Wednesday, March 30, 2016

21 The True Nature of Christian Freedom

Calvin considered the basis of Christian freedom to be justification by faith.  The believer is no longer under the curse of the law.  Instead, believers have been justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Christian freedom consists of three parts: 1) righteousness cannot be found in the law, but only through Jesus Christ;
2) believers voluntarily obey the law; 
3) the knowledge that believers are freed from the bondage of “things indifferent,” adiaphora (matters not regarded as essential to faith, leaving the believer to do as he likes with regards to these matters).  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

3.16-17 Calvin's Institutes: What Incentives Are There To Do Good Works?

From Lane Chapter 20 by Claire Brettell      

            Although the gaining of merit by works toward justification are not tolerated by Calvin, he suggests that faith and works are encouraged and strengthened by the transformation which comes through justification. Adding, "For we dream neither of a faith devoid of good works nor of a justification that stands without them… faith and good works must cleave together" (3.16.1, page 798). And so, from this the incentive becomes a response and therefore part of justification, but not merit toward it. 

            Calvin reminds us that through our faith, we hold on to the mercy of God in Christ, and that it is through this freedom then, that we respond and see our primary incentive to do good works as reflected in Matthew 5:16, 'that God may be glorified in us' (3.16.3 page 800 & 3.17.1 page 804). Which shares our incentive, once again as more of a response than anything else.

            With the use of scriptural passages Calvin reinforces his stance of a believer's freedom from sin, and the presence of a holy calling which lead us to "love one another as God has loved us" (I John 4:11). Shares a believer's motive to do good works as a response to the example of Christ to us (3.16.2, page 800).  And because a believer's good works are an example of Christ's free gift, they can also be seen as a gift to "him who first loved us" (I John 4:19), the incentive to do good works, as I see Calvin sharing, then becomes an offering.  Similarly, as one freely worships and freely loves God, one also freely serves God, the incentive being simply a freely given response to all that is freely given in and through Christ (3.16.2, page 799).


            Our assurance of being acceptable to God is solely due to the forgiveness of our sin through Christ Jesus. That is we are justified by faith, and it is in this same way that Christ also covers our works, making them good, acceptable and pleasing to God (3.17.3, page 805).  Later, Calvin shares that not only are the justified deemed righteous, but also their works which become "righteous above their worth" (3.17.9). This action is described as 'double justification' and provides a way for us to respond to the cleansing of our consciences through Christ's blood so that we might serve God, as shared in Hebrews 9:14 (3.16.2 page 799). And so, the incentive is as a response but also as a way to serve God.  Calvin also reminds us that as the children of God we are pleasing and loveable to him, since we gain the 'marks and features of his own countenance' (3.17.5, page 807).

And as such we might also take on the holy motivations of God, and so I think too, that our incentives might also become holy and this would explain why they are not so easily described.

            Now, because our good works are not merited to us toward justification we cannot be assured of our salvation by our good works, and the value of our good works is reflective only of who God is in them, what can possibly be our incentive to do good works? Other than simply a grateful response? What thoughts would you share with the group?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

17 The Christian Life: Self-Denial

The summary point of Lane’s chapter 17 guided tour of the Calvin’s Institutes this week is summed up as:  I do not insist that the moral life of a Christian man breath nothing but the very Gospel, yet this ought to be desired, and we must strive toward it (Institutes 3.6.5, first sentence).  I take away from this sentence that we should all strive to be like Jesus, however there is more to the story.  If our efforts on earth are towards God and heaven, we almost have to deny our own efforts.  Calvin tells us that we are stewards of our blessings.  I thought one of the most interesting aspects of this week was reading that all are blessings are to be used so that we may bless another.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Chapter 18a (3.8.1-7): What do we need to bear our Cross

Image result for Jesus bearing our cross
 Jesus said to his disciples, “whomever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16: 24).

Calvin begins the discussion of why we need to bear our cross, by setting the standard for the “godly minded” to the same standard as for Christ’s disciples. The standards include, tests and tribulations which, is prepared for the children of God.

