Post Tenebras Lux

By Evan D. Burns

In the book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, Steve Lawson discusses John Calvin’s weighty preaching.[1]  He quotes James Montgomery Boice, who remarked, “Calvin had no weapon but the Bible.  From the very first, his emphasis had been on Bible teaching.  Calvin preached from the Bible every day, and under the power of that preaching the city began to be transformed.  As the people of Geneva acquired knowledge of God’s Word and were changed by it, the city became, as John Knox called it alter, a New Jerusalem.”[2]  Lawson outlines the uniqueness of Calvin’s preaching with ten observations:

  1. Focusing on Scripture
  2. Preaching through Entire Books
  3. Beginning in a Direct Manner
  4. Preaching in a “Lively” Fashion
  5. Excavating the Biblical Text
  6. Speaking to the Common Man
  7. Pastoring the Lord’s Flock
  8. Fending Off Ravenous Wolves
  9. Calling out to Lost Sinners
  10. Magnifying the Glory of God

Lawson’s concluding words should exhort us to pray that we too might see the dawn of reformation and revival in this dark day:  “May God raise up a new generation of expositors like Calvin.  May we experience a new Reformation in our day.  And may we see, once more, the illuminating power of the Word preached in this midnight hour of history.”[3]


[1]Steven J. Lawson, “The Preacher of God’s Word,” in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, ed. Burk Parsons (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 71–82.

[2]James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 83-84.

[3]Lawson, “The Preacher of God’s Word,” in John Calvin, 82.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.