Calvin’s main feature is that he bases everything on the Bible…he does not wish for any philosophy apart from that which emanates from Scripture. It is in the Institutes that one gets biblical theology for the first time, rather than dogmatic theology…For him the great central and all-important truth was the sovereignty of God and God’s glory. We must start here and everything else issues from here. It was God, according to his own free will and according to his infinite wisdom, who created the world. But sin entered and if it were not for God’s grace, there would be no hope for the world.
Man is a fallen creature, with his mind in a state of enmity towards God. He is totally unable to save himself and to reunite himself with God. Everyone would be lost if God had not elected some for salvation and that unconditionally. It is only through Christ’s death that it is possible for these people to be saved, and they would not see or accept that salvation if God through his irresistible grace in the Holy Spirit had not opened their eyes and persuaded them (not forced them) to accept the offer. And even after that, it is God who sustains them and keeps them from falling. Their salvation, therefore, is sure because it depends, not on them and their ability, but on God’s grace. The church is a collection of the elect.
–Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times, p. 35