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Augustine of Hippo (AD 354–430) is likely the most important theologian since the days of the Apostles. In his Confessions, he penned a prayer that ranks among the most famous words ever written: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Yet many don’t know the full context of those words. He wrote: “Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You—man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You ‘resist the proud’—yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. Lord, teach me to know and understand which of these should be first: to call on You, or to praise You; and likewise to know You, or to call on You. But who calls upon You without knowing You? For he that knows You not may call upon You as other than You are. Or perhaps we call on You that we may know You. But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher? (Rom. 10:14) And those who seek the Lord shall praise Him. For those who seek shall find Him (Matt. 7:7), and those who find Him shall praise Him. Let me seek You, Lord, in calling on You, and call on You in believing in You; for You have been preached unto us. O Lord, my faith calls on You—that faith which You have imparted to me, which You have breathed into me through the incarnation of Your Son, through the ministry of Your preacher.”

Augustine did not get everything right. Nevertheless, he remains one of the greatest examples of faith and piety in church history. Before his conversion, Augustine sought to find rest in the fleeting pleasures of life. But when the Holy Spirit regenerated his depraved soul, Augustine found ultimate rest.

As believers, we know that our restless hearts have ultimate rest on account of God’s having declared us righteous by grace through faith in Christ. Therefore, we can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ and rest assured that we have eternal life. Yet we do well to daily ensure that we continue to rest in God rather than in the transitory comforts that this life offers, living every day in the knowledge that we live coram Deo, before the face of God.

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From the February 2024 Issue
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