Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Religious Affections - 9: Certainty

The only certain foundation which any person has to believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel, is, that the Word of God declares that persons so qualified as he is, are invited, and that God, who declares it, is true, and cannot lie. If a sinner be once convinced of the veracity of God, and that the Scriptures are His word, he will need no more to convince and satisfy him that he is invited; for the Scriptures are full of invitations to sinners, to the chief of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits of the gospel; he will not want any new speaking of God to him; what he hath spoken already will be enough with him.
- p. 151, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

After spending a lot (and I mean A LOT) on the unreliable signs, and particularly in this section regarding scriptures popping into one's head unintended by the person, Jonathan Edwards forcibly says that the gospel conviction only requires the Scriptures as the foundation. In other words, he is saying rightly that one need not and must not rely on the (extraordinary)* way that the scripture came into his mind, but the scripture itself. In my estimation, this is an extremely important distinction. I have seen my friends seemingly trusting what the scripture says not solely because it is God's Word, but because the words of the scriptures came to them in a special way.** Whether that be through a random opening of the bible and pointing a random verse with one's finger, or by a sudden unintended-flowing-in of verses to her own mind, or even a very passionate and charismatic(not necessarily theologically charismatic) preacher shouting out verses that seem to be relevant to the hearer, there's no difference. One must base his convictions on God's Word alone. This is essentially Sola Scriptura. This really should be Christian Faith 101, but so many people seem to get this wrong around me. Am I alone in feeling this way?

End notes:
* extraordinary is in brackets because some ways can be seen as extraordinary to some people, but to others it may as well be very ordinary. And yet, the most commonly-seen-as-ordinary way, that is, you reading the Bible for yourself is extraordinary in every way if you really think about it.
** This could be a bit of side tracking, but I will say it here briefly anyway. Of course, I am not saying that God cannot speak in an extraordinary way. God has in the past spoken to His people in ways that can only be seen as supernatural by us. And God can still do so whenever He chooses to. But the greatest miracle of all and at the same time the clearest revelation from God came 2000 years ago. Jesus, Word made flesh, God-man, Lord and Saviour, our eternal Priest-King is the supreme revelation above all else including your craziest visions and dreams. That Jesus affirmed, confirmed, and fulfilled the Scriptures. Hence, since Jesus' ascension and until His return, there's absolutely no better revelation than the Scriptures.

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