I found this quote by Calvin helpful as our church studies Romans 9 together. Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ throughout his writings again pays dividends as he reminds us to look to Christ to know that you are loved by God…and will be so forever. If we have been united to Christ by faith then we have no need to look into the past and be puzzled if God chose us. Christ is our assurance so we look at him.
But if we have been chosen in [Christ], we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even God the Father, if we conceive of him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. For since it is into his body the Father has destined those to be engrafted whom he has will from eternity to be his own…we have sufficiently clear and firm testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life if we are in communion with Christ. (Calvin, Institutes, 3.24.5)
A portion of Calvin’s Institutes was written with “the fanatics” in view. These people were claiming direct revelations from the Spirit of God, often incompatible with God’s Word. Calvin’s response was a pastoral and theological defense of the inseparability of the Word and the Spirit.
“Therefore, the Spirit, promised to us, has not the task of inventing new and unheard-of revelations, or of forging a new kind of doctrine, to lead us away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but of sealing our minds with that very doctrine which is commended by the gospel.” (I.9.2)
“From this we readily understand that we ought zealously to apply ourselves both to read and to hearken to Scripture if indeed we want to receive any gain and benefit from the Spirit of God…But on the contrary, if any spirit, passing over the wisdom of God’s Word, foists another doctrine upon us, he justly deserves to be suspected of vanity and lying (Gal. 1:6-9).” (I.9.2)
“For by a kind of mutual bond the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit so that the perfect religion of the Word may abide in our minds when the Spirit, who causes us to contemplate God’s face, shines; and that we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word. So indeed it is. God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it. Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.” (I.9.3)
“…Certainly a far different sobriety [than forsaking the Word for private revelations] befits the children of God, who just as they see themselves, without the Spirit of God, bereft of the whole light of truth, so are not unaware that the Word is the instrument by which the Lord dispenses the illumination of his Spirit to believers. For they know no other Spirit than him who dwelt and spoke in the apostles, and by whose oracles they are continually recalled to the hearing of the Word.” (I.9.3)
“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ (Acts 4:12). We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of him’ (I Cor. 1:30). If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects (Heb. 2:17) that he might learn to feel our pain (cf. Heb. 5:2). If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross (Gal. 3:13); if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”
John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, II.XVI.19.