John Calvin’s Doctrine Of Predestination

Adapted from speech delivered by Rev Christopher J. Connors on 5 Sep 2009 at the Protestant Reformed Churches Conference to Commemorate Calvin’s 500th birthday

“If I wished to write a confession of my faith; I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to my self out of his writings.” That is what Calvin said of Augustine. I say that of Calvin. I guess that means I bring this paper with a huge bias. I am a Calvinist by conviction – for I believe the gospel is the doctrines of grace. That may not be the most scholarly approach - but I am completely unrepentant! Indeed, my hope is that this paper might in some small way spur us, to kneel alongside the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin in the awe filled gratitude of sinners saved from that hell we so fully deserve, to refresh our souls from the pure fountain of grace – predestination.

Allow Calvin to introduce us to his doctrine of Predestination:

“Let us hold fast this glorious truth – that the mind of God, in our salvation was such as not to forget himself, but to set His own glory in the first and highest place; and that He made the whole world for the very end that it might be a stupendous theatre whereon to manifest His own glory. Not that He was not content in Himself, not that He had any need to borrow addition from any other sources; but it was His good pleasure so highly to honour His creatures, as to impress on them the bright marks of His great glory.”[1]

When I read those words in my early twenties, I felt that I had met the man who could show me what it really meant to glorify God! That is Calvin’s vision! He sees GOD! He sees God, GREAT and lifted up in glory unapproachable with such transcendent dominion and power and authority – that it takes your breath away! And he places us little bags of dust where we fit in relation to God.

Adore with astonishment the secret counsel of God, through which, those which seemed good to him are elected, and the other rejected![2]

That encapsulates Calvin, the believer / theologian’s approach to predestination. He beheld the glory of God revealed in the Word. He prostrated his mind and heart before the God of the Word. And because he heard God speaking so clearly of his eternal predestination, Calvin believed it, taught it, and preached it! Calvin, you see, practiced Sola Scriptura!

That reforming principle demanded predestination; and delivered us from bondage to Rome’s semi-Pelagianism! Predestination, you see, is both the fountain of grace and the death knell to human merit; predestination is what gives us the other great solas of the Reformation: grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone, to God’s glory alone. GRACE ALONE! That is the triumphant cry of the Reformation. Calvin took us to its source – The Eternal Predestination of God. He drove his peg into that mighty truth and anchored us in the free grace of God.

Calvin’s doctrine of predestination stands at the very heart of the Reformed Confessions, and the doctrines of grace, or 5 points of Calvinism,[3] have rightly become the common-places for biblical Christianity.

Let’s take a look at what Calvin himself taught concerning predestination, and then to draw out somewhat of the challenge he holds for the churches still today.

1. Calvin’s Doctrine Outlined

First off, let’s glance at Calvin’s big picture. Calvin locates predestination in the eternal covenant between God as Father, and God the Son appointed to the office of Mediator. He writes in the Institutes:

The elect are said do have been the Father’s before he gave them to his only begotten Son. … the Father’s gift is the beginning of our reception into the surety and protection of Christ…. [T]he whole world does not belong to its Creator except that grace rescues from God’s curse and wrath and eternal death a limited number who would otherwise perish. But the world itself is left to its own destruction, to which it has been destined. …

“Thus we must believe:” writes Calvin,

“[that] when he [Christ] declares that he knows whom he has chosen, he denotes in the human genus a particular species, distinguished not by the quality of its virtues, but by heavenly decree.”[4]

That is the pattern of Calvin’s thought, a pattern from which he never deviates.

a. Calvin’s Definition of

i. In The Institutes, he writes:

We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he determined within himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition: rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death.”[5]

ii. In his Treatise on Eternal Predestination (1552) over against a certain Albertus Pighius, who in Calvin’s words, “attempted… to establish the free-will of man, and to subvert the secret counsel of God by which he chooses some to salvation and appoints others to eternal destruction.” He writes:

Now, if we are not really ashamed of the Gospel, we must of necessity acknowledge what is therein openly declared: that God by His eternal goodwill (for which there was no other cause than His own purpose), appointed those whom He pleased unto salvation, rejecting all the rest; and that those whom He blessed with this free adoption to be His sons He illumines by His Holy Spirit, that they may receive the life which is offered to them in Christ; while others continuing of their own will in unbelief, are left destitute of the light of faith, in total darkness.[6]

