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When John Calvin first began writing his Institutes of the Christian Religion, he had in mind a short handbook or manual which would set out the essentials of the Christian faith.
The Christian life, as Calvin describes it, is lived simultaneously in the shadow of the cross and in the bright light of the resurrection. That the writer himself knew something of the cost of discipleship is clear from a consideration of his own experience. The distress of exile, the burden of poverty, the hurt of slander and misrepresentation, the threat of physical harm, were all things he knew at first hand.
As we see in this book, the essential thing is that, in good times and in bad, we continue to trust God who through grace has adopted us as his children, who quickens and comforts us by his Spirit, and who bids us persevere in well-doing until our life's end.