Calvin affirms that it is the heavenly Father’s will to put his own children to a test. “Beginning with Christ, his first born, He follows this plan with all his children” (Institutes, 3.8.1). Therefore Jesus Christ bore the cross while on earth at the Father’s behest. The Apostle Paul wrote, “That it behooved him to learn obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5: 8).

Christ by his example of submission to obedience for our sake takes the lead such that we have no choice but to follow this lead. It is therefore part Apostle Paul’s teachings that we are destined to conform to Christ. Calvin supports Apostle Paul that suffering, difficulty, and harsh conditions be our portion but in bearing our cross, “a great comfort comes to us; we share Christ’s suffering in order that as he has passed from a labyrinths of all evils into heavenly glory, we may in like manner be led through various tribulations to the same glory” (Institutes, 3.8.1).

Calvin wants to know how such bitterness and suffering of the cross strengthen our fellowship with Christ. He is of the opinion that “by communion with him the very suffering themselves not only become blessed to us but also help much in promoting our salvation” (Institutes, 3.8.1).

Accordingly, Calvin writes that “the cross leads us to perfect trust in God’s power” (Institutes 3.8.2), for which reason we must continually be under the cross. We are inclined to depend on our weak nature and attribute whatever happens to our nature and confidently and proudly rely on it as if our powers are sufficient without God’s grace. For this Calvin teaches that God can prove our incapacity and frailty by afflicting us with disgrace, or poverty or other calamities that we learn to depend on the power of God.

In bearing the cross, God provides the necessary assistance that He has promised which Apostle Paul teaches – in which our hope is strengthened. It is in this that the “goodies,” are to be expected for the cross also teaches us to rest upon God alone with the result that we do not faint or yield and you may persevere unconquered to the end.

Another purpose of bearing the cross, according to Calvin is, “to test our patience and instruct us to obedience,” (Institutes 3.8.3). For this God tried Abraham and he did not refuse to sacrifice his only son” (Genesis 22: 1, 12). Peter also teaches that our faith is proved by tribulations as gold is tested in a fiery furnace.

To Calvin, the Cross is a medicine. Calvin stresses the importance of obedience by considering also what he calls “the great wanton impulse on our flesh to shake off God’s yoke if we for a moment softly and indulgently treat that impulse” (Institutes, 3.8.5). That we tend to ignore God’s goodness and rather get ourselves corrupted all the time without discipline. But God sees this and restrains us with the cross.

Finally, in the suffering salvation is achieved as an honor from God. Calvin states that “not only they who labor for the defense of the gospel but they who in anyway maintain the cause of righteousness suffer persecution for righteousness” (Institutes, 3.8.7). Calvin advices that we should not grief when we devote our efforts to God, when we find ourselves in difficulties for God’s sake because in such matters God declares us blessed.

Calvin mentions Jesus Christ the first Son of God and Abraham in the light of suffering and obedience for us to emulate. What is suffering today, and how do we find obedience in such suffering?

Chapter 19: Justification by Faith

What is Justification? Why must it be by Faith Alone?

(3.11.1)  “Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith.  By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a judge a gracious father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life”  

'The End', or so you would think. 
Turns out, Calvin has a much more to say on Justification because humanity is just too dumb, too deaf, too arrogant, to faithless, and too influenced by Roman teaching to understand this simple concept.

(3.11.2)  “Therefore, we explain justification simply as the acceptance of with which God receives us in his favor as righteous men (people).  And we say that it consist in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” 

Right!  God says, “Because you have faith, it’s all good.”   But Calvin continues...

(3.11.3)  “Therefore, “to justify” means nothing else than to acquit of guilt on him who was accused, as if his innocence were confirmed.”  

By now, I hope you are seeing a pattern here.  

In days past, I’ve had conversations like this in a bar at 1 am, dude talking, and saying the same thing over and over.  I doubt Calvin was high at the time, but he is writing in great detail so that there is no misunderstanding.  Calvin considers every possible argument and the way people might approach this concept.  There is NOTHING we can to do merit favor with God.   