To deny predestination was, in Calvin’s judgment, to “be ashamed of the gospel.” In fact, without predestination there is no gospel: “Let us take away election,” he says, “and what shall there remain? As we have declared, we remain altogether lost and accursed.”[7] Mercy is our only plea.[8]

b. Calvin taught and preached
double Predestination

Calvin never uses this terminology. Calvin would have thought it a redundancy to speak of double predestination![9] You see, Calvin proceeds on the basis that predestination is one decree, which necessarily has two aspects. Calvin taught that there cannot be one without the other; and he couldn’t be clearer about that, “… many,” he says, “as if they wished to avert a reproach from God, accept election in such terms as to deny that anyone is condemned. But they do this very ignorantly and childishly, since election itself could not stand except as set over against reprobation.”[10]

c. Calvin Held Election and Reprobation as
Equally Absolute and Unconditional

Modern moderate Calvinism, embarrassed by absolute sovereignty and fearing lest the whole truth be too offensive to those of universalist persuasion, is strangely silent regarding reprobation, or else it leaves the impression that reprobation is based upon foreseen sin. Calvin had no time for such finagling: “That they were fitted to destruction by their own wickedness,” he wrote, “is an idea so silly that it needs no notice.”[12] Over against that, Calvin taught that: “It must be confessed by all that … [the] difference made between the elect and the reprobate… proceeds from the alone secret will and purpose of God.[13]

Certainly, Calvin taught that God “casts the blame for … perdition upon those who of their own will bring it upon themselves.” And he cautioned against representing the reprobate as so destitute of the common operations of the Spirit in God’s dealings with their resisting consciences, that the fault for their sins could be cast upon God.[14] And, at the same time, he insisted that “it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan.”[15]

To the objection that such an exercise of sovereignty makes God a tyrant, Calvin, with no hint of backward step, replies: “With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has so willed it. But why he so willed it is not for our reason to enquire, for we cannot comprehend it.”[16] For Calvin, God’s will is “so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteous”[17] Indeed, reprobation itself “has its own equity, unknown indeed, to us, but very sure.”[18]

d. Calvin’s Understanding of

His opponents, like the universalism of our day, “barked and yapped” about God choosing and rejecting on the basis of foreseen faith and free-will. In Calvin’s judgment, “such kind of men have no drop of the fear of God.”[19] To present God as limited and reactive was, to Calvin, a form of blasphemy.[20] “The opponents,” says Calvin “imagine that [God] foreknows from an idle watchtower, what he does not himself carry out.” But, “God is not a watcher but the Author of our salvation … the Author of our salvation does not go outside himself.”[21] … “God foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place.”[22] “The elect of God were foreknown when, and because they were freely chosen.”[23]

e. That Leads us to Calvin’s
Doctrine of Election

“Scripture,” he writes,…

“clearly shows, we say, that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive salvation …this plan was founded upon his freely given mercy, without regard to human worth… Now among the elect we regard the call as a testimony of election. Then we hold justification another sigh of its manifestation, until they come to glory in which the fulfilment of that election lies.”[24]

Calvin emphasized three things about this election:

i. Election is … in Christ.

Calvin sees God as turning his eyes upon Christ, arrayed in his threefold office,[25] as the complete basis of salvation for the elect.[26] Four points of emphasis appear. First, God has made Christ to be the “fountain of life, the anchor of salvation, and the heir of the Kingdom of heaven.”[27] Second, election incorporates particular sinners into Christ for salvation. Third, “God had no regard to what we were or might be, but our election is founded in Jesus Christ.”[28] And fourth, God opens His fatherly mercy and kindly heart to His elect in Christ.[29]

Election, then, is the eternal aspect of union with Christ. The elect are placed in Him eternally in order that they might be united to Him in time, by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.[30] Out of this truth Calvin draws the sweet doctrine of Christ as the mirror in whom believers must find the assurance of their own election. “If we seek God’s fatherly mercy and kindly heart, we should turn our eyes to Christ”… for we have a sufficiently clear testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life if we are in communion with Christ.”[31]

ii. Election is, therefore, Completely Unconditional

It would not be possible to overemphasize just how completely Calvin repudiated conditional election. This is what Calvin preached:

Paul would frustrate whatsoever men might being of themselves, and show that nothing has dominion herein, but the only mercy of GOD! … So then, let us not pretend that we can either will or run: but it behooveth that God find us as lost, and that He recover us from that bottomless pit, and that He separate us from them with whom we were lost, and to whom we were alike.[32]

