This morning I took a break from studying Hebrew and pulled my copy of the Apostolic Fathers off the shelf and began to read the Letter to Diognetus. The Apostolic Fathers are a collection of early Christian writings, ranging from about the second half of the first century to the first half of the second century. If you are ever looking for baby names, look no further than the Apostolic Fathers. I mean, who could say no to names such as Clement, Polycarp, and Ignatius?
I came across a section of the letter to Diognetus and was gripped by the way the writer describes the beauty of the Gospel:
So then, having already planned everything in his mind together with his child, he permitted us, during the former time, to be carried away by undisciplined impulses as we desired, led astray by pleasures and lusts, not at all because he took delight in our sins, but because he was patient; not because he approved of that former season of unrighteouness, but because he was creating the present season of righteousness in order that we who in the former time were convicted by our own deeds as unworthy of life might now by the goodness of God be made worthy, and, having clearly demonstrated our inability to enter the kingdom of God on our own, might be enabled to do so by God’s power. But when our unrighteousness was fulfilled, and it had been made perfectly clear that its wages—punishment and death—were to be expected, then the season arrived during which God had decided to reveal at last his goodness and power (oh, the surpassing kindness and love of God!).
This next section is what stirred my heart for the Gospel today:
He did not hate us, or reject us, or bear a grudge against us; instead he was patient and forbearing; in his mercy he took upon himself our sins; he himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us, the holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, the just for the unjust, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else but his righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified, except in the Son of God alone? O the sweetest exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous person, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners! Having demonstrated, therefore, in the former time the powerlessness of our nature to obtain life, and having now revealed the Savior’s power to save even the powerless, he willed that for both these reasons we should believe in his goodness and regard him as nurse, father, teacher, counselor, healer, mind, light, honor, glory, strength, and life, and not be anxious about food and clothing.