From Your Pastor: The Spirituality of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Our godly forefather, Jonathan Edwards, wrote his classic The Religious Affections[1] to both define and defend genuine revival and the true, Holy-Spiritual wrought spirituality that should flow from it. What are the characteristics of a true and genuine spirituality that Edwards listed that must be present in true conversion, and that believers can expect in the Christian life? I have listed them below, adding scripture references, and my own pastoral comments.[2]

Edwards’ 12 points on genuine spirituality can be helpful in urging us on to high aspirations in our spirituality, as well as to also help us to exam ourselves to reach assurance in our faith (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-11; 2 Cor. 13:5). Let me encourage you to take each of these before the Throne of Grace, and be honest with Christ from your heart. God desires and delights in “truth in the inward being. Whatever need we have, He provides a Mediator for us full of grace (Psa. 51:6; cf. John 1:14b; Heb. 4:16).


  1. The Indwelling of the Spirit: “Be filled with the Spirit”. All genuine spirituality or revival (personally or corporately in a congregation) begins with God; He alone is sovereign and grants the Spirit according to His good pleasure (Luke 11:13; John 6:37, 44; Acts 16:14b). The faith that the Spirit gives the elect in regeneration is “an ardent (enthusiastic!) thing,” says Edwards (Eph. 2:8-10). The greatest gift Jesus gives to believers is His Holy Spirit. Edwards wrote that “the sum of the blessings that Christ bought by what He did and suffered in the work of redemption” are found in the gift of the Spirit. Father, grant that I truly know you through Jesus Christ, and give me your Holy Spirit as you have promised (John 14:21, 23; 16:13-14; Acts 2:33-36).


  1. True Love for God: “Do you love me?” Genuine spirituality loves God more for who He is (His character), and not merely for what He has done for us in Christ (His redemption). Both are important, but we love God ultimately because He is love and beautiful in Himself, lest He merely become a “means to an end” (cf. John 6:26-29). We shouldn’t love Him merely for saving us, but because He is great and greatly to be praised! We should grow in our love for His holiness, His steadfast, covenant love, His perfections, His Aseity (or glorious self-existence!)—all of the glorious attributes that reveal our glorious God! (Rom. 11:33-36). Father, grant me a holy vision of your beauty and holiness through the Spirit as Isaiah experienced (cf. Isa. 6:1-9).


  1. A Spiritual Sight: “Open my eyes…” Genuine spirituality brings a new way of perceiving reality. A love for holiness, for the things of God. We sense the glory and beauty of God more deeply, and His love for us in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:17-18; 3:17-19). We can “taste and see” that the LORD is good (Psa. 34:8). Father, illuminate my eyes and give me the sight to see your beauty and the beauty of holiness and righteousness.


  1. An Enlightened Mind: “Whatever things are true…” Genuine spirituality bring a love for the truth as God reveals Himself in creation, conscience, and especially in Holy Scripture (John 17:17-19; Rom. 1:19ff; 2:14-16; Phil. 4:8). Father, my God, and king, grant me a deeper love for your truth—especially Biblical-Theological truth.


  1. Deep-Seated Conviction: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness…” Genuine spiritual brings not merely a love for truth, but a deep conviction, zeal, and boldness to confess it, to obey it, to teach it (Acts 4:29, 31; 5:29; 28:31; 1 Thess. 1:5; Heb. 11:1; Matt. 16:17; John 6:68-69).


  1. Evangelical Humility: “Humble yourselves before God…” Genuine spirituality produces a deep humility. Our greatest issue, Edwards wrote, is that we struggle with pride. Spiritual pride is the major reason for serious blockage of the Spirit’s working in the Christian life (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6; Rom. 12:3). Edwards wrote, “Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ.” A truly spiritual person is aware of deep self-righteousness within them, and sees its own poverty and need for the grace of God (Rom. 7:19-21; Rev. 3:17). Father, grant me the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:21; 2:6-8). Father, grant me humility as I walk before you; like the Lord Jesus, grant me a willingness to die to self, and contentedness to be overlooked and forgotten.


  1. Roots in True Conversion: But God, rich in mercy…made us alive in Christ…” Genuine spirituality doesn’t necessarily know the exact date of one’s conversion, but knows that it has taken place, and can determine at least the time period in which they were born again and made alive in Christ (Eph. 2:1-5; John 3:3-8). We should ask: “Has true conversion taken place in my life?” Sin’s dominion has been broken in conversion, and there are roots of this in the past, and present fruits to some degree (Rom. 6:11-18; 8:9-11). Father, let me have assurance that my present state before you is rooted in true conversion.


