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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Divine and Supernatural Light

This morning I read Jonathan Edwards' sermon entitled, "A Divine and Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God, Shown to be Both Scriptural and Rational Doctrine."  Seriously, it is really called that!:)  You can read it here:

Edwards' point in the sermon is that true, saving, life-transforming, experiential knowledge of God is supernatural--it does not come from mere observation and study, but rather it comes by the gift and power of God. 

Matthew 16:13-17 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

2 Cor 4:6 "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

The thought that God is the one who gives us the gift of truly seeing Him for who He is, actually is... encouraging!  It means that we do not need to be rocket scientists to know God in a true, saving, life-transforming, powerful way.  Even a child can know God in this powerful way.  Edwards gives us an analogy for how this supernatural knowledge of God differs from a natural or exclusively "head knowledge" of God.  He compares it to knowing that honey is sweet.  We can be told that honey is sweet, but it is something else entirely to taste with our own senses that honey is sweet.  Likewise, we can in a sense "know" in our minds that God is good by reading that God is good or by being told that God is good, but these things do not compare to the heart experience of tasting God's goodness.  This latter type of knowledge engages our head, heart, and soul--it is tasting.  This tasting comes by gift of God. 

Have you tasted? 

Psalm 34:8 "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"

If you have not tasted, or if you are not confident that you have tasted...ASK Him for the gift of seeing and tasting Him.  SEEK Him with your WHOLE heart.  Be PERSISTENT in seeking Him in His Word and in fellowship with His people and be persistent in asking Him through prayer to reveal to you the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Christ!

If you seek Him persistently and sincerely with your whole heart, and you ask Him to show Himself to you, you will not be disappointed:

Luke 11: 5-12 And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

This passage is not about a God who wants us to beg.  This passage is not about a God who capriciously hides himself and laughs as the poor, naked, wretched, and blind creature hopelessly seeks him.  This passage is not about how our actions or persistence earn God's favor.  This passage is about God delighting in the sincerity of a heart that truly wants Him!  Of course He will answer our prayers to know and taste Him with a resounding "YES"!  Just as it pleased Him to speak light out of darkness, it pleases Him to shine the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Christ into our hearts! 

Accordingly, Edwards rightly bids us to seek after this light!  Here are the last few paragraphs of Edwards' beautiful sermon: 

Thirdly, All may hence be exhorted earnestly to seek this spiritual light. To influence and move to it, the following things may be considered.

1. This is the most excellent and divine wisdom that any creature is capable of. It is more excellent than any human learning; it is far more excellent than all the knowledge of the greatest philosophers or statesmen. Yea, the least glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Christ doth more exalt and ennoble the soul, than all the knowledge of those that have the greatest speculative understanding in divinity without grace. This knowledge has the most noble object that is or can be, viz., the divine glory or excellency of God and Christ. The knowledge of these objects is that wherein consists the most excellent knowledge of the angels, yea, of God himself.

2. This knowledge is that which is above all others sweet and joyful. Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from this divine light shining into the soul. This light gives a view of those things that are immensely the most exquisitely beautiful, and capable of delighting the eye of the understanding. This spiritual light is the dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing so powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark world.

3. This light is such as effectually influences the inclination, and changes the nature of the soul. It assimilates the nature to the divine nature, and changes the soul into an image of the same glory that is beheld. 2 Cor. 3:18, "But 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." This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Saviour: it causes the whole soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.

4. This light, and this only, has its fruit in a universal holiness of life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to a universal obedience. It shows God's worthiness to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.

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