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Calvin in this preface to Institutes, expresses to King Francis I, his purpose in writing. It was “to transmit certain rudiments” so that anyone who had “zeal for religion might be shaped to true godliness.” (pg. 9) He noted many who were hungry and thirsty for Christ but only possessed a slight knowledge of Him. He may as well as have been speaking about our time in history; great spiritual openness and awareness but a mere inkling of true knowledge of Christ that can save.

Calvin was attempting to counter the false accusations that were being presented to the King about his teachings and because of where they came from, the King no doubt was predisposed to believe what was being said. Calvin points to the Scriptures as the ultimate authority and true test of what is right. His high view of Scripture comes roaring through as he states “But our doctrine must tower unvanquished above all glory and above all might of the world…” (pg. 12) Because the Scriptures were not of human origen but divine, they must be the ultimate source and authority.

He goes on to state the true test of faith is not that we think more highly of ourselves but that we have a proper estimation of our lowly state and God’s superior position. We are naked and need to be clothed. We are empty and need to be filled. We are slaves and have need to be freed. We are blind and in need of illumination. We are lame and need to be made straight. We are weak and need to be sustained. All we have need of comes from him. All that diminishes us in our human frailty finds its solution in Him.  So that all of the glory is His, so that He alone may stand forth gloriously and we glory in Him.

Lord, shape me to true godliness by Your holy Word. Let me always maintain a high view of the Scriptures that they may always be my guide and the fount of all true wisdom. Let me always look to you who is All Sufficient for all that I have need of, that You may stand forth gloriously and I glory only in You. Amen.

–DM