Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

As the new year dawns, perhaps we can take some tips from Jonathan Edwards:
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
  1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

  2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

  3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

  4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

  5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

  6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

  7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

  8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

  9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

  10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

  11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

  12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

  13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

  14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

  15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

  16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

  17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

  18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

  19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

  20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

  21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. (Resolutions 1 through 21 written in one setting in New Haven in 1722.)

  22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

  23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

  24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

  25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

  26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

  27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

  28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

  29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

  30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

  31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

  32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

  33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

  34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.

  35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.

  36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.

  37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.

  38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

  39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.

  40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.

  41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

  42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.

  43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.

  44. Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.

  45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

  46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.

  47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

  48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

  49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.

  50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.

  51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.

  52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.

  53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

  54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

  55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

  56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

  57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.

  58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.

  59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.

  60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

  61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.

  62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.

  63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.

  64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

  65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

  66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

  67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

  68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.

  69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

  70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Atheist: "Africa Needs God"

Atheist Matthew Parris, in a column for Times Online, talks about the need for God, particularly on the African continent. He concludes:
    Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.

    And I'm afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete.
First, we heard Penn Jillette's remarks about proselytizing, and now this. I hope believers out there are paying attention.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Frances Loraine (Reeves) Shelton
June 11, 1924 - December 26, 2008

Friday morning, my loving Mother passed away unexpectedly in her home. At this time, we are not sure how she expired. For the past 5 years my mother has lived "just around the block" from Marsha and me in Cold Spring, Minnesota. On Christmas day, our "Thursday Evening Dinner Club" got together for a Christmas meal. My sister Sharon, her husband Alan, along with Marsha, me and my mother enjoyed each others company while feasting on turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad and pumpkin pie. It was a time of sweet fellowship with family. We called friends and relatives on the phone and shared precious memories with each one. Little did we know that Mom's time with us was in short supply.

My mother and father were married to each other a little over 60 years. During that time, they displayed what true love was all about as they exampled the love they had for each other to those that lived around them. My father was a true "trailblazer" in many areas of spreading the Gospel. Mom was probably the least selfish person that I ever knew. She placed her husband and children ahead of herself in life. She indeed was the "wind beneath the wings" of my father. If giving is more blessed than receiving, as Jesus Christ said it was, then my mother experienced much blessing in her life.

A Friday, January 2nd memorial service is planned to be held at Mt. Zion Bible Church in Pensacola, Florida. The Bayview Fisher-Pou funeral home is taking care of all arrangements. My father is buried in the Bayview Cemetery and mom will soon join him. Pastor Jeff Pollard, current pastor, will conduct the service.
- Lee R. Shelton, III

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Passage

"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:4-5). This passage doesn't typically spring to mind when we think of Christmas, but I think it captures the essence of what we're celebrating.

But when the fullness of time had come...
The timing of Christ's birth was not random or arbitrary. It occurred at a very important time with respect to Old Testament history, especially as it pertained to the law and Christ's roles of Prophet (Acts 3:19-26), Priest (Hebrews 6:20), and King (Matthew 26:64).

The timing was also important for the spreading of the gospel. The Roman Empire had brought general unity and stability to the known world. Greek was the lingua franca of the empire, meaning it was used and recognized throughout many different countries and cultures, much like English is today.

...God sent forth his Son...
The fact that Jesus was sent tells us that he came with a purpose. His birth was a meaningful, deliberate act.

...born of woman...
It was prophesied that Christ would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He was the very Word of God made flesh (John 1:14).

...born under the law...
He was born under the law because he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). He lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and showed us how we might fulfill the law through love (Romans 13:8-10). redeem those who were under the law...
The law convicts us of sin, and once we understand that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), we realize that to be under the law is to be cursed (Galatians 3:10). "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13). that we might receive adoption as sons.
It is only because we have been freed from the curse that we can be adopted into God's family. The righteousness imputed to us as believers is not due to our own works but the work of Christ (Romans 4:5-8). Because of his sacrifice, the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us (Romans 8:2-4).

May God bless you and yours this holiday season, and may we all remember why Christ came in the first place. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Away in a Manger

This nativity scene is about as biblically and historically accurate as any other you'll see this Christmas:

The Arminian Problem Simplified

If you don't want to acknowledge that the future is decreed by God, Phil Johnson believes you are left with two alternatives:
  1. Some being other than God determines the future and is therefore more sovereign than He. That is a kind of idolatry.

