LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, April 10, 2008

John Calvin the Soulwinner

Recently I was asked to write a review of the Banner of Truth's recent release of the Sermons of John Calvin on the first seven chapters of the Book of Acts. Although the series is incomplete because many sermons are missing, yet there are no less than 44 sermons in this volume. I am trying to read one a day and if so, I have enough reading for around 6 glorious weeks.
In one of his sermons on the deacons in Acts 6 (of all places!) I picked up the following gems to show that John Calvin had his eye on the ball when it came to evangelising the lost. Those who take it upon themselves to say that he had no passion for lost souls (to borrow Scripture) understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. Here are a few excerpts - tit bits really - of what he urged upon his hearers in August 155o.
"Now there is nothing in this world to be desired more than to see the church grow and have an infinite number of believers." (p318) ... "In this passage we see that in the church, where there were still apostles, dissatisfaction had arisen because the numbers had grown. That does not mean we must not do everything we possibly can to draw people to God." (p318) ... "So even though we have tumult and toil, let us do as we are commanded and work to win the whole world to God and bring it in obedience unto him." (p318) ... "Therefore we must do as much [as the unswerving apostles] and desire especially that the gospel be extended and increased throughout the whole world." (p319) ... "Now we know that God prizes nothing above his honour, which lies mainly in men's knowing him and poor souls' being brought to salvation. So let us not be surprised if our Lord wants his gospel to be proclaimed with such diligence that nothing can hinder its course. For the only way men can come to salvation is through instruction in what the Bible teaches. Now since this is God's will, let us follow it." (P325) ... "It is very important for us to be aware that the more we understand how difficult it is to get everybody to acknowledge God as they should and how difficult it is to bring about the preaching of the gospel, the more we must be encouraged to pray that God will be pleased to give his word power..." (P325) ..."Let that then stir us and prod us to be even more diligent. For this is no small matter. First, we must proclaim God's word faithfully without adding anything of our own to it. We must have zeal and burning desire that everyone be brought to the knowledge of God for his forgiveness and for salvation." (p327)
What can we say to this great Evangelist and Soul winner, but "Amen! "


Blogger Daniel said...

That sounds like it is going to be a very good reading exercise. ;)

April 10, 2008 3:11 PM

Blogger donsands said...

All the saints of God, who understand the love and grace of the Lord that saved them, must have a burning coal in their heart for the lost.

It truly is one of the evidences that we are born from above.

And though we may not be a George Whitefield, or a George Verwer, our hearts should be overtaken with joy when we see how the Lord of the harvest used such men for His kingdom.

Thanks for sharing that from John Calvin. Many do think he was weak on evangelism. They just don't know do they.

April 10, 2008 3:17 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...


I'm so glad to see this post, and Calvin's desire to see the lost hear the gospel. Too bad the nonCals don't pay much attention to these things. I guess that makes it easier to hate that which you do not want to understand.

April 11, 2008 11:10 AM

Blogger Daniel said...

I think Calvin gets an unfair rap, not because people are unwilling to learn, but because they know themselves to be sincere in their faith, and in their desire to examine the truth fairly and even handedly - and because they know this about themselves they presume that while it is remotely possible for them to be deceived - it is very, very unlikely.

So when they overlook an obvious thing, it isn't necessarily because of hatred, malice, or a desire to be ignorant - rather it is because they presume that since they are sincere, they are necessarily right, and being right they have no real reason to examine what they consider to be "wrong".

To put it mildly, they presume that because they are sincere they are right, and having concluded that they are right - they further conclude that it is a waste of time examining anything that doesn't high-five their own presumed opinion.

Notwithstanding, some people are willing to examine the surface, but never go deeper than that - they never evaluate their own foundation.

How few of us are willing to re-examine the gospel that saved us? If the gospel I heard included an emotional plea, such as "Jesus died to save -you-!" and the Holy Spirit used the emotion I felt to open my heart and receive the truth, I would no doubt conclude that what moved me is essential to the gospel - is essential to my faith. I would thereafter be inclined to present to others the same version of the gospel as saved me - the one where I tell the sinner that "Jesus died for them personally" - and I would build my theology around that - Jesus must have died for everyone, otherwise I couldn't share the gospel with anyone - since I have irrevocably linked the gospel itself to the idea that Jesus died for me personally.

From there on in, I would interpret scripture according to my presumptions, and I would be blind because of them - regardless of how sincere I was.

I think therefore that many who imagine that Calvin was not a soul winner, etc., though confused and ignorant, remain so because they they interpret the bible through their own experience, rather than their experience through the bible.

I could be wrong, but I think that is one possible reason for it - there are probably others, or combinations of other reasons.

April 11, 2008 2:12 PM



I think a lot of the problem lies in the fact that people just parrot what they hear others saying. We have a saying over here (maybe it is over there as well) that goes like this: Give a dog a bad name...


April 11, 2008 4:09 PM

Blogger Daniel said...

Colin, I think that is very true also.

April 11, 2008 9:04 PM


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