for meditation: True joy is in short supply these days. When Christians let their true joy shine—not shallow silliness, but deep happiness—people around them notice. A Christian without joy is a contradiction in terms. Do not be afraid to let your Christian joy shine in this dark world.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 376). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

22 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Producing Fruits of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Galatians 5:22

suggested further reading: Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

Love is the summary of the law; thus, Paul places it first in listing the fruits of the Spirit. However, he does not wish us to neglect calling upon God, to abandon the trust that we ought to have in his promises, or to forget any service that is described in the first table of the law.

Paul despises none of that and therefore does not wish us to reject it, but he is concerned that we testify before men whether or not we truly desire to obey God. We have already said that such testimony is clearly seen if we love our neighbors and are not devoted to self-advantage. Collectively, we should be trying to foster a healthy and peaceful unity, using the faculties and the means that God has given us to serve those to whom his Word declares that we have a responsibility. That is why Paul puts the word love first. He does not mean that we should love our neighbors so much that we leave God out of the picture, but rather that we declare our true dedication and devotion to God by the friendship that we have with one another.

Of course, this cannot happen unless we have placed all our trust in God and taken refuge in prayers and petitions. Indeed, since that is known as virtue in the fruits of the Spirit, we will not be equipped to approach God by faith nor will we have the will to pray to be armed against all temptations unless the Holy Spirit is at work within us.

By nature, we have no ability to understand the gospel, nor are we agile enough to rise up to God and personally communicate with him in prayers and supplications. We need the Holy Spirit to enable us by enlightening us by his grace and encouraging our hearts to call upon God. That is what we need to remember.

for meditation: If we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will be so united with Christ and in love with God that we will yearn to do nothing but manifest the fruits of the Spirit. Those fruits will flow out of our relationship with the triune God. We cannot expect to find any of those fruits in our lives if we are not in this living relationship. By the Spirit’s grace, are you manifesting these fruits?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 375). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

21 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

The Remedy against Sin

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Galatians 5:17

suggested further reading: Romans 7

Though we fervently pray and strive to tame our evil desires, we will always have weaknesses in whatever we do. I am not speaking about hypocrites here but the true children of God. Even those who increase in holiness can only approach God by limping. They do not do as they would want to, as Paul goes on to say.

Yet believers, once they have become aware of their wickedness, sincerely and without pretense seek the remedy in God. They feel the need for him to help them overcome their evil desires. Hence, Paul says, “ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). This does not mean that for the rest of our lives we will never again be tempted by Satan to do evil. For, indeed, our flesh still has many goads urging us to do wrong. All kinds of sin will tempt us, but we can still resist those through the grace of God.

Paul, in exhorting believers not to allow themselves to lose control, speaks of “the flesh having no dominion over them.” He does not say that evil desires and sinful lusts will no longer dwell within us. We will only be rid of sin when it pleases God to take us to himself. Until the day that we leave this world, we will always have spots and stains within us, and we will always be bent down with the burden of our sins and weaknesses. This is to humble us and to show us that our life is a constant battle against sin.

Though sin dwells within us, it must not have dominion, for the Spirit of God must conquer it. This can only happen if we flee to God with fervent zeal, praying that he will remedy the evil that we cannot change and that he would grant us more gifts of his Spirit so that we might overcome everything that has weighed us down.

for meditation: Do not lose heart if your struggles with sin continue until the day you die. You should not be pleased with the status quo or make a truce with sin; we must fight it tooth and nail! But do not doubt your salvation because you cannot perfect yourself. Instead, hope in God and his unfailing promise to help you battle sin.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 374). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

20 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Walking in the Spirit

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

suggested further reading: Romans 6

Paul tells us here that we are to walk in the Spirit. If we do this, “we will not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” By this he issues a warning to all who revel in their sins and allow themselves freedom to do evil under the pretext that they cannot resist it. He stirs them up here and shows them that they have no excuse for sin; that though completely disposed toward evil, they nevertheless ought to search for the remedy.

What is the remedy? It is true that we will not find the answer in ourselves, but God is sufficient for this. He will give us grace to fight against our carnal appetites and evil desires. He will make his Holy Spirit reign in us and have the victory. God has no intention of disappointing us when he makes such a promise. Flee to him, therefore, like a sick person running to a doctor.

Paul anticipates the excuses yet to be made as well as those to which people are already accustomed. They say, “Look at us—we are carnal. Love is an angelic quality; therefore, how can we be expected to exhibit this if we are wholly disposed to evil and overtaken by sin? If we were not under the dominion of sin, we could be expected to be united under God, but we are too weak for that!”

