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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Edwards’

fire II

Last night (and into the wee hours of this morning) Dana and I attended Secret Church 2016.  David Platt stressed the eternal urgency of our gospel message.  He called our attention to two realities – (1) heaven is a glorious reality for everyone who believes the gospel (Philippians 3:20-21); and (2) hell is a dreadful reality for everyone who does not believe the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 14:11).  As Kevin DeYoung reminds us, “The coming of the Kingdom is not good news for sinners. It is good news for sinners who repent.”

Thus it is in hell; they would die, but they cannot. The wicked shall be always dying but never dead; the smoke of the furnace ascends for ever and ever. Oh! who can endure thus to be ever upon the rack? This word ‘ever’ breaks the heart… The torments of hell abide for ever… If all the earth and sea were sand, and every thousandth year a bird should come, and take away one grain of this sand, it would be a long time ere that vast heap of sand were emptied; yet, if after all that time the damned may come out of hell, there were some hope; but this word ‘ever’ breaks the heart.

~ Thomas Watson, Puritan minister

 

There will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see along forever a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul. And you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages in wrestling with this Almighty, merciless vengeance. And then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains… How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh! that you would consider it, whether you be young or old!

~ Jonathan Edwards, Colonial minister and theologian.
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741.

 

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Year's endO Love Beyond Compare,

Thou art good when Thou givest,
when Thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.

Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.

Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.

Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With Thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless Thee that Thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.

If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
Thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown.

If I am to die,
I shall see Thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not.

If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify Thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Arthur Bennett, ed., “Year’s End,” in The Valley of Vision:
A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
(Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1983), 111.

Thank you to Nick Roarke who recently highlighted this prayer on his wonderful site, Tolle Lege.  Dana and I own The Valley of Vision.  In reading these marvelous Puritan prayers, you will be amazed at the poverty of thought and language to which most of us have fallen in just a few centuries.  These prayers give words to emotions that I have but for which I lack the ability to express in a soul-expressing manner beyond “thank you for this day” -type prayers.  I encourage the purchase and use of this book.  I continue to hope and pray that the prayers will help to release my tongue from the trite fare with which I too often speak to God and give true voice to what my heart wants to express if it were not for my great lack.  If you want to begin to train your mind for higher thoughts of God and godliness, I encourage the reading of such men as Jeremiah Burroughs, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, etc.  See if you are not challenged to a deeper walk of faith and holiness.

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Jonathan Edwards studying

“Since wisdom is found in the Word of God, we must apply ourselves in study and meditation to know the Word and do it. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.’ (Psalm 19:7). Therefore, we must devote ourselves to know and understand the testimonies of the Lord. And here I commend not only faithful Bible study, but also regular reading of great books on theology and biblical interpretation, books that distill the wisdom of the greatest students of the word over the past 1900 years.

“Now, I know what you are thinking: I don’t have the time or the ability to get anywhere in books like that. So I want to show you something really encouraging. When this was shown to me about four years ago by my pastor, it changed my life. Most of us don’t aspire very high in our reading because we don’t feel like there is any hope.

“But listen to this: Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!”

                                                                                       ~ John Piper, May 24, 1981

 

“Give yourself unto reading… He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read.”

~Charles H. Spurgeon

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I’ve seen t-shirts that say “Jonathan Edwards is My Homeboy” which makes me laugh.  Well…Jonathan Edwards is my Facebook friend.  I, therefore, receive occasional posts which included this insightful one-liner:

“This world is all the hell that ever a true Christian is to endure, and it is all the heaven that unbelievers shall ever enjoy.”

C.S. Lewis puts a twist on this in The Great Divorce, his treatise on heaven and hell.  He wrote:

“That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.1

“And of some sinful pleasure they say ‘Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences’: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of sin.

“Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.

“And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say ‘We have never lived anywhere except Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”

1 [This is why John Piper says we are more than conquerors.  We not only are conquerors, ultimately triumphing in eternity because of Christ, but more than conquerors as he turns even our earthly agonies to his great purpose of bringing us good and him glory.]

