The Edwards Sermon Project 2: Outlines, Quotes, and Insights for Preaching and Living

29 Oct

As I work my way through the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, besides paraphrasing the messages, I thought I could also try to capture some key brief insights that could easily be used in future sermons or conversations or probably more importantly, in every day life. Here, we look at the second sermon we have from Edwards, which has to do with the value of the salvation of the soul.

We are tempted to place a greater value on material possessions than they are actually worth. In his sermon, The Value of Salvation, Jonathan Edwards gives the following reasons we shouldn’t be as passionate about material possessions as unfortunately we so often are.

1. Stuff doesn’t last forever.

2. You aren’t going to enjoy your stuff forever.

3. It’s actually pretty difficult to enjoy stuff very long at all.

4. If you did have all the stuff in the world, it wouldn’t nearly be worth as much as you might think.

It can be difficult to believe that material possessions aren’t as valuable as we think, so Jonathan Edwards gives several proofs that even if we had everything, we wouldn’t really have much. 

1.  The more stuff you have, the more you want.

2.  The happiness you get from having people respect you, is only because other people think you are important and happy, and not because you actually are important and happy.

3.  Sensual and physical pleasures make great promises but don’t really deliver. Even if you could enjoy them to their full, like fireworks, they really only last a moment, and usually leave you empty in the end.

4.  The best thing you can experience in this world is true friendship, but even that by itself, is pretty disappointing because the reality is the more you love someone the more pain you will experience when they fail you or when they leave you, because in the end they will.

He doesn’t say this to discourage us, but instead to point us to what is really valuable, and that is the salvation of the soul. There are a number of different reasons the salvation of the soul is more valuable than gaining the whole world. 

1. Because of what the soul is saved from.

2. Because of what the soul is saved to.

What exactly is the soul saved from? In other words, what does it mean for a soul to perish?

1. The soul that is not saved will never again experience any sort of pleasure.

2. The soul that is not saved will only experience pain.

3. The soul that is not saved will never again experience pleasure and only experience pain forever.

This is bad news, but what is the good news? What is the soul saved to?

1. The soul that is saved is saved from all sorts of evil. This means they will not experience temptation or affliction any longer. Ever.

2. The soul that is saved will be brought to the enjoyment of all good. Every single part of him will be completely satisfied.

3. The soul that is saved will not experience any suffering and will only experience all joy, forever.

If we need any more proof of the value of the salvation of the soul, we can look to the value God has placed on the soul. What demonstrations do we find that God values the soul?

1. He made the world for the sake of the soul.

2. He sent prophets into this world that souls might be saved.

3. He sent his own Son into this world to die for the sake of the salvation of the soul.

Given the value of the soul and the relative lack of value in material things, how should we then live?

1. We should be careful that we don’t lose our souls.

2. We should do as much as we can so that others souls can be saved as well.

What steps can we take to guard our souls?

1. We should not do things that will damage our souls.

2. We should cry out to God to save our souls.

3. We must work hard at the things that have to do with the good of our souls.

4. We must persevere in seeking the salvation of our souls.

The Edwards Sermon Project: Outlines, Quotes, and Insights for Preaching and Living

29 Oct

As I work my way through the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, besides paraphrasing the messages, I thought I could also try to capture some key brief insights that could easily be used in future sermons or conversations or probably more importantly, in every day life. I will begin with the first sermon we have recorded, Christian Happiness, which Edwards preached when he was around 17.

—–

Why is the godly man the happiest man?

1. Because the bad things that happen to him will turn out for his good

2. Because the good things he enjoys cannot be taken from him

3. Because the best things he will experience are yet to come

How should knowing that godliness produces the best kind of happiness change the way a person lives?

1. It should change the way he feels about the future. What is there to be afraid of when everything works for your good?

2. It should change the way he thinks about obedience. It is hard to think of obedience as a burden when you understand its benefits.

3. It should change the way he lives on a daily basis.  The man who pursues godliness has chosen the best path towards happiness.

4. It should change the way he understands the character of God.  We see the goodness of God in way He has joined godliness to happiness.

A Shaking and Trembling Foundation

29 Oct

“Those commonly prove the most stable and stayed Christians, that have been most harassed by legal terrors before they enjoy a sense of comfort; the structure of grace in the heart is quite contrary to other buildings; it stands firmest when it is laid upon a shaking and trembling foundation. It is a seed that never thrives so well as where the heart is most broken up, and where the wrath of God hath made long and deep furrows in it.”

Ezekiel Hopkins

Nearness and Dearness

28 Oct

“There is no relation that implies nearness and dearness but what is made use of in Scripture to represent our relation to Christ, and the nearest earthly relations are but shadows of it and fall vastly short of fully representing the intimacy and excellency of it.”

