I've noticed that often when I'm out on my own, like I am now in El Paso, I can get spiritually discouraged. I've realized that I need other Christians to be constantly reminding me of the glorious truth of the gospel. I need people to remind me that my hope in Christ is one that cannot be shaken and that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ.
So as I prepared to leave Christian friends behind in Loma Linda I was hoping I would have some very encouraging book to read during my time in El Paso. For me the most encouraging books tend to be biographies of missionaries and also some devotional-type books which are specifically written to be encouraging. But my only new book, and one which I was very excited about getting into, did not fit into any of these categories. The book is Melanchthon and Bucer edited by Wilhelm Pauck. In the past few years I've come to appreciate the writings of Luther and Calvin more than ever so I wanted to branch out and read some other reformers. Even though I'm sure I agree with Melanchthon and Bucer on most important theological points and even though I'm thankful for how God used them during the Reformation I was skeptical about how encouraged I would be by reading a collection of their writings. I guess I thought it would just be dense theology requiring a lot of effort to get through and analyze. It's not that I think that kind of reading isn't useful but often reading dense theology is not the most encouraging thing to me.
But thankfully, I was wrong. I started reading Melanchthon's Loci Communes Theologici, or "Fundamental Theological Themes," and I've found it to be quite encouraging. Melanchthon's love for Christ and thankfulness for the gospel is obvious in his writing.
Here's a quote from this work of Melanchthon:
But how Abraham's faith was assaulted when it was put to the test by a veritable battering ram! I mean the time when he was ordered to sacrifice Isaac in whom he knew his posterity had been promised. How constant in faith was young Isaac when he did not delay at all in obeying the command of his father nor the divine will! Do you think that a father could have carried out such a harsh command against his son, and a son to whom posterity had been promised? Do you think that the son would have obeyed the father unless each had trusted in divine mercy and entrusted himself to it? Nor did faith deceive. The son was saved, he was restored to his father, and the obedience of the father was praised. Do you see that here was rehearsed the whole drama of sin, death, justification, and resurrection, and indeed of the whole New Testament? Or can we not say that not only Abraham and Isaac, but all the faithful who lived before the gospel was revealed, learned from this the hope God offers in the face of death. Indeed, did not the fathers perceive the victory over death by this example, and did they not see here a prelude to Christ who was to crush the head of the serpent, the sting of death?-Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), Loci Communes Theologici