Question about doing good

April 23, 2007

Can a sinner do anything good by God’s standard? How would you go about showing what the Bible speaks of on this matter?

Thoughts:
When a non-Christian helps an old lady across the street, that is sin, because it is not done for the glory of God, and therefore is stealing what is rightfully God’s.

“We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6)

“Everyone rejects God; they are all morally corrupt. None of them does what is right, not even one!” (Psalm 14:3)

Those who are not saved have no faith in God therefore sin in everything they do: “But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

“No one is good but God” – Jesus to the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-19).


Taking Up Your Cross in the American Suburbs – Terms – Part One

April 20, 2007

What does it look like to take up your cross in the American Suburbs?

First of all, I think asking ourselves some questions (devised from William MacDonald’s “Terms of Discipleship” chapter in his book True Discipleship) will help us discern what a disciple of Christ should look like. These are simple, but sometimes it is good to think on the simple.

Do I love Christ more than anything else?

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple ” (Lk. 14:26).

Have I submitted my life to the Lordship of Christ?

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross… ” (Mt. 16:24).

Have I chosen to align myself with the shame, persecution, and abuse of my Lord?

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross… ” (Mt. 16:24).

Have I spent my life in following Christ?

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me(Mt. 16:24).

Do I love my brothers and sisters in Christ?

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35).

Is my life characterized by consistent, unquestioning obedience to the Word of God ?

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (Jn. 8:31).

So what does it look like? I think in many ways it can look very differently. One might be really rich, drive a nice car, and another extremely poor, and not even own a car. But, all, when it comes down to it, come under these terms of discipleship that Jesus laid out.

I think these terms are vague in some ways – let’s work to smooth them out. If it interests you, take one or two and go for it. Or, add another term, you think is necessary.


More on GodTube

April 20, 2007

In response to this:

Nathan,

I did not mean to suggest that we should not be attempting to discern what is true and what isn’t true. But rather, that this is the task in front of us. And whatever we claim, is exactly that: our claim. When we label things as christian, what we are really saying is that “I think this is inline with my understanding of what it means to follow christ.” I guess the problem is that we all have very different understandings of what that means… which makes using the adjective in a global sense very difficult, and dangerous. But that is just “my claim”.

You said…

“I believe we can know. And I believe the Bible teaches that we can know what is right and what is wrong.”

The bible does not mention GodTube, “christian” books, “christian” music, etc. So your ideas of what the Bible’s perspective is on these this are no more valid than mine. The difference is that you are claiming your perspective to be God’s. I am claiming my perspective to be my perspective of God’s perspective. I never said that God approves of my perspective… but it seems you have somehow interpreted it that way.

Note: I removed the text from the Jonathan Edwards quote you referenced. It was quite long. If it is in fact public domain please consider extracting the relevant pieces and referencing where the source can be obtained.

-Russ

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Russ,

You said, “I guess the problem is that we all have very different understandings of what that means… which makes using the adjective in a global sense very difficult, and dangerous. But that is just “my claim”.”

I’m not sure if you read the quote I put by Jonathan Edwards (you are right, it was long, sorry but I felt the whole was needed, and just so you know it is public domain, he wrote it about 200 years ago), if you did, that’s fine, if you didn’t, that might be why you still have a problem with adjectives or labels. Language is our tool, if we cannot use it, or if we do not allow people to us it, how will we communicate?

You said, “The bible does not mention GodTube, “christian” books, “christian” music, etc. So your ideas of what the Bible’s perspective is on these this are no more valid than mine.”

You are right, the Bible doesn’t mention these things. So I guess we’ll never know will we… If you truly believe what you have just said, you would not have written what you wrote. You are saying that everyone’s opinion is worthless (or of equal value making them worthless in the end), because the truth of the matter cannot be found out. If the truth cannot be known, there is absolutely no reason to try and search it out because in the end, you have nothing.

I do not agree with your statement about everyone’s opinion being of equal merit – if their opinion is human based, I would agree with you, it is worthless. That really is the problem isn’t it, because as humans, our wisdom is as good or as bad as everyone else’s, because it is opinion, and men lie as well and are limited in their knowledge. But I want to move us from man’s opinions to God’s.

You said, “I am claiming my perspective to be my perspective of God’s perspective. I never said that God approves of my perspective… but it seems you have somehow interpreted it that way.”

