Subscribe now

Grace Essentials

By John Calvin
September 2017 | Review by Wayne Pearce
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-78191-965-1
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: 6.99
Buy this book »

Christian Focus is to be commended for publishing a clear, concise and comprehensive compendium of John Calvin’s classic, The Institutes of the Christian religion. Systematic, biblical theology is presented in an accessible and appealing format. Using the ESV Bible text, this book is both illuminative and informative.

Part one focuses on ‘The knowledge of God the Creator’. It begins with the memorable phrase: ‘If we wish to have real wisdom, we must know two things: we must know God and we must know ourselves. In order to know one of these properly, we must also know the other’.

Part two focuses on ‘The knowledge of God the Redeemer’. Here Calvin affirms ‘that every part of our salvation is completely carried out by Christ. From him and him alone come all parts of salvation, gifts of the Spirit, strength, consolation, redemption, acquittal, deliverance, newness of life, heavenly inheritance, confidence in his judgement, and abundant supply of every blessing’. Calvin reminds us of our ruination through the Fall, our resultant sinful nature and the necessity of redemption through Christ, by God’s grace.

In part three, he turns his attention to ‘The methods and results of receiving the grace of Christ’. Here, among other themes, Calvin articulates the doctrine of justification by faith, of the Christian life, prayer, the use of the law and election.

My only complaint with what is otherwise an excellent abridgement of the greatest systematic theology ever written is that Christian Focus omitted the fourth part of Calvin’s magnum opus. Sadly, they leave us with an incomplete picture of how God’s grace is channelled through the ministry of Word and sacrament in the context of church.

That aside, this little paperback is a must-read for every Christian. It will make an invaluable teaching aid for church leaders and is highly recommended.

Wayne Pearce

Stornoway

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
It Takes a Church to Raise a Parent: Creating a culture where parenting for faith can flourish
Rachel Turner

This book aims to show how the church can equip parents so they can ‘parent for faith’. I agree wholeheartedly with its focus on helping one another within a church context. When we become Christians, we are part of God’s…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Doctor Who Became a Preacher: Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Banner Board Books)
Rebecca VanDoodewaard

This is a cracking little board book for reading to very young children. It shows how doctors help people who are sick, before relating how Martyn Lloyd-Jones chose to preach the good news instead, with many people coming to hear…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Triumphant Love: The contextual, creative and strategic missionary work of Amy Beatrice Carmichael in south India
J (Hans) Kommers

The following information has been provided by Chris Kavanagh, director of the Dohnavur Fellowship Corporation. Dr Jacky Woolcock, who served in Dohnavur 1969–1987 writes, ‘I met Dr Kommers in the Dohnavur UK office in 2015, being offered to read the…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
The Spirit of the Age: The 19th Century Debate Over the Holy Spirit and the Westminster Confession
J V Fesko

In the late nineteenth century, mounting pressure developed among churches adhering to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) for a revision of some of its statements. In the USA, this was led by C. A. Briggs and Philip Schaff. Briggs’ antipathy…