This is what many people say, and they expect to be absolved as a consequence. However, Paul, as it were, says, “It is true that we are full of evil, and yet men choose to remain in this state; they are serving the devil and their minds are increasingly darkened. Nevertheless, we are to seek a remedy. God calls us to himself through the gospel and offers us his Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must condemn evil and hate it. Then God will work in us and overcome all our fleshly desires.”

for meditation: Without the Holy Spirit’s power, we are unable to conquer our natural sinful inclinations. But believers have the Holy Spirit and thus are without excuse if they do not walk in that Spirit and refuse to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are no longer slaves to sin! Rejoice and be encouraged to press on in your daily fight against sin.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 373). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

19 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Giving up Anger

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Galatians 5:15

suggested further reading: Proverbs 14:16–27

This warning of Paul’s is not superfluous, for in it he wishes to shame those who become so enraged that they refuse, even from the very first, to be subdued or restrained by reason. When a man is thus fiery-natured and throws caution to the winds, we need to give him an appropriate reproof that will make him ashamed and draw him back to obedience unto God.

Paul therefore seeks to help us so that we might overcome our passions little by little, for they are far too powerful. Then, the next time we feel prompted to hate someone or to take vengeance upon him, we will first think, “What will happen in the end? If we fight like cats and dogs, we will only consume one another!”

Have we really taken note of this? Indeed, we could go further and say that, even when hatred would be the most useful thing in the world to us and would mean that we could have greater victory over our enemies when we have come to the end of all our projects and schemes, yes, even when we could only profit by giving vent to our anger, yet we would provoke the wrath of God if we did not submit to him so far as to love the unlovable.

This being the case, let us submit to each other in all humility. If this is difficult for us, let us more earnestly work at it until God has mastery of us and until we have denied ourselves. For we must leave behind everything that pertains to our nature and preserve the sacred union that God has placed among us by making us one body.

for meditation: Proud creatures that we are, most of us find it very difficult to love our enemies. How can we love those who criticize us? Here are six helps:

  • Consider how Christ treated those who hated him.
  • Become better acquainted with your enemies; you cannot love those you don’t know. Seek to understand them.
  • Assure them that you want to learn from them and that you want iron to sharpen iron—and mean what you say.
  • Ask the Spirit for grace to be willing to forgive any injury done to you.
  • Pray with your critic when you are with him and pray for him in private. It is difficult to stay bitter against a person for whom you pray.
  • Follow 1 Peter 2:1 in putting away anything that inhibits love.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 372). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

18 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Loving your Neighbor

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Galatians 5:14

suggested further reading: Matthew 5:43–48

If we give way to selfish interests, it is a sure sign that we do not know what it means to bear the yoke of God, for we are simply following our natural instincts.

Indeed, as we shall shortly see, people are wholly inclined to evil and therefore give rein to their appetites, waging war upon God. Their whole life is spent in rebellion against God. This proves that the devil controls our affections, indeed, so much that God cannot make use of us until he has overcome everything that pertains to our nature.

The person who loves his neighbor demonstrates that he is not looking after his own interests and is not selfish. Loving our neighbor is a sure and certain mark that we are seeking to obey God and to regulate our lives according to his Word. The Lord Jesus begins with this when summarizing his own teaching by saying that we must first learn to deny ourselves. For if we followed our natural course, we would undoubtedly walk in the opposite direction to the path set out by God. Thus Paul has good reason to say in this passage that the law is fulfilled by this one thing: that we love our neighbor.

We must realize that when God uses the word neighbour, he does not only include our relatives and friends, from whom we hope to gain some profit or advantage, or who deserve some kind of reward from us. He wants us to be aware of the kinship that he has placed between all of us. We are all made in the image of God and bear his stamp, so we share a common nature. That means we ought to maintain a sense of unity and brotherhood among all of us.

for meditation: Loving our neighbors as ourselves takes incredible selflessness. It is not so difficult to be pleasant or civil toward another person, but to actually love him or her requires much more. This kind of love thus serves as a great test of the genuineness of our desire to fulfill the law. How are you loving your neighbors?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 371). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

17 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Forming Christ in Us

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. Galatians 4:19

suggested further reading: Colossians 1:9–20

When Paul speaks of Christ being formed in us, he is warning us that it is not enough to have a sketchy knowledge of our Savior; we must have a real-life experience of him. We need to have a vision of his power, his grace, and all his benefits impressed upon our hearts to the extent that his image in us can never be erased.

Earlier in the epistle, Paul says that whenever the gospel is preached in true power, as it should be, it is as though Jesus Christ is crucified in our midst (Gal. 3:1). He is not only vividly depicted but is presented before us upon the cross, with his blood flowing from him, offering the ultimate sacrifice to God the Father to blot out all our sins and transgressions. Since God has been so gracious to us, our response should be never to allow the message to pass us by unheeded.

