What does it look like to live for yourself and not God?

17 Dec

It is easy to say you have dedicated yourself to God when you are actually living for yourself. Jonathan Edwards gives the following six tests to evaluate whether or not you are really acting as if you were own, not God’s.

1. You act as if you were your own when you don’t deliberately and wholeheartedly seek the glory of God in all that you do.

2. You act as if you were your own when you don’t do what God wants you to do or you do something God doesn’t want you to do simply for the sake of your own comfort or pleasure.

3. You act as if you were your own when you trust in your understanding rather than submitting to Scripture.

4. You act as if you were your own when you complain about your afflictions.

5. You act as if you were your own when you become angry and bitter and revengeful when people mistreat you.

6. You act as if you were your own when you aren’t willing to happily and liberally give your possessions to those who are in need.

What does it mean to give ourselves up to God?

17 Dec

In his sermon, Dedication to God, Jonathan Edwards suggests it means the following four things:

1. We turn from the world, the flesh and the devil

2. We pursue God as our only good and happiness

“If we have not so given ourselves to God as to be contented in him as a sufficient and satisfying happiness, without hankering, looking back and longing after our old masters, the flesh, the world and the devil, and their pleasure, we have not given ourselves to God in a right manner.”

3. We seek to obey all of His commands

“It is a giving of ourselves up to God as servants, and receiving him as sovereign, God and King over our souls and bodies, over all our powers and all our actions. ‘Tis a giving our understanding to him to be enlightened, and to be exercised in thinking upon him. ‘Tis a giving our wills to him, to be guided and exercised in choosing of him above all things. ‘Tis a giving our affections to him to be governed and exercised in loving him, and what he loves, and hating what he hates. ‘Tis a giving all our executive powers to him to be employed wholly in his service.”

4. And we dedicate ourselves entirely to His will

“As one man cannot be said entirely to give a thing to another, except he gives him the liberty of disposing of it as he pleases, so neither can man be said to offer himself a living sacrifice to God, except he entirely gives himself up to God’s will, trusting in His mercy.”

On belonging

17 Dec

“Many think that God’s love and favor belong to them, but yet never act as if they belonged to God, but as if they were their own and had a right to themselves: as if God had nothing to do with them any further than to make them happy.”

Jonathan Edwards

Mission Malawi Update

15 Dec

I think many of you will enjoy reading this great update from our brother Newton and his wife who is serving Christ and His church in Malawi:

Mission Malawi Update

Please continue to pray for him!

 

Every Atom in the Universe

13 Dec

“By virtue of the believer’s union with Christ, he does really possess all things. That we know plainly from Scripture. But it may be asked, how does he possess all things? What is he better for it? How is a true Christian richer than other men?

To answer this, I’ll tell you what I mean by ‘possessing all things.’ I mean that God three in one, all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He does, all that He has made or done – the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun moon and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates…are as much the Christian’s as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, or the house he dwells in, or the victuals [food] he eats; yea more properly his, more advantageously, more his, than if he could command all those things mentioned to be just in all respects as he pleased at any time, by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly does thus possess all things, is entirely his: so that he possess it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband; more than the hand possesses what the head does; it is all his.

The universe is his, only he has not the trouble of the managing of it; but Christ, to whom it is no trouble, manages it for him a thousand times as much to his advantage as he could himself if he had the managing of it all. Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be the most advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.”

Jonathan Edwards, The “Miscellanies”

Meditating with Edwards on the Glory of Genuine Conversion

11 Dec

Is there anything on earth quite as amazing as genuine conversion?

I am not sure, but perhaps because we have gone to church and have been around so many who say they are Christians, that we forget how absolutely remarkable it is to truly be saved. One way to get a picture of how significant salvation is, is to think of what a person’s life was like before it.

Picture darkness.

Before salvation all was dark. We couldn’t see the hateful nature of sin and the great and shining beauty of God was surrounding us, and we saw and enjoyed none of it. What a horrible condition! How we would feel for someone who goes through life physically blind. Imagine standing next to Victoria Falls with a blind man. To stand so close to something so stunning and not be able to really enjoy it! At least the blind man has ears to hear and other senses, however. Spiritually, before we were saved, we had none of those. We could have stood in the most beautiful place spiritually, and still, we would have had no capacity at all to enjoy it.

In salvation however, God enlightens us through Christ.

This perhaps is why one of the most common images to describe Jesus Christ is that of light. He is the light of the world.

First, Jesus gives light to our soul and enables us to see beautiful and amazing things that we never saw before. The person who is saved, as one man puts it, “is like one that was born and brought up in a cave, where is nothing but darkness, but now is brought out into the lightsome world, enlightened by the beams of the sun, and greatly admires and wonders at those things which he never saw before, looks and gazes with sweet astonishment on the pleasing variety of things that are discovered by the light unto him.”

Second, for someone who is in the darkness, light is beautiful and refreshing. Picture again the joy of a blind man, being able to see for the first time. Or of someone whose been locked up in a dark cellar, the moment the basement door is opened and he’s led up and out into the light. This is Jesus to the Christian. Again, quoting Edwards, “When the soul is enlightened by Christ to behold him, the soul is greatly delighted with the sight of him, as a little infant is delighted when gazing at the light.”

And third, light revives and refreshes. To get a picture of how Christ does this, one might think of the way in which the sun refreshes the earth.

Before we were saved, we were like the world while it is asleep. You might imagine a village in Africa without electricity in the middle of night. How different things become at sunrise. When the sun rises, the “world that was before all still and silent, and seemed to be dead, now is revived and raised up the by the new life put into them,” roosters start crowing, dogs barking, children crying, women making breakfast, men getting ready to go out into the fields. So it was with us, before God saved us, we were asleep, in the dark, but when we are saved, we start to wake up, our minds begin to move, our desires start working, and we are moved to do what God created us to do.

Or to use another related image, before we were saved, we were like the world in the middle of a very cold winter. In the winter the sky is gray, the river is covered with ice, the earth with snow, the air is sharp and cold; but when the sun begins to warm the earth again, the world around us comes to life once again. So our souls, in their natural state, “are like winter; perpetually disturbed with the storms of lust and vice, and a raging conscience; their souls are all beclouded with sin and spiritual darkness. But when Christ comes with his warming influences, things are far otherwise: their minds are calm and serene, warmed with holiness and religion and the clear sunshine of spiritual comfort.” This sweet shining of Christ’s lights upon our hearts, revives us and enables us to begin bearing all sorts of spiritual fruits. “In conversion, graces do spring forth in the soul which are like the sweet flowers that adorn the face of the earth in the spring, and like the sweet melody of singing birds. The soul of one upon whom Christ has shined differs as much from the souls of the wicked as the earth, beautified…” by the sun in spring differs from the cold, dead, ice-covered ground of winter.

Interpreting Old Testament Narrative

10 Dec

In the book Cracking Old Testament Codes, Walt Kaiser shares seven keys to interpreting biblical narrative:

1.) Identify each scene of the narrative.
2.) Analyze the plot of the narrative.
3.) Determine the point of view from which the narrative is recorded.
4.) Pay close attention to the details of the scene.
5.) Examine the dialogue that the author uses to narrate the story.
6.) Look at the units within a scene and their relationship with one another.
7.) Study the stylistic devices the author used.

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