Thursday, March 04, 2010

JONATHAN EDWARDS: RESOLVED TO GRACE
...enjoying the beauty and sweetness of Christ

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,
training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
-Titus 2:11-12


Jonathan Edwards kept a diary where he “rigorously” evaluated his progress and later came to say regarding this rigor “as involving ‘too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me.’” (see his 70 Resolutions)

A new friend in ministry (who wrote his dissertation on Edwards) shared this helpful insight:
Written within 1-2 years of his conversion, Edwards’ resolutions were more reflective of his admitted immaturity and youthful zeal than of his later reflections of the nature of the Christian life. For the mature Edwards, the steadfast life of faith is built upon a love of the beauty of God’s perfections as most prominently displayed in the person and redemptive work of Christ. As we grow in such love and knowledge, so we are increasingly conformed to the image of Christ, and in a love reflected in faithfulness to Him in thought and deed. The later reflections of Edwards are a far cry from the slavish and often painful attempts of Edwards at sanctification by resolution. We do well to learn from his lessons, and not to imitate what he himself came to view as problematic.
How refreshing to see a man of Edwards' stature, learning, and influence come to a place of real resolve by relinquishing the vain pursuit of his own moorings to that which is grace-based upon the Word of God and the Spirit of God alone. "Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?" May Edwards' following words of humility encourage us all to "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."


"My longings after it, put me upon pursuing and pressing after them. It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and disciple of Christ. I sought an increase of grace and holiness, and that I might live an holy life, with vastly more earnestness, than ever I sought grace, before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued anything in my life: but with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me. My experience had not then taught me, as it has done since, my extreme feebleness and impotence, every manner of way; and the innumerable and bottomless depths of secret corruption and deceit, that there was in my heart."

Source of Edwards quote: (Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, 53). The quote is from his “Personal Narrative” in the Yale Works, 16:797.

8 comments:

josephmcbee said...

Steve,

I have always loved and appreciated your music. God has always used it to speak to my soul. I wanted you to know that this morning I have found myself singing the words to LIVING IN LAODICEA over and over again. In fact, at one point I wept as I sang it.

I wept because that is exactly where I am in my journey right now. I feel so lukewarm, so "dry and dusty." I pray that God softens my heart and overwhelms me with His love once again.

I don't say any of this to flatter you, but only to say that the Father is working through you in this disciple's life and I am grateful to Him for that.

Thanks for being surrendered to Him.

Carla said...

What a great quote this is. So convicting, I actually read it twice.

Thanks so much for posting this, it's a timely reminder for any Christian, no matter how long they've been walking with our Lord. We're ALL prone to reverting back from time to time to the flesh.

SJ Camp said...

josephmcbee
Living in Laodicea is very much autobiographical. My personal daily testimony set to music. So you are not alone.

Edwards seemed to wrestle with this as well didn't he? Young in the faith, he crafted these resolutions to help him in his walk with the Lord; but in the end, he learned that they would be more of an unnecessary burden then grace to him.

Keep on my friend; you are saved by grace and sanctified by grace. It is all of Him!

Steve
Titus 2:11-13

SJ Camp said...

Carla
Thank you for your words of encouragement on this. Edwards was a real man who struggled just as we all do in his walk with the Lord. It is easy to see these great men of the faith as being lofty or almost immune to the same sin issues we wrestle with everyday in word, thought or deed.

PTL for Edwards' uncommon honesty and for his genuine repentance (if I may say that) from his man made self imposed resolutions, to being fully "resolved" by embracing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through the means of His Word and the Holy Spirit alone.

How sweet and beautiful truly our Lord is!

Campi
Hebrews 2:11

Terry Rayburn said...

Steve,

Great stuff.

When we're absorbed with Jesus Himself, in the freedom of grace, the resolutions "resolve" themselves, as the fruit of the Spirit.

When we're not absorbed with Jesus Himself, in the freedom of grace, all the resolutions in the world won't produce real fruit, will they?

Thanks,
Terry

SJ Camp said...

Terry
Excellent thoughts brother.

And it seems for Edwards, the resolutions were not the fruit of Spirit led devotion, but were the heavy yoke of self-imposed standards that were not biblically grounded.

In his own words: "I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued anything in my life: but with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me."

May we each be resolved not in our own standards of sanctification - but in the grace of biblical sanctification. Amen?

Campi

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick Eklektos said...

Oh wow! So encouraging! Thanks! Sadly, I happed upon one copy of Edward's Resolutions and while in a cult, was encouraged to live by them. I felt like such a failure and so discouraged that I cast it off with the thought that it was I with the problem. I am so encouraged that Edwards himself professes so much as he does about these resolves, namely, that they are but of human strength when, in truth, we are to seek to be more like Christ and live by His example!

Soli Deo Gloria