“But someone will say, does He not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are and what is needed for our interest, so that it seems in some measure unnecessary to solicit Him by our prayers, as if He was winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice? Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for His sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honor be paid Him by acknowledging that all that men desire or feel to be useful and pray to obtain is derived from Him. But even the benefit of the homage that we thus pay Him returns to ourselves.” John Calvin
John Calvin… the man we love to love… and the man we love to hate. The splitting of churches has been taking place in the name of this man for centuries. Mention his name, and rest assured, a reaction is coming. Some will begin to wield crosses as in some old vampire movie while others will drool and chant, “Tulip! Tulip!”
Regardless of your personal feelings about his teaching on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, if you are willing to briefly study his life and ministry, you will come to the conclusion I have. He was a great and gifted man of God. He loved his Lord, and he surrendered his entire life to Him.
Had John Calvin followed his own interests, we probably would have never heard of him. He was guaranteed a life of acceptance within the scholastic community. Having published his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, many schools would have taken him on to simply teach. But Calvin believed God had placed within the church, positions of authority and he had a responsibility to honor that authority (Guillaume Farel; protestant reformer in Geneva), no matter how difficult the instruction and how demanding the requirement. Because of this, he took a pastoral position in Geneva that brought many tears and much pain.
Burk Parsons says this of him, “John Calvin was a churchman for all ages. He was a reformer, a pastor, and a revolutionary. He was a selfless husband, a devoted father, and a noble friend. But above all Calvin was a man whose mind was humbled and whose heart was mastered by the Lord God Almighty. His life’s prayer — ‘I offer my heart to you, Oh Lord, promptly and sincerely’ — was an unwavering declaration of surrender to the Lord, whom he sought to love with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He saw himself first and foremost as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and he desired earnestly to be taught daily ‘in the school of Jesus Christ’ so that he might rightly know the Lord in order to ‘trust, invoke, praise, and love Him.'”
(Paraphrases and quotes taken from “John Calvin: A heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology”; edited by Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust, 2008)