  1. Christ-like Gentleness: “…For I am gentle and lowly in heart…” Genuine spirituality possesses increasingly the “lamblike, dovelike spirit and temper of Jesus Christ” (cf. Isa. 40:11; 42:3; Matt. 11:29; 2 Tim. 2:19-25; James 3:17). Edwards wrote, “Christian boldness and zeal are indeed a flame, but a sweet one.” Father, grant me the gentleness of Jesus, while being bold and zealous for the truth.


  1. A Tender Heart: “How can do this…and sin against God?!” Genuine spirituality has a tender heart towards God. Edwards describes this tenderness before God “like a burnt child that dreads the fire.” Increasingly, we fear hell less, and fear sin more. Increasingly, we fear with a deep dread offending God our Father who has shown such kindness to us. We fear less the consequences of sin (though we hate these, too!), and more the offense sin brings to God (Gen. 39:9b; Matt. 26:41; 1 Pet. 3:8). Sin is a destroyer—and the Evil One seeks to use it to kill and destroy our lives, and our communion with God (John 10:10; 1 Pet. 5:8). Father, grant me a tender heart like you have. Let me hate sin as you hate sin. Let me never offend you.


  1. Balance and Harmony: “…Walking in the fear of the LORD and the comfort of the Holy Spirit…” Genuine spirituality brings a balance and harmony to Christian lives. There will be holy fear and joy that will be realized at the same time (Acts 9:31); there will be suffering and persecution and a fearless thrill to be honored with Christ (John 16:33; Matt. 5:10-12); there will be sacrifice and self-control with complete contentment and satisfaction (Phil. 4:13; Titus 2:11-14); there will be a zeal for the truth, but a humility about the truth (2 Tim. 2:22-25; Acts 18:25-26); there will be withdrawal for prayer and communion with an availability when needed (Mark 1:35-38; 3:7-10; 6:46ff). Father, grant me a balanced heart.


  1. Holy Breathing and Panting After God: “As the deer pants after the waters…” Genuine spirituality possesses a desire to know Christ better. There is a hunger and thirsting after righteousness found in Christ (Psa. 42:1; 119: 131; Matt. 5:6; 2 Pet. 1:5-9). The more one knows Christ, the more one wants more of Him—less of oneself—a deeper breathing and panting for a holier life. There is a deeper satisfaction that fills the believer as they seek Him (Psa. 131; cf. John 6:34-44). Father, grant me a holy hunger!


  1. Fruitful in Christ: “Whoever abides in me…bears much fruit.” Genuine spirituality is fruitful; it possesses the Fruit of the Spirit (John 15:1-15; Gal. 5:22-23). This fruitfulness is manifested in three ways: 1) It seeks to live according to God’s commandments; 2) It seeks to be zealous for good works in the church and the culture; 3) It perseveres by faith in dependence upon the Spirit of God. Works do not save us, but we cannot be saved without them (John 15:13-17; Matt. 5:17-19; Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:11-14; 3:8). Father, let me glorify you in my good works; let me adorn the gospel truths that I know through by working, fruitful, obedient, and persevering faith!


After prayerfully meditating upon these, do you need to be born again? Do you need revival in your present condition? Christ stands full of the Spirit at God’s right hand ready to give the Spirit to all those for whom He gave His life. Need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Does KCPC need an outpouring of this powerful Spirit? Let us ask the Father for this great gift in Christ our Mediator. Amen and amen.


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs


[1] Religious Affections, ed. John E. Smith (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959).

[2] The Scripture references I have used are not necessarily those used by Edwards, but texts that seemed to support the truths he wrote about.

From Your Pastor: Seasons under the Heaven


“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…” (Eccl. 3:1-2a)

There are two seasons that we have absolutely no control over: 1) When we are born, and 2) When we die. That we are born; that we die; these are two very experiential realities. Birth is a joyous season; we laugh; we celebrate. Death is often a very sad season; there is confusion; mourning; separation; loneliness; fear. Why is there death? Though it is a “normal” season under the heavens, it is far from normal; it is quite unnatural. We must never say death is just “part of life”. Not true! God is life. He created us for life. Death doesn’t “fit” our design, because we were made for life with God. Then you ask: “Why do we die?” Especially, “Why do I fear it so much, and don’t want to think about it?” The Bible’s answer:

“…Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Rom. 5:12).

