There are many theological treasures that should attract our attention. I mention only a few in this post. First, consider the great creeds bestowed on us by the dead guys. The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325), The Constantinople Creed (A.D. 381), the Chalcedonian Creed (A.D. 451), the Athanasian Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), and the Heidelberg Catechism.
Second, we can be thankful for the many books that the dead guys wrote for our edification – works from Augustine, Calvin, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Owen, and Edwards. The list goes on and on and provides a lifetime of godly counsel for Christian pilgrims.
Third, consider the great hymns of the faith. The dead guys have written literally thousands of hymns to prompt God-centered worship. I recently read Douglas Bond’s new book, The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. The book describes how Watts penned over 750 hymns, some of them great hymns – like When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Jesus Shall Reign, Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed, and Joy to the World!
The dead guys enrich us with rich theological treasures that inform our Christian lives. Do you hear them? Dead men are talking!
6. The dead guys inspire us to live courageous Christian lives
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (Joshua 1:6, ESV). Over and over, the Scripture calls for courage and fearlessness in the face of danger and persecution. The dead guys inspire us to live courageous Christian lives. Some died of natural causes but faced constant persecution and even the threat of death – men like Luther, Calvin, and Spurgeon.
Others actually gave their lives because of their Christian convictions – men like Polycarp, William Tyndale, Jan Hus, and John Rogers. They inspire us to keep moving. They motivate us to keep fighting the fight. And they challenge us to keep our eyes fixated on the cross of Christ.
7. The dead guys teach us how to endure the trials of life and the flames of persecution
The apostle Paul admonished Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12, ESV). Men like John Calvin, Isaac Watts, and C.H. Spurgeon endured physical pain most of their adult lives. Spurgeon endured gout, kidney disease, and battled depression and melancholy.
Calvin endured more persecution than most of us will see in a lifetime combined. When he returned to pastor in Geneva, the French Huguenots (Protestants from England and Scotland) who sought refuge from “Bloody Mary,” came to Geneva to sit at the feet of the French Reformer. One of those refugees was John Knox who called Calvin’s church in Geneva, “the most perfect school of Christ that ever wa in the earth since the days of the Apostles” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 8, 518). Many of the pastors and leaders who were trained by Calvin were sent out to plant church in Europe. Steven Lawson reports, “Since persecution was certain and martyrdom common for these saints, Calvin’s school of theology became known as ‘Calvin’s School of Death.'”
The dead guys serve as heroes to all of God’s people. They teach us (via pen and through their example) how to endure the trials of life and the flames of persecution.