In the fourth century, Augustine (A.D. 354-430) heard a child singing the words tole lege, tole lege (“take up and read”). The song was unfamiliar to Augustine, but he received the message as coming from God and promptly retrieved a copy of Scripture which he opened randomly in haste. What some might call “the lucky dip,” Augustine read the passage which appeared before him. The text was Romans 13:13-14, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
The application for Augustine was unmistakable as he was given over to a life described in these verses. It was a word from God that led to his repentance and conversion. Augustine referenced this experience in his class work, Confessions, “Instantly, as the sentence ended—-by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart—all the gloom of doubt was vanished away.”Augustine was converted to Christ.
Eleven hundred years after Augustine, Martin Luther (1483-1546) discovered from his study of Romans that the “righteous shall live by faith” (1:17). In God’s providence, Luther would recover the gospel which had been eclipsed through neglect of the Scripture in the life of the church. Ignorance, superstition, and religious bondage were widespread as a result. This renewed commitment to Scripture brought forth the light of the gospel and would launch the Protestant Reformation. (more…)