Posted by: Kenn Hermann | February 4, 2007

Our Only Comfort in Life and in Death

Over the last several months I have been working with my father on end of life issues — wills, health care directives, proxy, etc. That, in turn, has spurred me to update my own ‘last things.’ Heavy, sobering, and reflective opportunities. Listen to these words of John Calvin’s last will and testament as he expresses the depth of the comfort he finds in our Lord Jesus Christ as he nears the end of his life:

In the name of the Lord – Amen. I, John Calvin, minister of the word of God in the church of Geneva, finding myself so much oppressed and afflicted with various diseases, that I think the Lord God has determined speedily to remove me out of this world, have ordered to be made and written, my testament, and declaration of my last will, in form and manner following: First, I give thanks to God, that taking compassion on me whom he had created and placed in this world, he not only delivered me by his power out of the deep darkness of idolatry, into which I was plunged, that he might bring me into the light of his gospel, and make me a partaker of the doctrine of salvation, of which I was most unworthy; that with the same goodness and mercy he has graciously and kindly borne with my multiplied transgressions and sins, for which I deserved to be rejected and cut off by him; and has also exercised towards me such great compassion and clemency, that he has condescended to use my labor in preaching and publishing the truth of his gospel. I also testify and declare, that it is my full intention to pass the remainder of my life in the same faith and religion, which he has delivered to me by his gospel; having no other defense or refuge of salvation than his gratuitous adoption, on which alone my safety depends. I also embrace with my whole heart the mercy which he exercises towards me for the sake of Jesus Christ, atoning for my crimes by the merits of his death and passion, that in this way satisfaction may be made for all my transgressions and offenses, and the remembrance of them blotted out. I further testify and declare that, as a suppliant, I humbly implore of him to grant me to be so washed and purified by the blood of that sovereign Redeemer, sited for the sins of the human race, that I may be permitted to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself. I likewise declare, that according to the measure of grace and mercy which God has vouchsafed me, I have diligently made it my endeavor, both in my sermons, writings, and commentaries, purely and uncorruptly to preach his word, and faithfully to interpret his sacred Scriptures. I testify and declare that in all the controversies and disputes, which I have conducted with the enemies of the gospel, I have made use of no craftiness, nor corrupt and sophistical arts, but have been engaged in defending the truth with candor and sincerity.

Addendum: 3 days after I wrote this my father died peacefully in his recliner while waiting for a piece of pie. He was 86. I will have more to say about my father’s life and its impact on mine in the days ahead. Thankfully, Dad is being held by the same Lord as is holding John Calvin. They, and all the saints, are yearning for the revealing of the Sons of God.



  1. Hello, Kenn. I was saddened to hear about the recent death of your dad. Even as I write this I am confronting increasing illnesses that my parents are dealing with. It all seems to happen so quickly. People who seemed vital and self-reliant seem to have become beset by illness and dependency overnight. Your posting lets me realize that I am not alone in facing up to my elders’ mortality( and mine, too). You and your family are in my prayers.

    Shalom from Toledo

  2. Thanks, Kelvin. You and your family are in my prayers. You are certainly not alone in confronting the mortality of family, friends, and self.

  3. Kenn,
    I’m sorry to hear aboutt he loss of your father.
    Thank you for reminding me that
    I am not my own
    but belong body and soul
    in life and in death
    to my faithful saviour Jesus Christ

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