It’s inspiring to find unity in the Church, Catholic and Protestant, and that’s where we find the phenomenal influence of Augustine. He’s considered the father of faith in both branches of Christianity in the midst of our division. Let’s consider this man.
Living at the turn the fifth century he was saved as the Holy Spirit revealed his true identity, a hopeless sinner, and he spent the rest of his life seeking God, writing Christian doctrine, and defending the faith. He was a philosopher, pastor, bishop, mystic, poet, and theologian extraordinaire that has had incalculable influence on the Church. The Reformation was an attempt to bring the Church back to the Bible and the Bible teachings of Augustine as we saw in Luther and Calvin.
When God delivered Augustine from his self-centered and pleasure-seeking lifestyle he realized a simple truth; he never would’ve sought God by choice. His revelation, as Jesus taught, was that mankind is totally unable to come to God on his own but only through His grace are we drawn. That’s good, God-centered Bible doctrine of Catholics and Protestants.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. John 6:44a ESV
Augustine was also a gifted speaker and saturated himself with Scripture for preaching. His realization of this amazing grace and the experience of extreme joy stirred up passion and devotion to God at being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in Him.
I’m intrigued by his famous writing entitled the City of God. It clearly shows what scripture calls the Kingdom of God and it’s distinction from the Kingdom of Darkness. Augustine’s contrast is dramatic and inescapable; where is your citizenship? Are you living for God or for yourself: that’s his enduring question.
Augustine explains the two loves in our life: self and God. Our choices in life reflect our ‘city’. When you reside in the City of God you’ll reflect humility, love, and obedience. Your love and trust of God will exceed yourself and He will be your Lord. On the other hand, when you love and trust yourself, living in pride and rebellion to God, your citizenship remains in the City of Man. Augustine taught that we are constantly battling our flesh (City of Man) to remain in the City of God. Can you identify?
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17 ESV
I think if Augustine were preaching today he’d see very little difference in our culture from his own, consequently, he’d have the same message; be so in love with God that you live every day for Him and not yourself. Remember who you were before Him but keep your eyes focused on who you are now and for eternity: in Christ.