For the Lord’s Day, September 24, 2023
A while back I was saving up some quotes I highlighted out of Augustine’s Confessions for potential topical sermon ideas. Well, I lost my idea of what I was thinking of doing with them all collected in a document on my desktop for nearly twelve months by now most likely!
So let me simply share them with you here and let you meditate on them. These are from sections where Augustine speaks about his being too proud and self-reliant as what was keeping him away from conversion to God:
“The wounded spirit was, as yet, bold rather than strong, and it was made still weaker because it did not rely on You, but instead presumed on itself.”
“You disturbed me so that I was impatient until You became clear to my inward sight. By Your hand of healing my swelling was eased, my disordered and darkened mind was daily made whole by the stinging salve of sorrow.”
“… I ceased with my continual preoccupation with myself just a little, and my madness was made to sleep.”
“ … a greater joy follows the greater pain.” (Rom. 5:20; 1 Tim. 1:14)
“An overpowering habit kept saying to me, ‘Do you think that you can live without them?’ But now, it said this in a very feeble voice.”
“Why do you stand in your own strength, so that you are not really standing at all?”
The neat thing is to observe the progress toward God as God helped Augustine slowly die to himself. These Scriptures come to mind:
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand (Deuteronomy 32:39).
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up (1 Samuel 2:6).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
What is lovely is what I will next share with you about where God brought Augustine finally after bringing him to the end of himself–to Christ and to Baptism into His Church. His quotes which I’ll share in another devotion are of a completely different tenor: no longer a dreadful dirge but nearly spontaneous rejoicing. May this conversion transformation in Christ define and describe us all!
PS: I encourage you to read the Confessions if you haven’t yet (we have a copy or two in our church library). I forget which fine theologian/pastor said how very important it is to read them in one of our Sabbath class videos this year. But it reminded me of an aside comment once by Dr. Carl Trueman of Mortification of Spin when he said he use to tell his seminary students (when he was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia) something like they couldn’t likely be Christians if they hadn’t yet read them. I’m sharing this as he did, tongue-in-cheek. Still, we all have much to benefit from reading them. I hadn’t before seminary and only did later in my time pastoring here: but each page felt like a devotional by someone still living here with us and a close dear friend.