Thursday, 29 July 2010

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards: #57

57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

A Christian is not a man with no fear, but who can overcome the fear and live through whatever pain and suffering because he is so confident in God's providence.

(Source: A Puritan's Mind)

How to connect to God: Part 2/2 - Faith

The second thing you have to do is believe in Christ. Belief in Christ has a definite content to it. We must believe he was who he said he was, that we require salvation, that on the Cross he secured that salvation, that he rose from the dead. However, while life-changing Christian faith is not less than believing these things with your intellect, it is much more. The faith that changes the life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word “trust.” Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than strong enough to support your weight. How can it save? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.

This means you don’t have to wait for all doubts and fears to go away to take hold of Christ. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to banish all misgivings in order to meet God. That would turn your faith into one more way to be your own Saviour. Working on the quality and purity of your commitment would become a way to merit salvation and put God in your debt. It is not the depth and purity of your heart but the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf that saves us.

Faith, then, begins as you recognise and reject your alternative trusts and gods and turn instead to the Father, asking for a relationship to him on the basis of what Jesus has done, not on the basis of your moral effort or achievements.

from p232 - 234 The Reason For God by Timothy Keller

You can get "The Reason For God" from,, or

How to connect to God: Part 1/2 - Repentance

New York City is filled with people who were raised and baptised in various churches but who abandoned their faith in their teens and college and have not thought much about it for years. Then something brings them up short and they find themselves in spiritual search mode. They work through the basics of the Christian faith and it seems to them they had never really understood it before. Their question to me as a pastor is “I don’t really know if I am a Christian or not. Am I returning to my faith or finding it for the first time?” The answer is simple - I can’t tell, and it doesn’t matter. If you want to either connect to God or reconnect to God, you have to do the same two things. What are those two things?

The first thing you have to do is repent. That’s not a very elegant sounding word but there is no getting around it. The repentance that begins a new relationship with God is not primarily a matter of drawing up lists of specific sins you are sorry for and want to change. Don’t get me wrong: If you are gouging the poor or cheating on your spouse, and you want to put your faith in Christ, then by all means stop doing those things. A Christian should love the poor and be faithful to his or her marriage vows. But those behavioural changes alone will not make you a Christian. Lots of people in the world are socially and personally ethical but do not have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Repentance is not less than being sorry for individual sins, but it means much more.

The repentance that really changes your heart and your relationship with God begins when you recognise that your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins, is your self-salvation project. ... in both our bad deeds and in our good deeds we are seeking to be our own Saviours and Lords. We have alternative trusts and “gods,” even though we do not call them that. We try to prove ourselves by our moral goodness or through achievement or family or career. Even diligent involvement in church and religion may need to be repented of once we understand that it was all a way to put God and others in our debt.

Repentance, then, is confessing the things besides God himself that you have been relying on for your hope, significance, and security. That means we should repent not only for things we have done wrong (like cheating or lying), but also for the motivations beneath our good works.

from p232 - 233 The Reason For God by Timothy Keller

You can get "The Reason For God" from,, or

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

For our sake

For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.
- 2 Cor 5:21