Reflections: August 28, 2020
Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian
by Mark Buetow
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Augustine, bishop of Hippo (a town in North Africa in the fourth century AD) was not always a pastor. He had not always even been a Christian. But like Saul, who we also know as Paul, Augustine was brought by the Holy Spirit from being a pagan blasphemer who lived for himself, to one of the greatest pastors and theologians the Church has known. It was Augustine's emphasis on grace that gave Martin Luther the foundation later on for reminding the Church that it is not by our works but by what Jesus has done that we are saved.
For Paul, "Now is the day of salvation." Don't wait! Believe in Jesus! Now and every day. Many Christians are Christians from their new birth in Holy Baptism when they were babies. Many Christians don't come to believe in Jesus until later in life. The point is that when the Holy Spirit brings a person to faith in Christ, that is the day of salvation!
Salvation doesn't come because we have good morals or character or because it's a reward for our doing good things. It comes to us by grace. God is gracious, sending His own Son without our even asking, to be the Lamb who takes away our sins on Calvary. Without our contributions, He washes away our sins at the font; without our contributing, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood to eat and drink. Everything we have from Him is a gift. Undeserved. By grace. No strings attached.
That's the Good News that Augustine learned and which he later taught and preached. It's the same Good News that still today makes you and me God's dear and precious and holy people. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless; My soul, believe and doubt it not. Why stagger at this word of promise? Has Scripture ever falsehood taught? No! Then this word must still remain: By grace you too will life obtain. ("By Grace I'm Saved" LSB 566, st. 1)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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