Calvin: Benefits from Justification for Children

Calvin wanted Christ’s little lambs to know the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and he wanted them to know that justification also provided:

  1. Sanctification – as distinguished from, but – inseparable with it

    Master.But can this [imputed] righteousness be separated from good works, so that he who has it may be void of them?

    Scholar. That cannot be. For when by faith we receive Christ as he is offered to us, he not only promises us deliverance from death and reconciliation with God [i.e., justification], but also the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are regenerated to newness of life [i.e., sanctification]; these things must necessarily be conjoined so as not to divide Christ from himself.

  2. Assurance of salvation

    M. What advantage accrues to us from this forgiveness [which is, of course, included in justification]?

    S. We are accepted, just as if we were righteous and innocent, and at the same time our consciences are confirmed in a full reliance on his paternal favour, assuring us of salvation.

  3. Continued, future forgiveness of sins

    … we must have this blessedness [of justification] not just once but must hold to it throughout life … the embassy of free reconciliation is published [i.e., preached] not just for one day or another but is attested as perpetual in the church. (Institutes 3.14.11)

  4. Enjoyment only within the true church

    M.Why do you subjoin forgiveness of sins to the Church?

    S. Because no man obtains it without being previously united to the people of God, maintaining unity with the body of Christ perseveringly to the end, and thereby attesting that he is a true member of the Church (p. 52).

    M. In this way you conclude that out of the Church is naught but ruin and damnation?

    S. Certainly. Those who make a departure from the body of Christ, and rend its unity by faction, are cut off from all hope of salvation during the time they remain in schism, be it however short

  5. Delight, not fear, at the coming of Christ and the Judgment Day

    M.Does it give any delight to our conscience that Christ one day will be judge of the world?

    S. Indeed, singular delight. For we know assuredly that he will come only for our salvation.

    M. We should not then tremble at this judgment, so as to let it fill us with dismay?

    S. No, indeed; since we shall only stand at the tribunal of a judge who is also our advocate, and who has taken us under his faith and protection

All of these can be seen in his Catechism (1545), designed to be learned and memorized by children!


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