Monday, May 02, 2005

Don't say a word

Before Easter I was reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3v19, now I hit the same text in the writings of Jonathan Edwards, in his Discourse IV: The Justice of God in the damnation of sinners which isn't the kind of title I've seen on any Christian book in recent times.

Edwards picks up Romans 3v19 "That every mouth may be stopped". Paul has argued in this great letter that all peoples are guilty before God. He appeals to human conscience, and that proves guilt. And he appeals to God's revealed commands, and again guilt is revealed.

Edwards notes clearly that we love to boast or justifying ourselves before God. We try to excuse ourselves of wrong doing or stack up good deeds in our favour. God however would have us be silent.

Our attempts to defend ourselves are futile. Our offense is against God who is of infinite worth, and deserving of infinite adoration. Therefore our sin is infinitely bad.

God's good news first acts to silence us. To stop our mouths from speaking. And then, as Paul writes in Romans 3, God can tell us that nonetheless his anger can be turned away. Away from us and onto God's Son Jesus. One who lived the perfect life and then died under the wrath we deserve. What hope and what good news!

Edwards' argument is long, detailed and compelling. Along the way he observes that everyone would love to avoid eternal misery. But it is not enough to want to avoid God's judgement. We must also love the excellency of Christ. Yet we do not.

We have no grounds in ourselves to be rescued by God. God is not obliged to save me. Justice alone is enough to condemn me. And therefore only God's free gift of grace will save us, bringing us to see that excellency that is found only in the one who is my salvation, Jesus himself! God's grace has found me.

In conclusion Edwards observes that there is one ground for re-opening the human mouth. When God's free grace is recieved then the mouth opens again. This time not to boast nor to justify self. Rather, our mouths must open wide in praise and delight in Christ. Abundantly so.

I'm not sure that these things are what Tim Hughes had in mind when he wrote: "when hope is lost, I'll call you Saviour... when silence falls, you'll be the song in my heart". Those two lines catch the impact of the gospel upon my mouth. First to silence my boasts, and then to release me to boast only in Christ.

15 comments:

  1. I wouldn't mind hearing the authors understanding of those who are of a different faith, yet who are humble & without any personal boast. For example, there are people who see thier lives in the light of divine/transcendent grace rather than purely on personal merit or position.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've another 1500 pages of small print to read yet during which I'm sure he touches that subject. I'll let you know.

    Edwards was a pastor / missionary in America in the 1700s, so at a very minimum he thought it necessary to go and tell those who hadn't heard.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thought you meant Jonathan Edwards as in the triple jumper...!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rumour has it that the triple jumper is also a fairly good theologian too.

    Well done Dave2 for your display of genius.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Imagine wearing a triple jumper. You'd never get cold.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good blog, always nice to come across other happy clappy charismatics in the blogosphere :)

    All the best,

    Sven

    ReplyDelete
  7. hey Blue fish

    intresting post

    See you like P. T. Forsyth, have you read his The Work of Christ. It is a really good book on the atonement. You can get it free at ccel library. The chapter on the great confessional is excelent. Would love your thoughts on it as it is a slightly differant version of the atonement than what you have explained here. I also read that it had a large effect on Loyd Jones when he read it as a young man.

    Richard

    Fellow Reformed Charismatic

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not read any PT Forsyth - never came across him til I found him so widely quoted in Ian Stackhouse' book. I'll look him up.

    For me, the atonement is broad reaching in its facets and implications... albeit centred upon Christ's penalty paying substitution in our place.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sven - you know my brother-in-law Pete Glover?! (so it seems from your blog)

    ReplyDelete
  10. "For me, the atonement is broad reaching in its facets and implications... albeit centred upon Christ's penalty paying substitution in our place."

    very poetic!

    but what does it mean

    love your thoughts on this old blog article of mine

    http://destructionofgog.blogspot.com/2005/03/its-been-while-and-thoughts-on.html

    Its about edward's theology of atonement

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  11. Richard,

    Yeah, you're right - poetic but what does it mean! What I'm saying is that central to my understanding of the cross is Jesus dying where I deserve to die... and the death I deserve is from God's punishment of me for my sin.

    But that doesn't mean I don't think the cross is not also about freedom from slavery (redemption), or forgiveness, or demonstrating God's love, or demonstrating Christ's victory,... for example.

    Re: Edwards - I'm working my way through his stuff. Slowly.

    I'm not awake enough to process your post but I'll look again. You're right that people not forgiving is a problem - but the key when it comes to God is surely the infinite nature of the offense committed against God...? Um... I'm not sure that "sorry" is enough. Surely human-human forgiveness has its roots in God's ultimate justice??

    I have the complete works of Edwards on my desk - can you tell me where your quotes from him come from so I can drop them back into context. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I do indeed know Pete Glover, he's my best mate. I assume that you're married to Em?

    It's a small Christian world :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for checking it out. I like the way that you have put the atonement, I also want to say that Christ died in my place taking the penalty I deserve. What I am wanting to avoid is saying that Christ was actively punished by God, which is to my mind nestorianism. Or, that the atonement is some sort of mathematical sum of addition and substraction of infinites (which Edward's, who is a very good theologian, often tends to do).

    Edward on the satisfaction for sins is in volume 2 (I think). I could not check on ccel as it is down.

    About you saying sorry is not enough, I agree that a mere sorry is not enough to meet the demands of the offended diety. However, if you check this post out you can see what Fortyh, Campbell (and me I hope!) are trying to get at

    http://destructionofgog.blogspot.com/2005/02/p-t-forsyth-quotes-on-atonement.html

    this is what i believe is the adaquate repentance edwards describes.

    Richard

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think one the challenge we have to face is to only go as far as the Bible goes.

    So I do think that we have to say that Jesus stand under God's wrath - I can't see another way of reading Romans 1-3, for example...

    But that never goes onto the territory that Steve Chalke, for example, suggests - of cosmic child abuse... Because, the Son and the Father are never Biblically pitted against each other.

    In the same kind of way, in the Sovereignty debate... I think the Bible teaches that God is absolutely sovereign in everything. Humanly we often therefore conclude that life becomes deterministic, but the Bible never permits that as an application of sovereignty - rather speaking of responsibility and of our need to believe (for example).
    And so the open theists apply scripture wrongly when they think that sovereignty undermines real relationship by implying no risk and therefore no love... the Bible never permits that kind of logic and application.

    Anyway, I digress.

    ReplyDelete