So I ask you, if men can only give a perspective of God’s perspective, how can men know if someone is really true or not? I am capable of lying, of misunderstanding, therefore what I say must come from God’s Word; truth must originate outside of man, because men cannot be trusted. Truth must come from God if it is to be real.

If no one can know what is true, what is the value in attempting? Buddhists have a perspective on God’s perspective. What makes Christianity better, or more true then their opinion? If what you claim is correct, being a Buddhist is just as good as being a Christian and the end result of it all is unknown.

Again, I ask that you interact with the Bible and Jesus’ words about truth and the value of the words or thoughts of men. Our ideas have no value and cannot be trusted. But, God has revealed himself to us, and can be known.

“Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31-32)

“We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (1 John 4:6)

If we claim things on our own authority, we are arrogant. If we claim things on the basis of God’s revealed word, that is humility and truth.

“The person who speaks on his own authority desires to receive honor for himself; the one who desires the honor of the one who sent him is a man of integrity, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (John 7:18)


Is Godtube stupid?

April 19, 2007

This is my response to a post here: http://russellseehafer.com/why-godtubecom-is-stupid/

I would be interested to hear what you guys think about that guy’s post.

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“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

“Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

What God approves is clearly seen in Scripture. Anyone who says we cannot know, cannot know that we cannot know. By telling us it is wrong to call something Christian because we cannot know what God approves, you are going against your own advice. You act as though God would not approve of GodTube – but who are you?

I believe we can know. And I believe the Bible teaches that we can know what is right and what is wrong.

“But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)

If you cannot discern both good and evil, the Bible says you are not mature. I cannot discern perfectly, but by God’s grace I am growing.

You don’t use Scripture in your argument. As a Christian, that is a fatal flaw. Who cares what you think? Should people follow you, or God? Why have you so boldly spoken on your own authority? Shouldn’t we only believe teaching that comes from God? How can I know what you are saying is true? Men lie, God does not – therefore, in order for something to be trustworthy, it must be from God. Jesus plainly stated this in John 7:

“So Jesus replied, “My teaching is not from me, but from the one who sent me. If anyone wants to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from my own authority. The person who speaks on his own authority desires to receive honor for himself; the one who desires the honor of the one who sent him is a man of integrity, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” (John 7:16-18)

If what we say is based on our own authority, it cannot be trusted and should be ignored. But, if what we say is based on the authority of God, we should listen and obey. Christ did not speak on his own authority, should we?

On another level, if a person wants to read a book written by a Christian author – how would they find that book if the world adhered to your system? Do you think we should have to wade through everything ourselves and find what is good without being able to label things?

On the question of labels, I think Jonathan Edwards made a good point in calling certain groups of Christians by names. Not exactly the same as what you are suggesting, but I think the same principle applies:

