Jonathan Edwards’ Source for Pursuing Spiritual Disciplines

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.

– Jonathan Edwards

as quoted by Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 137

Those Are Not the Source of Our Spiritual Strength

A major temptation in the self-discipline approach to holiness, however, is to rely on a regimen of spiritual disciplines instead of on the Holy Spirit.  I believe in spiritual disciplines instead of on the Holy Spirit.  I believe in spiritual disciplines… But those disciplines are not the source of our spiritual strength.  The Lord Jesus Christ is, and it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to apply His strength in our lives.  (I Corinthians 3:7)

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 135

We Must Assume Our Responsibility to Discipline

If we are to make any progress in the pursuit of holiness, we must assume our responsibility to discipline or train ourselves.  But we are to do all this in total dependence on the Holy Spirit to work in us and strengthen us with the strength that is in Christ.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 134

Without Grace, Nothing Good Can Be Done

Let us consider what regard we ought to have to our own duty and to the grace of God.  Some would separate these things as inconsistent.  If holiness be out duty and God’s grace are nowhere opposed in the matter of sanctification; for the one absolutely supports the other.  We cannot perform our duty without the grace of God; nor does God give grace for any other purpose than that we may perform our duty.

– John Owen

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 133

Is There Really Nothing to Do?

It is the idea that we can do nothing but trust that is particularly troubling to me.  I believe with the psalmist – and Nehemiah and Paul – would say, “Man’s part is to trust and work.”  Or perhaps it is more helpful to say, “Our part is to work, but to do so in reliance upon God to enable us to work.”  God’s work does not make our effort unnecessary, but rather makes it effective.  Paul did not say, “Christ shows contentment through me.”  Rather he said, “I have learned to be content through Him who gives me strength.”

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 133

We Must Have Both Wings of the Airplane

Discipline is not necessarily a reliance on human effort, or as it is often called, a work “of the flesh”.  It can be, and unfortunately, often is.  But when Paul urged Timothy to train, or discipline, himself to be godly, he certainly didn’t envision a reliance on sheer human discipline and willpower.  In fact, in II Timothy 2:1, he urged Timothy to be strong in the grace – that is, the strength – that is in Christ Jesus.  Yet Paul did exhort Timothy to discipline himself, not just “turn it all over to the Lord.”  We must have both wings of the airplane.  We cannot fly with just one.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 130

With Which Camp Would You Pitch Your Tent?

Today, we would tend to divide into two camps.  The more “spiritual” people would call an all-night prayer meeting.  To them, posting a guard would be depending on human effort instead of God.  The “practical” ones among us would get busy organizing the guard.  They would do a fine job assigning everyone to the various watches of the night , but they would be too busy to pray.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 129-130