Jonathan Edwards

Glorious Grace: A Remix

28 Oct

I am working my way through Jonathan Edwards sermons one by one over the next several years. In previous posts, I gave a brief summary of his sermon entitled, “Christian Happiness,” “The Value of Salvation,” and “Wicked Men’s Slavery to Sin.” It sometimes helps me process what he’s saying better if I try to paraphrase it and so I thought I might offer a short summary paraphrase of the doctrinal portion of his fourth message here, “Glorious Grace.

—-

God is amazing.

He made a universe with a word. That is amazing. He always does what is right. That is amazing. He has never allowed a single sin to go unpunished. And that is amazing.

But out of all the different things you can be amazed by when you look at God, there is absolutely nothing more amazing than His grace.

As sinners, we stand in desperate need of the grace of God, and in the gospel, we see that God has been happy to pour out His grace exactly as we needed Him to.

It was grace that God had any desire to rescue us after we sinned against him in the first place. God did not need to create us, but He did. He did not need to make the world perfect for us to live in, but He did. He did not need to plan for our happiness, but He did. He did not need to reveal Himself to us, but He did. And yet, even though God had been so kind as to give us everything we needed, to place man in this garden of delights, Adam still wasn’t content with what God had done, and rebelled against God, wanting as it were to be a god himself.

“Now who,” Jonathan Edwards asks, “but God of boundless grace, would not have been provoked, after this, to leave him as he was, in the miserable state into which he had brought himself by his disobedience; resolving to help him no more, leaving him to himself and to the punishment he had deserved, leaving him into the devil’s hands where he had thrown himself, not being contented in the arms of His creator; who, but one of boundless grace, would ever have entertained any thoughts of finding a way out for his recovery.”

It’s not like God was up in heaven saying, oh, my, I just have to this little person love me if I am going to be happy. He was already perfectly happy in and of himself. If He needed more worship, He had all kinds of angels who were ready to shout His praises. If He wanted he could have created more. And besides that, He could have glorified Himself simply by crushing man. After all, that would have demonstrated his justice. But He didn’t.

In His grace, He planned to give His only Son for our restoration. Sin did such damage to us as humans and even to the universe in which we live, that while there is a sense in which of course all things are easy to an all-Powerful God, still, at least when it comes to His holiness and justice, God could not rescue us without a great cost, even in fact, you might say, an infinite cost.

Because God is just, and we are glad He is!, His justice had to be satisfied. That meant, either we had to die eternally, or the Son of God had to spill His blood in our place, either we or the Son of God had to suffer God’s wrath. Think about it! Here is a created being who has spat in the face of his maker, a child of dust really, a moment, and here is the eternal Son of God, the one who holds the universe in the palm of his hands, perfectly pure, the angels are stunned when they look at him, one of these two must bear the punishment for sin, the fall of man brought it to this.

If we saw ourselves for who we really are and saw the Son of God for who He really is, there is not one of us who in our right minds, given the choice, who would decide that it was the Son of God who should suffer, not someone this glorious, this perfect, this beautiful. If you had decide between an ant suffering and your own son, that’s not a choice, and the distance between an ant and a human is much less than the distance between us and the pre-Incarnate glorious Son of God. And yet, “by the strangely free and boundless grace of God” it was determined “that His own Son should die that the offending worms might be freed, and set at liberty from their punishment, and that justice might make them happy. Here is grace indeed; well may we shout, ‘Grace, grace!’ at this.”

In certain cultures, people used to think that the sacrifice of an only son was the greatest gift one could give to the gods. But we have a stranger thing than that declared to us in the gospel. It is not that men sacrificed their sons to God, but that God gave His only as sacrifice for man. This in itself is a wonder, but to make it even more shocking, we need to remember that He did not do this for his friends, but for those who hated him, not for people who were grateful and thankful, but for those who were discontent, not for those who could help him in some way, but for those who were so weak, that not only could they not help God, they couldn’t even help themselves.

“God has given even fallen man such a gift that He has left nothing for man to do that he may be happy, but only to receive what is given him. Though he has sinned, yet God requires no amends to be made by him; He requires of him no restoration; if they will receive His Son of Him, He requires neither money nor price; he is to do no penance in order to be forgiven. What God offers, He offers freely…God offers to save him for nothing, if only he will receive salvation as it is offered; that is freely through Christ, by faith in Him.”

With such a stunning demonstration of love, you might think that all men would grab hold of it with both hands. But they don’t. None of us would, apart from God’s grace. The fact that we actually believe the gospel and accept this offer is a result of the Holy Spirit in us, and that too is grace. There’s nothing for us to do besides accept the gospel and yet, in and of ourselves, we wouldn’t even do that, unless God is gracious to us and enables us to lay hold of His promises of mercy found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Believing grace is grace! 

