The word cloud, to the left, is a Wordle on Jonathan Edwards' "Religious Affections".
I am also reading this text along with a group of Christian Bloggers. If you would like to follow along, here is the link.
This weeks reading assignment was somewhat of a reprieve, to the previous assignments, to allow those who might need some additional time to catch up, and to also give us a mental break before we dig into the meaty part of the text.
In the comment section, of the host blog, I have also noticed some conversation wondering if we, as readers of this text, have lost our faith yet. This comment is in reference to the section we are about to delve into.
Jesus Christ tells us in Luke 13:22-30 that at the end day, there will be those who call themselves Christians who will be shut out of the Kingdom of God and cast into Hell. You see, these folks believed themselves to be Christians, yet Christ knew them not. Christ goes on to say that at this time, these folks will see Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and all the prophets, but will be cast out.
These are very difficult words to hear. Yet many, so called Christians, give this most serious position no more thought than taking out tonight's trash.
Paul tell us, in Philippians 2:12, to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling". In other words, make absolutely certain that you have read and understand God's holy word. Do not put these most significant of understandings in the casual reliance of others.
You alone will stand before God, at the White Throne Judgment. For heaven's sake...in all your understandings...make absolutely certain that your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life!
"Religious Affections" - Introduction to Part III
We are about to dive into those "affections" which are signs of true faith. In other words, how can we know that we have true faith that will result in our inheritance to eternal life with Christ?
Before Edwards gets started he wants to lay out a few ground rules:
- God has not endowed us with the ability to judge who is, and who is not, in the Kingdom of God. This judgment is left wholly in Christ's hands. The Scriptures give us many things that we are to judge, but this judgment is to be left only in the final judgment of Jesus Christ. Edwards states that we can not, and are not to be the judge of who is a "sheep or goat"!
- Edwards states that it is not possible for those saints (Christians), who are currently living in a sinful, carnal way of life to know for certain that they possess true faith for two reasons:
- The object making the determination (the carnal Christian) is defective is his view of God's reality. The cloud of sin makes it a certain impossibility to view God's clear grace.
- The objects eyes are defective. Not only is the carnal Christian defective but his sight is also defective, preventing him/her from seeing their nature. Edwards goes on to say that the carnal Christian can somewhat see but has very poor "eyesight" and they should not rely on their judgment of such important issues.
- Edwards continues by saying that "assurance (of salvation) is not to be obtained so much by self-examination, as by action." In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is telling us to run the race, and further more, run the race to win. This is action. You can't win a race by sitting around thinking about how you might run. You must run. Therefore, Edwards concludes, our assurance is found in running the race!
- Some are completely blinded by false teaching. Here Edwards lays down some harsh words, " Such hypocrites are so conceited of their own wisdom, and so blinded and hardened with a very great self-righteousness (but very subtle and secret, under the disguise of great humility), and so invincible a fondness of their pleasing conceit of their great exaltation, that it usually signifies nothing at all to lay before them the most convincing evidences of their hypocrisy. Their state is indeed deplorable, and next to those who have committed the unpardonable sin! Well...that about says it!
- We can't judge who is, or isn't in the kingdom
- Carnal Christians have very poor eyesight and judgment and best seek to become un-carnal so as to see.
- Hypocrites are so puffed up that they are completely blind to the truth.
Therefore, with the ground rules laid clear, next week we dive into the challenges that lie ahead. Let's get our running sneakers all laced up in preparation!