Resource Highlight – For Us and for Our Salvation

41A4lC2sBBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Do not devote your attention to the fallacies of artificial discourses,
nor the vain promises of plagiarizing heretics, but to the venerable
simplicity of unassuming truth. – Hippolytus, 325 A.D.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the advancement of the gospel the first several hundred years after the apostles? What efforts did the men who came after Peter, Paul and Timothy undergo to preserve and spread the message of Christ?

While there’s no shortage of books to read regarding these subjects, I was glad to find something on the more manageable size which aimed to tackle much of this and more. The author of For Us and for Our Salvation, Stephen Nichols, also hosts a great podcast, 5 Minutes in Church History. Whether discussing Martin Luther’s 95 Theses or the Biblical truths found in Beowulf, it’s always interesting and more than a little educational to see what he digs up.

In this book, Nichols offers even more to chew on. By walking through great moments and leaders throughout the history of early Christianity, he offers a snapshot of the first five centuries after Christ’s resurrection. The picture one receives is that as modern Christians we are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.

The early fathers went to great lengths to see that the church thought and believed properly about the person of Christ, so that it in turn accurately and persuasively proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

The book strikes a good balance, being both scholarly and light-hearted. It’s divided into six chapters; three acting as history lessons of sorts, and the remaining three including excerpts of selected documents from crucial periods of gospel advancement. Throughout, the author sorts through good and bad theology from these early eras, along with personalities, politics, bold actions and difficult obstacles attributing to the preservation of sound doctrine.

Among the subjects he unpacks are men like Ignatius, who loved Scripture, often quoting Paul in his letters to churches whenever wishing to drive home a point. Ignatius held fast to Biblical instructions for bishops, elders and deacons, defending his faith even to the point of martyrdom in 107 A.D. There are also the great efforts taken by men like Leo, who fought to refute false claims that sprung forth concerning Christ’s two natures—His humanity and deity. The book also highlights the importance of the leadership councils that gathered to form and approve the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds, to promote a foundational understanding of whom Christ was/is and what He came to accomplish.

If the church got it wrong on the person of Christ, the church would be wrong on the work of Christ.

But wait… there’s more. From Augustine to Athanasius, to those who confronted the early false gospels and ideologies such as Plato’s teachings and Gnosticism, the book shows why it’s important to care about the people and events that came before us. Because like these early leaders, we want to ensure the next generation properly knows the doctrine of Christ, the God-man who came “for us and for our salvation”.

Kevin Wilder

Posted on: February 17, 2015 - 8:00AM

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