John Calvin: A Man of Genius and Faith

Ron Geschwendt

READ : Ephesians 1:3-14

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ. (v. 9 NIV)

Life ought not to be measured by ease and length of days, but by how one lives and dies. John Calvin (1509-1564), a spiritual father of the Reformation, was well educated, but always poor. He fought excruciating headaches throughout his life and suffered poor health. He failed to reach his 55th birthday.

In spite of these handicaps, his many letters and books command a lifetime of study. At the age of 26 he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion which became the cornerstone of Reformation faith and the textbook for students everywhere. Urged by his friends to take it easy, he replied, “Would you have my Lord come to find me idle?”

Calvin died as he lived, simply and full of faith. Friends surrounded him. The city of Geneva mourned him. They buried him in a wooden coffin and an unmarked grave, but his legacy lives on.

What made the man? Certainly God gave him genius. But there is much more! He was found by God’s pursuing love, and embraced Jesus as Lord. Having received the gift of salvation from a sovereign God, he lived a life of gratitude only to please Christ, the King. Could any of us want or need more?


“My heart I give to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely” (Calvin’s motto).