That “grace … is ultimately rendered effectual by the will of man” he writes, is a “ fiction.”[33] His words almost leap off the page as he demolishes free will: “No free-will of man can resist Him that wills to save. Wherefore, we are to rest assured that no human wills can resist the will of God, who does according to his will all things in heaven and in earth, and who has already done by his will the things that shall be done.”[34] What unfolds in time (providence) is, for Calvin, nothing less than God bringing to pass His eternal counsel. Therefore, “to make faith the cause of election,” he writes, “is altogether absurd, and utterly at variance with the word.”[35]

iii. Election is the singular fountain of grace

According to Calvin, reprobation adds nothing; but election actively bestows Christ and complete salvation in Him. “…all benefits that God bestows for the spiritual life … flow from this one source: namely, that God has chosen whom he has willed, and before their birth has laid up for them individually the grace that He willed to grant them.” [36]

Following the divine logic of Romans 8:29-30, Calvin traces grace from unconditional election like a stream from its fountain-head. At times he follows it down to us from eternal predestination, through effectual calling, to justification; and shows us that it must issue, without fail, in glorification![37] At other times he teaches us to trace grace back upstream from faith, to effectual calling, and from calling to Christ in whom is our adoption by the Father. This is how he put it: “God calls and justifies, in His own time, those whom He predestinated to these blessings before the foundation of the world.” [38] Effectual calling is a testimony and sign that manifests election,[39] and “faith is the special gift of God, and by that gift election is manifested to, and ratified in, the soul that receives it.”[40] Furthermore, any glimmer of holiness in the saints is referred, “to the election of God, as waters are traced to their originating source.”[41] Salvation is therefore, the working of God’s purest grace – from beginning to end!

This says something about Calvin’s understanding of grace.

Grace, in Calvin’s mind always “delivers God’s children into Christ’s hands and possession.”[42] Much-a-do has been made of Calvin’s mention of a “common” or general kindness of God manifest in His providential dealings with all His creation. But, I want to point out that whenever Calvin’s context is anything to do, even remotely, with salvation or the gospel, Calvin had grace hooked into predestination. For Calvin, when it came to salvation, the idea of grace flowing to those whom God is has passed by and left outside Christ as objects of His righteous hatred – was a falsehood to be demolished.[43] Calvin sees a predestinating God - the omnipotent volitional being - who is eternally putting forth His favor to Christ and those particular sinners He has chosen to eternal life in Him. He sees grace as God’s purposeful, personal irresistible, saving favor.[44] “Rest assured,” he advises us,

No human will can resist the will of God, so as to prevent Him from doing what He wills, seeing that He does what He will with the wills themselves of all mankind.[45]

And it also says something about Calvin’s view of what God’s purpose, or desire, is with the preaching of the gospel. Calvin, refutes Pighius’ idea that God sends the Gospel to be preached to all men because He desires the salvation of all men.[46] Calvin, holding to the truth of predestination, brings it to bear on the tenacious error of universalism. What he writes applies to any and every hint of universalism. “The great question,” he says, “lies here: did the Lord by His eternal counsel ordain salvation for all men?” Obviously not – predestination proves otherwise. Therefore he concludes: “the mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not divinely taught within are only rendered inexcusable, not saved.” Calvin, how, “That they [the reprobate, cjc] may come to their end, He [God] sometimes deprives them of the capacity to hear His Word; at other times he, rather, blinds and stuns them by the preaching of it.[47]

This is how he put it when he preached about preaching:

When God generally sets salvation before us in Jesus Christ His only Son, [that is, in the outward call that touches the ear of all - cjc] it is to make the reprobate so much the more inexcusable for their unthankfulness inasmuch as they have despised so great a benefit: in the mean time the elect are touched, and God not only speaks to them outwardly but also inwardly.[48]

Calvin did not believe that the Gospel is sent to all because God desires the salvation of all! He withstood that idea. Calvin believed that God desires salvation of all the elect, and because they are scattered among the reprobate, He causes His Gospel to be heard by all men. He believed that the outward call is the means by which God saves His elect by grace, and bring the reprobate to their appointed end in the way of their own wicked unbelief.[49] God’s desires are never unfulfilled.[50]

2. Calvin’s Challenge to the Church

I want now to call attention to some of the more practical, and challenging, aspects of Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. We may summarise Calvin’s challenge to us in one sentence: Don’t draw back from the WHOLE truth, nor from THIS truth.

a. Be Committed to This Truth!