Many people seem to blossom after hearing only three words of the gospel, as it were. They believe that is sufficient, yet in reality their understanding of Scripture is very shallow. We ought not to be surprised if they fall into temptation, however small, and become forever lost. All they thought they believed is of no avail in such circumstances, for God is punishing them for their lack of true commitment.

Therefore, now that God has graciously permitted us to know his Son, we should have this vivid picture impressed upon our hearts whenever we hear a sermon. We need to remind ourselves and refresh our memories of this so that the devil, who seeks to cloud our minds and to overcome our faith, will not have the victory.

True believers will have such a clear picture of Christ engraved deeply upon their hearts that they can say that Jesus Christ is truly formed in them.

for meditation: Jesus’ accomplishment of redemption was graphic. It was substantial and visual. Christ should likewise be vivid inside us. We should not be content with blurry concepts and ideas but with a clearly defined and experientially known Son of God. Do you have Christ formed in you?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 370). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

15 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Listening to our Accusers

Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Galatians 4:12

suggested further reading: Galatians 2

When someone reproves me for my sin, Paul says it is because God has ordained this and has sent the person to me in his stead. The person does this so I will not have to stand before the majesty of God to give an account of myself for this sin. For if I do, I will be condemned a hundred thousand times more severely. Thus, when God sends us human judges, it is because he has taken pity on us. He hopes that we will be ashamed of ourselves and return to the right path.

If God is gracious enough to take pity on us in this way, we ought to take advantage of his grace rather than become embittered against him and full of imaginary thoughts that we are hated, persecuted, envied, or victimized by any kind of evil treatment that we can conceive. Let us banish all such thoughts and accept warnings and reproaches, if they are indeed true. In short, the best thing we can do when we are accused is to consider whether or not our own consciences have been giving us the same message.

Next, we must conclude that we have been rightfully challenged. How strange that those who become enraged when they are criticized and who rant and bare their teeth would find plenty of reasons to condemn themselves if they truly searched their own hearts. But they prefer to act like madmen when face to face with God, despising his warnings rather than judging themselves and being humble before him.

Therefore, this is what we must do: when rebuked, we must listen to our accusers.

for meditation: What a positive view Calvin presents to us of criticism! Though our critics seldom present their case against us without at least some exaggeration, few criticisms don’t hold at least a grain of truth. Who is being critical of you at the present time? Isn’t he or she in some way helping you to see some aspect of your distorted emphases, blind spots, areas of neglect, attitudes and actions contradictory to stated commitments, and perhaps even outright failings of faith and practice? Try being less defensive, and ask yourself: Even if my critic doesn’t intend my betterment through his criticism, how can I grow from this criticism?[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 368). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

14 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Finding Blessing in Rebuke

Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Galatians 4:12

suggested further reading: Psalm 141

When we are reproved for our faults, we are not to raise barriers against that by falsely imagining that the person hates us and is therefore out to criticize us as part of an attack of Satan.

Though we are by nature inclined to analyze whether or not we are being vilified and criticized out of hatred, our first thought must not be that the person is against us because of any personal reason. The devil stirs up such thoughts within us. If we have fallen and someone rebukes us, the message has surely been sent to us by God, regardless of who conveys it to us. For God does not want us to perish but seeks to bring us back to the right path, even if the messenger is motivated by less than righteous intentions. Even if a person only seeks to criticize to avenge himself, God can use that to help us so that we do not perish.

Satan, on the other hand, will not allow us to accept this medicine, for he puts in our heads the idea that the other person, when reproaching us for our faults, is motivated by something other than holy zeal. He convinces us that the person is on the attack and is ready to kick us in the teeth because he is driven by some hidden ill-feeling toward us. Satan puts these imaginary ideas into our minds whenever we are bothered over something to make us so angry that we reject what we have been told and consequently rebel against God himself.

Let us, therefore, remember this lesson when we are next challenged because of our sin. Then we will realize that the messenger has been sent to judge us on behalf of God so that we may not have to face him as our judge in this matter.

for meditation: The greatest problem we face when receiving rebuke is pride. Unable to conceive of the possibility that we might be wrong, we immediately think of how the other person must be wrong. But if we are genuinely in error, others have been sent by God to bring us back into line. It would be a terrible thing if our pride were to keep us from receiving God’s rebuke.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 367). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

13 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

What It Means to Believe

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26

suggested further reading: Matthew 15:21–28

Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and for his sake God owns and accepts us as his children. Believing this means much more than people generally imagine.

Those who are not familiar with Holy Scripture may find it strange that we can receive blessing simply by believing. They may think faith is not enough of a virtue to earn us such a reward. However, believing in Jesus Christ is not equivalent to believing a story that we were told or that we have read; it means truly receiving him as presented to us by God the Father. We must embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who has paid for our sin to reconcile us to God. We must entirely trust in him for salvation, assured that he has provided all that we need to gain our eternal inheritance.

