Edwards’ Theological Questions

At the end of vol. 1 of 2, there are list of Jonathan Edwards’ theological questions.  So, for the sake of good thinking, I thought I might ponder them myself, and while I ponder, set them here for you to read and take a walk with also.

His first theological question is —

“How does it appear that something has existed from eternity?”

Let me know your thoughts.

A Great Narrative Sermon

By Alistair Begg.  Out of 2 Chronicles 26!  Go here.

More Than a Clementine

I have written upon this before, but I never tire of the subject, nor noticing the fact of it in my son — how he has been made, like all peoples, by God with an appetite that perpetually seeks to be satisfied.  And, in some instances we observe that this design is manifest in greater and lesser degrees, or that this appetite for the greatest thing is observable when, for instance, my son loses any taste for something that he previously longed for because something else much greater has caught the attention of his heart such that the former thing has become as though tasteless.

I observed this, again, a couple of days ago concerning a clementine, one of the sweetest of tropical fruits.  And, the greater object of delight was, once more as usual, his mother.  Thus, a saying has been formed that is almost synonymous with his love for his mother, “more than a clementine.”  “Luke, do you love mommy?”  “More than a clementine!”  That is, his love for his mother is a greater affection than that for the sweetest of tropical fruits.  Now, a clementine is sweet, bursting with sun-sprinkled flavor, juicy and even refreshing.  And, this he greatly enjoyed until a new and greater affection appeared in the kitchen behind me as I held this fruit to his mouth.  Then, I might as well have been attempting to shove refuse into his mouth — he wanted nothing of it!  He only wanted to be freed from his high-chair in order that he might fly into the arms of “momma.”  “More than a clementine!”

As Christians, we have come to know, by grace, that greatest of objects and all delights.  The new birth infuses a new principle of life and a new affection for God that previously did not exist.  As unregenerate people, we moved from one thing to the next never being satisfied by any one thing but always having to go back to former things or add new things to the former things in order to intensify our pleasure — and still this must be added unto until we are full bore into worldly pleasures and sins.  But God, being rich in mercy, made us alive from the dead — by grace we have been saved!  And this divine and resurrecting grace arrives through the Spirit-empowered gospel, God enters the kitchen so to speak!  He becomes “more than a clementine,” more than the sweetest of sinful, and ultimately damnable, pleasures.  For these are fading away but there are pleasures at the right hand of God forevermore, not to mention the greatest Treasure, God Himself.  The clementine’s of this world lose their succor entirely, and when that sweetness begins to tempt our old sensibilities, we need most of all to be reminded of the God who is our forever and exceeding joy!

May the Lord be to you this day “more than a clementine.”  May your affections for God be most highly aroused by His saving work applied to you.  May you be greatly helped to walk in holiness, for holiness is the evidence of such new and great affections.  “Delight yourself in the Lord.”  Seek to “appear before God,” to “dwell in His house forever.”  “Pant for God” as “the deer pants for the waters.”  Look beyond the pleasures of this world, beyond the one offering it to you, into the Word, into Glory, to Christ, and to God, and there diligently seek the joy that springs from him as endless waters from an everlasting fountain.

In A Very Silent Manner

“Christ did much work for God in a very silent manner: he wrought hard, but did not spoil his work, when he had wrought it, by vain ostentation.  When he had expressed his charity in his acts of mercy and bounty to men, he would humbly seal up the glory of it, with this charge: “see ye tell no man of it,” Matt. 8.4.  He affected no popular air.  All the angels in heaven could not do what Christ did, and yet he called himself a worm, for all that, cf. Psalm 22.6.  O imitate your pattern: work hard for God, and let not pride blow upon it, when you have done.  It is hard for a man to do much, and not value himself for it too much.

– John Flavel, Works of, vol. 1, 440, “The Sixth Excellent Saying of Christ Upon the Cross,” a sermon on John 19.30.

