Over the last weeks there have been a number of writers and speakers to come across my view that have interacted with the work of Jonathan Edwards on gauging the work of God in the life of a church. It is a question I have been asking (sort of continue to ask) as Grace Church exists to proclaim the goodness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. For us this is being a “Spirit-led” church.
Jared Wilson spoke recently at the Gospel Coalition LA chapter on the topic and translated that to a insightful piece on For The Church that I commend to you.
Ray Ortlund also zoomed in specifically to how the church can know that something is of the Spirit as his church prepares for a week of waiting on the Lord. This is Ortlund conveying Edward’s marks of the work of the Spirit:
“In his book The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, Jonathan Edwards pulled out of 1 John 4 the indicators of how God moves in a church, even if we introduce our own imperfections, which we always do. But we don’t need to be stuck in analysis-paralysis. When the Holy Spirit is moving, we can discern it in four ways:
One, when our esteem of Jesus is being raised, so that we prize him more and more highly, God is at work.
Two, when we are turning from sin and compromise, God is at work.
Three, when we are believing and loving the Bible, God is at work.
Four, and most importantly, when we love Jesus and one another more and more, God is at work.
Edwards points out that Satan not only wouldn’t produce these outcomes, he couldn’t produce them. These are sure signs that God is at work, even if we do complicate it a bit. And I love the fact that biblical discernment frees us, and even requires us, to rejoice wherever we see the Lord at work, even if it’s imperfect. The work belongs to God.”
In a world that might be drawn to the mystical or simply weird, these are wise categories to guard the Spirit-led church. May the Lord make us those that esteem Jesus above all things, that war against sin, that love the Word of God, and that love one another.