Calvin did not just teach a doctrinal system – he experienced the reforming power of sola scriptura. Consequently, he models what happens when a mind well versed in Scripture, and enlightened by the Spirit, submits itself under God speaking in the word; and he challenges us to do the same – in a most practical way. This is what made Calvin such a catalyst for thorough-going reform.[51] And this is what it takes to stand fast in the truth of predestination, against the tide, in our day. So, let’s take a brief look at what Calvin taught that faithfulness to God required.

Now, this was Calvin’s rule – fully as far, but no further. Faith must follow Christ fully as far, but not one step beyond. Perhaps the best way to show how completely he submitted to that rule, and how firmly he required others to do the same, is to read a passage from one of his sermons:

“Let us know that our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, that we cannot do amiss to harken and open our ears, to inquire and search after what it has pleased Him we should know: but let us take heed that we go not beyond it: for there is no rage so great and outrageous, as when we will know more than God shows us. … Let us therefore keep this mean: that is to say, to hearken to that which God propounds unto us: and as soon as He shall once shut His mouth, let us have all our understandings locked up and captive, and let us not endeavor to know more than He shall have pronounced to us. … And when we shall be … [troubled] tormented, let us have recourse unto God: that is to say, let us hearken to that which is shown us in the holy Scripture, let us pray that God will open our ears and our eyes, to the end we may understand His will. And further, we have this; it behooves us altogether to rest therein, and to be quiet. For there is no cause of disputing any farther, when God has once pronounced His sentence.”[52]

Calvin’s challenge is to faith! Faith must go as far as, but no further. That is a constant refrain in Calvin. He repeats it so often that you get the impression Calvin did not expect anyone to agree with what he taught about predestination, unless this way of relating to the Word was fixed in the heart. And especially when he must touch upon a “perplexing” point he sets his hearers inside this principle by reiterating it before, during, and after what he has to say!

Now, that principle is, of course, a two-edged sword - it cuts both ways revealing either faith or unbelief. It holds us between a rock and a hard place! To those who deny predestination because it raises “questions concerning the judgments of God which are incomprehensible, and which are of so high and profound matter, that the Holy Spirit has to teach them,” Calvin says,” instead of curious searching, we must adore them!”[53] “Let us not be ashamed to be ignorant of something in this matter wherein there is a certain learned ignorance” required. “We cease to speak well when we cease to speak with God.”[54] So, not one step beyond! And at the same time, Calvin judged it to be false humility, dishonouring to God, and detrimental to God’s children to draw back from predestination as if it is a reef upon which we might be shipwrecked. And he chides the “teary modesty of the “insipid cautious ones”[55] who want to hide what God teaches men to believe. He believed they made themselves wiser than God, for implying that the Spirit had let slip something by mistake that was injurious to his church To such like, Calvin says – fully as far as he leads !

The insipid teary ones of our day may not take refuge in Calvin calling reprobation “the dreadful” decree. McNeill has it right when he explains that “Calvin is awestruck but unrelenting in his declaration that God is the author of reprobation.”[56] By all means, let us be awestruck, but let us not be dumbstruck. The heirs of Calvin will surely be interested in the unrelenting bit also! Calvin’s doctrine of predestination includes, indeed demands, just such subjection to God speaking in the Word. For Calvin, denial and/or suppression of predestination was a display of unbelief!

b. Teach & Preach This Truth!

Calvin’s conviction was that, “The doctrine of election ought to be preached constantly and thoroughly.” And when it comes to those who “carp, rail, bark or scoff at it,” Calvin challenges us remember that, “if their shamefulness deters us, we shall have to keep secret the chief doctrine of the faith, almost none of which they or their like leave untouched by blasphemy.”[57] Predestination is not an addendum to the gospel – nor is it something that is to be hidden from the world in case it causes offence! Predestination is in Calvin’s judgment THE CHIEF DOCTRINE. And his challenge to the churches is this: If opposition to predestination can drive you into an embarrassed silence – there is nothing you will ultimately stand on. And it is telling to see what he associates this with. What if someone opposes doctrine of the Trinity, he asks? Or what if someone guffaws at your belief that only a little more than 5000 years have passed since creation? “NO!” insists Calvin, “God’s truth is so powerful, both in this respect and in every other, that it has nothing to fear from the evil-speaking of wicked men.”[58] For the church to suppress and hide predestination because of what men might think or say, is unbelief! That is Calvin!

