John Chrysostom was born 349 AD and died 407 AD. During his life he was a deacon, the priest of Antioch, the Archbishop of Constantinople and in the end was exiled and died. He was known as the golden mouth because of his persuasive preaching style and because he spoke to the issues of the day (in my mind he would have many a very good Southern Baptist preacher). He preacher grace he called out sin he comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. He has a great body of work that has survived him in the form of sermons, letters and yes, even commentaries. One article I read stated that he is one of the few church fathers whose sermon are still read today 1600 years after they were written,
and historian Hans von Campenhausen wrote that his sermons “are probably the only ones from the whole of Greek antiquity which … are still readable today as Christian sermons.
Here are a few excerpts from his sermons:
On the temporal gifts of God.
“It is foolishness and a public madness,” he once preached, “to fill the cupboards with clothing and allow men who are created in God’s image and our likeness to stand naked and trembling with the cold so that they can hardly hold themselves upright.… You are large and fat, you hold drinking parties until late at night, and sleep in a warm, soft bed. And do you not think of how you must give an account of your misuse of the gifts of God?”
On the importance of scripture as it applies to our daily life:
“Each of you take in hand that part of the Gospels which is to be read in your presence on the first day of the week. Sit down at home and read it through; consider often and carefully its content, and examine all its parts well, noting what is clear and what is confusing. From such zeal there will be no small benefit to you and to me.” (Interesting because it suggests that they had copies and that they could read)
On sin and repentance:
“Go into the church and wipe out your sin. As often as you fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent of your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared.
“Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent! For here there is a physician’s office, not a courtroom. [The church] is not a place where punishment of sin is exacted, but where the forgiveness of sin is granted. Tell your sin to God alone: ‘Before you alone have I sinned, and I have done what is evil in your sight.’ And your sin will be forgiven you.”
On facing opposition:
“The waters are raging, and the winds are blowing, but I have no fear for I stand firmly upon a rock. What am I to fear? Is it death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Is it exile? The earth and everything it holds belongs to the Lord. Is it loss of property? I brought nothing into this world, and I will bring nothing out of it. I have only contempt for the world and its ways, and I scorn its honors.”
Another interesting point was that John was not impressed with “reason” alone as a means to evangelize, on that subject he said:
“Let us show forth then a new kind of life. Let us make earth, heaven; let us hereby show the Greeks of how great blessings they are deprived. For when they behold in us good conversation, they will look upon the very face of the kingdom of Heaven.… Thus they too will be reformed.… For not even a dead man raised so powerfully attracts the Greek as a person practicing self-denial.”