A while back I wrote about Jonathan Edwards testimony, which you can read here, and at the time I was working my way through his treasured work Religious Affections. It took me a little longer to finish this book due to its length, and dutiful use of the Word. It was well worth the read! It was published in 1746, written by the American theologian who helped kick off the first Great Awakening.
One of the best parts about this book is that everything Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) speaks of he gives multiple verses to back up. This makes reading the book a lot like having a long, edifying, Bible study with the great theologian. It still has so much relevance in the body of Christ today.
I recommend this book to anyone questioning their own affections for Christ, or those that win souls and wish to better judge whether others are in the faith. This book is in the public domain so it’s accessible in pdf form, audible form, Kindle form, or you can purchase your own copy. As always beloved, be good Bereans and study to show yourselves approved.
Beloved, do you know what apologetics means? When I first heard someone claiming to be an Apologetic I thought it meant they were apologizing for Christianity. The word actually comes from the Greek word apologia which means “speaking in defense.” All Christians should consider themselves Apologists if they have ever spoken in defense of the hope they have.
Unfortunately, some Christians do not defend the faith purposefully, and without meaning to can do more harm than good. I’ve found the same to be true in many roles in life, such as parenting. If we are not being purposeful parents, thinking clearly and laying out standards and boundaries for our children, they can become confused. When we found out I was pregnant my husband and I set about deciding how we wanted to parent. That purposeful parenting has helped ensure we’re both on the same page and has given our daughter stability and confidence.
I am also a purposeful wife, and like Proverbs 31 depicts so elegantly, I am purposeful in how I run our household. My husband is a Respiratory Therapist, he is purposeful in everything he does at work, with that he is also a full-time student and is able to better balance his school work with his home life and work life. When we fellowship with members of the body of Christ we are purposeful to edify and not tear down. The same needs to be said when we evangelize the lost, our apologetics must be like a well thought out essay.
Today is a day of 144 characters, short, pithy social media posts, written to a generation who typically only reads the title of articles rather than the article itself. How do we give good apologetics to a hashtag crowd? We do it with purpose, we do it in love, with kindness, and mercy towards the lost. There is so much more to apologetics than who’s right and who’s wrong. Christianity is the religion of freedom, for the opening spiritually blind eyes. When Christ told the Jews in John 8:31-33 that if they continued in truth the truth would set them free they were confused. They answered that they were not enslaved to anyone.
This is the attitude of the world, they do not know they are enslaved to sin, they do not know where the depression, anxiety, self-hatred, anger, and fear of death come from. When we tell others about God’s law and about Christ’s sacrifice, we need to remember these two important factors;
Only the Holy Spirit can draw someone to repentance and He blows where He wishes.
Christianity is not on the line, right and wrong is not on the line, the souls of the lost are on the line.
A purposeful Apologetic is a loving, thought-provoking, instructive, kind message given from a prayerful believer to a non-believer in all meekness and humbleness at heart. I encourage you, brethren, do not hide behind a lack of knowledge or experience, equip yourselves, for the warfare is not flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in high places. As always friends be good Bereans and study to show yourselves approved.
I’m going to take a break for a few weeks from our usual Wednesday testimony to encourage the brethren in a different way. Here recently I stumbled into a conflict within the church that was being handled very poorly by some. As a young believer I was greatly discouraged to see men, old enough to know better, treating elders in the church shamefully, and on social media, for all to see. It sent me where discouragement always sends me, to prayer and study.
God once again encouraged me through His Word, and in my times of praying for these men, I was reminded that they are just that…men. Fallible men will discourage where an infallible God will encourage. And so today I want to talk about a verse that particularly encouraged me during my study. John 8: 1-2
Can you imagine what it must have been like to sit and listen to Him teach? And yet, His earthly ministry was short, eternity is everlasting. This verse encouraged me by reminding me that the things of this world are passing away, the discouragement will come to an end, and eternity will be spent in His glorious majesty. I wonder if we’ll have the chance to sit and hear Him teach? Until then let us hang on every word that was written, for in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh!
One more thing, brethren, slander, and gossip are sins. I’m grieved to see it taken so lightly by so many, let that not be said of you and I. We are to seek peace where it is at all possible. And as always, beloved, be good Bereans and study to show yourself approved!
Breth-ren we have met to wor-ship and a-dore the Lord our God; Will you pray with all your pow-er, while we try to preach the Word? All is vain un-less the Spir-it of the Ho-ly One comes down; Breth-ren, pray, and ho-ly man-na will be show-ered all a-round.
Breth-ren, see poor sin-ners round you slum-bering on the brink of woe; Death is com-ing, hell is mov-ing–can you bear to let them go? See our fa-thers and our moth-ers and our chil-dren sink-ing down; Breth-ren, pray, and ho-ly man-na will be show-ered all a-round.
Sis-ters, will you join and help us? Mo-ses’ sis-ter aid-ed him; Will you help the trem-bling mourn-ers who are strug-gling hard with sin? Tell them all a-bout the Sav-ior– tell them that He will be found; Sis-ters, pray, and ho-ly man-na will be show-ered all a-round.
Let us love our God su-preme-ly, let us love each oth-er too; Let us love and pray for sin-ners till our God makes all things new. Then He’ll call us home to heav-en, at His ta-ble we’ll sit down;Christ will gird Him-self and serve us with sweet man-na all a-round.
American theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) gives his testimony. I love this, reading a testimony like this, from a brother whose gone home to his Lord, makes heaven somehow nearer, somehow sweeter. God has blessed me beyond measure on this Earth, but I can not deny that I feel a great desire for home. I’m also encouraged to see, in reading these testimonies, that we serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and always, who is no respecter of man. I hope you’re blessed by this testimony beloved, and as always be good Bereans, study to show yourselves approved.
