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The Soul of Life: The Piety of John Calvin - Profiles in Reformed Spirituality (Beeke, ed.)

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Reformation Heritage Books

John Calvin is the most notable figure from the Reformed tradition. Unfortunately, he is often characterized as a stern and cerebral individual who had little concern for practical matters. However, Calvin was actually influential in promoting a profound sense of piety among early Protestantism. In The Soul of Life, Joel R. Beeke presents the life and ministry of Calvin with a special emphasis on Calvin’s efforts for cultivating healthy spirituality among the churches. The selections from Calvin’s own work will give readers a firsthand look at Calvin’s emphasis on godliness, and by God’s grace, will be a means for spurring on greater godliness in our day.

Table of Contents:


The Life of John Calvin

The Piety of John Calvin

Section One: The Definition and Importance of Piety

1. Piety Essential for Knowing God

2. Piety as “the Soul of Life”

3. Piety in Practice

Section Two: Piety’s Supreme Goal, Soli Deo Gloria

4. Piety’s Zeal for God

5. Piety’s Progress

6. Piety’s Imperfection

Section Three: Theological Dimensions

Piety’s Profound Root: Mystical Union

7. Relishing an Incomprehensible Union

8. Enjoying a Great Mystery

9. Eating the Living Bread

Piety’s Double Bond: The Spirit and Faith

10. The Spirit and Faith

11. Faith’s Boldness and Confidence

12. Faith Struggling against Temptation

Piety’s Double Cleansing: Justification and Sanctification

13. Justification Inseparable from Sanctification

14. What Is Justification?

15. The Means and Source of Sanctification

Section Four: Ecclesiological Dimensions

Piety Through the Church

16. Confessing the Church’s Holiness

17. Keeping Sunday Holy

18. Sharing Gifts for the Church’s Good

Piety of the Word

19. True Knowledge by the Word

20. True Education through Preaching

21. True Completeness through the World

Piety in the Sacraments

22. The Spirit in the Sacraments

23. Dying to Become New Creatures

24. Being Members of Christ

Piety in the Psalter

25. Identifying with David

26. Holiness Essential for Access to God

27. Hoping in God despite Discouragement

Section Five: Practical Dimensions


28. Why Pray?

29. Coming to God’s Treasures

30. Praying with Confidence


31. Prayer, Forgiveness, and Repentance

32. Turning to God from the heart

33. Seizing Repentance


34. Belonging to god rather than Ourselves

35. Controlling Our Carnal Affections

36. Fighting against Our natural Inclinations


37. Christ’s Cross and Ours

38. Taking Refuge in God

39. Lining Up for Combat

The Present and Future Life

40. Resting in God’s Will

41. Cherishing Moderation

42. Remaining at Leisure for God’s Service


43. Obeying God’s Will

44. Honoring God and Living Justly

45. Making Our Responsibility Clear

Recommended Books by or about Calvin 


Series Description 

Seeking, then, both to honor the past and yet not idolize it, we are issuing these books in the series Profiles in Reformed Spirituality. The design is to introduce the spirituality and piety of the Reformed Profiles in Reformed Spirituality tradition by presenting descriptions of the lives of notable Christians with select passages from their works. This combination of biographical sketches and collected portions from primary sources gives a taste of the subjects’ contributions to our spiritual heritage and some direction as to how the reader can find further edification through their works. It is the hope of the publishers that this series will provide riches for those areas where we are poor and light of day where we are stumbling in the deepening twilight.



Joel R. Beeke (PhD, Westminster Seminary) is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary; a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan; editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth; editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books; and a prolific author.



"By any measurement John Calvin was one of the most remarkable and influential figures in all church history. His was truly a purpose-driven ministry. As a preacher he was committed to systematic biblical exposition, as a lecturer in Scripture to careful and wise teaching, as a pastor to deep personal care, and as an international leader, to the encouragement of other ministers. Few men today understand such a multi-dimensional life program as well as Dr. Joel Beeke, whose own ministry echoes Calvin's in many ways. He is the ideal guide to introduce us to Calvin. And The Soul of Life is an ideal guidebook. Read on, and you will want to read more." - Sinclair Ferguson