by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. —Zechariah 13:9
After the greater part, both of the world and of the Church (at least such as profess to belong to it) shall be destroyed, we cannot be retained in our position, except God often chastises us.
Let us then remember what Paul says, that we are chastened by the Lord that we may not perish with the world; and the metaphors which the Prophet adopts here are to the same purpose; for he says, "I will lead them through the fire." He speaks here of the faithful whom God has chosen unto salvation, and whom he has reserved that they might continue safe; yet he says that they shall be saved through fire, that is, hard trials.
But he sets forth this still more clearly, "He will prove them," he says, "as silver and gold." The stubble and the chaff, as John the Baptist teaches us, are indeed cast into the fire (Matt. 3:12), but without any benefit; for the fire consumes the refuse and the chaff, and whatever is corruptible.
But when the gold and the silver are put in the fire and are purified, it is done that greater purity may be produced, and also that what is precious in these metals may become more apparent. For when the silver is drawn out of the mine, it differs not much from what is earthly. The same is the case with gold. But the furnace so purifies the gold and silver from their dross that they attain their value and excellency.
Hence Zechariah says that when God casts his faithful people into the fire, he does this according to his paternal purpose in order to bum out their dross and thus they become gold and silver who were before filthy and abominable, and in whom much dross abounded. We see then that the elect of God, even those who may be rightly counted his children, are here distinguished from the reprobate, however they may profess God's name and worship. —Commentaries
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.