Posted by George Morrison

The 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth on Friday has added to the recent focus there has been on the teachings that bear his name. His theological writings, especially his seminal work “Institutes of the Christian Religion” have majorly impacted on the course of church history to this day. Calvin’s thought exerted considerable influence over the other religious figures of the Reformation and even entire religious movements, such as Puritanism. His ideas have been cited as contributing to the rise of capitalism, individualism, and representative democracy in the West. His teaching on the sovereignty of God in Creation have found general acceptance, with the exception of some intellectuals who would deny the God who made them, but it’s his teaching on Redemption which has created the most controversy. Anyone who taught the salvation comes through faith alone in Jesus and not through anything we do directly attacks the pride of man and produces a negative reaction bearing out the text that says “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Calvin maintained that God’s actions were free and that his grace (meaning God giving us what we do not deserve) was included in the freedom. The implication of free grace is that our destiny is in God’s hands. He is the one who decides who will be saved and that is a decision which God need not make in any single case. When we sing “It’s all about you Jesus” you’re on the road of saying it’s not about your actions, your choosing, your resolve. Instead our faith needs to be centred on Jesus death, his bearing of sin and his resurrection demonstrating that the new way to God is now open through him. If you are not staggered by the grace of God, is it because you have lost sight of it or never fully grasped where you would be without it? If this is so perhaps you should pray along these lines: – Lord, you freely choose, at great cost to yourself, to show mercy and grace to every repentant sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, be merciful to me, a sinner.