Previous · Home · Next

Tough and Tender

Jerry Bridges on Calvin on carnality vs. holiness, and personal discipline vs. charity towards others:

img   For Calvin, there is no such thing as the so-called “carnal Christian.” Rather, he writes, “The apostle denies that anyone actually knows Christ who has not learned to put off the old man, corrupt with deceitful lusts, and to put on Christ.” [Calvin, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, 20.] And again, “[The gospel] will be unprofitable if it does not change our heart, pervade our manners, and transform us into new creatures.” [Ibid., 21.] He continues: “Perfection must be the final mark at which we aim, and the goal for which we strive. It is not lawful for you to make a compromise with God, to try to fulfill part of your duties and to omit others at your own pleasure.” [Ibid., 22.]
   At the same time, Calvin guards against setting too high a standard for other believers. He writes, “We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however much we may strive for it ourselves.” [Ibid., 21.] To use a contemporary expression, we should be tough on ourselves and tender with others. Unfortunately, the opposite is too often true. We expect a lot from others while excusing ourselves.
   While urgently pressing the importance of our diligent pursuit of holiness, Calvin is realistic about our meager attainments. He acknowledges that the vast majority of Christians make only slight progress. But this is not to excuse us. Rather, he writes, “Let us not cease to do the utmost; that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the smallness of our accomplishment.” [Ibid., 23.]

—Jerry Bridges, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, ed. Burk Parsons (Reformation Trust, 2008), 223.

TrackBack URL:
Share this post: Twitter Buffer Facebook Email Print
Posted  in: Church History · Jerry Bridges · John Calvin · John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology
Link · 0 TrackBacks
← Previous · Home · Next →

RSS Twitter Facebook Kindle



Comments on this post are closed. If you have a question or comment concerning this post, feel free to email us.