Edwards and Strachan: Examine Yourself

“Examine whether or no you are new born.

1. Whether or no you are, ‘as little children,’ humble (Matthew 18:3-4).

2. Whether or no ‘as new born babes,you desire the sincere milk of the word,’ whether [you are] governed by spiritual appetites (1 Peter 2:2).

3. Whether you are a ‘follower of God, as a dear child’ (Ephesians 5:1), and ‘walk as a child of the light’ and of the day (Ephesians 5:8), [and] follow God: [a] child with a filial disposition, [with] love, reverence, [and] dependence as a little child on a father, imitating, obeying in everything.”

-Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733. As recorded and commented on by Owen Strachan.

“The seriousness of Christianity is unlike anything else we’ve experienced. It’s true, Christians can sometimes earn the reputation of being overly uptight. We want to guard against that, especially because overflowing joy is a major gift of God to his blood-bought people. But we also stand apart from the world in fundamental ways. Life is not a joke. It is not a game. We are sinners. Eternal matters are at stake.

So it is that true religion marks us as different. Our faith is not a mere interest in heaven, but rather a matter of heaven and hell. Above all else, we are called to examine whether we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5).

‘Test yourself,’ the apostle Paul tells us. So it was that Jonathan Edwards summoned his hearers in Massachusetts to examine their hearts. Were they humble? Did they desire to know God’s Word? Were they ‘governed by spiritual appetites’? Did they seek, at even a basic level, to follow their holy Father?

These were not trick questions. Edwards did not wish to bring his people down, but to lift them up. When we revisit such matters as these, we who are born again will remind ourselves of our first priorities.

Our present walk with Christ is not about having a position, or being listened to by others, or making ourselves great. It is about the simple things: humility, spiritual hunger for God, obeying the Father.

In a world prone to silliness, the Christian faith is serious, and it yields serious change, and serious joy.

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ JOHN 3:7

-Owen, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 135.

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