Four Things We Can Learn from Jonathan Edwards

Four Things We Can Learn from Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards wasn't always "Jonathan Edwards," Sean Lucas reminds us.

In the closing appendix of his book, God's Grand Design, Lucas explains that in many ways Edwards was "a man just like us." Sinner as he was, Edwards struggled and grew and learned, all desperate for God's grace (like you and me). Much of this process is seen in his early years as he prepared for ministry. And we can find some deep lessons to glean in this season of his life, especially for those of us with ministry ambitions.

Lucas writes,

I would suggest that this period of Edwards's preparation provides a fruitful ground to gain insight into the whole process of spiritual formation for ministerial candidates. In both its positive and negative aspects, Edwards's spirituality during these years teaches important lessons about Reformed piety — how we as Christians and particularly as ministers of the gospel should live for God's glory. (209)

Lucas goes on to give four lessons we can observe in Edwards and adopt for our own lives.

  1. Seek God and his glorious presence with your whole being.
  2. Understand that you belong completely to God.
  3. Remember that holiness is by grace.
  4. The chief fruit of spiritual grace is love for God and others.

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Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–St. Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their five children. He is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary, author of Reading to Walk: Meditations for the Christian Life, and co-editor of Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice.