Pleasant, Bright and Sweet: God’s Sovereignty After Conversion

with 3 comments

Jonathan Edwards (yes, another Edwards post) had drastically different convictions before and after his personal conversion to Christ concerning God’s sovereignty, specifically in salvation.  The following is from Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards:  A New Biography:

In his youth, [Edwards] tells us, he had no sympathy at all with the idea that God appoints men to salvation: ‘From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he please; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell.  It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.’ Following his conversion he found his objections silenced, and he came to a new conviction upon the subject: ‘But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God’s sovereignty that I had then.  I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction.  The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet.  Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.  But my first conviction was not so.

Concerning God’s sovereignty in election and perseverance, George Whitefield has the following to say:

Oh the excellency of the doctrine of election, and of the saints’ final perseverance, to those who are truly sealed by the Spirit of promise! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come out of himself; but when convinced of these, and assured of the application of them to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed, not in himself but in the Son of God, who died and gave himself for him. Love, not fear, constrains him to obedience.  (emphasis mine)

None of this is to say that one cannot have confusion about or areas of disagreement with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty after becoming a Christian.  We have a limited understanding, and sometimes this limited understanding causes us to be confused or offended, at even the most basic things that are out of our control (For instance, “Is it raining again?  I am sick of rain!”).  However, sanctification includes God’s making men holy through revealing biblical truth to them, assenting those truths to their understanding, softening their hearts and affections towards those doctrines, and guiding them in obedience (as well as administering loving discipline in times of disobedience).  Essentially, in making men more like Christ, God gives men the mind of Christ, and Christ Himself has no problem with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.  Dr. Thomas J. Nettles, commenting on Luke 4:16-30, says, “Jesus, after preaching the doctrine of sovereign election in his hometown, was taken to a cliff to be thrown off.  So don’t worry, you’re in good company.”

To read more about George Whitefield or to listen to a biographical message about him, check this out on  “I Will Not Be a Velvet Mouthed Preacher!”

Murray, Iain Hamish (1987). Jonathan Edwards. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. p. 103.


Written by keywoodblog

March 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Bible, Gospel, SBTS, sermon, theology

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. So what are the women doing while y’all are doing that? 🙂


    March 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  2. Great Read! I was a bit confused because my inclination from the first couple of sentences was that this write was about the sovereign election of God. As I read I found it more to be about Sanctification and how confused we can be at times. I have a question that I would like to ask if you take the step to answer. Do you believe in sovereign election by God?

    Zack Cooper

    March 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

  3. Basically, the post is mainly about the experience of Jonathan Edwards and how we can view our personal experiences in light of his. First, if you’d tell me what you mean by sovereign election, I’ll tell you if I believe in it or not– just making sure we’re talking about the same thing. -Jay


    March 8, 2011 at 2:49 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: