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Growing in God's Spirit (Edwards, Jonathan, Jonathan Edwards for Today's Reader.) Paperback – June 1, 2003
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About the Author
JONATHAN EDWARDS (17031758) was pastor of the Congregational church in Northampton, Massachusetts, for about twenty years. His sermons and books earned him widespread respect and continue to inspire readers.
T. M. MOORE (M.Div., Reformed Theological Seminary) is pastor of teaching ministries at Cedar Springs Church, Knoxville, Tennessee.
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Edwards begins with Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Jesus' response: "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Matt 16:17. While others through natural reason ("flesh and blood") surmised Jesus to be John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets, Peter received a true spiritual knowledge of Jesus directly imparted to the soul by God the Father.
There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet after being told it is so, and having a sense of its sweetness after tasting. Those whom God enlightens do not merely hold the rational belief that the Son of God is glorious, but they have a sense of his gloriousness in their hearts. It is directly received from God as light from the sun: "For God who commanded the light to shine in the darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6.
While the divine light is produced in us directly by God, and is not caused by the word of God, it is not given without the word. The divine light reveals no new doctrine, suggests no new proposition to the mind, and teaches no new thing of God, but only gives a due apprehension of the divine excellency of what the Scriptures reveal. The mind cannot see the excellency of any doctrine unless that doctrine be first in the mind. The notion that there is a Christ and that Christ is holy and gracious is conveyed to the mind by the word of God; but the sense of the excellency of Christ by virtue of that holiness and grace is the direct working of the Holy Spirit.
The rational mind provides the understanding while the divine light inclines the heart and the will. The least glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ does more to exalt and ennoble the soul than all knowledge that can be obtained by reason alone. By this light, and only this light, we are transformed into the likeness of God's Son: "We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor. 3:18. The divine light produces the fruit of obedience and holiness of life that no mere rational understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring forth. It changes the nature and draws the heart in a sincere love to God which is the only principle of true, gracious and universal obedience.
All of the sermons in this book (Growing in God's Spirit) are available on the internet free for the searching. But the book is a handy resource and reference for personal and group study, and I highly recommend it. (Though the publisher's study notes do little to enlighten the text.)