“The first instance, that I remember, of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, I Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour 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 for ever! I kept saying, and as it were singing, over these words of scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy Him, and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection. But it never came into my thought, that there was any thing spiritual, or of a saving nature in this.
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 greatly engaged to spend my time in readings and mediating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of His person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in Him…
On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and I wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and His law for the constant rule of my obedience: engaging to fight, with all my might. against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life. But I have reason to be infinitely humbled, when I consider, how much I have failed, of answering my obligation…
I have loved the doctrines of the Gospel; they have been to my soul like green pastures. The Gospel has seemed to me the richest treasure; the treasure that I have most desired, and longed that is might dwell richly in me. The way of salvation by Christ, has appeared, in general way, glorious and excellent, most pleasant and most beautiful. It has often seemed to me, that it would, in a great measure, spoil heaven, to receive it in any other way. That text has often been affecting and delightful to me, Isaiah 32:2, And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest,…
It has often appeared to me delightful, to be united to Christ; to have Him for my head, and to be a member of His body; also to have Christ for my teacher and prophet. I very often think with sweetness, and longings, and pantings of soul, of being a little child, taking hold of Christ, to be led by Him through the wilderness of this world. That text, Matthew 18:3, has often been sweet to me, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, … I love to think of coming to Christ, to receive salvation of Him, poor in spirit, and quite empty of self, humbly exalting Him alone; cut off entirely from my own root, in order to grow into, and out of Christ: to have God in Christ to be all in all; and to live by faith on the Son of God, a life of humble, unfeigned confidence in Him…
Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as mediator between God and man, and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception ó which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time, in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in Him; to live upon Him; to serve and follow Him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity. I have, several other times, had views very much of the same nature, and which have had the same effects.
I have, many times, had a sense of the glory of the Third Person in the Trinity, in His office of Sanctifier; in His Holy operations, communicating divine light and life to the soul. God in the communications of His Holy Spirit, has appeared as an infinite fountain of divine glory and sweetness; being full and sufficient to fill and satisfy the soul; pouring forth itself in sweet communications, like the sun in its glory, sweetly and pleasantly diffusing light and life. And I have sometimes had an affecting sense of the excellency of the Word of God as a Word of life; as the Light of life; a sweet, excellent, life-giving Word; accompanied with a thirsting after that Word, that it might dwell richly in my heart…
Though it seems to me, that in some respects, I was a far better Christian, for two or three years after my first conversion, than I am now; and lived in a more constant delight and pleasure; yet of late years, I have had a more full and constant sense of the absolute sovereignty of God, and a delight in that sovereignty; and have had more of a sense of the glory of Christ, as a Mediator revealed in the Gospel. On one Saturday night, in particular, I had such a discovery of the excellency of the Gospel above all other doctrines, that I could not but to say to myself, ëThis is my chosen light, my chosen doctrine,í and of Christ, ëThis is my chosen Prophet.í It appeared sweet, beyond all expression, to follow Christ, and to be taught, and enlightened, and instructed by Him; to learn of Him, and live to Him. ” Reference
This is a strange one for me, as natural theology is certainly something I espoused pre conversion, but not something I had ever thought through. As I mentioned last week, while I’m researching these Tuesday posts I tend to be reminded of the decade I spent in false religion. I can remember thinking, and saying, that anyone who dies having never heard the gospel would not be condemned. That thought may make it easier for all of us to stay comfortably at home, without needing to spread the gospel message to all those lost in their sins, but it is certainly not biblical. It also doesn’t seem to be possible, since becoming saved Christ is all I want to talk about. All other conversation feels like wasted time.
So what is natural theology? It’s the belief that people can become saved based on the amount of knowledge of God they have naturally. The Bible certainly tells us that Gods creation shows us the obvious Creator. The problem is that man is naturally sinful when we recognize there is a God we create golden calves rather than seek for truth. I had enough knowledge to know that I was created, and needed to worship the Creator. However, until God saved me, I had created a false god after my own image. The natural theology of man will always tend toward idolatry. My god resembled Santa Clause or a magic genie who lived to grant my requests. The recognization of the true God led me to repentance, deep sorrow over my sins, and devotion to Him.
Many people teach, preach, or believe natural theology today without even realizing it. It’s on the air on most ‘Christian’ television shows, how often do we hear that people don’t need the gospel they need food? Christ fed people, that’s true, but He also convicted them of their sins and called them the follow Him. What good is temporal food if your soul is lost?
Unfortunately, this theology has caused a majority of those claiming to be Christians to feel comfortable in disobedience, whether they realize it or not, they are ignoring the great commission. Who needs to go tell the world about Christ if the world can get in a different way? I had been wondering over the last two years where the urgency is in the church. When you look at church history, men like Paul didn’t just die for the Gospel, they lived for it. How many miles did the great men of the Reformation travel to spread the Good News? We have the capability to spread that news further and faster than we ever have, and now the church has decided we don’t need to?
Should we listen to man, or should we listen to God? Since I got saved I’ve had to go over everything I thought I knew and double check it against the Bible. I had listened to man for so long, it was almost terrifying to see how much I had been taught that didn’t match up with The Word. This is yet another doctrine of demons that need to be refuted. Can man come to salvation on his own? Christ told Nicodemus in John 3 that we have no more part in our second birth than we did in our first. On our own, we will set up idols to worship. On our own, we are lost. We can be saved from the wrath to come by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Christ, and Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. That’s the miracle of salvation, anytime anyone is saved it’s a miracle. That miracle only comes through the hearing of the Gospel. Go forth and tell all the world the Good News. Beloved, stand firm in Gods Word, be good Bereans and study to show yourselves approved. The world needs to hear the truth, there are so many lies, we must be armed to make a defense for the hope we have!