Monday, March 7, 2011

The Last Sermon of John Calvin

On February 6, 1564, an era came to an end. The man who had done as much as any other to forge the theology of the Reformation, preached his last sermon. Unable to walk, John Calvin was carried to church in a chair. Calvin's mouth filled with blood as he preached his last sermon. He had ruptured a blood vessel in his lungs. He had great difficulty in breathing, and before he finished he had to leave.

These are among his final words:

"I have lived amidst extraordinary struggles here; I have been saluted in mockery at night, before my door, by fifty or sixty shots from guns. Think how that would terrify a poor timid scholar such as I am . . . While I am nothing, yet I know that I have prevented many problems that would otherwise have occurred in Geneva . . . God has given me the power to write, but I have written nothing in hatred . . . but always I have faithfully attempted what I believed to be for the glory of God."

Having preached my first sermon at age sixteen and having preached an innumerable number of sermons since, I can sympathize with not wanting to stop preaching. The prospect that God could choose to end my usefulness with this privilege is daunting. I would hope to God that I have a few thousand sermons left.

However, should that day come I too hope it is not because of sin or foolishness that prohibits me from opening this wonderful book, enjoining the congregation to turn to the text of the moment, and in the Spirit's enablement, explain the text in such a manner that God's people would say, "Didn't the Word of God burn in our heart?"

God forbid, but if I am able, with a collapsed lung, difficulty in breathing, and blood in my mouth, may I continue to proclaim the truth of his gospel until death calls the "game."


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Well done Gregg on a most compeeling post, it brought tears to my eyes.

Have a good day.


John Calvin left a legacy and testimony behind that few men will ever surpass.

God gives each of us an measure of faith to complete the task set before us, no matter how seemingly insignificant to others it may be. if we remain faithful our reward will be just as wonderful as John Calvin's. A faithful Godly mother is just as important to God as a faithful John Calvin. Now that blows my mind! :-)

Persis said...

Thanks for sharing this. Thank God for His faithful servants who labor until the very end.

Pat Donovan said...

I want that love and burning desire to serve God, like John Calvin.

Kansas Bob said...

Nice post Gregg. I enjoyed reading Calvin's last sermon. Especially moved by:

"Didn't the Word of God burn in our heart?"

I have experienced that burning.. it is life changing.