From 3.11.5 - 15 Calvin sets straight someone known as Osiander who didn’t understand the simple and beautiful concept of God’s grace to us through Jesus Christ. Now as simple as this concept is, wouldn’t you know, we still find a way to mess it up with pride.  Calvin takes up this error by writing about humility

(3.12.5) Away with all Self-admiration!  “In order that we may rightly examine ourselves, our consciences must necessarily be called into God’s judgement seat.  For there is need to strip entirely bare in its light the secret places of our depravity”  God gives to us a clean slate by faith alone and ‘some people’ get all haughty thinking they are now ‘Holier than Thou.’ 

Watch it, Calvin warns.

(3.12.8) “For we will never have enough confidence in him unless we become deeply distrustful of ourselves; we will never lift up our hearts enough in him unless they be previously cast down in us; we will never have consolation enough in him unless we have already experience desolation in ourselves.”

I believe what Calvin is trying to say is, “Tim dig yourself brother.  Just because God’s grace is promised to you through faith in Christ and you are justified in God’s eyes, that don’t give you any excuse to go acting like a fool and messing around in those things you used to be messing around in.”  (Calvin speaks to me that way sometimes).

Now in (3.14.1) Calvin lays four classifications of men, (people) who are in the process of Justification:  1. Endowed with no knowledge of God and immersed in idolatry, or 2. Initiated into sacraments, yet by impurity of life denying God in their actions while they confess him with their lips, they belong to Christ only in name; or 3. They are hypocrites who conceal with empty pretenses their wickedness of heart, or 4. Regenerated by God’s spirit, they make true holiness their concern.

You all are in category #4 right?  Amen? 
If you can’t say Amen, you better say ‘Ouch!’

The last two sections of this chapter (3.14.3-4) deal with what Calvin calls the ungodly.  Those without Christ and it’s pretty harsh, they’re doomed.  I wonder what Calvin would have thought and said had he lived to know of the ‘new world’.  Millions of soul lost because they were born and died on a distant continent.  If Calvin had continued to hold this theology, I think I would have told him that he was a fool and knew nothing of the Grace of God.  (I talk to Calvin that way sometimes)

What would you say?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lane chapter 18b

Institutes (3.9-10)


How should we regard this life and the next?


Calvin and the scriptures provide this answer:  life on earth is temporal.  All is “vanity under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes)  Even those who find themselves content due to wealth and happiness “can be sufficiently awakened to the evil surrounding us, be awakened to weigh the misery of this life.  Our minds must be aroused to sufficiently see that the many allurements which provide the pleasantries, the many blessings, and the sweetness need to be viewed with contempt for this life to seriously desire to ponder the life to come.” (Institutes, p. 713)


Regardless of the wealth or poverty, extreme joy or misery one may find living in this world, it must be viewed as a temporal world and seen and accepted for what it is.  With the realization that all is “vanity under the sun” (Ecclesiastes) we should be able to hold this life in contempt and strive for the ultimate goal of “good” within our hearts and meditate upon the life to come.  As Dr. Matt said in the podcast, “This life is our ‘childhood’, whether we have a good ‘nannie’ or a bad one.”  This life flows in different directions for each person.  It has been my privilege to have seen and spent time with people in extreme poverty and also people of great wealth.  Both sectors struggle with their own spirituality.  Having traveled to Haiti many times working in my construction field to build churches and schools, I have worshiped with people of a society that has little but continued misery for a future in this world.  However, I have never seen people who do have so little, yet have so much faith and spirituality.  It seems to me that those who have the least to be happy about often provide the most fervent praise to God.  Haiti is a classic example of less is more.  The less they have, the more they worship, and praise God for what they do have.  The life that requires meeting challenges and having more to overcome seems to bring with it a greater appreciation for the glory of the heavenly kingdom.  It provides a natural desire to mediate on the life that is yet to come.  The poverty motivates the people of Haiti with a stronger desire to worship God, as opposed to the lack of motivation often seen in the wealthy in this country.  It is not unusual for worship services in Haiti to last three hours; many folks in my congregation are complaining if the service runs over fifteen minutes!  Whether you are living in wealth and comfort or poverty and misery, this world should be seen and accepted as a germination period for the heart for salvation.


