Jonathan Edwards, arguably the greatest theologian-pastor of the Church, offered tremendous counsel in his Advice to Young Converts.
In this profound work of pastoral encouragement, Edwards exhorts all of us:
In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.
In that one sentence, there is remarkable depth and power. I want to pull out two themes that I pray encourage you in your faith.
1. Follow Jesus with Utter Humility.
Edwards describes us as little, poor, and helpless. He does not follow the direction of contemporary authors by encouraging us to pursue our full potential and seek our dreams. Although those books are encouraging, they stroke our ego and unwittingly call us to rely upon our own strength rather than God.
On the contrary, we must recognize that we are nothing apart from Christ. Every gift – writing, speaking, administration, leadership – flows from the Sovereign Spirit. There is NOTHING we have that we earned – including salvation – therefore we have no reason to boast of our accomplishments.
2. Keep your eyes on Jesus’ Suffering.
Contemporary Christians urge us to set our eyes upon ourselves. In essence, Jesus is simply a means to self-improvement, happiness, and financial abundance.
This is grave idolatry.
Edwards calls us to keep our eyes, “on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin…” We are not forgiven based on our righteous acts or sleek appearances. Our righteousness before God is based COMPLETELY on Jesus’ death & resurrection. Meditating upon the suffering of Jesus will crush the perverted face of pride that rears its ugly head in our lives.
I love reading books by modern authors but here’s a rule of thumb: if people are still talking about someone who lived 100+ years ago – that person probably has something significant to say!
I am currently reading Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden. I highly recommend this book for anyone that desires an understandable outline of Jonathan Edwards’ life, writings, ministry, and legacy!