“Many find much fault with calling professing Christians, that differ one from another in some matters of opinion, by distinct names ; especially calling them by the names of particular men, who have distinguished themselves as maintainers and promoters of those opinions: as calling some professing Christians Arminians, from Arminius; others Arians, from Arius; others Socinians, from Socinus, and the like. They think it unjust in itself; as it seems to suppose and suggest, that the persons marked out by these names, received those doctrines which they entertain, out of regard to, and reliance on , those men after whom they are named; as though they made them their rule; in the same manner, as the followers of Christ are called Christians, after his name, whom they regard and depend upon, as their great Head and Rule. Whereas, this is an unjust and groundless imputation on those that go under the forementioned denominations. Thus, say they, there is not the least ground to suppose, that the chief divines, who embrace the scheme of doctrine which is, by many, called Arminianism believe it the more, because Arminius. believed it: and that there is no reason to think any other, than that they sincerely and impartially study the Holy Scriptures, and inquire after the mind of Christ, with as much judgment and sincerity, as any of those that call them by these names; that they seek after truth, and are not careful whether they think exactly as Arminius did; yea, that, in some things, they actually differ from him. This practice is also esteemed actually injurious on this account, that it is supposed naturally to lead the multitude to imagine the difference between persons thus named, and others, to be greater than it is; so great, as if they were another species of beings. And they object against it as arising from an uncharitable, narrow ,contracted spirit; which, they say, commonly inclines persons to confine all that is good to themselves, and their own party, and to make a wide distinction between themselves and others, and stigmatize those that differ from them with odious names. They say, moreover, that the keeping up such a distinction of names, has a direct tendency to uphold distance and disaffection, and keep alive mutual hatred among Christians, who ought all to be united in friendship and charity, though they cannot, in all things, think alike.
I confess, these things are very plausible; and I will not deny, that there are some unhappy consequences of this distinction of names, and that men’s infirmities and evil dispositions often make an ill improvement of it. But yet, I humbly conceive, these objections are carried far beyond reason. The generality of mankind are disposed enough, and a great deal too much, to uncharitableness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious opinions: which evil temper of mind will take occasion to exert itself from many things in themselves innocent, useful, and necessary. But yet there is no necessity to suppose, that our thus distinguishing persons of different opinions by different names, arises mainly from an uncharitable spirit. It may arise from the disposition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for speech) to improve the benefit of language, in the proper use and design of names, given to things of which they have often occasion to speak, which is to enable them to express their ideas with ease and expedition, without being encumbered with an obscure and difficult circumlocution. And our thus distinguishing persons of different opinions in religious matters may not imply any more, than that there is a difference ; a difference of which we find we have often occasion to take notice: and it is always a defect in language, in such cases, to be obliged to make use of a description, instead of a name. Thus we have often occasion to speak of those who are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of France, in distinction from the descendants of the inhabitants of Spain ; and find the great convenience of those distinguishing words, French and Spaniard ; by which the signification of our minds is quick and easy, and our speech is delivered from the burden of a continual reiteration of diffuse descriptions, with which it must otherwise be embarrassed.
That there is occasion to speak often concerning the difference of those, who in their general scheme of divinity agree with these two noted men, Calvin and Arminius, is what the practice of the latter confesses; who are often, in their discourses and writings, taking notice of the supposed absurd and pernicious opinions of the former sort. And therefore the making use of different names in this case cannot reasonably be objected against, as a thing which must come from so bad a cause as they assign. It is easy to be accounted for, without supposing it to arise from any other source, than the exigence of the case, whereby mankind express those things, which they have frequent occasion to mention, by certain distinguishing names. It is an effect, similar to what we see in cases innumerable, where the cause is not at all blameworthy.
Nevertheless, at first, I had thoughts of carefully avoiding the use of the appellation, Arminian, in this Treatise. But I soon found I should be put to great difficulty by it; and that my discourse would be too much encumbered with circumlocution, instead of a name, which would better express the thing intended. And therefore I must ask the excuse of such as are apt to be offended with things of this nature, that I have so freely used the term Arminian in the following Discourse. I profess it to be without any design to stigmatize persons of any sort with a name of reproach, or at all to make them appear more odious. If, when I had occasion to speak of those divines who are commonly called by this name, I had, instead of styling them Arminians, called them ” these men “ as Dr. Whitby does Calvinistic divines, it probably would not have been taken any better, or thought to show a better temper, or more good manners. I have done as I would be done by, in this matter. However the term Calvinistic is, in these days, among most, a term of greater reproach than the term Arminian ; yet I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on calvin., or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught.
But, lest I should really be an occasion of injury to some persons, I would here give notice, that though I generally speak of that doctrine, concerning free-will and moral agency, which I oppose as an Arminian doctrine; yet I would not be understood as asserting, that every divine or author, whom I have occasion to mention as maintaining that doctrine, was properly an Arminian, or one of that sort which is commonly called by that name. Some of them went far beyond the Arminians ; and I would by no means charge Arminians in general with all the corrupt doctrine which these maintained. Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious, if I should rank Arminian divines, in general, with such authors as Mr. Chubb. I doubt not, many of them have some of his doctrines in abhorrence; though he agrees, for the most part, with Arminians, in his notion of the Freedom of the Will. And, on the other hand, though I suppose this notion to be a leading article in the Arminian scheme, that which, if pursued in its consequences, will truly infer, or naturally lead to all the rest; yet I do not charge all that have held this doctrine, with being Arminians. For whatever may be the consequences of the doctrine really, yet some that hold this doctrine, may not own nor see these consequences; and it would be unjust, in many instances, to charge every author with believing and maintaining all the real consequences of his avowed doctrines. And I desire it may be particularly noted, that though I have occasion, in the following Discourse, often to mention the author of the book, entitled An Essay on the Freedom of the Will, in God and the Creature, as holding that notion of Freedom of Will, which I oppose; yet I do not mean to call him an Arminian : however, in that doctrine he agrees with Arminians, and departs from the current and general opinion of Calvinists. If the author of that Essay be the same as it is commonly ascribed to, he doubtless was not one that ought to bear that name. But however good a divine he was in many respects, yet that particular Arminian doctrine which he maintained, is never the better for being held by such an one: nor is there less need of opposing it on that account, but rather more; as it will be likely to have the more pernicious influence, for being taught by a divine of his name and character; supposing the doctrine to be wrong, and in itself to be of an ill tendency.
I have nothing further to say by way of preface; but only to bespeak the reader’s candour, and calm attention to what I have written. The subject is of such importance, as to demand attention, and the most thorough consideration. Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the great business for which we are created, and on which our happiness depends; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker; and so has its foundation in God’s nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion. But the knowledge of ourselves consists chiefly in right apprehensions concerning those two chief faculties of our nature, the understanding and will. Both are very important: yet the science of the latter must be confessed to be of greatest moment; inasmuch as all virtue and religion have their seat more immediately in the will, consisting more especially in right acts and habits of this faculty. And the grand question about the Freedom of the Will, is the main point that belongs to the science of the Will. Therefore, I say, the importance of the subject greatly demands the attention of Christians, and especially of divines. But as to my manner of handling the subject, I would be far from presuming to say, that it is such as demands the attention of the reader to what I have written. I am ready to own, that in this matter I depend on the reader’s courtesy. But only thus for I may have some colour for putting in a claim ; that if the reader be disposed to pass his censure on what I have written, I may be fully and patiently heard, and well attended to, before I am condemned. However, this is what I would humbly ask of my readers; together with the prayers of all sincere lovers of truth, that I may have much of that Spirit which Christ promised his disciples, which guides into all truth; and that the blessed and powerful influences of this Spirit would make truth victorious in the world.”