Communion with God Essential to Abiding Joy

I do not intend for this to be but a short musing on a plain reflection — communion with God is essential to abiding joy!  I do increasingly realize the lack of joy amongst the body of Christ today, and I do not mean to exclude myself from this accusation.  A quick thought concerning an antidote — it is obvious really — an increase in the quality, even the constancy of communion with God.  We may be sure that Jesus was a man of afflictions, but He had to be the most joyful person to have ever set foot on earth because He kept constant communion with God, the greatest Joy (cf. Ps 43.4).  Sin is what separates us from God.  Jesus never sinned.  It was not until He became sin on the cross for us that He screamed of God-forsakenness for the first time.  Both before and during that anguish, the constant hope of our Lord was reunion with God the Father, and no doubt, God the Spirit in their eternal communion.  This, the writer of Hebrews instructs us (12.2), was (at least in large part) the joy that was set before Him, enabling the Lord to endure the cross.  Another part of that joy was the joy of communion with God that He purchased for everyone who believes — our joy climactic in God was a part of His own surpassing joy!  Jesus died and was raised for us in order that we might be reconciled to God.  We do often forget that God is the goal of salvation, that Christ-likeness is the goal of sanctification, and thus, that ever-increasing and everlasting joy in God as we are changed into Christ’s image is the preeminent result and evidence of real and vital communion with God.  It is, as Paul would say to us, as we behold the glory of the Lord that we too are transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3.18).  But, I say, how shall we ever behold the Lord’s glory if we do not have enlivening communion with Him?  Communion with God is an absolute essential of the Christian life.  By it, we are transformed into the image of Jesus — not the physical image of course, but our hearts are changed, and by that inward transformation, so our lives are changed so that we think and reason and discern and talk and feel and appropriate the desires and affections of Jesus for God and all that is pleasing to Him in accordance with His Word.  Thus, by it, we will, as our Lord, make time for God, steal away with Him during the three o’clock hour to have some sweetest exchange with Him, devote ourselves to those things that advance His kingdom and build up the church, redeem precious time that we might otherwise have abandoned to fruitless employments, work diligently as unto the Lord, parent with tears in earnest prayers before His face (though Christ was no literal parent), etc., etc.  Communion is not that which is set apart from the rest of our real days.  Communion with God is to be that which governs and permeates our days.  Even as a man can pray without having real communion with God, or read His Bible in like vanity, so by contrary comparison, a person may have real communion with God while they change their child’s diapers or engage in parental discipline, or when spouses date one another and serve one another in the home in secret, or when you, the late shift UPS employee, labors with all of your strength while trusting mightily and wholly upon the Lord — yes, we enjoy communion with God here also.  Even as the worship of God is not confined to an hour on Sunday mornings but spills over into every abiding second of every day of your life in Christ, so also communion with God is that which, begun at new birth, continues without cessation (though it can be hindered by our sin).  God is no call girl.  He saved and is saving us, having already known us from eternity and perfectly at that, so that He might make Himself the ever present God — the God who is with us!  He is to pervade our moments as a foretaste of everlasting life.  And this, I say, is the key ingredient to abiding joy — a vital, conscious relationship with the most delightful being, a being who is most true to His own beauty and glory and wonder when He invites us to delight ourselves in Him (cf. Ps 37.4).  Brothers and sisters, if we would be true to the sure hope of our God in saving us, we will be earnest in and jealous for communion with God, and this, I trust, will be greatly profitable for us all as we find that when all other joys fade away (as is the nature of every earthly joy), yet God, our exceeding joy, remains forever and ever and ever and ever, without end.  Communion with God is essential to abiding joy because by communion with God we find Him to be pure Joy, the taste of Whom causes all other joys to become tasteless, and therefore, unworthy of our greatest affections.  If it is an abiding joy that you seek, look no further than the God readily available to you in that Book now laying upon your bed side table — you know, the one that has recently been collecting a little too much downtime.

Becoming Less in the Pulpit (And Gospel Labors Generally)

It is essential in preparing to preach to always be mindful of my own sinfulness, humanity, weaknesses, inadequacies, brokenness, and dependency, so that I might always in my heart exalt the Christ who is, Himself, the heart and center of the body of Christ, the One to be exalted in the sermon and exulted in by us all, the Lord who unites His body, the King who by His dying commands our newness of life, the Savior who is our hope against sin and death and hell, etc.  I talk of this often; I fear that I seldom think more of Him in the pulpit and afterwards than myself — Oh, God, have mercy upon my impoverished soul.  I do not want, I repeat, I do not want anyone to ever in anyway come away from any sermon that I ever preach idolizing me, the very thing that Paul fought against in Corinth, the very thing that serves to distract the heart from its highest object of affection and fullest joy.  I do so want to hide away in the glory of Christ preached.  I do want Christ to be at the center of their affections.  I fear that so few are full of joy because they do not hear Christ preaching to them but suffice themselves with a weak man only.  And, this is largely due to that weak man who would, like me, often think more of himself than Christ in his preparation, delivery and remembrance of the sermon.  As far as I am concerned, may it never be!  Oh God, may it never be again!  Help me to make much of Christ, really, personally, thoroughly, prayerfully, until Christ is my only boast, sincerely and retrospectively.  May Christ’s church be rallied around the Head, that is, Christ alone.  And, may my preparation aim at this, my prayers plead for this as a matter of personal reality and corporate goal, my preaching accomplish this with all sincerity, my retrospective conversation only reaffirming Him, and my pushing forward time and again into new sermons reappropriating the same exclusive passion for Christ and Him crucified.  Thus, to be aided in this respect, introspection according to my resolutions on the Saturday prior to the Lord’s Day is quite important.  Oh, God, help me to be annoyingly repetitive in my speaking of my sweet Savior.