Reflections of God’s Glory

Blogging the Institutes

Taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion (1541 Edition) by John Calvin

Translated by Robert White

Chapter 1: The Knowledge of God


…whichever way we turn our eyes, there is no part of the world, however small, in which at least some spark of God’s glory does not shine. In particular, we cannot gaze upon this beautiful masterpiece of the world, in all its length and breadth, without being completely dazzled, as it were, by an endless flood of light. Accordingly, in Hebrews the apostle aptly calls the world the mirror of things invisible, because the structure of the world serves as a mirror in which we behold God, who otherwise cannot be seen (Heb 11:3).

The whole purpose of the material creation is to reflect the glory of the invisible God. His glory sparkles in the heavens above, through the warm brilliance of the sun, the cold beauty of the moon and the twinkling shimmer of the stars. It shines forth in the world below, from the rolling hills of green to the ubiquitous oceans of blue. It breaks out from the flight of birds in the air to the fleeting beasts of the field to the swarming fish of the sea. His likeness reflects most clearly in the form of man, crafted lovingly by the Maker’s hand to be His image bearer to all creation.

The Fall brought man low, blighting and obscuring God’s glory to the point where it no longer shines brightly as a light in our dim, myopic vision. All of creation mourns the darkness to which man has plunged it (Rom 8:22). Our blindness and intentional ignorance will not stand up in God’s court. He has revealed enough of Himself to condemn the entire human race for refusing to honor His majesty.

God’s very power should lead us to infer his eternity, since the one in whom all things have their origin must of necessity be eternal and have his beginning in himself. If, besides, we ask the cause which led him to create all things at one stroke, and to preserve them once they were created, we will found no other cause than his goodness which, if it were his only attribute, should be more than enough to draw us to his love. For as the prophet teaches, there is no creature on whom he has not poured out his mercy (Psa 145:9).

God is the uncreated creator of all things that have been created – which is to say, everything. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. If he is both then he is infinite. No one created God for He has always been. He exists outside time and space so he can be bound by neither. He didn’t bring the universe into existence out of need. He doesn’t need us. He is happy and fully content with the fellowship He has with Himself in the great mystery of the Holy Trinity. Out of his goodness, He made man to be beacons of his inestimable glory. We were formed to enjoy His fellowship for all eternity.

Creation, despite crippled in its current state of corruption, provides fallen mankind with every good thing we enjoy. It is in this way that God has had mercy on us all.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt 5:45 ESV)

One thought on “Reflections of God’s Glory

  1. This post, especially at the beginning, reminded me of question 25 in the Catechism of the Church of Geneva, by John Calvin. The question is this:

    Minister. Why do you add, Maker or Creator of Heaven and Earth?
    Child. Inasmuch as he has made himself known to us by his works; in which also he is to be sought by us. For our understandings are not capable of comprehending his essence. The world itself, therefore, it is as it were a glass, in which we may discern him as far as it is for our benefit to know him.

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