Institutes of the Christian Religion ($23.14) 920 pages
Banner of Truth (1541 edition) https://www.amazon.com/Institutes-Christian-Religion-John-Calvin/dp/1848714637
I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be very edifying.
I read sections of it each morning as part of my morning devotional reading, after I’d read the Bible.
As the publisher says:
Among the intermediate editions of the Institutes, none deserves to be better known than the first French edition of 1541. Avoiding the technical details and much of the polemics of the final work, the Institutes of 1541 offer a clear and comprehensive account of the work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in creation, revelation and redemption, in the life of the individual Christian and in the worship and witness of the church.
As I said, I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be very edifying, the Spirit of God speaking to me at various times throughout this book. It was amazing to me how many times I’d read something in my daily reading of the Bible that was also in my daily reading of the Institutes.
Anyone interested in a good, basic introduction to Protestant theology will find it in this book. It’s very biblically based. Not philosophical, scholastic, or verbose.
The book is Smyth sewn, so it won’t fall apart on you. At 800+ pages, that’s very important. The book has clear and readable font. And it’s also available for a very good price.
Below are a few passages taken from the book…
“To summarize, then, the precept means this. As the truth was revealed to the Jews in symbolic form, so now, devoid of symbols, it is made known unto us. Throughout our lives we must think of perpetual rest from our works, so that God may work in us by his Spirit. Second, we should observe legitimate church order in the hearing of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and the offering of solemn prayers. Third, we should not place excessive burdens on those who are under our authority. In this way, there will be an end to the lies of those false teachers who in times past have fed poor common folk on Jewish beliefs, making no distinction between Sunday and the Sabbath except by saying the seventh day, which was formerly in force, has been revoked, but that one day should nevertheless be kept. That is simply to maintain that the day has been changed to spite the Jews, and to remain wedded to the superstition which Paul condemns. It is to preserve some secret meaning, as was the case under the Old Testament.” (144)
“He [the Holy Spirit] is the one who, refreshing us by his dew, distills for us the energy of life, which is why he is called ‘oil’ and ‘anointing’ (1 John 2:20, 27). He is the one who, by burning away and consuming our base appetites, kindles the flame of love in our hearts, a work for which he is called ‘fire’ (Luke 3:16). He is the one who breathes into us divine life, so that we should no longer live for ourselves but should follow his prompting and leading. So if there is any good in us, we owe it all to his grace and power. On the other hand, whatever we have of our own is only blindness of mind and crookedness of heart.” (258)
“For the Christian life should be so soberly controlled as to appear, from first to last, as a kind of perpetual fast.” (302)
“A Christian’s life is a perpetual study and exercise in the mortification of the flesh, until it is finally crushed and the Spirit of God rules within us.” (304)
“Since it is the Lord who forgives, forgets, and wipes away sins, let us confess them to him, in order to obtain grace and pardon. He is the physician; let us then show him our wounds. He is one who has been offended and injured; so let us ask him for mercy and peace. He is the one who knows hearts and who sees every thought; let us then open our hearts to him. He is the one who calls sinners; let us turn back to him.” (313)
“We accept and possess Jesus Christ by faith as he is presented to us by God’s goodness, and by partaking of him we receive grace twice over. First, being by his sinlessness reconciled to God, instead of a Judge in heaven to condemn us we have a most merciful Father. Second, we are sanctified by his Spirit, so that we may turn our minds to holiness and innocence of life.” (351)
“Now if men need some inducement to do good, there is nothing better to spur them on than to make them see the purpose of their redemption and calling. That is what God’s word does when it reveals that our consciences are cleansed from dead works by the blood of Christ so that we may serve the living God (Heb. 9:14); that we are delivered from the hand of our enemies so that we may walk before God in righteousness and holiness all the days of our life (Luke 1:74-75); that the grace of God has appeared so that, renouncing ungodliness and worldly desires, we may live sober, holy, and righteous lives in this world, as we await the blessed hope and revelation of the glory of our great God and Saviour (Titus 2:11-13); that we have not been called to provoke God’s wrath, but to obtain salvation in Christ (1 Thess. 5:9); that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, which it is not lawful to defile (1 Cor. 3:16-17); that we are not darkness but light in God, and that therefore we must walk as children of the light (Eph. 5:8); that we are not called to uncleanness but to holiness, and that God wills our sanctification, so that we abstain from all willful desires (1 Thess. 4:3, 7); that since our calling is holy, we can only answer it with purity of life (2 Tim. 1:9); that we have been delivered from sin in order to obey righteousness (Rom. 6:18).” (396)
“We must everywhere serve the cause of love and think of our neighbor’s edification.” (717)
“If, then, we are not our own, but belong to the Lord, it is clear what we must do to avoid going astray, and what our goal must be in every department of life. We are not our own: let not reason and will therefore determine our plans or the things we need to do. We are not our own: let us not therefore choose as our goal whatever might suit the flesh. We are not our own: let us therefore forget ourselves as much as we can — ourselves and everything around us. Again, we are the Lord’s: let us then live and die for him. We are the Lord’s: let his will and wisdom govern all we do. We are the Lord’s: let every part of our lives be directed to him as to their sole end. What progress that man has made who, knowing that he is not his own, denies his reason lordship and dominion over him and surrenders it instead to God! For just as there is nothing which leads to ruin more surely than self-satisfaction, so also the only haven of salvation is to cease to be wise in oneself, and to want nothing on one’s own account, but simply to follow the Lord.” (790)
“All believers, as long as they live in this world, will inevitably be as sheep to the slaughter, that they may be made like Jesus Christ their Head (Rom. 8:36).” (819)