Our sin is the cause of death (Gen. 2:17; cf. Heb. 2:14-16). Sin’s presence and evil is not only the Bible’s teaching, but our experience as well. In fact, the Bible teaches that all men and women are characterized by three truths: 1) We possess eternity in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11-14); 2) We were created upright and to be like God (Ecc. 7:29); And 3) We are mad in our present state (Ecc. 9:3).

How can all three things be true of mankind, of men and women? Well, think of these three things in your own experience. We were made upright but something has gone wrong:

Eternity: You long for things to be right; just; fair; a new beginning; a new hope; new starts; a hope that what Christianity teaches is true. We are not satisfied here in this world. As Aurelius Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.” We long for a new and better world! Who wouldn’t want it?? Why do we long for this? Eternity is in our hearts, yet we do not find it…not here anyway. No matter how hard we try, we are simply “not there yet”. Madness: You can’t free yourself from the things you do, that you don’t want to do. You keep doing the same things over and over that bring heartache and sadness in your life, and the lives of others. Our hearts are full of madness. We are walking contradictions; we know that we are not what we should be (“upright”), and we continue oftentimes making the same mistakes, year after year (this is “madness”). For instance, we know experientially that we are created in God’s image, yet we refuse to think further about it in our fallen state:

We know because that there is a God and He is to be worshipped because we are all by nature and experience the desire to worship something/someone, to be completely devoted to people, stuff, things, life itself, etc. We are bent on worshipping something, even if it just ourselves…sadly (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). We know that we should not kill, think evil or malicious thoughts, and we know that stealing, adultery, and being discontented are not the ways we ought to live. We know we ought to lie, but we continue; we do things that we know deep inside our souls are wrong. We all are seeking to rid ourselves of guilt and shame. Why these two things? What have we done?? Why do we fear the worst when it comes to thinking about death? We desire to be honored and loved, and yet we do not show the same honor and love for others, and especially for God!!

This is real madness! Let us admit it. We know what to do (because it is written on our hearts), yet we do not do it (Rom. 2:14-16). Jesus said that those who live like this are slaves and only He can set us free: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (John 8:36). Jesus came to make us upright again. He came to show us the way to the world that our longings for eternity have been pointing; he came to cure us of madness, to set us from our self-centeredness, and to free us to follow him. How will you respond? If your conscience is still working properly, you know experientially that all these three things are true. If you have ears to hear, then you know that it is time for a change, and God is calling you to it today. What is your hope? What is my hope? “For as by man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21).

Christ has come down to live “under the heaven” in our nature, to experience the mourning and the dancing; to experience both the birth and the death…and through His atoning, substitutionary death to make us right with God. To make us upright again before Him, to cure us of self-centered madness, so that we will realize our mission in life to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and to live for all eternity in a new and better world. The Gospel-good news of Jesus Christ, and the reason why we can even mourn with hope, and laugh while we weep at a memorial service or funeral of a loved one is because Christ through His death and resurrection has turned death into a doorway to life—as perfect season that will never end: eternal life. Jesus came to live a perfect life of obedience for all who believe; we get His perfect record of righteousness: Jesus came to die as a curse for sin in place of all who believe; our sins are imputed to Him.

“He who knew no sin because sin for us, so that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21). Amen.

What must you do to be saved from this madness? Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ who sympathizes with sinners and the weakest in this life. In this season of your life, salvation could come—through your faith in Jesus Christ. Then, laugh, and dance, even while you mourn, because now you mourn with hope that only God can give. You can live knowing eternity is yours in Christ Jesus, and that the madness that is in you is being cured, and you are forgiven of all your sins. Are you being made upright again? Are you right with God? Do you know He loves you? Receive the Lord Jesus Christ!

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Charles

From Your Pastor: The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Summary of Letter to Colossians/Sermon Series: Christ and His Gospel are sufficient to live as saints and faithful believers in this present age as exiles/pilgrims awaiting our heavenly homeland. God’s people are “in Christ” (a very important heavenly identity), and yet “at Colossae” (or located in a particular time and space in history, within a fallen world with threats, temptations, and trials of various kinds). God’s people need “nothing more” than the Gospel for salvation and sanctification. Maturity in Christ is the ultimate goal of believers, or “becoming what you already are in union with Christ” (Col. 1:28; 3:1-4; 4:12).

