by Ernest Liu
about the author

  • Random Sniplets
  • Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity

    atheism REMIXJonathan Edwards was a pastor on the forefront of battle against Nominal Christianity. His fiery passion resulted in a controversial move – he disallowed “people to take communion who refused to demonstrate by their lifestyle their profession of faith” (127). After serving twenty years in his pastorate, he was dismissed from his church for the “Communion Controversy.”

    His extreme methods for fighting carnal Christianity may be questionable, but his passion for restoring true faith is respectable. Perhaps that is why the authors (Strachan and Sweeney) explored Edwards’ faith on the subject.

    Like my last book review, I will not give you a comprehensive analysis of the book. If you really care about what the authors have to say, you should read it for yourself. However, I do feel compelled to share a few things close to my heart.

    Many Christians have adopted aspects of this way of thinking. “Well, yeah, I’m a Christian, and I believe in the gospel, but that’s just my personal opinion.” Aware that the current age does not look kindly on certainty, many Christians publicly downplay the intensity of their belief in God. They talk and think about their faith as more of a personal choice than a divine call. (74)

    I have been guilty of this. It feels almost as if the book is directly quoting me on the way I’ve professed my faith in the past. Perhaps it was my desire to make Christianity more presentable, hoping others would be open to my beliefs if I seasoned and plated it just right.

    Let’s face it. The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matt 7:13-14). It is foolish for us to whip out our shovels in an attempt to widen the road. If anything, we may find ourselves digging Hell-bound tunnels.

    The authors also provided an outline of Jonathan Edwards’ mark of a true conversion. They are simple.

    • Christians have a love for Christ
    • Christians have a hatred for sin
    • Christians have a love for the Word
    • Christians have a love for truth and the things of God
    • Christians have a love for believers

    Obvious, right? But that’s the point – sometimes we overlook the obvious. I can think of several Christians I know who live out their faith, and every one of them displays all the qualities listed above. The very fact that they are so similar in mind is epically amazing. Of course, it only makes sense, seeing as they are all part of the body of Christ.

    The book ends with a long list of questions that we can use to confront our seemingly Nominal friends. However, it would be wise to answer these questions ourselves, as they could reveal the state of our hearts.

    Do you love God? In your heart, do you desire to follow Him, worship Him, and obey Him? Does your professed love for God stretch into action? Does it have any practical effect on your life? Would others characterize you as one who loves God? Do you adore God? Do you want to adore Him? (See John 14 for more on this point.)

    Do you love the Bible? Do you want to follow the One whom it reveals, Jesus Christ, and follow His commandments? Do you enjoy reading the Bible and take nourishment from it? Do you struggle to read it and possess little desire to obey it? Do you care about the Bible? Do you seek to understand how it should be interpreted, or do you care more about how it fits or does not fit with your natural prejudices and opinions? Do you believe that the Bible is true? Is it all true, or are only parts of it true? (See Psalm 119.)

    Do you love living out and sharing the gospel? Do you monetarily support other Christians in need? Do you share the gospel with lost people? Do you care if someone is lost? Is that a concern that comes quickly into your mind when talking with another person? Do you pray much for the salvation of lost sinners? Do you want people to be saved? Do you attempt to live out a Christian life in front of other people? Do you inconvenience yourself to present the gospel to others? Do you suffer in any form for the sake of the gospel? Or is your life free of the sting associated with vibrant Christianity lived out in a pagan world? Do you seek to win family members to Christ? Or do you assume they’re fine? Do you ask them penetrating questions or do you simply assume they are saved? When dealing with others, are spiritual concerns first in your mind? (See Romans 10.)

    Do you love Christians? Or are they like any other group of people out there? Does your love take on a practical form? Do you desire to serve other Christians? Do you care when you hear about suffering Christians in other countries? (See 1 John 3.)

    Do you enjoy church and draw nourishment from it? Is church endlessly boring to you? Do you like biblical preaching? Do you see the need to be confronted about your sin? Do you avoid church in order to avoid being “judged” or “condemned”? Do you love interaction with other believers? Do you want to support the local church? Do you want to support missionaries? Does the spiritual good of other people concern you? Is it more important for you to do your favorite things on Sunday or to worship God with other believers? DO you continually struggle with finding the motivation to go to church? Do you want to go to church? (See Acts 4.)

    Does the matter of eternity concern you? Do you want to go to heaven? Do you not want to go to hell? Do you believe in heaven and hell? If so, does your belief take any actional form? Do you desire to go to heaven to worship God for eternity? Do you want to go to heaven because that’s where your favorite people and things are? Do you think about hell? Do you live as if eternity is real? (See Revelation 20.)

    Does the Bible shape your ethics and morals? Or do you just go with what you feel at a gut level? When there is conflict between your natural inclinations and what the Bible says, which side wins? Do you ever change your mind as a result of reading the Bible? When making political, ethical, and moral decisions, do you consider scriptural teachings, or do you base your decisions on your moral sense? Do you want the Bible to shape your ethics? Does the Bible affect what you watch, read, and listen to? Do you ever avoid or turn off content that is biblically offensive? Do you care if content is moral or immoral in an explicitly biblical sense? (See 1 John 1.) (143)

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