Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
Editor’s Note: Today we continue our new series, “Book Briefs,” to help you stock your reading pile with excellent, gospel-centered books. Tim Augustyn, our Pastor of Ministry Resources, shares a brief summary of titles he’s read, along with his favorite quotations from each. We hope “Book Briefs” will help and equip you!
A Little Book on the Christian Life Book Brief
Summary. If you would like a brief and practical, counter-cultural approach to the Christian life, this is it. John Calvin’s 126-page excerpt from his book Institutes of the Christian Religion will challenge, strengthen, and encourage both the mature as well as the younger Christian.
Warning. This book will not merely affirm the way you’ve always thought about the Christian life. But you will find Calvin’s passion and directness refreshing, like a cool drink on a hot day. Prepare yourself to work a bit harder to read this book than you normally would for a contemporary Christian author, but the reward is well worth your time and energy.
My Top 10 Quotes from A Little Book on the Christian Life
10. “The gospel’s power ought to penetrate the innermost affections of the heart, sink down into the soul, and inspire the whole man a hundred times more than the lifeless teachings of the philosophers” (pp. 13-14).
9. “The plague of submitting to our own rule leads us straight to ruin, but the surest way to safety is neither to know nor to want anything on our own, but simply to follow the leading of the Lord” (p. 23).
8. “Godly men must neither desire, nor aspire, nor expect to prosper for any other reason than the Lord’s blessing” (p. 47).
7. “The godly man has this comfort, which provides greater security to him than the highest peak of wealth or power—he knows that his affairs are ordered by the Lord and, as such, promote his salvation” (p. 51).
6. “Those whom the Lord has chosen and condescended to welcome into fellowship with him should prepare themselves for a life that is hard, laborious, troubled, and full of many and various kinds of evil” (p. 57).
5. “Our flesh is like a stubborn horse that becomes wild and unmanageable and doesn’t recognize its rider—however much it previously obeyed his commands…after a period of relative peace and quiet” (p. 67).
4. “Man’s life is like a vapor or shadow…and there is nothing we bring to mind and think about less diligently than this truth” (p. 93).
3. “[Some have tried to bind] men’s consciences more narrowly than the Word of the Lord binds them—a very dangerous thing to do” (p. 113).
2. “Scripture teaches that everything we own—everything appointed for our benefit—has been given to us by God’s kindness, so that all that we own is like a deposit for which we must one day give an account” (pp. 122-123).
1. “Every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary or common, is radiant—most valuable in the eyes of our Lord” (p. 126).
A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Edited by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons. Reformation Trust Publishing (March 2, 2017). 132 pp. $8.00.