Wise Words from Augustine

I am reading through Augustine’s City of God for the next few months. I came across this helpful statement in book V. Augustine is discussing the development and might of the Roman Empire. Specifically, he is delving into the question of how the Romans became so powerful. In his discussion, he brings up to common reasons for why events and such turn out the way that they do: fate and chance. Concerning fate, he writes, “If anyone attributes them to fate because he uses the term ‘fate’ to mean the will or power of God, let him keep to this judgment but correct his language.” (City of God, 187)

There are several important points on which to focus our attention.

  1. He acknowledges that, at times, our language may be accurate theologically, but not linguistically.

    Here Augustine recognizes that there are times in which language is accurate theologically but not linguistically. He goes on to clarify, “For when men hear this word as it is used in ordinary speech, they understand it to mean nothing other than the force exerted by the position of the stars when anyone is born or conceived.” (City of God, 187) So, for example, it is theologically accurate to say that Jesus is like us. However, it may be difficult to say the same thing linguistically. For example, when most people here that phrase, they may assume that means Jesus is only human, not divine.

  2. He reminds us that our language must be accurate in our own context.

    Augustine notes, “Some distinguish this from the will of God [that is, fate], while others affirm that it indeed depends upon His will.” (City of God, 187) Augustine shows that language means different things to different people. Even when using biblical language, it is important for us to consider our context. We can see an example of this in Acts 17:22-31. Paul worked within the understanding of the people of Athens to communicate Gospel truth. He was also careful in what he did not say.

Language is important. How we communicate as Christians, especially in matters related to our sovereign God, are of inestimable importance. So, think theologically, express it accurately, and may God be glorified.

(Image Credit: By Fra Angelico and workshop – Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1022879)

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“Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”: A Prayer

I began rereading John Piper’s book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical MinistryThere are several books that I work through regularly (Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor is highest on the list). Each book stirs up a different flame of passion, a great awareness of personal sin, and a earnest desire to be the kind of pastor that truly honors the Lord Jesus Christ.

At the end of each chapter, Piper offers a prayer that accompanies the topic. For today’s reading, I was deeply moved by it. I hope that it provides you, pastor or not, with a greater desire to know our sovereign and holy God.

Piper prays,

God, delivery us from the professionalizers! Deliver us from the ‘low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among us.’ (Bounds, 1972) God, give us tears for our sins. Forgive us for being so shallow in prayer, so thin in our grasp of holy verities, so content amid perishing neighbors, so empty of passion and earnestness in all our conversation. Restore to us the childlike joy of our salvation. Frighten us with the awesome holiness and power of Him who can cast both soul and body into hell (Matt. 10:28). Cause us to hold to the cross with fear and trembling as our hope-filled and offensive tree of life. Grant us nothing, absolutely nothing, the way the world views it. May Christ be all in all (Col. 3:11).

Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord.

Humble us, O God, under Your mighty hand, and let us rise, not as professionals, but as witnesses and partakers of the sufferings of Christ. In His awesome name. Amen. (Piper, 4)

Brother pastors, let us resolve to ever be in this prayer!

Some Helpful Articles from 9Marks

9Marks is an incredible ministry for churches and pastors. Here are some of their recent articles. I do not own the articles, materials, or anything associated with them. However, I encourage you to visit the links and be blessed.

I was particularly blessed by the Best Books for Pastors in 2017. One book that I’d like to highlight is David Murray’s Reset. I will be reading that annually!

Best Books for Pastors in 2017, by Alex Duke

4 Reasons Every Church Needs Senior Saints, by Tim Counts

Life and Apologetics with R. C. Sproul, an interview with Mark Dever and R. C. Sproul

 

 

 

Photo by Beatriz Pérez Moya on Unsplash