Jonathan Edwards WOD: Beatific

17 Oct

I once heard someone say the one thing missing in a lot of people’s Christianity is Christ.

Meaning, at least in part, we get so wrapped up in doing this or doing that, we often lose sight of Jesus. We settle for going through the motions, instead of actively pursuing delight in Him.

Obviously, we aren’t in heaven yet. We are not seeing and enjoying God now the way we will then. But one of the great privileges of being a Christian is that we get to enjoy glimmers of this glory. And we should want it.

One of the terms that was at the center of Edwards understanding of the Christian life is the word beatific. Now that’s not a word we use very often anymore.

But the word beatific, David Brand explains, simply “refers to that perfect, blessed, and immediate sight of God reserved for the saints in heavenly glory (1 Cor. 13:12; 1 Jn. 3:2), of which the transforming experience of regeneration and sanctification in this present life is the spiritual dawning (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Jn. 1:14; Acts 7:55,56).”

In other words, a big part of what makes heaven heaven is the fact we will see God as He is. It will be as if we were swimming in a sea of glorious light. As believers we long for that day, because we enjoy little glimpses of that glory now.

Jonathan Edwards explains,

“The saints in this world have an earnest of what is future, they have the dawnings of future light…The discoveries which the saints here have of God’s excellency and grace, are immediate in a sense; that is, they do not mainly consist of ratiocination (i.e.the process of exact thinking); but yet in another sense they are indirect, that is, they are by means of the gospel, as through a glass; but in heaven God will immediately excite apprehensions of himself, without use of any such means.”

Perhaps a couple of examples from his life will illustrate.

“The first instance, that I remember, of that sort of inwards, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, 1 Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God and be rapt up to Him in heaven; and be as it were swallowed up in Him forever.”

Later he goes on to say,

“From about that time I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by him. An inward sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was great engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his person, and on the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him.”

He tries to describe his experience, writing,

“This I know now how to express otherwise, than by a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision, or fixed ideas and imaginations, of being alone in the mountains, or some sweet solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and wrapt up and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart, an ardour of soul, that I know not how to express.”

Did you happen to notice some of the striking ways Edwards describes his walk with God?

Swallowed up in God.

An inward sweet sense of these things.

My soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of him.

Now obviously, I think obviously at least, not all of us will be this poetic. And even Edwards didn’t live on this kind of spiritual high at every single moment. But, have we tasted the kindness of God in our salvation? And do we seek more and more enjoyment and delight in Him?

Not every husband is going to write Shakespearean sonnets for his wife, but every husband who deserves the title husband, is going to pursue delighting in her. He’s not going to settle for just doing his duty. He wants more in his relationship with his wife. And he should.

Just as we should in our relationship with God.

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