If we would stand with Calvin, we will need to say: “Let those deride us who will, if God but give his nod of assent from heaven to our stupidity (as men think), and if angels to applaud.”[59]

c. Embrace this Truth as Gospel Truth!

Finally, Calvin challenges us to embrace predestination as gospel truth – and to preach and teach it for the good of God’s elect, and the glory of God’s name.

Calvin firmly believed that without the truth of predestination we are “blind to the three great benefits of salvation; namely, God’s free grace, God’s glory, and sincere humility.”[60] Predestination grounds the gospel in grace, and humbles us all under the reality that “there is nothing but his mercy alone.”[61] And it opens before us the only sure hope of salvation; namely, that there is mercy with God. Furthermore, out of election in Christ flows all comfort to believers – and they may not be robbed of the inheritance God has given. It holds us at the foot of the Cross!

And because that is so, Calvin has a word of caution. He insists, with Augustine that, “those things which are truly said can at the same time be fittingly said.”[62] What did he mean by “fittingly said?” That is a subject worthy of a paper in its own right. But, the way he put his Institutes together, and what he writes therein, show us clearly enough what he meant. He both models and teaches what he means.

In the Institutes he models what he means when he leaves his formal treatment of predestination until book three. When we might expect him to deal with predestination under Theology, he leaves it until towards the end of his treatment of the way of salvation. Calvin first leads us through faith as a gift of God, through regeneration and effectual calling, into union with Christ. Then, only when he has shown us that in Christ we are made partakers in benefit of salvation, Calvin introduces us to predestination!

I find in Calvin three primary reasons for this order. First, he believed that the natural place for predestination to arise, as Paul shows in Romans 9, is in answer to that crucial question: Why, when the Gospel is preached to all, do only some believe? Second, he believed firmly and passionately that predestination must never be preached in such a way that it sends sinners to God’s secret counsel to discover their election. For preaching to do that, says Calvin, would be to, “cast men into the depths of a bottomless whirlpool to be swallowed up; then he tangles himself in innumerable and inextricable snares; then he buries himself in an abyss of sightless darkness.”[63] If we would teach men how to sail the ship of faith so as to avoid this rock, “against which no one is ever dashed without destruction,” and to do so safely, calmly and pleasantly, them “let this therefore, be the way of our inquiry: to begin with God’s call, and to end with God’s call.”[64] He refers to the effectual call that unites the soul to Christ by faith. And that is his third reason; election must be revealed to and ratified in the soul by faith! It is only to believers, indwelt by the Spirit his Son, that God gives that power to become the sons of God, and to cry ‘Abba, Father.” Therefore, if we would preach predestination as Calvin would have it preached, then one thing must be made so perfectly clear that there is not so much as a hint of its opposite left in the mind of our hearers. Knowledge of God’s electing love can be had in no other way than by faith in Jesus Christ. Preaching must call sinners to “Christ as the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election.”[65] Thus, predestination demands that sinners be called to faith in Christ alone – that is what preaching is for – it is to unite the elect to Christ by faith, build them up in Christ by faith, and bring them safe home to Christ through faith!

Predestination is, therefore, the great encouragement to preach. Calvin saw that predestination grounds the gospel message in God’s sovereign mercy, and directs sinners to Christ alone – and this is so far from militating against the preaching of Christ to all men, that is beggars belief that the charge is ever made!

Predestination lets the gospel of God loose as the power of God to all those that do believe. It sends the Gospel to call every sinner to believe in Christ as the Savior of unworthy sinners of every sort. It has a Divine promise that is grounded in eternal election to encourage and enrich whosoever believes! And it sends it forth with confidence – absolute and unshakeable confidence – for it places the preacher in the midst of a the fallen world, like Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones (Eze. 37). Can these bones live? Yes Lord! The irresistible grace of unconditional election is able to make them live! GOD can do it – and will for all His elect! GOD will call His elect to life through the Gospel. That is the encouragement to preach! That is the basis of missions! That is the encouragement for us to witness and share the gospel with our neighbors, to teach and nurture our children – to bring the Word as elders in admonition and discipline! Christ will make His sheep to hear His voice!

That is the good news! God is still God!

Thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the world of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ (2 Cor 2:14-17).


