"For it is written that the just lives by faith. If you are just, and live by faith, if you truly believe in Christ, why, since you are about to be with Christ, and are secure of the Lord’s promise, do you not embrace the assurance that you are called to Christ, and rejoice that you are freed from the devil?"
The other morning, while out on my front porch drinking coffee and reading, I ran across the quote above. I immediately called my friend Mike S., also known as MK, and read the passage to him. I then asked, "Who do you think that is?" Mike hesitated for a moment and said, "It sounds like Luther." That is exactly what I thought when I read it, and that is why I called Mike, to see if he thought the same thing.
The quote precedes Martin Luther by more than twelve hundred years. It was written by St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, somewhere around 250 AD, in a treatise he wrote during a plague that was then raging through North Africa. The treatise is written to comfort believers who were dying or had friends and relatives die from the infection.
Cyprian is my favourite of the Church Fathers that lived prior to the first great council of the whole Church, the Council of Nicea, which was in 325 AD. Cyprian had a pastor's heart. In this treatise also said, "The fear and faith of God ought to make you prepared for everything, although it should be the loss of private estate, although the constant and cruel harassment of your limbs by agonizing disorders, although the deadly and mournful wrench from wife, from children, from departing dear ones; Let not these things be offenses to you, but battles: nor let them weaken nor break the Christian’s faith, but rather show forth his strength in the struggle, since all the injury inflicted by present troubles is to be despised in the assurance of future blessings."
Today, most Christians (Catholic and Protestant) have never heard of, much less, read Cyprian or the other Fathers of the Christian Church. It is our loss, There is much that we can learn from Cyprian and many of the Fathers.