Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Recognizing Impostors in the Church

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." - Matthew 22:37-38

Every Christian would benefit from reading at least the first chapter of Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards. I've tried to condense the heart of what he says into one sentence...

"A Christian will 'greatly' fear, love, and rejoice for who God is, what he has done, what he can do, and what he will do."

In the ministry, there are people serving and those serving God with all their heart. There are many impostors in the church who believe that the sign of a Christian is best expressed through charismatic physical expressions, through the intellect, through their impressive ministry resume, or through their disciplined lifestyle. If you read through the scriptures, the greatest sign of a believer is someone who has a strong inclination for God (love, fear, joy, etc.) within their soul, what Edwards would call a religious affection.

Does your soul yearn for God more than anything? If it does, this is the greatest sign that you are his child.

"From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in: and from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, as present or absent, certain or uncertain, probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, etc. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God's displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness, complacence and joy in God, when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when he is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected, and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like manner, from a fervent love to men, will arise all other virtuous affections towards men." - Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections