Blog 155: 3.22.4 - 3.22.7

Sean Lucas

Calvin moves to establish his argument that election is rooted in God's sovereign determination and not in human merit by turning to Romans 9-11. There he finds in the case of Jacob and Esau this basic principle: "If the will of God, the cause of which which neither appears nor ought to be sought outside of himself, distinguishes some from others, so that not all the sons of Israel are true Israelites, it is vain to pretend that every man's condition begins in himself" (3.22.4).

This principle cuts two ways. First, there is no human merit through works that causes God to choose some instead of others. In the case of Jacob and Esau, God's election and reprobation occurred before either man existed outside of the womb (3.22.6).

Second and implied, there is no continuing performance through works that justifies God's choice of some instead of others. Calvin asks, "Inasmuch as God establishes your salvation in himself alone, why do you descend to yourself? Since he appoints for you his mercy alone, why do you have recourse to your own merits? Seeing that he confines your thought within his mercy alone, why do you turn your attention in part to your own works?" (3.22.6).

At the end of the day, we can rest in God's mercy because it is rooted in God's good pleasure and not in our good works. Will you turn your heart from your own deeds or misdeeds to revel in the free grace of God?