We continue with Edwards’ thoughts on the nature of a Christian’s gratitude. 

2.  In a gracious gratitude men are affected with the attribute of God’s goodness and free grace not only as they are concerned in it, or as it affects their interest, but as a part of the glory and beauty of God’s nature.  THat wonderful and unparalleled grace of God, which is manifested in the work of redemption, and shines forth in the face of Jesus Christ, is infinitely glorious in itself, and appears so to the angels; it is a great part of the moral perfection and beauty of God’s nature.  This would be glorious, whether it were exercised towards us or not; and the saint who exercises a gracious thankfulness for it, sees it to be so, and delights in it as such: though his concern in it serves the more to engage his mind and raise the attention and affection; and self-love here assists as a handmaid, being subservient to higher principles, to lead forth the mind to the view and contemplation, and engage and fix the attention, and heighten the joy and love–God’s kindness to them is a glass that God sets before them, wherein to behold the beauty of the attribute of God’s goodness: the exercises and displays of this attribute, by this means, are brought near to them, and set right before them.  So that in a holy thankfulness to God, the concern our interest has in God’s goodness is not the first foundation of our being affected with it; that was laid in the heart before, in that stock of love which was to God, for his excellency in himself, that makes the heart tender and susceptive of such impressions from his goodness to us.  Poor is our own interest, or the benefits we have received, the only, or the chief objective ground of the present exercises of the affection, but God’s goodness, as part of the beauty of his nature; although the manifestations of that lovely attribute, set immediately before our eyes, in the exercises of it for us, be the special occasion of the mind’s attention to that beauty, at that time, and serves to fix the attention, and heighten the affection.

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From Jonathan Edwards in The Religious Affections: There is doubtless such a thing as a gracious gratitude, which does greatly differ from all that gratitude which natural men experience.  It differs in the following respects:  

1.   True gratitude or thankfulness to God for his kindness to us, arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what he is in himself, whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation.  The gracious stirrings of grateful affection to God, for kindness received, always are from a stock of love already in the heart, established in the first place on other grounds, viz., God’s own excellency; and hence the affections are disposed to flow out overcome by it, and captivated with love to him on that account, his heart hereby becomes tender, and easily affected with kindnesses received.  If a man has no love to another, yet gratitude be moved by some extraordinary kindness; as in Saul towards David; but this is not the same kind of thing, as a man’s gratitude to a dear friend, that his heart was before possessed with a high esteem of, and love to; whose heart by this means became tender towards him, and more easily affected with gratitude, and affected in another manner.  Self-love is not excluded from a gracious gratitude; the saints love God for his kindness to them: Psal. 116:1, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication.”  But something else is included; and another love prepares the way, and lays the foundation for these grateful affections.  

Part two coming soon. 

 

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Romans 8:30

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12-13

So, in the Bible Doctrine reading for the men’s discipleship group, we’re going through the Gospel Call and Regeneration, two elements of salvation. The definition that Grudem gives of effective calling is as follows: “Effective calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith.”

But before we move on, we should have somewhat of a starting point, let’s say an order of salvation.

1. Election (God’s choice of people to be saved)
2. The gospel call (proclaiming the message of the gospel)
3. Regeneration (being born again)
4. Conversion (faith and repentance)
5. Justification (right legal standing)
6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)
7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)

Okay, now since we have somewhat of a basis to go on, let’s move onto the definition of regeneration, which is: “Regeneration is a secret act of God in which be imparts new spiritual life to us.”

From this, we know that God does the work in people’s hearts and minds. It is not a human decision or act which one makes a choice to accept this free gift, it is a work of God and the Holy Spirit. Let’s make that abundantly clear.

Now, Grudem lists three elements that must be included in the human preaching of the gospel.

1. Explanation of the facts concerning salvation.
-All people have sinned (Rom. 3:23).
-The penalty of our sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
-Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty of our sins (Rom. 5:8).
2. Invitation to respond to Christ personally in repentance and faith.
3. A promise of forgiveness and eternal life.

(I would almost go as far as the need to add God first, rather than the all has sinned first. The reason why, is because God has always been and it was perfect from the beginning. He is holy and loving and we were created in their image. So, people need to know where and why life had begun. From there, then the explanation of the separation between God and man should then take place.)

So, getting back to the main point, there is a human element to all of this, “How are they to believe in him whom they have never heard?” (Rom. 10:14). We are to proclaim the gospel. We are to preach it to ourselves (every day). We are to be ready in season and out of season. We are to have people on our minds. We are to live out the gospel in such a way that others will see Christ in and through us. We are to advance the message at all costs. And we are to know that God does the work. Period.

Now, how will you respond to this? Will you have questions to what has been said? Maybe it’s the whole predestined/election thing that you have a problem with? Will you begin to read the Word more? Will you begin reading evangelistic books? Will you pray that the Lord would provide you opportunities to share the good news? Will you follow up with those in whom you shared the good news with? How will you treat the remaining days on this earth, from this point forward? Living for yourself or living to bring glory and honour to our God and King, the One who laid His life down for us, in order that we may be heirs to the Eternal Throne?

So Friend

November 8, 2007

So friend, what exactly have your learned from your pastor’s sermons of recent? Not what you have heard, but what you have heard and put into action? How has the Holy Spirit transformed your life, in regards to “addictions” and “internal sins”? For holiness/sanctification is a growing process in godliness.

There is no short course to Christian maturity. It’s a long and drawn out process, similar to the analogy of a cross country race. The goal of sanctification is that we might be conformed more and more to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). And let me stress the fact that God’s Spirit is the One who transforms us (2 Cor. 3:18). “Although our vigorous effort is required, all growth is by his grace.”

Did you get that last bit? Let me repeat it again, “Although our vigorous effort is required, all growth is by his grace.” All growth is by his grace. Wow! Doesn’t that make you feel, in once sense better? It’s not up to us, fallen and deceptively sick, but it’s up to His undeserved and loving favour. Yet, we are called to live out our faith, to put it into action. Correct-a-mundo! Praise God for his love and patience with us, allowing us to be used for His glory, yet punishing those who have rejected and continue to reject His Son.

In Christ Alone

November 6, 2007

Have you ever heard of the song, “In Christ Alone”? I’m sure many of you have heard of it and have probably sung it in your churches and schools, but have you ever just read it and meditated on the words? Have you ever seen the incredible theology in it? The truths from Scripture? Outstanding! Let me just print it for you. And let me challenge you to read it and to recognize the wonderful gospel message throughout it. When I sing it, it moves me, but when I sit still and read it, it makes me weep and rejoice to know that God has called me out of darkness and into the Light, by His gracious Gift. I pray that the truth of the gospel and His saving grace moves you, not only in the emotional sense, but in repentance and faith in our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my all in all; Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless Babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that cross, as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied.
For ev’ry son on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then, bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand!

And all of God’s people say, Amen and amen!