Edwards, J. The Works of Jonathan Edwards – Volume 1 (3).

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Because He lives,
Nathan Wells
1 Cor. 15:19


Book Review: The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and the Value of Speaking in Tongues Today by Oral Roberts

April 18, 2007

Oral Roberts was born in 1918 and is an American leader in the Charismatic movement. He is a televangelist and also started a university that bears his name in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His book The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is basically a defense and explanation of being baptized by the Holy Spirit with an emphasis on the outflowing gift of tongues.

Roberts’ theological positions reflect the fact that he is a leader in the Charismatic movement as he tries to prove from the Bible that being baptized with the Holy Spirit takes place after salvation and is accompanied by the gift of speaking in tongues. Using Acts 1:8 he argues that the baptism of the Spirit took place, for the disciples, on the day of Pentecost and should be a normative experience for all believers. Looking into the Greek word dunamis, translated in English as “power”, Roberts claims the word means “dynamite” and proves that “This power of the Holy Ghost is more explosive than the power experienced in salvation” (pp. 6, 9). Because of his understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit being post salvation, being years in his own experience (p. 8), Roberts believes that only after a person has been filled with the Spirit through baptism with the spirit are they able to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16; p. 45). As tongues was the natural evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit, according to Roberts belief, he claims that the experience of speaking in tongues, “is one of the most revolutionary experiences that can happen to a believer” (p. 15) and is key for “experiencing a new aliveness in Christ” and for having a far more effective witness for Christ (p. 21). Roberts believes instructing believers who are unaware of how the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues works is very beneficial and attempts to do so in his book, instructing believers who have never spoken in tongues with words such as these: “As the welling up comes again to you, open your mouth and submit your tongue to God” (p. 35).

Academically Roberts does a better job in the beginning of the book than at the end. He really seems to be trying to get his ideas from the Word and draw conclusions based on what is in the text. Although his reference to the Greek word dunamis and his claim that it means “dynamite” (pp. 6, 9) cuts negatively into his credibility, being that dynamite didn’t exist at the time the New Testament was being written. Roberts’ effort to come to his beliefs biblically is commendable, but he seems to contradict this effort at times. Speaking of the process by which he evaluated a certain idea he says, “I immediately began to examine it; first by God’s Word, next by the experiences of myself and others” (p. 29). But he seems to ignore this process later when he goes on to build a major argument for how the receive the Holy Spirit by a claiming that Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was “probably an abbreviated form of Peter’s sermon” (p. 33), and then goes on to add in details that he feels Peter would have spoken. Beyond this, in a section devoted to explaining what the “gift” that the Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 1:6 was, he has a series of “if” statements and then acts as though he proved his point (pp. 46-47). Logically, his argument does not prove to be very strong.