  • Who wrote it and when? Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome (1:1, 4:18; this is where we left off in Acts 28:29-31, concluding our sermon series on Acts), early 60s AD. The Letter to Colossians written at the same time period as Ephesian, Philippians, and Philemon. This letter is evidence of the boldness of the Spirit, and the unleashed manner that God’s word continued to extend and expand the kingdom (cf. Acts 28:31).
  • Who are the Colossians? Colossians was a church planted by Epaphras (Col. 1:7, 4:12; cf. Philemon 1:23) who had probably been converted to Christianity during the Apostle Paul’s 2-3 years of teaching about the kingdom in the Hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9-10). Colossian Church was probably planted in early 50s AD. It was a rather young congregation. Though the believers were faithful and maturing, they were being threatened and tempted to false teaching.
  • Colossae was located in the Lycus River Valley in southeast Asia Minor, what is now Turkey, east of Ephesus, and nearby to two other important early Christian congregations, Hierapolis and Laodicea (Col. 4:13, 15-16; cf. Rev. 3:14).
  • Primary motivation/message of Paul to Colossians? Paul wrote the church to teach the “saints” and “faithful brothers and sisters” (Col. 1:1-2) of heavenly truths and how to live them out in the midst of the earthly realities of threats from false teaching in a fallen world. The Colossians were to know that they were “in Christ” (in union with Christ) and yet were to live out their lives in this fallen world, knowing Christ is sufficient for all life and godliness, and that they were to keep their focus on the hope of the Gospel that they had heard, enduring steadfastly to the end (Col. 1:2, 1:23, 3:1-4).
  • What false teaching were the Colossians troubled with? The Colossian false teaching had two fronts: one had a non-religious, pagan face to it, the other was more of a religious, Jewish face, and perhaps there was a mixture of both (Hellenistic-Jewish syncretism). It’s hard to say what the false teaching was completely with accuracy. What is crystal clear from the letter is that these false teachings were tempting and threatening the young, healthy congregation to seek more than what God the Father had provided them in Christ and the Gospel.
  • Characteristics of the Colossian false teaching: 1. Offering a spiritual “fullness” that had yet to be experienced by believers (cf. Col. 2:10). False teachers were tempting the faithful brethren with a “new spirituality” or “something more” beyond what they already had in Christ. In other words, there was another avenue or way to maturity, and even perhaps free from suffering (“simple Gospel is not good enough, you need something more, etc.”). 2. Though the teachers offered a new “spiritual freedom” or “deliverance” of some kind, it was actually a new form of spiritual “slavery” and could not kill and subdue the sinful flesh (Col. 2:8, 18, 20ff). 3. The false teachers offered insight and special protection from the powers of evil beyond what they already possessed in Christ (2:10, 15). 4. False teachers were impressive in their external religious practices, especially acts of ascetiscm that seemed holy and wise, but was not—rather, was very dangerous. Though it promised maturity, it would actually make for very immature believers (Col. 2:18, 23; 3:5-8). 5. False teachers promised a deeper knowledge of God and more wisdom beyond what they already had in Christ (Col. 2:8-15). 6. False teachers were tempting the saints to go back to old forms of God’s revelation rather than focus on the substance of that revelation, which is Christ Himself (Col. 2:17).
  • An important application of the letter to KCPC today: We are “Ketoctin Covenant Presbyterian Church” (note the location in time and space, as well as the heavenly reality that we are “in covenant” or recipients of the Covenant of Grace “in Christ”). As a congregation “in Christ” “at Ketoctin” or “at Purcellville”, let us learn from the Letter to Colossians that Christ and His Gospel must always have the preeminence in our lives. Christ is sufficient for all of our needs. The Gospel that saved us also sanctifies us by God’s power. Let us remember to keep all of our experiences, our reason, our search for wisdom, and our tradition submitted to the Lordship of Christ and His Word. Pastorally speaking, I see this as a most important primary application and relevant focus for us in the time in which we live.
  • Pray: Paul not only teaches the Gospel, he prays unceasingly (1:9-14; cf. 4:12). While studying Colossians, let us pray for our congregation to hear clearly what Christ would say to us during this next sermon series.
  • Edify/Build Up/Discuss/Ask: As we journey through this letter as pilgrims and exiles, revel in God’s grace in Christ to you, discuss with your family and one another, memorize and meditate upon the truths as much as you can, and bring your questions and answers to our monthly Q&A for more interesting discussion!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs