Enjoying the Sweet Influences of the Spirit

29 Jul

Sometimes people speak as if the church is missing something when it doesn’t practice the extraordinary miraculous gifts we find in the New Testament. In saying that, they sometimes make it sound as if the Spirit’s work of sanctifying and transforming people is somewhat ordinary.

Jonathan Edwards thought the opposite.

“I do not expect a restoration of these miraculous gifts in the approaching glorious times of the church, nor do I desire it. It appears to me that it would add nothing to the glory of those times, but rather diminish from it. For my part, I had rather enjoy the sweet influences of the Spirit, showing Christ’s spiritual divine beauty, infinite grace, dying love, drawing forth the holy exercises of faith, divine love, sweet complacence, and humble joy in God, one quarter of an hour, than to have prophetical visions and revelations the whole year.”

To the Preacher

27 Jul

“To the person that is to be set apart to the sacred work of the gospel ministry this day: Sir, I would now humbly and earnestly recommend to you that Holy Book which God is about to commit into your hands, as containing that message which you are to deliver to this people in his name. God gives you this word–which is his word–to preach that, and not the dictates of your own reason. You are to preach the dictates of God’s infinitely superior understanding, humbly submitting your reason as a learner and disciple to that, renouncing all confidence in your own wisdom and entirely relying on God’s instructions.

God is now about to deliver to you a summary of doctrines already discovered and dictated to your hand, which you are to teach and zealously to maintain. And if the time should come that you should be reproached for so doing, with such kind of reproaches as are in these days commonly cast on such as earnestly preach the mysterious doctrines of revelation, and you should be called a bigoted zealot; one whose zeal runs before your knowledge; one that durst not indulge a freedom of thought; one that dare not presume to think otherwise than your forefathers thought; one of those that judge of God by themselves, that think that God is a morose, ill-natured sort of being because they are so; one that is a person of little sense or reason: if such proud contemptuous reproaches are cast upon you, merely because you rely more on God’s testimony than the dictates of your own reason, the time will soon come when they will be wiped away. Your Lord and Master, that commanded you to preach those doctrines, will defend you and will show in his time who has proceeded with greatest wisdom: you, who have relied on God’s wisdom; or they, who have been wise in their own eyes, and have leaned to their own understanding and have despised others, that han’t trusted more to God’s instructions.”

Jonathan Edwards

Made to Stand in the Presence of Unending Glory

21 Jul

“There is no really honest and consistent way of honoring Edwards at all this day except in the context of honoring, of acknowledging and renewing our dedication to his cause. That cause was nothing less than the glory of God…What Edwards knew, what he believed in his heart and with his mind, was that man was made to stand in the presence of eternal, unending absolute glory, to participate in the celebration of cosmic deliverance from everything putrid, destructive, defiling, to rejoice in the service of the stupendous artist who flung universes of stars on his canvas, sculptured the forms of angelic powers, etched with loving care miniature worlds within worlds.” R. Neibhur

Gospel Truth and Gospel Life

10 Jul

In motivating his readers to consider the life of George Whitefield, J.C. Ryle highlights the good his life accomplished, both directly and indirectly. One of the ways Whitefield has helped us is by giving us an example of how to respond to those who are attacking the gospel.

“He was among the first to show the right way to meet the attacks of infidels and skeptics on Christianity. He saw clearly that the most powerful weapon against such men is not cold, metaphysical reasoning and dry critical acquisition, but preaching the whole gospel – living the whole gospel – and spreading the whole gospel. It was not the writings of Leland, and the younger Sherlock, and Waterland, and Leslie, that rolled back the flood of infidelity one half so much as the preaching of Whitefield and his companions. They were the men who were the true champions of Christianity. Infidels are seldom shaken by mere abstract reasoning. The surest arguments against them are gospel truth and gospel life.”

Two things

9 Jul

William Romaine:

“There are two things spoken of faith in Scripture, which highly deserve the attention of every true believer. The first is, the state of safety in which he is placed by Christ, and is delivered from every evil and danger in time and eternity, to which sin had justly exposed him ; and the second is, the happiness of this state, consisting in an abundant supply of all spiritual blessings, freely given to him in Christ, and received as they are wanted, by the hand of faith, out of the fulness of Christ.”

God’s Right

9 Jul

It is difficult to go anywhere good in your relationship with God until you recognize that He really is God.

In other words, He’s not you. You are a creature. He is the Creator. And there is a difference between the two.

Perhaps one theological word that really helps us get an idea of what it means for God to be God is the word sovereign or sovereignty. The sovereignty of God means that He has the complete, total, unforced, uninfluenced, right to do with the things He has created exactly what He wants to do with them.

Maybe you will want read that again. It’s very important and it’s very difficult for us to accept. Or maybe just let Jonathan Edwards explain,

“…the sovereignty of God supposes, that he has a right to dispose of all his creatures according to his mere pleasure…

His right is absolute and independent.

Men may have a right to dispose of some things according to their pleasure. But their right is not absolute and unlimited. Men may be said to have a right to dispose of their own goods as they please. But their right is not absolute; is has limits and bounds. They have a right to dispose of their own goods as they please, provided they do not do it contrary to the law of the state to which they are subject, or contrary to the law of God. Men’s right to dispose of their things as they will, is not absolute, because it is not independent. They have not an independent right to what they have, but in some things depend on the community to which they belong, for the right they have; and in every thing depend on God. They receive all the right they have to any thing from God.

But the sovereignty of God imports that he has an absolute, and unlimited, and independent right of disposing of his creatures as he will.

I once heard Jonathan Gerstner say that someone told him they were never so close to not being a Christian as when they first came to understand the sovereignty of God, to which he responded, you were never so close to actually being a Christian, because while certainly even as Christians we might sometimes struggle with the sovereignty of God, at the end of the day, it is difficult to worship God, until you recognize, He is God.

From not In

8 Jul

If your goal is simply to be a more popular preacher tell people that Christ came to save them in their sins not from their sins. But if you want to be a faithful preacher you must preach Christ as a complete Savior, coming to save His people from the penalty of their sins, the power of their sins and one day from the very presence of sin.

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