Reformation 500 WEEK 32 John calvin Returns to Geneva
On September 13, 1541, Calvin returned to Geneva. “The following Sunday Calvin went up into the pulpit at Geneva, and simply began again to expound holy Scripture at the place where he had left off when he had been banished [does anyone know exactly where he had left off?]” (Cadier, The Man God Mastered, 107).
“Upon his return to Geneva, Calvin drew up a Church Order, a set of rules for the governing of the church…. It was based on the teaching of Scripture that Christ has ordained four offices in the Church: pastors, teachers or professors, elders, and deacons. The cornerstone of Calvin’s form of church government is the office of elder. Elders are chosen from among the members of the church. Together with the minister or pastor they form the consistory. The elders’ office is to watch over the purity of doctrine and life of the members of the church, of each other, and of the minister. To the consistory Calvin assigned the right of discipline of the members of the church to the point of excommunication…. For Calvin, the freedom of the Church was concentrated in the Church’s right of excommunication without outside interference.
“Upon one occasion, certain citizens of Geneva whom the consistory had excommunicated came into the church armed. Their plan was to force admission to the communion table. They threatened Calvin’s life if he should refuse to administer the sacrament to them. Protectingly, Calvin stretched out his hands over the bread and wine, and declared that they would be able to take of it only over his dead body. By sheer moral courage and strength, he made them desist from their attempt to gain admittance by force to the communion table.
“Bitter opposition often arose against the strict discipline of the Church over the moral life of the members. More than once it looked as if Calvin would be expelled a second time from Geneva. What in the end saved the day for Calvin was the influx into Geneva of refugees from other countries and the case of Servetus [which we will visit later]” (Kuiper, 197-198).
While Calvin was trying to make Geneva into a Christian city, back in Germany Martin Luther was dying. “Luther and Calvin never met, but they did exchange letters. In one letter [Jan. 21, 1545] Calvin wrote, ‘Would that I could fly to you, that I might even for a few hours enjoy the happiness of your society … but seeing that it is not granted to us on earth, I hope that shortly it will come to pass in the kingdom of God’.” (Nichols, Reformation, 78).
“Catholics and Protestants awaited news of Luther’s death – the Catholics hoped for a terrible death (to prove that he was wrong) and the Protestants a triumphant one (to prove that he was right) [a crowd of people surrounded his death bed and tried to comfort him, as he kept repeating the words, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’] …. Martin Luther died in the early morning hours of February 18, 1546, only a few steps from the house in Eisleben where he was born sixty-two years earlier.” He “was buried in front of the pulpit in the Castle Church of Wittenberg … an appropriate place. The pulpit was the place of his life’s work. He was a preacher of the Word of God. And faithful to the end” (Legacy of Luther, 73-74). Among his most famous words were, “I did nothing; the Word did everything.”
NOTE: These Posts were written and designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .
Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert: Reformation 500 John Calvin Returns to Geneva
For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 32
|Official Seal of the RCUS|
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS). As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began. We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.