The following quotation is from one of Calvin’s sermons that were collected together as a short book. Its subject is a heavy one. Many who claimed to agree with the Reformation were buckling under the threat of (and often enacted) persecution. A common mentality was of private support of Protestantism, while maintaining the public motions of Catholicism. Calvin edited together these sermons as a charge that such hypocrisy was unthinkable, yet because they are sermons, his call is thoroughly pastoral. He summons Christians to prepare ourselves to suffer for the sake of God’s truth as revealed in his Word. His truth is worth whatever hardship it brings, and we must also strengthen ourselves for facing suffering by growing in the truth.
The whole, little book is well worth reading, and hopefully these few paragraphs will give you a taste.
Hence it is not surprising that today we see so few people who are ready to suffer for the gospel, and that most of those who call themselves Christians do not understand what that means. All are somehow indifferent, and are not concerned to either listen or read: they are content with only a small taste of the Christian faith. That is why they have little staying power. When assailed, they are immediately dismayed. That should make us examine God’s truth with greater care, so that we might have real assurance.
Even so, it is not enough to be well taught and better informed. We know of many who seem almost expert in sound doctrine, and yet who have no more zeal or goodwill than if they knew nothing of God, save as some figment of their imagination. Now why is that, if not because they have never understood the majesty of holy Scripture? In truth, if we, many as we are, reflect that it is there that God speaks to us, we would surely attend to what he says more closely, and with greater reverence. If, when reading Scripture, we imagined ourselves in the school of the angels, we would be much more concerned and willing to apply ourselves to the teaching offered to us.
It is now clear how we may prepare ourselves for suffering for the gospel’s sake. We must progress through God’s school to the point where, convinced of the truth of religion and of the teaching we must follow, we are able to resist all of Satan’s wiles and deceits, and all the inventions of men, as not only useless trifles, but as accursed devices which corrupt Christian purity. In that way, as true martyrs of Jesus Christ, we are different from those sour-faced individuals who suffer for their mad ideas.Pp. 30-31