Personally I was impressed with some of Roberts’ statements regarding the priority of the Bible and preaching (p. 20), but overall found most of his arguments hard to buy, being that they were mostly based on experience, not the Word of God. One of the most sobering piece of information Roberts gave this: “Every morning when I waken, the Holy Spirit and I begin the day by praying in tongues” (p. 43). He seems to almost to place himself on the same level of causal power as the Holy Spirit and made me think of the words of Moses, “shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). Roberts seems to be genuine in his desire to know God and in his understanding of his need for a Savior, but it seems that he has let his experience cloud his mind and cause him to interpret the Scripture to fit his own fancies. People can be sincere, and sincerely wrong (a common phrase of Dr. Rosscup one of my professors at TMS).


Attitudal and Transactional forgiveness?

April 18, 2007

Is there such a thing as attitudal forgiveness and transactional forgiveness?

Possible Attitudal Forgiveness:
““Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25)

Possible Transactional Forgiveness:
““Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3)


A Summery of The Religious Affections

April 13, 2007

Jonathan Edwards set out to find in his book The Religious Affections what the distinguishing qualities between those who have truly gracious affections and those who have false affections (p. 15). The differences between the two are of highest importance to all people, being that their eternal destiny is held within the answer (p. 15). The quest that Edwards set out on in this book is divided into three major sections, the first concerns the nature of affections and their importance in religion, the second concerns signs that are not sure proofs that an affection is truly gracious, and the third and final section concerns those signs that distinguish truly gracious affections from those that are false.

To begin, Edwards writes that true religion does in fact lay much in the affections (p. 23), being in its nature “the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul” (p. 24). He proves his point based on 1 Peter 1:8 and the two operations of true religion that are mentioned there: love and joy (pp. 21-23)—both of which, it may be observed, are affections (p. 24). He then goes on to prove this point through various other biblical passages such as Romans 12:2 and Deuteronomy 10:12 where God commands us to be “fervent in spirit” and to “love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul” (p. 27). Edward claims that if the Bible is correctly understood it will affect the heart of the person who understands it, for an unaffected heart is a stony heart and has no place in true religion (see Ezekiel 11:19, p. 46). The “reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things…is undoubtedly because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible…that their hearts should be otherwise than…greatly moved by such things” (p. 50).

Moving past the foundational arguments regarding the necessity of affections in religion, Edwards moves on to look at those signs which do not distinguish true affections from those that are false (p. 54). For although affections are necessary for a person to be truly saved, just because someone has has affections to a greater or lesser degree or because their affections are many does not mean that they are saved, because those very affections can be counterfeited (pp. 54, 75). “It may be observed that the more excellent anything is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold than of iron and copper…but who goes around counterfeiting common stones?” (p. 73). Religious affections being very excellent therefore have numerous counterfeits. But while it is true that true affections can be counterfeited, Edwards continues to elaborate on the differences between the true and false affections in that false affections, even if equally strong, will be more apt to declare themselves than true affections because the nature of false affections leads them to desire to be observed and praised by others as it was with the Pharisees (p. 64). Therefore Edwards states that even though someone has religious affections in fervor and speaks much about those affections, it is no sure sign that those affections are true, and though for a time those unholy affections would go unsuspected, they are as those described by the Apostle Jude in verse 4 and 12 of his gospel, clouds without water and carried about by the winds (p. 64). All types of affections can be counterfeited, and it is no sure sign that affections are gracious that someone has many affections. Though they have a love to God, a love to other Christians, and a godly sorrow for sin it is no sure proof that they are saved. For, Edwards argues, the Galatians were willing to go so far as to pluck out their eyes and give them to the Apostle Paul, yet the apostle feared that all their affections would come to nothing and that he had labored with them in vain (p. 75). Even Pharaoh, Saul and Ahab had some measure of sorrow for their sins and expressed that sorrow quite convincingly, but it was no sign of their salvation but was a counterfeit affection (p. 75). People can express their unworthiness as Saul did when he was chosen to be king over Israel, and for some time be fearful of hell and judgment and then through some delusion, vision or Scripture verse feel that God has pardoned them and then continue throughout life with a great peace in their heart, but to Edwards these cannot be sure signs of true religious affections, for the unsaved are able to produce them. In fact, the unsaved produce these counterfeit affections to such perfection that by outward observation it is impossible to tell the difference from the real, except one wait for the fruit of those affections. For, “As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so from a counterfeit love…flow other false affections (p. 78).

