I recently read a book called Radiant about “fifty remarkable women in church history.” I realised reading this that many people have suffered greatly in the UK and Europe (as well as elsewhere of course) in order to reach people with the true gospel of grace. Here is an extract from the chapter about Katharine Hamilton, the sister of James Hamilton. They were Scottish aristocracy in the 16th Century. James read the New Testament as well as some of the writings of Martin Luther, and began telling people about the forgiveness Jesus offers to sinners. In this extract, James is explaining to his sister what he has learnt:
“But can it be that simple?” Katharine asked. “All I need to do is trust in Jesus, and all my sins are forgiven and I inherit heaven?”
“As I have been showing you from Scripture,” Patrick said, lifting up his English New Testament, “we sinners can find peace with God only by believing in Christ. He that lacks faith cannot please God.”
“But the priests and friars have always taught us,” she said, “that the way to heaven is through obedience to the church and good works.”
“Whoever believes or thinks that he can be saved by his own works,” he told her, “denies that Christ is his Saviour and that Christ died for him. For how is He your Saviour if you can save yourself by your own works?”
“Are you saying that all my acts of penance and alms for the poor and pilgrimages to holy shrines – that none of that wins God’s favour?”
“Faith in Christ alone makes a sinner right with God,” he answered. “Look to Jesus who did it all for you on the cross. Forsake your trust in religious acts and come to Christ.”
If I were to underline the important bits, I’d have to underline the lot. I’m so thankful that our gracious God allowed people, especially influential people, to unearth the true gospel and preach it to rich and poor alike. Whoop, whoop! If that ain’t worth baking a cake for, I don’t know what is.