With regard to life after death the answer is ‘eternality.’  When believers leave this world with the power of the resurrection in their hearts, they know that the cross of Christ will carry them to triumph over all evil.  They will know peace unspeakable that surpasses all understanding and experience all the inheritance of being a child of God.  The fullness of God’s glory will be theirs.  Calvin addresses the fear of death in this powerful statement:  “But monstrous it is that many who boast themselves Christians are gripped by such a great fear of death, rather than a desire for it, that they tremble at the least mention of it, as of something utterly dire and disastrous.” (Institutes 3.9.5)


The personal pain of losing a very close friend less than a year ago comes back to me as I write this.  We were friends for over fifty years.  He was a wealthy person with multiple houses and ‘toys’ in Hawaii and Florida.  We shared many adventures traveling around the world together.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer and was absolutely terrified about dying.  He did not know Jesus.  One of the things he kept saying was “I have too much to live for.”  Yet he had no family, never married, had few friends – he was strictly referring to material things.  I never could get him to stop looking at what he was leaving and look at where he could be going.  Without Jesus death becomes the enemy.


My question is:  Do you think wealth or poverty is more advantageous to seeking the Kingdom of Heaven

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Does God Need a New Marketing Manager?

Wild Card
By Laurie Haas

“Of the 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth) or declining.” ( We have 1/3 fewer churches today than in 1950 and 4,000 churches close their doors every single year. After reading about the Christian life in Chapters 6-10 of Book III of Calvin’s Institutes this week, one can perhaps understand why this is happening.

The first stumbling block for Americans is self-denial. The American dream is built on achieving success and prosperity by one’s own efforts of hard work, initiative and achievement. People flooded to America to improve on their individual life. It’s no surprise that today’s culture of entitlement and “self-made” people dominate the headlines. Juxtapose this against the church’s call to self-denial. “‘A world of vices is hidden in the soul of man.’ And you can find no other remedy than in denying yourself and giving up concern for yourself, and in turning your mind wholly to seek after those things which the Lord requires of you, and to seek them only because they are pleasing to him.” (Institutes, p. 692)

Not only are we to deny ourselves, but also in humility consider others better than we are. From this place of humility, we are to give God credit for all of our gifts and then give our gifts away to those in need. This is to be done from a place of love. Calvin writes in 3.7.5 “we are taught that all the gifts we posses have been bestowed by God and entrusted to us on condition that they be distributed for our neighbors’ benefit [cf. I Peter 4:10].” (p. 695) The blow is softened if we can indeed see the face of God in the neighbor we are trying to generously love.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wild Card 14-16: Calvin, Modern skepticism and Big-time Doubt

           I was particularly captivated by Lane Chapter 15 on Saving Faith, so most of my Wild Card discussion pertains to this section of the book. As I dove into reading this, I thought about the sixteenth-century reader who undoubtedly has ideas about faith and at least if atheism did exist, it was a rare and distant idea.  What struck me was how readily Calvin identified doubt but how much confidence he placed into faith and that God’s “promise of grace” can be a place where the “heart of man can rest.” (3.1.7)  He defined faith then as “a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed, to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy spirit.”  (3.1.7)  While Calvin continues to counter the other definitions or ideas regarding faith, he nevertheless is living in an age of faith where truth is still embodied in faith, even if theologians disagreed as to the nature of that faith. But, what about the modern age when truth, for many, is not necessarily defined by faith but perhaps by unbelief.  How does a modern reader understand Calvin in this context?  And how might we as pastors help the modern non-believer find truth in faith? 
            Calvin does treat those lacking belief briefly in his Institutes, but he looks at them as the non-believers and really keeps them out of his discussion other than to note that they are “no better than the devils” and even more “they stupidly listen to and understand things the knowledge of which makes even the devils shudder.” (3.1.10) While in the sixteenth-century it is perhaps easy to write them off, what about the wide-acceptance of unbelief as the cornerstone of truth?  In a way, it seems as if Calvin would have us write-off these people as hopeless and unnecessary for the church, yet as unbelief becomes the basis for truth in the modern world will the church die? (Stanley Hauerwas might have us think so)  In the sixteenth-century, this was such a small group of people that the theologians could write them off, but it was still an age of faith.  What about today when non-belief is an accepted societal truth? Or in other words, there is a visible atheist presence.   While I do believe that “faith will ultimately triumph over those difficulties which besiege and seem to imperil it,”  (3.2.18), I think it is harder to find faith to those not introduced to the church or to those confident in modern rationalism.  As Calvin notes our own “ignorance is an obstacle and a hindrance” to faith, and if people aren’t experiencing the “hope of the faithful, their ignorance will stifle them.”  So, Calvin can't account for those who today who live growing non-Christian reality, but certainly their "ignorance" is a disheartening commentary  on  the modern world.   (Perhaps this is our very urgent call friends).  
           This question arises from my discussion:  How do we as heirs of Calvin help the modern non-believer find truth in faith and not lose heart in their disbelief?   This is prompted by two experiences of my own in response to my own doubt.  1.  From a Methodist minister and college chaplain:  “You can pretend you believe and still enjoy the community of the church.  I actually don’t believe any of it myself.”  Or 2.  (Presbyterian minister) “If you doubt, then you aren’t saved by God, so don’t doubt.”

