Excerpts from John Calvin’s Golden Book of the True Christian Life


Holiness is the key principle:

John Calvin

When we hear any mention of our mystical union with Christ, we should remember that holiness is the channel to do it.

Holiness is not a merit by which we can attain communion with God, but a gift of Christ, which enables us to cling to him, and to follow him.  – 17

Unless we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ’s righteousness we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure him as our Savior.  – 19

…since God has revealed himself as a Father, we would be guilty of the basest ingratitude if we did not behave as his children.  – 19

External Christianity is not enough:

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.  – 20

Spiritual progress is necessary:

We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however we may strive for it ourselves.

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.  – 22

No one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength of his own to press forward with a due degree of watchfulness, and the great majority [of Christians] are kept down with such great weakness that they stagger and halt and even creep on the ground, and so make very slight advances.  – 22

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.  – 23

The one condition for spiritual progress is that we remain sincere and humble. – 23

“No one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength of his own…”

It is a very important consideration that we are consecrated and dedicated to God; it means that we may think, speak, meditate, or do anything only with a view to his glory. – 26

Pagan philosophers set up reason as the sole guide of life, of wisdom and conduct; but Christian philosophy demands of us that we surrender our reason to the Holy Spirit; and this means that we no longer live for ourselves, but that Christ lives and reigns within us (Rom 12:1; Eph 4:23; Gal 2:20).  – 27

Indeed, a Christian ought to be disposed and prepared to keep in mind that he has to reckon with God every moment of his life. – 28

The denial of ourselves which Christ has so diligently commanded his disciples from the beginning will at last dominate all the desires of our heart. – 28

There is deliverance in store only for the man who gives up his selfishness, and whose sole aim is to please the Lord and to do what is right in his sight. – 29

True humility means respect for others:

If God has bestowed on us any excellent gift, we imagine it to be our own achievement; and we swell and even burst with pride.

Calvin’s “Institutes” which contain “The Golden Book”

The vices of which we are full we carefully hide from others, and we flatter ourselves with the notion that they are small and trivial; we sometimes even embrace them as virtues.

Hatred grows into insolence when we desire to excel the rest of mankind and imagine we do not belong to the common lot; we even severely and haughtily despise others as our inferiors.

The poor yield to the rich, the common people to the upper ten, the servants to their masters, the ignorant to the scholars; but there is nobody who does not imagine that he is really better than others.

Everyone flatters himself and carries a kingdom in his breast.

We should never insult others on account of their faults, for it is our duty to show charity and respect to everyone.  – 33

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3 Responses to Excerpts from John Calvin’s Golden Book of the True Christian Life

  1. Mirlaine says:

    I want to finish my thguhot here. If God treated us fairly Jesus would have never died on the cross. and we would have never been offered salvation. I praise God that He loves me, He never fails me and He goes to plan B and on. Look ho w He blessed Israel, they sinned and went away from God countless times, but He was faithful and loved them any way. Romans 5:8 But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were sinners Christ died for us. Praise be to God!

  2. joe caporale says:

    I only wish I had read this book earlier in my Christian Life , however Providence would have it that I may learn from these writings now as I pray over what Im reading for God’s Grace to apply to my life and all believers.
    There are many lessons for all true believers to learn from the wisdom and council John Calvin has imparted to us who by God’s gracious hand has preserved for His people to read and contimplate. Thanks be to Him that loves His own.

  3. john smed says:

    I find more wisdom in this little edited version of the Golden Booklet than many other books. Plain simple and truthful spiritual counsel is strong but needed medicine. Not intending it, I kept ‘lent’ this year as the Lord brought me under conviction. An attitude of indulgence hid under the pretext of liberty. The Golden Booklet helped a great deal. A thoughtful reading once a year is a great help. The scripture passages I meditated on “Set yourself an example of speech life love and purity…pay heed to your life and doctrine… in doing so you will save yourself and your hearers.” also the reminder “Love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness self control” Peace

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