One of my friends from college and I are reading a book together, despite the hundreds of miles that separate us. Each week we read a chapter, call each other on Friday, and discuss what was read. I often lack the discipline to read the books I’ve always wanted to, but this type of “accountability reading” has helped so far – I make sure I am ready for our discussion.

We are reading The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader; this weeks sermon was “The Pleasantness of Religion.” Based on Proverbs 24:13-14, Edwards draws this doctrine: “It would be worth the while to be religious, if it were only for the pleasantness of it.” He goes on to clearly demonstrate that those who have made the truth of Christ the center of their lives find pleasure and joy far beyond those who do not, even affirming the delight to be found in repentance, self-denial, and the persecutions of unbelievers.

I was challenged by this quote, found within the applications:

We come with double forces against the wicked, to persuade them to a godly life. The most common argument that is used to urge men to godliness is the pleasures of the life to come; but this has not its effect for the sinner [who] is in pursuit of the pleasures of this life. Now, therefore, we urge you to the pleasures of this [life]: therefore you can have nothing to say. The common argument is the profitableness of religion, but alas, the wicked man is not in pursuit of profit; ’tis pleasure he seeks. Now, then, we will fight with them with their own weapons, {for religion does not deny us outward delights and pleasures}.

In an effort to avoid appealing to a person’s felt needs or to make Jesus just another commodity to consume, I think I have forsaken the truth Edwards is teaching in this quote and sermon – an appeal for sinners to come to Christ can and should contain an appeal to their pleasures, both with regard to heaven and this present life. It is not a plea for them to accept Christ and continue finding fulfillment in sin; Edwards affirms the necessity of repentance and complete trust in Christ, even pointing out the pleasures found in them. Rather his call is for people to forsake the cheap pleasure of sin, to come to Christ and to find him to be the ultimate fulfillment of their pleasure seeking. I’m not sure what this looks like or if I’ve fully grasped the truth of it, which is probably obvious, so help is welcomed.

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