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

We should seek the good of other believers:

Scripture urges and warns us that whatever favors we may have obtained from the Lord, we have received them as a trust on condition that they should be applied to the common benefit of the church.  – 35

“You cannot imagine a more certain rule or a more powerful suggestion than this, that all the blessings we enjoy are divine deposits which we have received on this condition that we distribute them to others.”
– 35


Let this be our rule for goodwill and helpfulness, that whenever we are able to assist others we should behave as stewards who must someday give an account of ourselves. – 35

We should seek the good of everyone, friend and foe:

The Lord commands us to do good unto all men without exception, though the majority are very undeserving when judged according to their own merits. But scripture here helps us out with an excellent argument when it teaches us that we must not think of man’s real value, but only of his creation in the image of God to which we owe all possible honor and love. – 37

“man…is God’s image bearer”

If he has deserved no kindness, but just the opposite, because he has maddened you with his injuries and insults, even this is no reason why you should not surround him with your affection and show him all sorts of favors.  – 38

“We should forever keep in mind that we must not brood on the wickedness of man, but realize that he is God’s image bearer.”

If we cover and obliterate man’s faults and consider the beauty and dignity of God’s image in him, then we shall be induced to love and embrace him (Heb 12:16; Gal 6:10; Isa 58:7; Matt 5:44; Luke 17:3-4) – 38

There are people who are known to be very liberal, yet they never give without scolding or pride or even insolence.  – 39

No happiness without God’s blessing:

First of all, Scripture draws our attention to this, that if we want ease and tranquility in our

“…to pile up riches, to gather all those vanities…that is our furious passion…”

lives, we should resign ourselves and all that we have to the will of God, and at the same time we should surrender our affections to him as our Conqueror and Overlord. – 40

To crave wealth and honor, to demand power, to pile up riches, to gather all those vanities which seem to make for pomp and empty display, that is our furious passion and our unbounded desire.

On the other hand, we fear and abhor poverty, obscurity, and humility, and we seek to avoid them by all possible means. – 41

We should not be anxious to obtain riches and honors:

…it must be plain also that we should not anxiously strive for riches and honors by relying on our own diligence or cleverness or by depending on the favor of men or by trusting in the notion of good luck, but that we should always expect the Lord to direct us to the lot he has provided for us. – 42

Moreover, a true Christian will not ascribe any prosperity to his own diligence, industry, or good fortune, but he will acknowledge that God is the author of it. – 43

The Lord is just in all his ways:

“a faithful believer will in all circumstances mediate on the mercy and fatherly goodness of God”

No one has rightly denied himself unless he has wholly resigned himself to the Lord and is willing to leave every detail to his good pleasure.  If we put ourselves in such a frame of mind, then, whatever may happen to us, we shall never feel miserable or accuse God falsely because of our lot.  – 44

But a faithful believer will in all circumstances mediate on the mercy and fatherly goodness of God. – 45

In short, knowing that whatever may happen is ordained by the Lord, he will receive it with a peaceful and thankful heart, that he may not be guilty of proudly resisting the rule of him to whom he has once committed himself and all his belongings.  – 46

Chapter III – Patience in the Crossbearing

1. Crossbearing is more difficult than self-denial:

For all whom the Lord has chosen and received into the society of his saints ought to prepare themselves for a life that is hard, difficult, laborious, and full of countless griefs. It is the will of their heavenly Father to try them in this manner that he may test them. – 48

For though Christ was his most beloved Son, in whom the Father was always well pleased, yet we see that he was not treated with indulgence and tenderness, so that it may be truly said that he was not only continuously afflicted, but that his whole life was a perpetual cross.  – 48

“…being humbled, we learn to call upon his strength which alone makes us stand up under such a load of afflictions.” – 50

For he [David] confesses that prosperity had so stupefied and benumbed his senses that he disregarded the grace of God on which he should have depended, relied on himself instead, and imagined that he could not fall. – 40

Warned by such evidences of their spiritual illness, believers profit by their humiliations. Robbed of their foolish confidence in the flesh, they take refuge in the grace of God.

And when they have done so, they experience the nearness of the divine protection which is to them a strong fortress (Ps 30:6-7). -51

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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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