Everywhere we look in the gospel we see the undeserved kindness of God. If we think about God the Father, and consider how great He is, how holy, how powerful, how just, if we think about carefully about this person who stoops down to care for people like us, it truly is awe-inspire. If we think about ourselves, if we take a good look and think about what we actually deserve, God’s grace becomes even more of a shock. If we think about Jesus, God the Son, remembering what He actually deserved and contrasting that with what He experienced, it magnifies the grace we experience. If we think about what we have, now that we are saved, what we have been given, salvation, glory, eternal life, adoption, union with Christ, communion with God, the Holy Spirit, heavenly happiness, the pleasure of eternal paradise, a resurrected body, and an everlasting reign with Christ in the height and glory, our hearts have to cry out, amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

Because it’s grace, and grace alone that did this. Nothing else.

If after a billion years in God’s presence, experiencing all these eternal joys, being perfected, glorified, I mean our minds cannot even conceive, we were somehow to stand next to someone who had spent that same time in hell, full of sin, the difference between the two of us, would be so great, you might wonder if we were even of the same race, and yet, yet, in reality, the actual difference is not found in the man himself, but instead that one experienced grace, and the other justice.

A Drop of That Ocean of That Happiness

27 Oct

We will be tempted this week to live as if now is all there is.

Whether it is from the people we spend time with at work, the shows we watch on television, the things we hear on the radio, we will be tempted to settle for seeking mere earthly happiness.

But God created us for something more.

God did not make us merely for a happiness that will not last. We were created for something better than a happiness which is here for a moment and then gone, leaving us empty and disappointed.

We know that because He is kind.

If God created us to spend our lives trying to find happiness from things that cannot bring lasting happiness, He would have been unkind because the more we set our hearts upon that kind of happiness, the more trouble it will bring us.

Imagine if God said you must satisfy your thirst with something he knew did not satisfy!

That would be terrible.

And that is not the kind of God we serve. He’s created us for an everlasting happiness. And ultimately we only find that happiness in Him.

If you search the world over, a wise man once said, if you could somehow wander from the earth and go into all the various parts of this vast universe, and could spend a thousand ages in trying every created thing, you would never find any true and lasting happiness, any true and lasting satisfaction, any satisfactory pleasure, till you come to the first and best of beings.

The joy found in Him is beyond compare. Seek it!

While the wicked may laugh and make great noise around you this week, don’t be fooled,because you know as well as I do that laughter and noise are not always a sign of true joy and that there are many who can shout as loudly as anyone who have hell within them.

Mark it down, it is the godly man who has the best kind of happiness.

If we look closely we will find that the godly man lives internally the most happy and joyful kind of life. But, get this, the happiness he experiences now is nothing compared to the happiness he will experience later.

As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Tis true, tis the same sort of happiness that is enjoyed in heaven, but it is but a drop of that ocean, but only some few drops of those whole rivers of pleasure, that falls from heaven upon the sanctified soul.”

On being “Beautified” with that beauty which is the highest beauty of God Himself

26 Oct

We long for happiness.

Sometimes we wish that God would make us happy, and think to ourselves, that the absolute very best way He could show us that He loves us is by making us happy.

Obviously, happiness is a good thing since in heaven, we will be happy forever, but God loves us too much to simply give us happiness. He shows us an even better kindness by making us holy. As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Sanctification is as great, yea, a greater favor done to the creature, than glorification: the creature is more honored by being made like unto God in holiness, than in happiness; the image and likeness of God upon the creature exalts it and honors it more, than the fruition of him.”

We can’t really even begin to grasp how beautiful and good and awesome God is. He is so far above us as His creatures.Imagine looking like Him, in terms of His character, being like Him. To have God make us into His image through the life-transforming work of the Holy Spirit is a privilege almost beyond belief.

Quoting Jonathan Edwards once again, because I just can’t say it better, “The man that is sanctified and made holy, has more excellency than all the wicked men in the world, and is more honorable, and will be honored more, than all the rich and powerful men upon earth, put together, that are destitute of holiness. And why? Because those that are holy are made like unto God, have the image of that God before whom all the kings of the earth are as nothing.”

What makes God so beautiful? So magnificent? His holiness. This is “the excellency of his excellencies, the beauty of his beauties, the perfection of his infinite perfections, and the glory of his attributes. What an honor, then, must it be to a creature who is infinitely below God, and less than he, to be beautified and adorned with this beauty, with that beauty which is the highest beauty of God himself, even holiness.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,179 other followers