Two very influential communicators in today’s reformed and evangelical arenas are John Piper and Tim Keller. Both have been nurtured by the same 18th century theologian, Jonathan Edwards. When one reads Edwards for any length of time, one can sense the connections between his convictions and passions and the voice these men have given to him in the 21st century.
I’ve been (slowly) reading Edwards Religious Affections in which Edwards carefully tries to dissect Christian experience to help us see the difference between those who have been truly converted and those who have not. What is the fruit which reveals a Christian profession to be genuine?
The 11th mark identified by Edwards is that genuine conversion will be marked by a holy hunger for more of Christ. That is, the genuinely converted will find satisfaction in Christ, and yet will hunger all the more to know and love him more deeply and more completely. We are fulfilled and unfulfilled at the same time. We are content, but longing for yet more.
These are the themes we see time and again in Edwards’ 21st century interpreters. They are as well themes which we see resonating in our own souls.
You can read Edwards’ own words here:
“Another great and very distinguishing difference between gracious affections and others is, that gracious affections, the higher they are raised, the more is a spiritual appetite and longing of soul after spiritual attainments increased….
”The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him: the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it: the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin: the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke: the more he thirst and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God: …
“So that, the spiritual appetite after holiness, and an increase of holy affections, is much more lively and keen in those that are eminent in holiness, than others; and more when grace and holy affections are in their most lively exercise, than at other times.” (Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards, pages 376-377)