Upon Calvin’s return to Geneva in 1541 (after being kicked out in 1538 and taking refuge in Strasbourg, France), Geneva requested the publication of a new catechism.
Calvin wrote and finished the French version of this catechism in 1541 and published it in 1542. In 1545, Calvin published a Latin version of the same catechism, as Latin would give it a wider exposure beyond France. The catechism was also known as The Catechism of the Church of Geneva.
Below are excerpts from an English translation of the 1541 French edition as published in The School of Faith: The Catechisms of the Reformed Church, translated, edited and with an introduction by Thomas F. Torrance, (Harper Collins Publishers, 1959) and reprinted in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, Vol. 1, 152-1552, compiled with introductions by James T. Dennison, Jr. (Reformation Heritage Books, 2008). The page numbers are to Dennison’s volume.
Calvin’s Catechism, 1541
8. To consider these things in order, and explain them more fully—what is the first point?
To rely upon God.
9. How can we do that?
First by knowing Him as almighty and perfectly good.
10. Is this enough?
Because we are unworthy that He should show His power in helping us, or employ His goodness toward us.
12. What more then is required?
That we be certain that He loves us, and desires to be our Father, and Savior.
13. How do we know that?
By His Word, in which He declares His mercy to us in Christ, and assures us of His love toward us.
119. What do you mean then by saying that a man is justified by faith?
That in believing the promises of the gospel and in receiving them in true affiance [trust, confidence] of the heart, we enter into this righteousness.
120. You mean then that as God offers righteousness to us by the gospel, so it is by faith that we receive it?