Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do you have a prodigal in your family? Here is the story of Augustine of Hippo.


Born- November 13, 354 A.D.
Died - August 28, 430A.D.
Notable work(s) The City of God.

It seems that in every Christian family there is a prodigal son or daughter.  Their lives are never quite featured in the annual Christmas letter.  But the burden of a child not knowing Christ, gradually getting worse, giving way more than ever to sin bears down on their weary parents. In our ministry we are meeting many, many discouraged moms and dads. Some are missionaries, some are in pastoral ministry, some are Christian businessmen and women, some are home-school parents-all are discouraged. Below is the testimony of one of the greatest Christians and theologians who ever lived. His name was Augustine.  Here is his testimony, part one.

St. Augustine
In North Africa around 354 A.D. Aurelius Augustinus was born. We know him today as St. Augustine.  His father was a pagan man known as Patricius who was quite a philosopher in his own right and led his son in Greek and Roman culture. His father educated him with a perspective which involved religious rituals of indulgent sexual practices and other fleshly actions. Monica, Augustine’s mother on the other hand, was a committed and devoted Christian. 

When Augustine was eleven years old, he went to a school where he learned Latin literature, cultivated quite an interest in philosophy and was known for his brilliant mind.  As he grew, he had no interest in his mother’s faith and decided to follow his father’s teachings. His mother had taught him the best she could, but his father’s religion offered a more tantalizing philosophy. He could freely indulge in sexual pleasures and flaunt his intellectual prowess.  Monica knew she was losing her son, spiritually. She had taught him and prayed for him but when he became an adult, he turned away further and further until he decided to go to Rome. He knew there he would be able to indulge his flesh and participate in even more carnal pleasures.  She begged him not to go, wept and kept praying. She stood at the harbor as his ship set sail and cried and cried, no doubt wondering why God had not answered her prayers for her beloved son.

When Augustine arrived in Rome, her predictions came true. He went so deeply into sin that he actually began a relationship with a woman whom he never married but lived with for thirteen years and fathered a son named Adeodatus.
He became a teacher of rhetoric and philosophy and by age thirty, he was known as an academic and was on track to a shining political career.

At age 32, he began to doubt some of his own doctrine and became disenchanted with the student s in Carthage who were very defiant and undisciplined. Then he wanted to establish a school in Rome, but the students there were very apathetic. Augustine’s life was beginning to unravel, which would be the start of the answer to his mother’s prayers. One day, as he reports in his autobiography,


I was unwilling to enter His narrow way. And it was becoming a heavy grief to me that I continued to act like a worldling, now that I longed for the sweetness and beauty of your eternal home. The reason for my unwillingness was that I was bound by my love for women.
Oh yes, I was certain that it was better to commit myself to your love than to give in to my sensuality. Still I kept giving the slow, sleepy reply: “Soon, Lord. I will come to you soon.” But “soon” had no ending. Because I was so violently held by my evil habit, my mind was being torn. I wanted freedom, but I was being held as if against my own will—and I suppose I contributed to this state of confusion, since I willingly allowed myself to slide into sin.

But you, O Lord, used the changed lives of other men and women like a mirror to keep turning me around to face myself. You set me in front of my own face so that I might see how deformed, how crooked and sordid and stained and ulcerous I was. Horrified, I turned and tried to run from myself—only to find that you were there, too, thrusting me in front of myself. You wanted me to discover my iniquity and hate it, because it bound me and kept me from going with you.

Yet my soul hung back.     
So I lived for a long while in a silent, trembling misery, for I was afraid of giving up my sin as much as I feared death—even though it was because of my evil I was wasting away to death!

His Conversion, coming in Part 2. If you wish to go to Part 1

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