In our Thursday Bible Study, (cancelled this week, and deferred last week for a feast,) we have been wandering aimlessly through the scripture picking on a verse here and a verse there as it interests someone. It's been fun.
It does not really surprise me that a pattern imposed itself, but what the pattern was shocks me. 5 weeks in a row could all be described as being about "assurance of salvation." Not exactly one of the hot-button topics of the faith, I would have thought, but it emerged apart from any leading from this child.
The first two weeks the discussion edged that way. The next week was about the sin against the Holy Spirit. Then the verses chosen were actually chosen by people specifically because that was on their minds.
So, I am wondering.
Is this a topic of interest to anyone else? Is our little bible study "normal" or odd in this focus?
It so happens that I have been reading Jonathon Edwards' "Religious Affections" (for a long while now - I am ambling through it at best) so I have been amply equipped to go on about the subject.
It so happens, but not by coincidence.
I am reading Religious Affections because one of my chief questions in the faith these days is whether the church of our age is comforting too many people with promises of salvation. Is our church telling too many people that they are at peace with God, when really they are without Christ?
Imagine 2 people who have never known honey.
They are both brought to a bowl full of the golden syrup, and given a swizzle stick. They both are amazed at the color. They love its thickness, and how it slowly flows off the stick. They put it in their mouths and swish it around.
Mr. Edwards suggests that if only one of those people has the faculty of taste, only one of them will ever know that honey is sweet, but both will describe it in much the same language. The soul that cannot taste doesn't know what he's missing, so he describes the sensations of feeling honey on his tongue the same way the other person describes tasting it. When the tasting person describes a sticky sweetness, the non-tasting person will agree, and maybe elaborate even further, but not really have known honey's prime virtue.
He relates this back to the saints he shepherded through 1 Cor 2:14.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural man, he reminds his reader, cannot taste the things of heaven. He can be impressed with them naturally. The wisdom of Jesus might look beautiful to him. The ideals of the church might appeal to his sense of justice. The care of the saints might impress him. The hope of heaven might comfort him. But the sweetness of Jesus he might never have tasted, having been assured too soon that merely admiring Christ was the same as having eaten His flesh, and tasted His blood.
Saying the sinner's prayer alone does not a conversion make.
So, what do you think?