Tag Archives: Advent

“The perfections of the Son of God” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do not separate the Son from the perfections of God, for those perfections of the Father are not to be mentioned in such a way as to be withdrawn from Him who said: ‘I and the Father are one,’ and of whom the Apostle says: ‘Who, though he was by nature God, did not consider it robbery to be equal to God.’

Now, robbery is the usurpation of another’s property even though there be an equality in nature. In view of this, how will the Son not be omnipotent, since through Him all things were made and since He is also the Power and Wisdom of God?

Moreover, in that form in which He is equal to the Father He is by nature invisible. In fact, the Word of God is invisible by nature because He was in the beginning and He was God.

In this same nature He is also completely immortal, that is, He remains immutable in every respect. For the human soul is also said to be immortal to a certain extent, but that is not genuine immortality in which there is such great change, making it possible to fail and to advance.

Thus, it is death for the human soul to be severed from the life of God through the ignorance which is in the soul; but it is life for it to run to the fountain of life, so that in the light of God it may see light. Immediately after this life you, too, through the grace of Christ, will be restored from certain death which you renounce.

But the Word of God, the only-begotten Son, always lives unchangeably with His Father. He neither decreases, because His abiding presence is not lessened; nor does He advance, because His perfection is not increased.

He Himself is the Creator of the visible and invisible worlds, because, as the Apostle says: ‘In him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto him, … and in him all things hold together.’

However, since He ‘emptied himself,’ not losing the nature of God, but ‘taking the nature of a slave,’ He, the invisible, became visible in this form of a servant, because He was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary.

In this form of a servant, the Omnipotent One became weak, in that He suffered under Pontius Pilate.

In this form of a servant, the Immortal One died, in that He was crucified and was buried.

In this form of a servant, the King of ages rose on the third day.

In this form of a servant, the Creator of things visible and invisible ascended into heaven, whence He had never departed.

In this form of a servant, He who is the arm of the Father, and of whom the Prophet says: ‘And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?’ sits at the right of the Father.

In this form of a servant, He will come to judge the living and the dead, for in this form He wished to be a Companion of the dead inasmuch as He is the Life of the living.

Through Him the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and by Himself, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, sent by both, begotten by neither; the unity of both, equal to both.

This Trinity is one God, omnipotent, invisible, King of ages, Creator of things visible and invisible.

For we do not speak of three Lords, or of three Omnipotent Ones, or of three Creators or of three of whatever other perfections of God can be mentioned, because there are not three Gods but only one God.

Although in this Trinity, the Father is not the Son, nor is the Son the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit the Son or the Father, yet the Father belongs to the Son; the Son, to the Father; and the Holy Spirit, to both the Father and the Son.

Believe so that you may understand. For, unless you believe, you will not understand.

As a result of this faith, hope for grace by which all your sins will be forgiven. Only in this way and not by your own efforts will you be saved, for salvation is a gift of God.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “On the Presentation of the Creed,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 117–120.

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“The star is in the east” by Patrick Schreiner

“The magi have come to worship Jesus, but Jerusalem, the scribes, and Herod the king are troubled when they hear that a new king has appeared on the scene.

The narrative reverses the symbolism of the place of exile. The place that was far from God is now the place of exile. The place that was far from God is now the place of true obeisance.

Matthew confirms that the king is on the scene, but His own people don’t recognize Him. As in the Wisdom literature, wisdom demands a choice between two ways.

As Matthew indicated in the genealogy, Jesus is not only the King of the Jews but now also the King of the whole world.

Jesus both fulfills the old covenant and inaugurates the new.

The star is in the east because the King has come to welcome those ‘east of Eden’ who were cast out so long ago (cf. Gen. 3:24; 4:16).”

–Patrick Schreiner, Matthew, Disciple and Scribe: The First Gospel and Its Portrait of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 80.

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“A Bridegroom who is beautiful wherever He is” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness more powerful than human strength. Let us who believe, therefore, run to meet a Bridegroom who is beautiful wherever He is.

Beautiful as God, as the Word who is with God, He is beautiful in the Virgin’s womb, where He did not lose His Godhead but assumed our humanity.

Beautiful He is as a baby, as the Word unable to speak, because while He was still without speech, still a baby in arms and nourished at His mother’s breast, the heavens spoke for Him, a star guided the Magi, and He was adored in the manger as food for the humble.

He was beautiful in heaven, then, and beautiful on earth: beautiful in the womb, and beautiful in His parents’ arms.

He was beautiful in His miracles but just as beautiful under the scourges.

Beautiful as He invited us to life, but beautiful too in not shrinking from death.

Beautiful in laying down His life and beautiful in taking it up again.

Beautiful on the cross, beautiful in the tomb, and beautiful in heaven.

Listen to this song (i.e. Psalm 45) to further your understanding, and do not allow the weakness of His flesh to blind you to the splendor of His beauty.

He is lovely in all respects.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Exposition of Psalm 44, in Expositions of the Psalms, 33–50, ed. John E. Rotelle, trans. Maria Boulding (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 283.

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“Christ, the Sun of Righteousness” by John Calvin

“The Lord held to this orderly plan in administering the covenant of His mercy: as the day of full revelation approached with the passing of time, the more He increased each day the brightness of its manifestation.

Accordingly, at the beginning when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam (Gen. 3:15) it glowed like a feeble spark.

Then, as it was added to, the light grew in fullness, breaking forth increasingly and shedding its radiance more widely. At last– when all the clouds were dispersed– Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, fully illumined the whole earth.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1: 446. (2.10.20)

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“Strengthen Your servants to boldly declare Your name” by Columba (A.D. 521-597)

“O Lord,

Holy and true,
Who opens and none can shut,
As You have set before Your church an open door,
Strengthen Your servants to boldly enter in
And to declare Your name,
That they who oppose may yet come to worship
And may know that You love Your church.

Grant to Your people patience to keep Your Word,
And keep them from the hour of trial which is coming
Upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth,
And encourage all Christians in every land
To hold fast that which You have given,
That the crown of glory be not taken away,
But that having overcome, they may stand before You
As pillars in the temple of God
And bear the name of the heavenly city
And Your own new name, O Christ our God.

Father, we commend to You all who are joined to us
By natural bonds of love;
The little children dear to our hearts,
And all who for our sakes daily deny themselves.
May all our kindred,
Having Your Holy Spirit as their helper,
Be at peace and have unfeigned love among themselves.
And grant them, O Lord, not only what is sufficient to supply
The needs of this present life but also the good
And eternal gifts that are laid up for them who do Your commandments
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.”

–Columba, as quoted in Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent(Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 155-156.

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“The hardest promise the Father ever made” by Sinclair Ferguson

“The cross and the empty tomb tell us something. They prove that all of God’s promises can be trusted.

For the promise that His Son would suffer in our place (Isaiah 53:4-6) was surely the hardest promise the Father ever made. And He kept it. In fact, says Paul, ‘all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20)’.

What does God promise to you this Christmas and beyond?

He promises to forgive all your sins when you turn from them.

He promises always to hear you when you call to Him.

He promises only to work for your good.

He promises to walk alongside you through all the hard times, and bring you safely into His presence in heaven.

If you love Him, you will trust Him.

How? By remembering that God has already kept His hardest-to-keep promise in Christ— from His makeshift cradle to His empty grave.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent (Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 101.

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“Christ is the content of Christianity” by Herman Bavinck

“In Christianity, Christ occupies a very different place than Buddha, Zarathustra, and Muhammad do in their respective religions. Christ is not the teacher, not the founder, but the content of Christianity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 284.

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