[1] John Calvin,  Calvin’s Calvinism, (Grand Rapids:  RFPA), p. 86. All quotes are taken from an undated, first edition of RFPA.  See also in this respect, Calvin’s introduction to the Secret Providence of God: “Nor will anyone profitably contemplate the Providence of God in the government of the world, as it is set before us in the Scriptures and seen by faith, but he who, feeling that he has to do so with his Maker and with the Creator of all things, first "bows the head" with the awe and reverence and with that humility which becomes one standing before such stupendous Majesty!” 

[2] Calvin,  Calvin’s Calvinism, p.31, 84  .   “And … Let those who come to Christ remember that they are ‘vessels’ of grace not or merit’”

[3] Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints. 

[4] John Calvin,  The Institutes of The Christian Religion, (London: SCM. Press, Ltd,  1960) Book 3, chapter 22, section 7

[5] John Calvin,  The Institutes, Book 3, chapter 21, section 5.

[6] Calvin,  Calvin’s Calvinism ,  p.31 

[7] Calvin, Sermons on Election and Reprobation, (New Jersey:  Old Paths Publications, 1996),  p. 39

[8] John Calvin,  Sermons, p. 28 and 31   C.  Calvin preached the same truth in a simpler way to his flock, as can be seen in his Sermons on Election and Reprobation, (Old Paths Publications). Preaching on the Genesis account of God’s dealings with elect Jacob and reprobate Esau, he said:  “It behooved [was needful and fitting, cjc] that He [God] chose according to His liberty, such as He thought good, and that the rest should remain in their cursed state…  It behooveth not [it is not needful or fitting] that we enter into any deeper disputation of this matter, unless it be to adore with astonishment the secret counsel of God, through which, those which seemed good to him are elected, and the other rejected

[9] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 45  “There is, most certainly and evidently, an inseparable connection between the elect and the reprobate. So that the election, of which the apostle speaks, cannot consist unless we confess that God separated from all others certain persons whom it please him thus to separate. Now, this act of God is expressed by the term predestinating.”

[10] Calvin, Institutes, 3. 23. 1

[11] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism,  p. 75  “…according to His sovereign and absolute will”– that is Calvin’s maxim.

[12] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism,  p. 76.

[13] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 77

[14] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p.176

[15] Calvin,  Institutes,  3. 23. 1.  See also, in sections 1 and 7,  “Those whom God passes over, he condemns, and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children. … As Scripture, then, clearly shows, we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction.  We assert that, with respect to the elect, this plan was founded upon his freely given mercy, without regard to human worth: but by his just and irreprehensible but incomprehensible judgment he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.”   

[16] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism,  p.32

[17] Calvin, Institutes , 3.23.2

[18] Calvin, Institutes, 3.23.3   And he insists, at the same time, that it is perverse for sinners to suppress the cause of their condemnation, which is nothing other than their own sin, in order to cast the blame upon God.  Calvin’s point is that no sinner shall ever arrive in hell, except it be in that he walked all the way there in his own sin

[19] Calvin, Sermons on Election and Reprobation, p. 38 

[20] Calvin, Institutes, 3. 21.5  Calvin had a higher view of God.  He saw the God of Scripture to be infinite, eternal, omnipotent, self-sufficient, sovereignty.  Thus his extended definition of foreknowledge as it is in God:  “When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things always were, and perpetually remain, under his eyes, so that to his knowledge there is nothing future or past, but all things are present. And they are present in such a way that he not only conceives them through ideas, as we have before us those things which our minds remember, but he truly looks upon them and discerns them as things placed before him.  And this foreknowledge is extended throughout the universe to every creature.”

[21] Calvin,  Institutes,  3. 22. 6

[22] Calvin Institutes, 3. 23, 6

[23] Calvin,  Calvin’s Calvinism  p.48 

[24] Calvin, Institutes,  3.21.7

[25] Calvin, Institutes, 2.15.1-6

[26] Calvin, Institutes 3. 22. 2   “…since among all the offspring of Adam, the Heavenly Father found nothing worthy of his election, he turned his eyes upon his Anointed, to choose from that body as members those whom he has to take into the fellowship of life. Let this reasoning then, prevail among believers: we were adopted in Christ into the eternal inheritance because in ourselves we were not capable of such great excellence.”

[27] Calvin, Institutes, 3.24.5

[28] Calvin, Sermons, p. 55.

[29] A further point of emphasis in Calvin is adoption.  Election and adoption are almost synonymous in his mind.  Election is the eternal adoption of children by the Father, who opens his heart to them in and through Christ.  This is the way Calvin views the relationship of  the “covenant.”   The Covenant relation is filial – and the relationship it affords is filial love and communion. 

