Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers – 5
Theology is broken into two greek words, theos (God) and logos (Word). So then basically theology is the study of a “word about God” or God’s Word or God. You cannot separate the two. Many today will decry the study of doctrine or forming a belief system or knowledge about what and why one believes what they believe about God’s Word.
Claiming all you need are the red letters, or love, or the Bible is forgetting some important truths. Those same red letters, that same Bible says that because of love we should “be aware of false teachers.(Matthew 7:15, Romans 16:17-20, 1 Timothy 4:1-2)” Paul, told Timothy to study God’s Word, so that he would be a craftsmen (2 Timothy 2:15).
The writer of Hebrews challenged his readers to move beyond the, “milk of the Word. (Hebrews 5:11-6:4)” So, to say that doctrine is not necessary is to try to live this life, as though one is building a swingset with no instructions. Ask anyone who has tried such a thing, and they will point out how utterly futile such an effort is.
Yet, the Word of God says something else very powerful, it says that God has given us teachers in order that we might not be carried away with every wind of doctrine, (Ephesians 4:14, Hebrews 13:9). So, to say that we need no one to teach us God’s Word is bound to allow us to begin a slow decent into the land of heresy, off the path of solid truth that keeps us on the right road, taking us beyond the horizon.
Yet, how does one know that how one is interpreting God’s Word or how a particular teacher is interpreting God’s Word is right? One way is by looking back upon historical faith. Historical faith helps direct us toward knowing how to interpret the Bible, application and theological formation, allowing one to know not only how such beliefs one is holding to may have developed, thus helping one better postulate those beliefs.
Historical faith also reveals to us what is important about the faith and how Christ is building His church. It is these, the reason why World Prayr is bringing, “Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers”. As, we travel through history we will be looking at what various teachers, pastors, writers have had to say through history about God’s Word.
We, pray you are encouraged and blessed by such insights, introductions and teachings.
Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 March 22, 1758) was a revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Like most of the Puritans, he held to the Reformed theology. His colonial followers later distinguished themselves from other Congregationalists as “New Lights” (endorsing the Great Awakening), as opposed to “Old Lights” (non-revivalists). Edwards is widely regarded as “one of America’s most important and original philosophical theologians”. Edwards’ theological work is broad in scope, but he was rooted in Reformed theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage. Recent studies have emphasized how thoroughly Edwards grounded his life’s work on conceptions of beauty, harmony, and ethical fittingness, and how central The Enlightenment was to his mindset. Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first revivals in 173335 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Gracious affections are of a quite contrary tendency; they turn a heart of stone more and more into a heart of flesh. A holy love and hope are principles that are vastly more efficacious upon the heart, to make it tender, and to fill it with a dread of sin, or whatever might displease and offend God, and to engage it to watchfulness, and care, Gracious affections, as was observed before, flow out of a contrite heart, or (as the word signifies) a bruised heart, bruised and broken with godly sorrow; which makes the heart tender, as bruised flesh is tender, and easily hurt.
Godly sorrow has much greater influence to make the heart tender, than mere legal sorrow from selfish principles. The tenderness of the heart of a true Christian, is elegantly signified by our Savior, in his comparing such a one to a little child.
The flesh of a little child is very tender; so is the heart of one that is new born. This is represented in what we are told of Naaman’s cure of his leprosy, by his washing in Jordan; which was undoubtedly a type of the renewing of the soul, by washing in the laver of regeneration.
We are told, 2 Kings 5: 14, “That he went down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan , according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child.” Not only is the flesh of a little child tender, but his mind is tender. A little child has his heart easily moved, wrought upon and bowed: so is a Christian in spiritual things.
A little child is apt to be affected with sympathy, to weep with them that weep, and cannot well bear to see others. A little child is easily won by kindness: so is a Christian. A little child is easily affected with grief at temporal evils , and has his heart melted, and falls a weeping: thus tender is the heart of a Christian, with regard to the evil of sin.
A little child is easily affrighted at the appearance of outward evils, or anything that threatens its hurt: so is a Christian apt to be alarmed at the appearance of moral evil, and anything that threatens the hurt of the soul. A little child, when it meets enemies, or fierce beasts, is not apt to trust its own strength, but flies to its parents for refuge: so a saint is not self-confident in engaging spiritual enemies, but flies to Christ.
A little child is apt to be suspicious of evil in places of danger, afraid in the dark, afraid when left alone, or far from home: so is a saint apt to be sensible of his spiritual dangers, jealous of himself, full of fear when he cannot see his way plain before him, afraid to be left alone, and to be at a distance from God: Prov. 28: 14, “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”
A little child is apt to be afraid of superiors, and to dread their anger , and tremble at their frowns and threatenings: so is a true saint with respect the fear of God. Hence gracious affections do not tend to make men bold, forward, noisy, and boisterous; but rather to speak trembling : Hos. 13: 1, “When Ephraim spake trembling , he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died;” and to clothe with a kind of holy fear in all their behavior towards God and man; agreeably to Psal. 2: 11, 1 Pet. 3: 15, 2 Cor. 7: 15, Eph. 6: 5, 1 Pet. 3: 2, Rom. 11: 20.