by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. —Romans 8:36, 37
It is certainly true that the whole family of believers, as long as they dwell on the earth, must be "accounted as sheep for the slaughter," that they may be conformed to Christ their Head. Their state, therefore, would be extremely deplorable, if they did not elevate their thoughts towards heaven, rise above all earthly things, and look beyond present appearances.
On the contrary, when they have once raised their heads above this world, although they see the impious flourishing in riches and honors, and enjoying the most profound tranquillity; though they see them boasting of their splendor and luxury, and behold them abounding in every delight; though they may also be harassed by their wickedness, insulted by their pride, defrauded by their avarice, and may receive from them any other lawless provocations—yet they will find no difficulty in supporting themselves even under such calamities as these.
For they will keep in view that day when the Lord will receive his faithful servants into his peaceful kingdom; will wipe every tear from their eyes, invest them with robes of joy, adorn them with crowns of glory, entertain them with his incomparable delights, exalt them to fellowship with his majesty, and, in a word, honor them with a participation of his happiness.
But the impious, who have been great in this world, he will cast down to the lowest disgrace; he will change their delights into torments, and their laughter and mirth into weeping and gnashing of teeth; he will disturb their tranquillity with dreadful agonies of conscience, and will punish their delicacy with inextinguishable fire, and even put them in subjection to the pious, whose patience they have abused. For, according to Paul, "it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble" the saints, "and to them who are troubled, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven."
This is our holy consolation; and deprived of this, we must of necessity either sink into despondency of mind, or solace ourselves to our own destruction with the vain pleasures of the world. For even the Psalmist confesses that he staggered when he was too much engaged in contemplating the present prosperity of the impious; and that he could not otherwise establish himself, till he entered the sanctuary of God, and directed his views to the last end of the godly and of the wicked.
To conclude in one word, the cross of Christ triumphs, in the hearts of believers, over the devil and the flesh, over sin and impious men, only when their eyes are directed to the power of the resurrection. —Institutes, III, ix, vi
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.