Thursday, December 24

What Belongs to True Christianity?

In a brief sermon to the Indians, Jonathan Edwards basically outlined the characteristics of true faith. Here I will enumerate them for ease of reading. My thoughts in [brackets] . . .

Things that belong to true religion (18th C for "Christianity"):
1. To know and understand Christ and the way how God saves men by Christ, and to know about another world. [Are we not also today very, very bound to this life and think of all things in direct relationship to how they affect our present situation instead of the one to come?]

2. To have the eye opened to see the excellency of those things that the Bible teaches about God and Jesus Christ, to taste the sweetness of them, and to have those things sink down into the heart. [Here, Edwards urges both substance and motive--taste the sweetness of Jesus Christ, and do this heartily. This, we remind ourselves is but one characteristic of a true believer!]

3. To believe the things which the Bible teaches about God and Christ and another world to be certainly true, not like a dream or an idle story, but like real things. [Oh, how we must make very sure that we who SAY we believe DO IN FACT believe that our faith in Christ is the most valid truth of all!]

4. To see how lovely Christ is and that he is just such a Savior as such poor creatures as they need. [One hymnwriter put it this, "Yea, all I want in Thee I find, O Lamb of God, I come." The focal point of the true Christian is . . . Jesus Christ, NOT in theory, but in reality!]

Edwards says further, "They that have true religion have their hearts taken off from the things of this world and have their hearts in heaven." And "In all these things we must give God our hearts: God sees the heart and he looks at the heart. It will signify nothing to do a great many things outwardly, if we don't give God our hearts."

Finally, Edwards admonishes the Indians, "You must every day, all of you, go alone and pray to the great God that he will enlighten your minds and give you new hearts, that you may have true religion." [Oh, 21st C. Christian, let us apply our hearts to wisdom and give ourselves over to the unfailing pursuit of God]. 

Methinks Edwards could preach this to all Christians, even . . . no, especially to us, TODAY!

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