Over at Scriptorium Daily is an excellent post by Fred Sanders on one paragraph from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. It is a paragraph that takes the work of Jesus Christ as outlined in the Apostle’s Creed and draws out the practical benefits (implications) of every aspect of Christ’s work for salvation.
The paragraph from Calvin is below followed by a selection of Sanders comments (notice all the “ifs”).
“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other” (Institutes 2.16.19).
“The setting is Book II, chapter 16. He has just worked through the life of Christ following roughly the order of the Apostles’ Creed, which he says he has followed “because it states the leading articles of redemption in a few words, and may thus serve as a tablet in which the points of Christian doctrine, most deserving of attention, are brought separately and distinctly before us.” Then, after having analyzed how each aspect of Christ’s work is effective for us and our salvation, Calvin delivers this comprehensive summary: … [cf. the above paragraph]…
“Somewhere along the way in that central sentence, the alert reader notices that the flow of thought comes from the familiar key terms of the second article of the Apostles’ Creed: cross, descent into hell, resurrection. It’s the story of Jesus, but specifically it’s in the concise narration of the creed. What Calvin is doing in this elaborate sentence is taking the points of the creed and drawing out their soteriological implications. Each of these actions of Christ has saving power, and Calvin names each of them in turn, with his if-then structure: If we seek redemption, then it’s in the passion; if we seek eternal life, then it is to be found in his resurrection, etc.” (emphasis mine).
Let us let us drink our fill from this fountain of Christ, and from no other, indeed! Soli Deo Gloria!
Read the whole thing here [~1,500 words].
For reference, here is the Apostle’s Creed (~third or fourth century):
I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into Hell [lit., Hades];
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting. Amen.
(from Lang, David, ed., Creeds, Confessions, & Catechisms Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms, Version 2.2, Accordance electronic ed. by OakTree Software, Inc., 2006.)