Calvin on Trusting the Love of God

In looking through the recently published new English translation of Calvin’s sermons on Luke’s infancy narratives, I came across this quote which connected with my previous posts on trusting the love of God despite our feelings or circumstances. This is another example of pastoral preaching, of which Calvin is a great example. He is known as a great intellect but his sermons show him to also be a true shepherd in tune with the struggles of his flock and the troubles of the soul. May we also be such shepherds.

“The word ‘knowledge’ thus arms us against such devilish errors. When God gives us proof of his fatherly love, he desires us to have full assurance, so that we are not left to murmur to ourselves, ‘I think . . . I assume . . . That’s how it seems to me . . .’ No, this is the judgment each of us must make: ‘God never disappoints those who look to him. So when my trust is firmly fixed on him, he will never let me down.’ In ourselves we are guilty creatures, condemned to perdition. But when God, by his word, calls us to himself, we rise so to speak from death to life, we emerge from hell and draw near to him, knowing that we do not come to him in vain.

Inevitably we will experience doubt and distress. In this world our faith can never be perfect. We must battle with our troubles which, like the waves of the sea, push us this way and that. Are we tempted to distrust God? Are we weak in the faith? Is our trust in God’s word less firm than it should be? We should not lose heart, but instead remember that, whatever happens, God will not fail us. That is what we must do when the devil seeks to unsettle us, when he reminds us of our sins and sorely tries us. We know that we cannot live free of distress. Angry winds will swirl around us. Yet we must always come back to this fixed point: since our Lord has spoken, let us simply accept what he has said, persuaded that he will fulfill all our hopes and much
more besides. His goodness goes far beyond all we can conceive or imagine.” 111-112
(John Calvin. Trans. by Robert White. Songs Of The Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2. Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008)

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