If we are certain of these things, it will not surprise us that we become children of God simply by believing. Yet we must also remember that faith has no merit in itself; it is not a question of weighing our faith in the balance to assess its value as a virtue. No, we become children of God through free adoption.

If you are looking for the cause of this, I tell you the true source of salvation is in the mercy of God alone in choosing to take pity upon us. This is achieved by means of faith, as we have said before. When all our pride and vain presumption has been taken away and we recognize that we are lost by nature, then we take refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Paul is teaching us here.

for meditation: Here Calvin brings together three mottos of the Reformation: faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone. For Christ’s sake, faith and grace are best of friends, not competitors. Gracious faith, then, embraces Christ the way a ring embraces its diamond, as Luther put it. Faith gets all its value from its object, Jesus Christ. Even if your faith is as weak as a single strand of a spider’s web, if that strand is attached to the rock, Christ Jesus, your salvation is absolutely secure. If you are a believer, meditate humbly on your security in Christ today.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 366). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

12 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Accepted into the Family of God

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:14

suggested further reading: Ruth 4

By faith we receive the promise of the Spirit and become united to the Lord Jesus Christ. We also become part of the spiritual seed of Abraham. Though we do not physically descend from his family, it is enough that we are united together with him by faith.

Indeed, we have been regenerated by incorruptible seed, as Peter says, by the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). Having been transformed, we understand that God accepts us as part of the body of his only Son. Though of Gentile descent, we can still be joined to his church, since faith is all that is required.

Here, all pride in human virtues and merits must cease, and people must recognize that they shall be utterly confounded unless they seek God in the way that he has appointed. Let Jesus Christ be sufficient, since our salvation depends entirely upon him. We will lack nothing if we have an interest in him. This is the point to which Paul frequently returns in this book. Furthermore, he wants us to hold fast to God’s truth, knowing that it does not allow any additions. Were we to add to it, we would corrupt, pervert, and falsify the covenant upon which our salvation depends.

Having embraced our Lord Jesus Christ, we must fully remain dependent on him, because this one man has sufficient grace for us all. In him, we can boldly call upon God, knowing that though we descend from the accursed race of Adam, we nevertheless receive blessing in Jesus Christ, and God now accepts us as his children and freely adopts us. He wants this message to be heard throughout the world since there is now an open door and free access by which we may draw near to him.

for meditation: Calvin presents us here with a wonderful confirmation of how the Reformers emphasized solus Christus (“Christ alone”) for salvation. Does your mind and heart resonate with the Christ-centeredness of his approach? What a blessing and what a relief it is for poor sinners like us to find all our salvation in Jesus Christ! Thank God today for his “unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15), our Emmanuel.[1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 365). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

11 DECEMBER 365 Days with Calvin

Becoming a Curse to Bless Us

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Galatians 3:13

suggested further reading: Philippians 2:5–11

Two facts must be carefully held together; that God has said whoever hangs upon a tree is cursed, and that it was his will for his own Son to suffer thus. It may seem harsh and strange at first sight that the Lord of Glory, who has all sovereign authority and before whom all the angels of heaven tremble and prostrate themselves, should be subject to such a curse.

But we must remember that Paul said gospel teaching is foolishness to the human race, who regard themselves as wise (1 Cor. 1:18, 23). Indeed, in this way God humbles us for our folly. For there is enough wise and good instruction (if we care to heed it) in the heaven and earth around us, yet we are blind and shut our eyes to God’s wisdom displayed in nature. This is why he has opened up a new way to draw us to himself through something that we deem foolish! So we must not judge by our human reasoning what we read here concerning the curse to which the Son of God was subject.

Instead, we should delight in such mystery and give glory to God that he loved our souls so much that he redeemed them at such inestimable cost to himself. Indeed, may we all glorify God, for our Lord Jesus Christ refused to consider it robbery (as Paul expresses it) to reveal himself thus in his infinite glory (Phil. 2:6). He willingly emptied himself, not only taking upon himself a human nature and becoming a man, but also submitting to a most shameful death in the sight of both God and man.

How precious we must have been to him for experiencing such extreme suffering for our redemption! If we could taste something of what this implies, we would forever magnify his unspeakable grace which surpasses all human understanding.

for meditation: The great cost of redemption should never cease to bring us to our knees. That Christ was willing to bear the sins of the world and to die such a shameful and accursed death for sinners like us is shocking and glorious and humbling. We did not deserve such sacrifice, yet God did it out of sheer love and grace. What a glorious truth to meditate on throughout today![1]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 364). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.