Christy Dempsey

Monday, March 7, 2016

14: “Who do you say that I am” a summary of the roles and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ

The question of the roles and even the identity of Jesus has long been a part of our Christian heritage and even the history of the world. Some people see Jesus as merely a good teacher while others see Jesus as the savior for those who believe in Him. These questions are central to the Christian faith. Jesus himself first prompts the question in Matthew 16:13-20 when he asks his disciples “who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

16. Regeneration and Repentance

This section of Lane/Calvin's Institutes (3.3 - 3.5) is all about the gritty details of repentance. Lane puts forth the question "What is repentance?" This question could be answered in many ways. We might say that it is feeling sorry for our sins. But this would not be strictly be true. We might feel sorry about a particular sin because the sin might have bad worldly consequences for us. We might also conjecture that asking forgiveness for our sins is repentance. But, of course, we can all see the problem here. The request may just be a hollow mouthing of words to avoid the consequences of a sinful act. The seeds of the answer to this question actually lie in Lane's second question.

"How does repentance relate to faith and to forgiveness?" As Calvin explains (3.3.1), "Now, both repentance and forgiveness of sins--that is, newness of life and free reconciliation--are conferred on us by Christ, and both are attained by us through faith." So, Calvin explicitly states here that repentance is the equivalent of newness of life. This is hardly an obvious equivalence. Not like x = x/1 but more like some scrawling calculus that has us believing that an infinite progression can approach some particular number (or limit) like 1/x approaches zero. It is not intuitive at first glance, but becomes inevitable under close examination.

So, just how is repentance equivalent to the newness of life? Well, we cannot be truly repentant unless we first have faith. In fact, it is our faith that prompts us repent in the first place. Now we know that it is sin that has put us out of a right relationship with God. It is to God we must be justified, and as Luther and Calvin and Paul, for that matter, have told us, we can only be justified by faith alone. Thus, it is only through faith, with the mediation of Jesus that we are forgiven. As Calvin points out, repentance and forgiveness, though two separate acts occur simultaneously. This is because a person who is truly repentant must already know that she/he "belongs to God" (3.3.2).

Wait, we are not to "newness of life" just yet. We still have to go through the process of mortification and vivification. Mortification occurs when the sinner comes to "truly hate and abhor sin". (3.3.3) In other words, the sinner dies to sin. Vivification occurs when the sinner "takes heart...recovers courage, and as it were, returns from death to life." Now we see how repentance = new life.

But there is more: repentance = sanctification. Since we die to sin, we become better people, "sanctified". But unfortunately, like our infinite approach to zero in the equation above, we never reach total sanctification. We may approach it, but we never get there.

Is this still relevant today? Undoubtedly, there is plenty of sin for which to seek repentance. Luckily, there is even more mercy and grace available from God. We just need a little faith.

There is a bit to more to Calvin's thoughts on repentance. There is a very interesting notion about what it has to do with the "image of God" and how we are made. My question is, do you see a connection there? What is it?



Sunday, March 6, 2016

15. Saving Faith

Sharon Rees

What is faith?

