by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. —Zechariah 1: 3
We must bear in mind that according to the common usage of Scripture, whenever God exhorts us to repentance, he does not regard what our capacity is, but demands what is justly his right.
Hence the Papists adopt what is absurd when they deduce the power of free-will from the command or exhortation to repent; God, they say, would not have commanded what is not in our power to do.
This is a foolish way of reasoning; for if everything which God requires were in our power, the grace of the Holy Spirit would be superfluous; it would not only be as they say a waiting-maid, but it would be wholly unnecessary; but if men need the aid of the Spirit, it follows that they cannot do what God requires of them.
But it seems strange that God should bid men to do more than what they can. It seems so indeed, I admit, when we form our judgment according to the common perception of the flesh; but when we understand these truths—that the law works wrath—that it increases sin—that it was given that transgression might be made more evident; then the false notion—that God requires nothing but what men can perform—comes to nothing.
But it is enough for us to know that God in exhorting us to repentance requires nothing but what nature dictates ought to be done by us. Since it is so, however short we are in the performance, it is not right to charge God with too much strictness, that he demands what is beyond our power. —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.