Returning to Edwards, we are challenged to consider our given path and its ultimate end when we read his one-liner within its context, the sermon he wrote, “Dying to Gain,” when he was but 19 years old.  I stumbled upon an excerpt of the sermon on a beautiful gem of a site called Tolle Lege, meaning (which I love) “Take up and read.”  The blog’s author, Nick Roarke, shares the context for Edward’s one-liner which should cause us all to pause and consider our ends:

“What a vast difference is there between the death of a child of the devil and a child of God! The one leaves all his troubles and afflictions behind him, never to feel them more; the other, he leaves all his pleasures behind him, all the pleasure that ever he will enjoy while God endures.

The one leaves all his temptations forever, but the other instead of that falls into the hands of the tempter, not to be tempted but to be tormented by him. The one is perfectly delivered from all remainders of corruption; the other, he carries all that vast load of sin, made up of original sin, natural corruption, and actual sins, into hell with him, and there the guilt of them breaks forth in the conscience and burns and scorches him as flames of hell within.

The filthiness of sin will then appear and be laid open before the world to his eternal shame. Death to the true Christian is an entrance into eternal pleasures and unspeakable joys, but the death of a sinner is his entrance into never-ending miseries. This world is all the hell that ever a true Christian is to endure, and it is all the heaven that unbelievers shall ever enjoy.

‘Tis a heaven in comparison of the misery of the one, and a hell in comparison of the happiness of the other. The sinner, when he dies, he leaves all his riches and possessions: there is no more money for him to have the pleasure of fingering; there is no more gay apparel for him to be arrayed in, nor proud palace to live in. But the Christian, when he dies, he obtains all his riches, even infinite spiritual, heavenly riches.

At death, the sinner leaves all his honor and enters into eternal disgrace; but the Christian is then invested with his. The one leaves all his friends forever more: when he sees them again at the resurrection, it will be either glorifying God in his justice in damning him, or else like furies ready to tear him.

But the other, he goes to his best friends and will again meet his best earthly friends at the resurrection in glory, full of mutual joy and love. The death of a believer is in order to a more glorious resurrection, but the death of a sinner is but only a faint shadow and preludium of the eternal death the body is to die at the great day and forever more.

So great is the difference between the death of the one and the other, ’tis even as the difference between life and death, between death and a resurrection. Wherefore, now you have both before you—the glorious gainfulness of the death of a Christian, and the dreadfulness of the death of a sinner—or rather you have life and death set before you, to make your choice: therefore, choose life.”

[Illustration: Marvelous Journey by Dehong He]

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After addressing his disciples’ troubled hearts and promising to send them a Helper, Jesus asks them to rejoice with him because he will soon return to his Father. a   For the past 33 years, Jesus had bore the form of a servant, having made himself nothing. b Jesus, who had existed with the Father in perfect, loving union from eternity past, will finally reunite with his Father in their co-equal, “God is love,” c relationship.  Will you rejoice with me, he asks. “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father.”

To understand Jesus’ excitement about returning to the Father, d we turn to no lighter subject than the doctrine of the Trinity, as gleaned from the writings of Jonathan Edwards. We are reminded that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have existed from all eternity.  Jesus is begotten of the Father (not born).  As Pastor John Piper put it, Jesus “eternally stands forth in a perfect image and radiance of the Father. His nature has an ‘exact imprint’ in the Son. His glory has a full ‘radiance’ in the Son. e So they are equally God, of the same divine nature, but different in role…”

This is helpful.  I plan on using this illustration when I teach my 3rd graders this fall.  We always begin our year reviewing foundational truths, one being the Trinity.  It’s still being roughed out in my mind, but I think I’ll use a mirror to discuss a perfect reflection and to discuss the original that is needed to “beget” the reflection of the original; as long as the one exists the other exists.

Edwards goes on to discuss the pure delight between the Father and Son which proceeds as the third person of the Trinity, namely, the Holy Spirit.  “Between the Father and Son exists a mutual love, joy, and delight, a ‘pure act,’ or the ‘Deity in act,’ which is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father and Son for each other, the love that ‘quickens and enlivens’ creation and created spirits, and comforts God’s people.”

This relationship is beautifully seen at Christ’s baptism.  When Jesus comes up from the water, the heavens open and Jesus sees the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and the delight is obvious as the voice declares, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” f

 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. g

 

a John 14:28

b Phil. 2:7

c 1 John 4:8

d Hebrews 12:2

e Hebrews 1:3

Matthew 3:16-17

g 2 Cor. 13:14

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