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Greetings All,

This week's 'thought' comes from the well-known American pastor/theologian/evangelist/philosopher and first president of Princeton Univeristy, Jonathan Edwards -- one of the greatest minds ever to grace the American scene.

Professor Martin Marty of the University of Chicago put it all in a somewhat humorous perspective when he began his address to a crowd of 4000 people (representing a cumulative minimum of about 20,000 years of PhD research) by saying: "Never in the history of Christianity has more brain power been assembled in one room -- than when Jonathan Edwards sat alone in his study in North Hampton (Massachusetts)!" Anything written by Jonathan Edwards is well worth reading -- sometimes two, three or four times!

This thought comes from the first piece of literature he ever published: "God Glorified in Man's Dependence." It was a message preached to ministers in Boston on July 8, 1731, when Edwards was only 28 years old. It was at the urging of those who heard it that it was published. The first time I read it, it changed my whole view of the Christian life. I still consider it the best sermon ever preached.

I offer you small segments of the message. It is based in I Cor. 1:29-31: "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, let him who boasts boast in the Lord." Enjoy.

"The redeemed have all from the GRACE of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son... He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but as slain, that he might be a feast for our souls. The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was under no obligation to bestow. He might have rejected fallen man, as he did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God who saw no excellency in us to attract it... it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons...

The redeemed receive all from the POWER of God. Man's redemption is spoken of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace... We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give us faith in Jesus Christ, and make us a new creature... It is by God's power that we are preserved in a state of grace. I Pet. 1:5, 'Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.'
As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and maintained by him... Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on His work in the heart, for subduing sin and corruption, inreasing holy principles, and enabling us to bring forth fruit unto good works. Man is dependent on divine power for bringing grace to its perfection, and in making the soul amiable in Christ's glorious likeness, and the filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness...

We are dependent on God for all, as we have ALL through him. God is the medium of it, as well as the author and fountain of it. All we have -- wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, acceptance into God's favour, grace and holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, is from God by a Mediator, and this Mediator (Christ) is God... We have an absolute dependence upon Him because from him we receive all... Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made by God... Yea, God is both the purchaser and the price, for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering himself as the price of our salvation... Even the righteousness that we are dependent on is not in ourselves, but in God. We are saved through the righteousness of Christ; He is made unto us righteousness; and therefore the prophet calls him 'the LORD our righteousness' (Jer. 23:6).

The redeemed have all their good IN God. We not only have it of him, and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good...
God himself is the great good which the redeemed are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God. He is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; the 'river of life' that runs through it, and 'the tree of life' that grows in the midst of it. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast...

r dependence on God glorifies him by displaying his all-sufficiency. So much as the dependence of the creature is on God, so much the greater does the creature's emptiness in himself appear; and so much the greater the creature's emptiness, so much the greater must the fulness of the Being be who supplies him...
The more men exalt themselves, so much the less will they surely be disposed to exalt God. It is certainly what God aims at in the disposition of things in redemption (if we allow the Scriptures to be a revelation of God's mind) that God should appear full, and man in himself empty; that God should appear all, and man nothing. It is God's declared design that others should not 'glory in his presence'... So much the more man 'glories (about himself) in God's presence' so much the less glory is ascribed to God...
Whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all from him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its lustre and glory...
It is the delight of a believing soul to abase itself and exalt God alone. That is the language of Psalm 115:1, 'Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto your name be the glory'... Man is naturally and exceedingly prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power and goodness, as though from himself he could expect happiness... But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone. 'Let him that glorieth glory in the LORD' (I Cor. 1:31)."

We don't often think of it, since nearly every worldly philosophy encourages us to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, yet the more we come to see and understand and acknowledge our complete dependence on God for all, the more glory it brings to the One who is our inexhaustible and all-sufficient supply.

As T. Prince and W. Cooper wrote in the introduction to Edward's sermon only two months after it was preached: "It is the very soul of piety to apprehend that all our springs are in him; the springs of our present grace and comfort, and our future glory and blessedness; and that they all entirely flow through Christ, by the efficacious influence of the Holy Spirit."

And then they offer this prayer:
"We hope [these doctrines] will never grow unfashionable among us; for, we are well assured, if those which we call the doctrines of grace ever come to be condemned or disrelished, vital piety will proportionably languish and wear away."

They obviously have become
'disrelished," and as a result "vital piety" has "proportionably languished." But my hope is that you would
join me (and them!) in praying they will come to be relished once again.

In Him, Pastor Jeff