Archive for the ‘Jonathan Edwards’ Category

It’s Sunday but Monday’s Coming

April 7, 2008

It’s Monday but what do you remember of Sunday’s sermon(s)? How quickly we can forget what we hear on Sunday and suddenly the word of God is no longer to our profit. In 1734 Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon on Hebrews 2:1 on the danger of hearing the word of God preached and then neglecting what we have heard. Although the whole sermon is worth reading his applicatory comments are helpful and worth considering on a Monday! Below I’ve given some heads in relation to his applications.

  1. Hearers should listen diligently and seek instruction.
  2. Seek to put what you have heard into practice at the earliest opportunity.
  3. Review what you have heard as the days pass.
  4. Meditate in particular upon those things that have made the greatest impression upon you.
  5. Pray over what you have heard.
  6. Discuss what you have heard with others.
  7. Do not fill Sunday with diversions that will detract from God’s word.

We are all swift to speak of a poor preacher but there are many of us who are poor hearers and we need to give more careful attention to ourselves.

Edwards’ Religious Affections

November 30, 2007

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I have been re-reading Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections. I’ve finished it and really it is a must read classic. Unfamiliar with his style and language the first time I read it I really struggled. It took me several stop-start attempts across a few years to finally get through it but it was great. This time, more familiar with Edwards, I got through it much more quickly, thoroughly profited from it once again and saw many things that I missed the first time round. The book is a quite brilliant spiritual pathology that at once inspires and cuts deeply. It is well worth every minute spent on it by the careful reader. If you have to read one book that’s really going to stretch you in your Christian life make it this one.

Incidentally Sam Storms, founder of Enjoying God Ministries has produced a book called Signs of the Spirit which he has called an interpretation of Religious Affections. It is an attempt to make Edwards’ thought accesible to the 21st century. If you are unfamiliar with Edwards it may be a good place to start.

One reviewer says of the aim of the book ‘By staying biblically grounded one can truly embrace full humanity, emotions, intellect, spiritual affections in the redeemed image of God.’ That really is what Religious Affections is all about.

Jonathan Edwards and Christian Authenticity

September 10, 2007

I have spent the last week reading Jonathan Edward’s sermons. It was at times a spiritually exhilarating and humbling experience. There was much that was quotable but perhaps this quote struck me more than any other. It is striking not only because of its thrust but also given Edwards’ view of preaching. Writing on Psalm 139:23,24 he says,

‘If those who call themselves Christians, thus walked in all the paths of virtue and holiness, it would tend more to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ in the world, the conviction of sinners, and the propagation of religion amongst unbelievers, than all the sermons in the world, so long as the lives of those who are called Christians continue as they are now.’

It is a great challenge to a life of Christian authenticity. As noted in previous posts the world is looking for authenticity and we face the question as Christians whether or not they discover it in our lives. In a church culture where we are so often urged to market ourselves well, the Christian life well-lived is the way in which we will truly commend the gospel to the world.

Jonathan Edwards on Hell

May 15, 2007

Jonathan Edwards is often caricatured as being all fire and brimstone. This is usually based on his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of Angry God. Many have probably heard the title but few have read the sermon. Of course Edwards’ great crime in the eyes of 21st century man is not really his powerful and vivid preaching on hell but that he had the temerity to mention hell at all. If there is a hell nobody today wants to talk about it.

Edwards logic was rather different. If there was a hell people needed to be warned about it- that was the loving thing to do he said when he preached on the subject at his daughter Jerusha’s funeral. That he preached such vivid sermons on the subject was itself part of the warning. For he realised that people needed not a notional idea of hell but to recognise it in all its imminent and eternal fury. For as he remarked in another less well-known sermon, you could enter hell in an instant and once there, you are there forever.

Jonathan Edwards- Britain’s Greatest Intellect?

May 8, 2007

I was told the story of an eminent church historian addressing a large gathering of his peers. He told them there had never been greater gathering of American intellectual life than when Jonathan Edwards sat alone in his study in Northampton.
Edwards is of course regularly mentioned in debate as America’s greatest intellectual. But it is clear from reading Edwards that he regarded himself not as American but British. Furthermore America as an entity did not exist in Edwards’ time. It was an extension of Britain.
So should the debate not be whether or not Edwards qualifies as Britain’s greatest intellectual rather than America’s?

Jonathan Edwards for today

May 4, 2007

I read Josh Moody’s ‘Jonathan Edwards and The Enlightenment’ some months back as part of my doctoral studies and hugely enjoyed it. I sensed that of many of the books I had read on Edwards Moody’s showed an unusually perceptive grasp of Edwards’ thought and what he was about. It was with a sense of anticipation that I then picked up Moody’s ‘The God-Centred Life: Insights from Jonathan Edwards for Today.’ And I was not disappointed. This is a very good book. If you are unfamiliar with Edwards it is useful introduction to his thought and why so many have found him helpful. More than that Moody is very perceptive in applying just what it is about Edwards’ thought that is so relevant to us today. He moves beyond the simple hailing of Edwards as an icon of Calvinist orthodoxy and really thinks through the implications of his thought for today. Whilst it is a book that has much to say to any thoughtful reader I found it had particular relevance for me as a pastor.
So pick it up and read it for your profit. Then pass it on to a pastor you know.