The Seal of the Spirit

December 14, 2006

When God sets his seal on a man’s heart by His Spirit, there is some holy stamp, some image impressed and left upon the heart by the Spirit, as by the seal upon the wax. And this holy stamp, or impressed image, exhibiting clear evidence to the conscience that the subject of it is a child of God, is the very thing which in Scripture is called the seal of the Spirit, and the witness or evidence of the Spirit. And this image enstamped by the Spirit on God’s children’s hearts is His own image. That is the evidence by which they are known to be God’s children, that they have the image of their Father stamped upon their hearts by the Spirit of adoption. — Jonathan Edwards

So, the critical question is — do we look like God? Do our lives reflect the character and nature of God? If they do not, we do not have the Spirit of God. If they do not, we are not saved.

“But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9)

If this post raises concerns for you, please talk to your pastor or someone you know to be a Christian. I would also encourage you to read the Bible. You might want to start in John, Mark or Romans.

In Christ

Pastor Mike Walters

Source: Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, p.160 (Banner of Truth Edition, 2004)

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You Don’t Need More Revelation

December 13, 2006

What is your faith based on?  Is it some experience?  Is it some idea that came into your mind?  Or is it the promises of a truthful and faithful God as revealed in the Bible?

The only certain foundation which any person has to believe that he is invited to partake of the blessings of the gospel, is, that the Word of God declares that persons so qualified as he is, are invited, and that God, who declares it, is true, and cannot lie.  If a sinner be once convinced of the veracity of God, and that the Scriptures are His word, He will need no more to convince and satisfy him that he is invited; for the Scriptures are full of invitations to sinners, to the chief of sinners, to come and partake of the benefits of the gospel; he will not want any new speaking of God to him; what he hath spoken already will be enough with him.  — Jonathan Edwards

Source: Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, p.151 (Banner of Truth Edition, 2004)


When You Doubt

December 11, 2006

In a previous post I mentioned that an awareness of sin in your life can be a sign of hope. It distinguishes you from hypocrites.

However, there is another issue that must be faced when we have doubts. Are your doubts because of ongoing sin that you refuse to confess and forsake? Is your faith based on some event in your past (profession of faith, praying a prayer, walking an aisle, being baptized . . .) that has no bearing on your life now?

If that is the case, you should doubt the reality of your faith!

Listen again to Jonathan Edwards:

Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and corruption, will never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance, but one that sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented that persons doubt of their state in such circumstances: on the contrary it is desirable and every way best that they should. . .

. . .For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in His dispensations towards His own people, that when their love decays and the exercises of it fail or become weak, fear should arise; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite them to care for the good of their souls, and so to stir them up to watchfulness and diligence in religion.

He concludes later:

They therefore do directly thwart God’s wise and gracious constitution of things, who exhort others to be confident in their hope when in dead frames; under a notion of “living by faith and not by sight, and trusting God in the dark, and living upon Christ, and not upon experiences;” and warn then not to doubt of their good estate, lest they should be guilty of the dreadful sin of unbelief. And it has a direct tendency to establish the most presumptuous hypocrites, and to prevent their ever calling their state in question, how much soever wickedness rages and reigns in their hearts, and prevails in their lives, under a notion of honouring God, by hoping against hope and confidently trusting in God, when things look very dark.

When doubts arise in your hearts, and you know you are not living in obedience to God, use the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. Look to the cross and the grace that is offered there in Jesus. Don’t just go on assuming everything is okay because of something that happened in your past.

In Christ

Pastor Mike Walters

Source: Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, pp.107-109 (Banner of Truth 2004 edition)


Seeing Your Sin as a Sign of Hope

December 8, 2006

One issue that I have frequently had to deal with in counseling Christians is doubt. Oftentimes the doubt is a direct result of their sin. People see so much sin in their own life that they begin to think they can’t possibly be a Christian. While it is possible that they may not truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, more often, the ability to see sin in our own life is an evidence of grace. It is a difference between the hypocrite and the saint.

Here is what Jonathan Edwards had to say about the subject:

He who has a false hope has not that sight of his own corruptions which the saint has. A true Christian has ten times so much to do with his heart and its corruptions as a hypocrite: and the sins of his heart and practice appear to him in their blackness; they look dreadful; and it often appears a very mysterious thin that any grace can be consistent with such corruption, or should be in such a heart. But a false hope hides corruption, covers it all over, and the hypocrite looks clean and bright in his own eyes.

My friend, seeing your sin does not mean that you are saved. But, failing to see your sin is an evidence that you are not.

Pray that God will give you an ever increasing awareness of your sinfulness. And pray that He will then give you an even greater understanding of the grace of Jesus, who died for that sin on Calvary.

In Christ

Pastor Mike Walters

Source: Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, p. 101 (Banner of Truth, 2204 edition)


Blind Eyes, Cold Hearts

December 7, 2006

One of the things that often troubles me is how unimpressed people who claim to love Jesus are with God and the Bible. So often, the Bible, church, fellowship with God’s family are the lowest priority in their lives. They seem to care more about football or the latest movie, than the truth of God’s Word. (For those that know me –I’ recognize my guilt in this too.)
Think about it. What dominates the conversation after church? Is it truth from the Word of God? Or is it what you watched last night on T.V.?

Jonathan Edwards provides an interesting insight on this subject. He reminds us in The Religious Affections that true religion will always produce strong affections (desires of the heart and mind).

If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of in the Word of God, is undoubtedly because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things.

When something affects the heart, it dominates us. It motivates us. It elicits praise and worship.

The reason we find God so unimpressive is that we haven’t really seen Him! Pray that your pastor this week will show you God. Pray that God will open your eyes to see Him.

In Christ

Pastor Mike Walters


Starting Your Day

December 6, 2006

Here is a suggestion from Jonathan Edwards on how to start the day:

I think it would be advantageous every morning to consider my business and temptations; and what sins I shall be exposed to that day; and to make a resolution how to improve the day, and to avoid those sins. And so at the beginning of every week, month and year.

Source: Diary Jan 10, 1972; in Smith, Stout & Minkema, A Jonathan Edwards Reader, p. 367


Dealing with Discontent

December 4, 2006

This afternoon, I discovered that I share a common sin with Jonathan Edwards — discontent.  So, I appreciated his analysis of the problem and his solution:

Here’s his analysis of the problem:

‘Tis a great dishonor to Christ in whom I hope I have an interest, to be uneasy at my worldly state and condition.  When I see the prosperity of others, and that all things go easy with them; the world is smooth to them, and they are happy in many respects, and very prosperous, or are advanced to much honor, etc. to grudge and envy them, or be the least uneasy at it: to wish or long for the same prosperity, and that it would ever be so with me.

Here is his solution:

Wherefore concluded always to rejoice in everyone’s prosperity, and to expect for myself no happiness of that nature as long as I live; but depend upon afflictions and betake myself entirely to another happiness.

Source: Diary Jan 10, 1972; in Smith, Stout & Minkema, A Jonathan Edwards Reader, p. 367