[30] Calvin, Institutes, 3. 1. 1.  Thus, when Calvin explains how the elect receive the grace of Christ, he begins with the work of “the Holy Spirit as the bond that unites us to Christ.”

[31] Calvin, Institutes, 3. 24. 5.

[32] Calvin, Sermons, p. 42

[33] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 46

[34] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 149

[35] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 45.

[36] Calvin, Institutes 3. 22. 2

[37] Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.7

[38] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 112

[39] Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.7

[40] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 97  

[41] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p.154.

[42] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 51.

[43] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 75  “When Pighius holds that God’s election of grace has no reference to, or connection with, His hatred of the reprobate, I maintain that reference and connection to be a truth.  Inasmuch as the just severity of God answers, in equal and common cause, to that free love with which He embraces His elect. 

[44] Calvin, Calvin Calvinism, p. 150   How? “Does he bind their bodies, I pay you with chains?” asks Calvin, “Oh, no! He works within; he takes hold of their hearts within; He moves their hearts within; and draws them by those, now, new wills of their own which he has himself wrought in them.

[45] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 149-150.   In response to the objection that God hates nothing he has made, Calvin replies: “This I concede to them,  yet what I teach stands firm: that the reprobate are hateful to God, and with very good reason. For, deprived is his Spirit, they can bring forth nothing but reason for cursing.”   See also p.109.

[46] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, 93-94  Pighius objects: “special and particular election is false, because Christ, the redeemer of the whole world, commanded the gospel to be preached to all men, promiscuously, generally, and without distinction. But the gospel is an embassy of peace, by which the world is reconciled to God as Paul teaches.  And, according to the same holy witness, it is preached that those who hear it might be saved.” 

[46] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p 95, It is quite manifest that all men, without difference or distinction, are outwardly called or invited to repentance and faith.  It is equally evident that the same Mediator is set forth before all, as he who alone can reconcile them to the Father.  But it is as fully well known that none of these can be understood or perceived but by faith, in fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s declaration that “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.   What can it be to others but the “savor of death unto death?” as the same apostle elsewhere powerfully expresses himself.

[46] Calvin, Institutes, 3.24. 12

[47] Calvin, Sermons, p.63.    See also Institutes, 3,24, 12  As God by the effectual working of his call to the elect perfects the salvation to which by his eternal plan he has destined them, so he has his judgments against the reprobate, by which he executes his plan for them.  What of those, then, whom he created for dishonour in life and destruction in death, to become the instruments of his wrath and examples of his severity? That they may come to their end, he sometimes deprives them of the capacity to hear his word; at other times he, rather, blinds and stuns them by the preaching of it.

[48] Calvin, Institutes,  3,24, 12

[49] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 179  we read: “God always wills the same thing; and this is the very praise of his immutability.  Whatever he decrees therefore he effects; and this is in Divine consistency with His Omnipotence.  And the will of God, being thus inseparably united with his power, constitutes and exalted harmony of his attributes worthy of that divine providence, by which all things in heaven and earth are governed.”

[50] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 179  we read: “God always wills the same thing; and this is the very praise of his immutability.  Whatever he decrees therefore he effects; and this is in Divine consistency with His Omnipotence.  And the will of God, being thus inseparably united with his power, constitutes and exalted harmony of his attributes worthy of that divine providence, by which all things in heaven and earth are governed.”

[51] On Sunday,  August 16th 2009, an ABC radio program was dedicated to a discussion of John’ Calvin’s life and influence.  It was stated, and agreed by the panel, that “without John Calvin, the world we live in would be a very different place.”

[52] Calvin, Sermons, p 30,  see also pp 28, 29,  31, 36, 37, 52, 53, 54; and in the Institutes, 3.21.3.

[53] Calvin, Sermons, p. 52

[54] Calvin, Institutes,  3.23.5

[55] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism. P. 150.

[56] Mc Neill,  Institutes, 3.23.7,  note 17.

[57] Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.4.

[58] Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.4

[59] Calvin, Calvin’s Calvinism, p. 84.

[60] Calvin, Institutes, 3.21.1

[61] Calvin, Sermons, p. 41-42

[62] Calvin, Institutes, 3.23.14.

[63] Calvin, Institutes, 3.24. 4.

[64] Calvin, Institutes, 3.24. 4

[65] Calvin, Institutes, 3.24.5.