“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering…” by the author of Hebrews

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

Hebrews 12:18-24

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“…their unbelief, too, consisted in the spirit of self-will and open defiance, a determination to please themselves at all costs.” by Arthur W. Pink

“Consider now the case of that generation of Israel which was in Palestine when the Lord Jesus appeared among them as ‘a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God’ (Romans 15:8). John 1:11, informs us, ‘He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,’ which the next verse defines as ‘they believed’ Him not. But is that all? Were they guilty of nothing more than a failure to assent to His teaching and trust to His person? Nay, verily, that was merely the negative side of their unbelief.

Positively, they ‘hated’ Him (John 15:25), and would ‘not come to’ Him (John 5:40). His holy demands suited not their fleshly desires, and therefore they said, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us’ (Luke 19:14).

Thus their unbelief, too, consisted in the spirit of self-will and open defiance, a determination to please themselves at all costs.

Unbelief is not simply an infirmity of fallen human nature, it is a heinous crime. Scripture everywhere attributes it to love of sin, obstinacy of will, hardness of heart. Unbelief has its root in a depraved nature, in a mind which is enmity against God. Love of sin is the immediate cause of unbelief: ‘And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil’ (John 3:19).

‘The light of the Gospel is brought unto a place or people: they come so near it as to discover its end or tendency; but as soon as they find that it aims to part them and their sins, they will have no more to do with it. They like not the terms of the Gospel, and so perish in and for their iniquities.’ (John Owen)”

Arthur W. Pink, Studies on Saving Faith

“…true religion, in great part consists in the affections.” by Jonathan Edwards

“II. The second thing proposed, which was to observe some things that render it evident, that true religion, in great part consists in the affections.

And here,

1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes this evident, and may be sufficient, without adding anything further, to put this matter out of doubt; for who will deny that true religion consists in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart?

That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference: God, in his word, greatly insists upon it, that we be good in earnest, ‘fervent in spirit,” and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion: Rom. 12: 11, ‘Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ Deut. 10: 12, ‘And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord the God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?’ and chap. 6: 4, 6, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might.’ It is such a fervent vigorous engagedness of the heart in religion, that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and that has the promises of life; Deut. 30: 6, ‘And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.'”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

“And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ…yet…” by Jonathan Edwards

“And though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will, towards divine and heavenly things, is comparatively weak; yet everyone that has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things, with such strength and vigour that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them…”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

Theology, Heresy, and Orthodoxy by Bruce L. Shelley

Theology comes from two Greek words: theos, meaning God, and logos, meaning word or rational thought. So theology is rational thought about God. It is not identical with religion. Religion is our belief in God and our effort to live by that belief. Theology is the attempt to give a rational explanation of our belief: it is thinking about religion.

When we err in our thinking we call it Heresy or bad theology. Heresy is not necessarily bad religion, but like all wrong thinking, it may lead to bad religion.

Heretics, in fact, served the church in an unintended way. Their pioneering attempts to state the truth forced the church to shape ‘good theology’ — a rounded, systematic statement of biblical revelation.

Good theology we call orthodox–a term that always seems to stir emotions. As William Hordern has said, some people hate the thought of being unorthodox. ‘For them, orthodoxy, whether in politics, religion, or table manners, is the first necessity of life. To others, it is the most deplorable state into which a man can fall. It is equivalent to being stale, unoriginal, or just plain dull.’ In church history, however, orthodox Christianity is something purely denotative–referring simply to the majority opinion. It is that form of Christianity which won the support of the overwhelming majority of Christians and which is expressed by most of the official proclamations or creeds of the church. So catholic Christianity is orthodox.

Church history shows us that Christian theology is not primarily a philosophical system invented by men in the quiet of an academic study. Doctrines were hammered out by men who were on the work crew of the church. Every plank in the platform of orthodoxy was laid because some heresy had arisen that threatened to change the nature of Christianity and to destroy its central faith.”

-Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language

“… for they saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.” by Jonathan Edwards

“The world was ready to wonder, what strange principle it was, that influenced them to expose themselves to so great sufferings, to forsake the things that were seen, and renounce all that was dear and pleasant, which was the object of sense. They seemed to the men of the world about them, as though they were beside themselves, and to act as though they hated themselves; there was nothing in their view, that could induce them thus to suffer, and support them under, and carry them through such trials. But although there was nothing that was seen, nothing that the world saw, or that the Christians themselves ever saw with their bodily eyes, that thus influenced and supported them, yet they had a supernatural principle of love to something unseen; they loved Jesus Christ, for they saw him spiritually whom the world saw not, and whom they themselves had never seen with bodily eyes.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections

“True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed…” by Jonathan Edwards

“And then, these trials are of further benefit to true religion; they not only manifest the truth of it, but they make its genuine beauty and amiableness remarkably to appear. True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials: then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold! And upon this account is ‘found to praise, and honour, and glory.'”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections

“Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavours clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist.” by Jonathan Edwards

“Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavours clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected, that great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance; till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm debates in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and distinctly what we ought to contend for. My design is to contribute my mite, and use my best (however feeble) endeavours to this end, in the ensuing treatise; wherein it must be noted, that my design is somewhat diverse from the design of what I have formerly published, which was to show the distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God, including both his common and saving operations; but what I aim at now, is to show the nature and signs of the gracious operations of God’s Spirit, by which they are to be distinguished from all things whatsoever, that the minds of men are the subjects of, which are not of a saving nature. If I have succeeded, in this my aim, in any tolerable measure, I hope it will tend to promote the interest of religion. And whether I have succeeded to bring any light to this subject or no, and however my attempts may be reproached in these captious and censorious times, I hope ins the mercy of a gracious God, for the acceptance of the sincerity of my endeavours; and hope also for the candour and prayers of the true followers of the meek and charitable Lamb of God.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections

“There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God…” by Jonathan Edwards

“There is indeed something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad, should be mixed together in the church of God; as it is a mysterious thing, and what has puzzled and amazed many a good Christian, that there should be that which is so divine and precious, as the saving grace of God, and the new and divine nature dwelling in the same heart, with so much corruption, hypocrisy, and iniquity, in a particular saint.”

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections

Elders and the Dereliction of Theological Duty by Phil A. Newton

“Perhaps even more dangerous is the disappearance of theology in evangelical churches while spiritual leaders–in dereliction of their duties–ignore that it is happening. David Wells has pointed out, ‘No one has abducted theology,’ as in the abduction of a child. Rather, ‘The disappearance is closer to what happens in homes where the children are ignored and, to all intents and purposes, abandoned. They remain in the home, but they have no place in the family. So it is with theology in the church. It remains on the edges of evangelical life, but it has been dislodged from its center. Watchfulness of a congregation demands attentiveness to the church’s theological understanding. Neglect of theology cracks the church’s foundation, and ultimately affects its practice. In our day, one of the chief results of such neglect is the rise of pragmatism, which has moved the church away from a biblically centered ministry that effectively changes the church to a church structure that more resembles the world than the New Testament pattern. Wells adds, ‘It is evangelical practice rather than evangelical profession that reveals the change.’ As evangelicals, we still profess to believe the confessions and creeds of the church, but our practice reveals that we often do not understand the theological implications of what we profess. Spiritual leaders must remain alert and watchful for this kind of neglect.”

-Phil A. Newton, Elders in Congregational Life: Rediscovering the Biblical Model for Church Leadership