Continuing his discussion of those signs which do not prove affection to be true or false, Edwards cites some examples to prove that just because a person feels that affections were raised up within them apart from their own doing or their own strength it is no sure sign that they are saved (p. 65). For it is not outside the power of Satan to suggest such things as joy and comforts as he does suggest terror and doubt, these being suggested to the mind without any effort on the part of the mind that is affected (p. 69). In fact, Edwards reminds his readers that the power for a person to have voluntary impressions is not even outside human ability, for as people dream involuntarily, so people can be the recipients of involuntary impressions while they are awake (p. 69). Even the Holy Spirit Himself can give those who are not truly saved a heavenly taste of the heavenly gift, a taste of the good of the Word – these things are within the bounds of common grace and give no proof that a person is truly saved (p.69). When people have Scripture brought to their mind, again this being seemingly apart from their own doing, it does not prove that they are saved for, “What evidence is there that the devil cannot bring texts of Scripture to the mind, and misapply them to deceive persons?” (p. 71). Even that people receive great joy from Scripture is not a sure sign of true salvation, for as in the parable that Jesus told of the seeds and the sower, “the stony ground hearers had great joy from the word…and their affections had in their appearance a very great and exact resemblance with those represented by the growth on the good ground…yet there was no saving religion in these affections” (p. 73).

Other signs that Edwards cites as useless in determining the authenticity of religious affections are that there be many kinds of affections or some certain order of convictions, joys and comforts in a person (pp. 75-91) or even that someone zealously spends much of their time in things regarding religion (p. 91) and who praise God with many words in public or that someone is confident that they are in a good estate (p. 95). In closing the section written about those signs which cannot prove or disprove the authenticity of affections Edwards states that there really is no fool-proof way for a person to know if another is truly godly or not, because “they can neither feel nor see in the heart of another” (p. 110). All these signs mentioned in this section of the book, can be counterfeited, and therefore the author calls all those who believe they can know for certain whether or not someone else is saved arrogant and shows that as the Apostle Paul said, that we should, “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come” (p. 118).

After closing his arguments in regard to those signs which do not distinguish true affections from false Edwards directs his attention to those signs which do distinguish false affections from truly gracious affections the first being that truly gracious affections arise in the heart from spiritual influences. This is shown to be true in that Scripture calls people spiritual because they have the virtues of the Spirit of God being that they are indwelled by the Spirit (p. 127). The opposite to being spiritual is a person who is carnal, or natural in nature and so Edwards states that there is a sure distinction, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (p. 126). The author relates the spiritual to a new sense that is wholly different than anything that natural man can imagine, and that this is why Scripture often calls the work of the Spirit of God in regeneration as “giving a new sense, giving eyes to see and ears to hear” (p. 133) and such. The spiritual are enlightened so as to understand divine things, things that natural men have no understanding of (p. 195). So great is this enlightenment that Edward states, “when a person has this sense and knowledge given him, he will view nothing as he did before: though before he knew all things” (pp. 200-201). An understanding of Scripture that beholds the wondrous and glorious truths therein is given those indwelled by the Spirit, and they have a spiritual sense as to the truth verses the false, as one who sees beauty needs not but glance to recognize it (p. 207). True saints are convinced of the reality of divine things for though they have not seen Christ, they love and believe – the great doctrines of the Gospel are undoubted and undisputed and therefore they are unafraid to place their whole lives upon their truth (p. 217). But this conviction is not without reason, as some other religions are – it is not a blind conviction but is one that is founded on real evidence (p. 221). Not only do they argue the truth of this reality based on reason but they see it and see the divine glory of the gospel. The union that is created through this indwelling by the Spirit Edwards states is seen and felt plainly by the saint and is “so strong and lively that he cannot doubt it” (p. 164) in that the bond of this union is love, and a love that cries Abba, Father (p. 164).

