The salvation of God permeated Spurgeon’s sermons. He preached Christ unashamedly, purposely, and convincingly. That was his theme no matter the text. He pointed others to the Captain of salvation urging sinners to run to Christ Jesus to be rescued from looming destruction.
Sometimes failure makes us work harder. Such was likely the case with Morgan who in his twenties failed his trial sermon to serve in the Methodist church. He was eventually ordained in the Congregational church. But he never forgot his trial sermon failure and thanked God for it insisting that God took his feet in another direction.
There is no doubt that Matthew Henry’s rich Christian heritage contributed greatly to both his faithfulness in his Christian walk, as well as his effectiveness in preaching and writing.
Both Farel and Calvin were clear from the very beginning that the purity of the church was critical for Reformation. They neither hid their motives, nor were ambiguous as to why this was important. The Reformation was a “back to the Bible” movement through and through. Sola Scriptura was the rallying cry from its launching point. But seeking purity within the church in Geneva would not be easy.
As Geneva sought her independence, it is important to understand that Calvin was more focused on his native France. He dedicated his first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) to King Francis I with a letter pleading for the religious toleration of Protestants in France. The very month Calvin published the Institutes, he had just turned 27, and intended to pursue his writing endeavors in relative peace. In fact, he never intended to set foot in Geneva. He had set his own course for Strasbourg, fleeing his native France to fight on behalf of the Reformation with his pen, in seclusion, with his books by his side.
Melanchthon’s very heritage helps us better understand his political and ecclesiastical efforts to unite a divided church. He cherished the traditions of the church; while at the same time saw the corruption and abuses that had developed throughout the centuries within the church. He also was aware from a pragmatic perspective that the longevity of the Reformation depended in some measure upon both political coercion and cooperation of the highest of government officials.
As Calvin’s influence rose, Geneva became a safe haven for French Protestant refugees. Calvin successfully attracted the elite and Aristocratic factions of Catholic dominated France to seek schooling in Geneva due to its reputed academic quality. But the Geneva academy was no ivory tower theological school. The pastors and missionaries educated at the school knew they were going back to a battleground in their native France. France was solidly Roman Catholic and persecution was in full swing during the Counter Reformation.
The spiritual DNA of those in the new covenant has been sent to God’s laboratory, and the results reveal that Abraham is the father of them all because Christ is their “blood brother”. The emphasis is not the differences of racial privilege or lack thereof. The emphasis is what they have in common now, which is Christ.
Ambrose was instrumental in Augustine’s conversion. R.C. Sproul has written, “We owe a great debt to Ambrose, who by discipling Augustine got the ball rolling for the Reformation, in a manner of speaking.” Augustine himself moved to Milan in 384 and went to hear Ambrose preach. Here are Augustine’s own words on the matter of his conversion: “Unknown to me, it was you, God, who led me to Ambrose so that I might be led to you by Ambrose.” Augustine was even baptized by Ambrose.
Christians are like a different race of people. They are marked out by their love for one another. Their customs, ways, purposes, and passions are derived from their relationship with Christ, the God-Man. Because of His love for them, they are able to love one another regardless of their divergent backgrounds. They are joined to this Christ and therefore joined to one another. There is an unbreakable union that skin color doesn’t interfere with. We read nothing of the early church demanding racial reparations or justice regarding past sins or failures of the forefathers of other Christians. Victimology was hardly a term coined in the second century, nor even a concept understood or recognized.