Calvin writes a beautiful Trinitarian definition of faith in the Institutes - "A firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit." (2.2.7) Father to Son to Holy Spirit to us. Calvin uses many images to describe how the Holy Spirit links us to faith. The Holy Spirit is like secret water that cleanses, a schoolteacher who brings Jesus' lessons to our minds, and an engraver with a seal for our hearts (2.1.1-2).

What is faith's object, and on what is faith based?

Just as the Holy Spirit and faith are inseparable, so, too, is the Word and faith. In Chapter 2, Section 6, Calvin explains that God gave us the Word in order to learn of God's will toward us. Calvin does not rein faith in so tightly as to be bound only to the Word, but without the Word, faith will surely fail. Calvin takes pains to emphasize that reading the Word must come from a conviction of its truth, and must go deeper than top-of-the-head knowledge that God exists.

Despite Calvin's propensity for describing the difficulties that face Christians, he has an incredibly light message regarding the way in which to seek God in faith through the Word. He advises against passages such as dashing babies against rocks, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those verses should be unpacked at a later point in the faith journey. Instead, we should concentrate on God's grace, benevolence, and mercy in the Bible.  God wants us to find and dwell in Christ.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Son of David

Jeff Davis

Jesus confronted who he was as the Messiah, but also regarding him coming from the line of David in Luke 20:41-44 (NIV), “Then Jesus said to them, Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: The Lord is to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  David calls him Lord, How then can he be his son?”  Throughout all of Jesus’s ministry he is noted as the Son of David by the people he encountered.  Being called the Son of David directly connects Jesus’s humanity and fulfilment of scripture at the same time.  Isaiah prophecies regarding this genealogy, 11:1-5 (NIV) “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” Jesus fulfilled many of these prophecies during his earthly ministry and he now continues to carry them out forever and ever.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

13. Wholly Human, Holy Divine

Wil Reinowski

Lane asks one very brief but very loaded question for these three chapters of the Institutes, “How does Calvin portray the person of Christ?” The short answer to this would be that Christ is both fully human and fully divine. His one being is a storehouse of qualities that can be attributed to his divine nature and his human nature. All of these qualities are at the same time separated and united in a paradox Calvin calls “the communicating of properties.” 

Calvin uses Chapter 12  of Book 2 to discuss three main reasons that God took on the person of Christ. The first reason he notes is that humanity is steeped in sin.  Calvin says that because each of us are so far gone and so unclean, we would never reach God without someone to mediate. The next reason Calvin gives that God took on the person of Christ is simply because God wanted to do it.  Calvin summarizes here that Christ is the total package, and that he contains at the same time God qualities and human qualities; he’ll list each of these qualities in the next chapter. While it is true that Christ had a threefold task - to blaze the path to eternal life, to show us how to live a life free from sin, and to save us from our own destruction - we should not be too prideful to think it was necessary for Christ to be born. This all happened because God wanted it to happen. The third reason is to teach us how to be obedient to God. The only way to counter disobedience is with obedience, and so Christ was a hundred percent obedient to God. 

Relation between the Hebrew Bible and New Testament

In chapter 12, Lane brings our attention to Calvin's recognition of the interplay between the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Throughout parts of chapter 9, 10, and 11 in Book Two in the Institutes, Calvin spends a decent amount of time walking the reader through what is similar about these two parts of the Bible and what is different. My summary of chapter 12 will both provide information as well as answer the question asked: what are the similarities and differences between the Old and New Testaments?

In Chapter 9 Calvin notes the importance of seeing Christ in both. He references the fact that there were signs shown all throughout the Hebrew Bible alluding to the coming Messiah and ties it to the revelation of Christ that is found in the Gospels. Calvin does define what he means by Gospel stating, “I confess, indeed, that inasmuch as the term Gospel is applied by Paul to the doctrine of faith (2 Tim. 4:10), it includes all the promises by which God reconciles men to himself, and which occur throughout the Law”.  One of the key aspects is the attention paid to the already/not yet tension that has to be held when speaking about seeing Christ in both; “Only there is this difference to be observed in the nature or quality of the promises, that the Gospel points with the finger to what the Law shadowed under types”.