The Lord graciously granted that as a group we finish a study that has been extremely beneficial to me — Jonathan Edwards “Charity and Its Fruits.” I can’t tell you how important I believe this study is, and probably something that should be re-studied at times.
We posted the first 8 parts here, and now here are the last 9 parts, part 16 broken up into two parts:
Charity and Its Fruits, by Jonathan Edwards
One thing that stuck out to me was the idea Edwards mentions that a Christian needs not only the LIGHT of truth and understanding, but the HEAT of Christian love in their hearts as well:
From Chapter 1, Charity, or Love, the Sum of all Virtue:
“(1 ) That love is an ingredient in true and saving faith, and is what is most essential and distinguishing in it. Love is no ingredient in a merely speculative faith; but it is the life and soul of a practical faith. A truly practical and saving faith is light and heat together, or light and love. That which is only a speculative, is only light without heat. But in that it wants spiritual heat or divine love, it is vain and good for nothing. A speculative faith consists only in assent; but in a saving faith are assent and consent together. That faith which has only the assent of the understanding is no better faith than the devils have, for the devils have faith so far as it can be without love. The devils believe and tremble. Now the true spiritual consent of the heart cannot be distinguished from the love of the heart. He whose heart consents to Christ as a Savior loves Christ under that notion, viz. of a Savior. For the heart sincerely to consent to the way of salvation by Christ cannot be distinguished from loving the way of salvation by Christ. There is an act of choice or election in true and saving faith, whereby the soul chooses Christ for its Savior, and accepts and embraces him as such. But as was observed before, election whereby it chooses God and Christ is one act of love. It is a love of choice. In the soul’s embracing Christ as a Savior there is love.”
We somewhat recently had a small ice storm roll through here, and when the sun shone again, and the ice started melting, I thought it was an interesting example of what happens when the heat of Christian love, from the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), is there:
The verse I mention in the video is 1 Cor 1:8: “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Here is Puritan commentator John Gill on that verse:
Now as touching things offered unto idols
This was another of the things the Corinthians wrote to the apostle about, desiring to have his judgment in; it was a controversy that had been before moved, whether it was lawful to eat things that had been sacrificed to idols. This was considered in the council at Jerusalem, ( Acts 15:28 Acts 15:29 ) and it was agreed to, for the peace of the churches, that the Gentiles, among other things, be advised to abstain from them; which, it seems, the church at Corinth knew nothing of, for the controversy was now moved among them: some that were weak in the faith, and had not, at least, clear notions of Gospel liberty, thought it very criminal and sinful to eat them; others that had, or boasted they had, more knowledge, would not only eat them privately at home, having bought them of the Heathen priests, or in the common meat markets, where they were exposed to sale, and at public feasts, to which they were invited by their friends; but would even go into an idol’s temple, and sit and eat them there, to the great grief and prejudice of weak Christians; and what they had to plead in their own defence was their knowledge, to which the apostle here replies:
we know that we all have knowledge;
said either affirmatively and seriously; and the meaning is, that the apostles and other Christians knew, and were conscious to themselves of their light and knowledge, and were assured, and might affirm with confidence, that they all, or the most part, only some few excepted, see ( 1 Corinthians 8:7 ) had the same knowledge of Christian liberty as they had; knew that an idol was nothing, and that eating meats offered to them could not defile, or do them any hurt; for they were very sensible there was nothing common or unclean of itself, and yet did not think fit to make use of their knowledge to the grieving and wounding of their fellow Christians: or else this is said ironically, we are wise folks; you particularly are men of knowledge, and wisdom will die with you; you know that you know; you are very knowing in your own conceits, and very positive as to your knowledge. It was the saying of Socrates, that that this one thing he knew, that he knew nothing; but men wise in their own opinions know everything:
knowledge puffeth up;
not true knowledge; not that which comes from above, which is gentle and easy to be entreated; not sanctified knowledge, or that which has the grace of God going along with it; that makes men humble, and will not suffer them to be puffed up one against another; but a mere show of knowledge, knowledge in conceit, mere notional and speculative knowledge, that which is destitute of charity or love:
but charity edifieth;
that is, a man that has knowledge, joined with love to God, and his fellow Christians, will seek for that which makes for the edification of others; and without this all his knowledge will be of no avail, and he himself be nothing.
And of course, in the 1 Corinthians 13 text we’re studying, vs 2: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.“
All of these examples show, and Edwards says it directly, that it’s possible to have light — even true doctrine — without the Spirit savingly being there (like the devils that believe and tremble), as the sun can shine while everything remains frozen. But we know His Spirit is in our hearts by His fruit, summed up in Christian charity, being in hearts as well, evidencing itself as charity does, in the ways the Scriptures mention, and Edwards expounds upon, here in 1 Corinthians 13. This is why I believe this sermon series is so critical.
May the Lord grant us His light and heat, and we pray He mix His charity, in all of its forms, in all of our hearts, thoughts, words and actions, for His glory.