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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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The Word as a Means of Grace

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Carl R. Trueman


The differences over grace between the medieval Catholic Church and the churches of the Reformation are nowhere more obviously apparent than in the architecture of their respective places of worship. To enter one of the great cathedrals of the high Middle Ages, such as that of Cologne, is to enter a space that is focused on and saturated in the sacraments, specifically the Mass. As one enters the building, one’s eyes are drawn to the high altar because the architect knew his theology. He knew that the most important thing that happened in the liturgy was the celebration of the Mass, where Christ literally came down to meet his people in grace. As the bread and wine became the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, Christ was present with his people. Heaven met earth and all eyes should thus be focused on the place where this mystery took place.


Enter a Protestant cathedral, say, St. Giles’ in Edinburgh, and one enters a very different world. Not only are the usual elaborate aesthetics of medieval piety missing, one’s eyes are drawn not to any altar but rather to the elevated pulpit. Again, the architect knew his theology well, for the most important thing that happens in a Protestant service is the reading and especially... .


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