Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Whole-souled faith in Jesus"

I've reflected quite a bit on what I mean by this and particularly how I would distinguish between my own conception of "Jesus in my soul" and "my own urges and desires" or "indigestion." In part, posting my lengthy essay on "The Nature of True Religion" was an answer. But perhaps the best answer to this could come from Jonathan Edwards himself:
True grace is no dull, inactive, ineffectual principle; it is a powerful thing; there is an exceeding energy in it. And the reason is, that God is in it; it is a divine principle, a participation of the divine nature, and a communication of divine life, of the life of a risen Savior, who exerts himself in the hearts of the saints "after the power of an endless life." They that have true grace in them, "they live"; but not by their own life; "but Christ lives in them." His Holy Spirit becomes in them a living principle and spring of divine life, the energy and power of which is in Scripture compared to fire...True piety is nothing remainingly only in the head, or consisting in any speculative knowledge or opinions, or outward morality or forms of religion; it reaches the heart, is chiefly seated there, and burns there. There is a holy ardor in everything that belongs to true grace. True faith is an ardent thing, and so is true repentance; there is a holy power and ardor in true spiritual comfort and joy; yea even in true Christian humility, submission, and meekness. The reason is that divine love or charity is the sum of all true grace, which is a holy flame enkindled in the soul (Jonathan Edwards, "True Excellency of a Minister of the Gospel," in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 25: Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758 [New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006], 91).
That is what I mean. Of course, I agree that we must look to Christ as he is held forth in Word and Sacrament. But if this look is merely intellectual, if it does not affect my heart and move my will, if this look is simply or merely formal or ritual, then it is not a look that transforms. What I long for is a "looking at Jesus" that reaches my heart, burns there for his glory, and transforms the way I look at everything else. And that is what I mean by "whole-souled faith in Jesus"--it is a true faith which transforms everything.


Brad Edwards said...

Simply beautiful. I love how Edwards so flawlessly connects two concepts that are seen as polar today (grace and repentance), yet as he claims, were never meant to be apart.

It's an amazing reminder that even works are grace and are completed in grace.

Ortlund Family said...

Thank you, Sean, for this reminder of the nature of authentic Christianity. The implications for American Christianity today are staggering.