  2. Some impersonal force does the determining without reason or coherence. That is a kind of fatalism.
God is not one to relinquish his sovereignty, nor does he simply react to what unfolds.

Friday, December 19, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Atheist Penn Jillette on Proselytizing

If you're familiar at all with Penn Jillette, the vocal half of the famous magic and comedy duo Penn & Teller, you know that he is a very outspoken atheist who has never shied away from ridiculing the Bible or Christianity. So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this:
Interesting and convicting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple...

Pope Benedict XVI is hopeful that the global economic crisis will help us rediscover the "simplicity" of Christmas.

Naturally, when I think of the Pope or the Vatican, the first word that pops into my mind is "simplicity."

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - December 12, 2008

  • There are four main points to remember when discrediting Calvinism. First, single out one contemporary author or theologian to act as a representative for everyone else. Second, paint a negative picture of Calvinism by focusing on just one or two historical incidents (e.g. the execution of Servetus). Third, avoid using scripture to support your claims. The last thing you want is to have people studying the issue for themselves to see if what you're telling them actually makes any sense. Fourth, imply that while Calvinists may not say that those who disagree with them are lost, their theology actually demands that they believe it in their hearts. This last point is the most important because it trumps any argument the Calvinist may use in response. I mean, how much credibility can a guy have if he thinks everyone else is going to Hell?

  • Timmy Brister on the casualties of anti-Calvinism.

  • Regarding the turmoil over Calvinism in the SBC, Nathan Finn asks (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Can't we all just get along?"

  • And now back to Timmy Brister for his response.

  • Kevin Jackson believes that "Calvinist theology damages the body of Christ," and that "Calvinism is a distortion of the Gospel." I guess that explains why he became an Arminian.

  • Does Calvinism make the universal offer of the gospel insincere? No.

  • I've heard Calvinists called a lot of things, but "Pelagian"? That's a new one.

  • Is God a God of love or a God of wrath? "God expresses both love and wrath," writes Tim Challies, "but where wrath is demonstrated, love is personified. God is love."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Free Will: A Matter of Physics?

Arminians and Calvinists don't have a monopoly on the debate over free will. Philosophers have wrestled with the issue for millennia.

The following clip is from the movie Waking Life. I found it rather interesting, and thought you might as well:

Jonathan Edwards Library Online

Everything Jonathan Edwards has written is available online...for FREE! Check it out here.

(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Question for Atheists

If only the natural world exists, then how did belief in the supernatural evolve?

Friday, December 05, 2008

This Week in Calvinism - December 5, 2008

  • In this video, James White weighs in on the John 3:16 Conference.

  • On the anti-Calvinist movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, Greg Alford writes, "Someone needs to tell these guys to STOP this war on Calvinism before serious and lasting damage is done to the SBC and the Evangelical Community as a whole."

  • Are you unaware of what's been going on lately in the SBC? Let Ronjour Locke bring you up to speed.

  • Another "convert"!

  • Steve at Triablogue has an interesting post on time travel from a Calvinist perspective.

  • Rab Houston, professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews and author of Scotland: A Very Short Introduction, isn't religious, but, according to Times Higher Education, "he believes that Christianity, and indeed Calvinism, have had a positive impact on Scotland ... Calvinism is generally considered a dour religion, but Professor Houston disputes this image, pointing out how it accommodated popular festivities."

  • Matthew Halsted on Ergun Caner, Calvinism, and Protestantism.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?*

Tonight we will be treated to a rare celestial event: Venus and Jupiter will converge with the crescent moon to form an "unhappy face" in the southern sky. It should be quite a sight.

Some historians believe that a similar conjunction occurred around 2 B.C., inspiring the story of the Star of Bethlehem. This theory typically comes up this time of year to downplay the significance of the events surrounding Christ's birth. But even if we concede that what was witnessed 2,000 years ago was some sort of planetary alignment, we must still conclude that it was nothing short of miraculous since the wise men from the east followed it for about two years (Matthew 2).

So, what is the significance of this event? Nothing...other than the heavens continuing to declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).

*Hey, give me a break. I grew up on Schoolhouse Rock!

Debate: Does God Exist?

On October 30, 2008, Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens met at Westminster Theological Seminary to debate the existence of God.

You can watch the video here.

(Pics stolen from Doug Wilson's blog.)
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