In addition to true religious affections being arise from spiritual influences, Edwards continues and argues that rather than true affections being based on selfish motives, they find their basis on the beauty of divine things (p. 165). Those who have have false affections are likened unto Saul for he was very grateful to David for sparing his life, and yet soon after continued to pursue David to kill him. While those who have true affections love God for who He is before they ever love him for the benefits he bestows. For if one loves only the benefits that God bestows, Edwards argues that that person only loves himself and derives joy from his belief that God makes so much of him (pp. 176-177). Delight in the holiness of God is essential to a true love of God (p. 183) because the beauty of divine things consists mainly in holiness (p. 184). Edwards argues that this love of holiness is a sure sign of true religious affections because although the wicked and devils “will see and have a great sense of everything that appertains to the glory of God” (p. 190), they see no beauty, as true saints do. Nebuchadnezzar is recorded in the book of Daniel to have a great sense of God’s greatness, majesty, power, and his sovereignty, but saw no beauty in the holiness of God as do the chosen angels and saints who cry out “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” (p. 187, 190).

After observing these things Edwards goes on to explain that true affections come with evangelical humiliation, meaning that the Christian understands “his own utter insufficiency, despicableness, and odiousness, with an answerable frame of heart” (p. 237). Those of unholy affections will, in the day of judgment, be legally humiliated, in that they will be shown that they are little and nothing before God, but there will be nothing of evangelical humiliation which is only in those who have holy affections. For those who have true affections voluntarily deny themselves and make themselves low, there is no coercion, but with delight they bow before the feet of God (p. 238). This humility leads those with holy affections to think others better than themselves and causes them to be more eager to hear than to speak (p. 247). When the truly humble are brought down low, they do not think they are being treated unjustly, but rather they marvel that they are not brought down lower – this stands in stark contrast to false affections, for they tend to think highly of themselves and hate those who make little of them (pp. 258-259).

Edwards goes on to relate the signs of a dove-like spirit and tenderness of spirit citing again the fact that true affections come from the Spirit of God and that “The new man is renewed, after the image of him that created him” (Colosians 3:10, p. 274, 285). And it is following these signs that Edwards argues that true religious affections have a beautiful symmetry to them (p. 292). While it is true that believers are not perfect, “there is in no wise that monstrous disproportion in gracious affections, and the various parts of true religion in the saints, that is very commonly to be observed in the false religion and counterfeit graces of hypocrites” (p. 292). Edwards proves this point from various scriptures including Hosea 7:8 where God rebukes the Israelites because they are “half roasted and half raw” (p. 293). True saints are not greatly affected in public and little affected in private, but rather there is a symmetry to their lives for they delight in fellowship with other believers but also delight in secret prayer and conversation with God (p. 300).

Another sure sign of true affections that Edwards gives is that as true affections are increased so are the spiritual appetites for false affections are satisfied in themselves (p. 303). The true saint is never satisfied with his current state – in his love for God he desires to love God more and though he sins less than in the past he hates his sin all the more and mourns the fact that there is so much sin that remains and that he continues to love his sin. In his mourning of sin sin he desires to mourn even more, and as his heart is broken he desires it to be broken even to a greater degree. The true saint’s thirst for spiritual things is as a baby for his mother’s milk (p. 303).

But the final and chief sign (p. 315) that Edwards gives as a distinguishing mark of true religious affections is that true affections produce the fruit of Christian practice (p. 308). Edwards argues that this is true because “the things revealed in the Word of God are so great, and so infinitely more important than all other things, that it is inconsistent with human nature, that a man should fully believe the truth of them, and not be influenced by them above all things in his practice” (p. 318). If in fact the old nature is really dead and replaced by the new spiritual nature then it is to be expected that that person will walk in accordance with that Spirit and to do so all the rest of his life (p. 318). Jesus said that we will know true believers by their fruit as a tree is known by its fruit for everything can be counterfeit except for fruit – fruit shows the heart (p. 327). It does not amount to anything that someone claims to be a Christian, but “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21, p. 330).

In conclusion Edwards says that although all these proofs are indeed proofs of true affections, there are no external proofs that one might without a doubt judge whether or not someone is truly saved (p. 340). But Edwards believes the manifestations that he has mentioned in this book are the best that are available to us, being human and unable to look into the hearts of men (p. 341). Edwards goes on to say that while it is true that it is impossible for a person to truly know the state of another, Scripture speaks of persons’ actions as “sure evidence of grace to persons’ own consciences” (p. 341). For although religion does consist much in holy affection it is the practical exercises of that affection that are the most easily distinguishable and therefore assurance is most likely to be had through action and the observation of the fruit produced (p. 373).