Before I finally get into the book, I want to make one more important clarification concerning Jonathan Edwards’ understanding of salvation, without which everything else in the book will make little sense. Edwards was a devout Calvinist, hence believed that
- There is nothing you can do save yourself. God must draw you to Himself (doctrine of total depravity)
- At the point of true conversion Holy Spirit enters the person and begins its regeneration (sanctification) work in him/her.
- Just accepting the gospel and/or saying you believe in Jesus does not mean you are truly saved. The only proof of true salvation is that Holy Spirit started the regeneration work in you
- There is nothing you can do to lose your salvation, once you have been truly saved. Holy Spirit will always finish the work he started in you (doctrine of perseverance of the saints)
Let me also state that I consider myself Reformed and completely support these views. What’s interesting is that very often I hear people say they are Reformed or attend a church that adheres to Reformed doctrine, but pay only lip service to these beliefs. They may say, Oh yeah, of course we cannot save ourselves, only God can do it – by sending his son to die on the cross. But that is not what total depravity means, it means that no good moral behavior or saying you completely accept the gospel can guarantee your salvation. Salvation is fully of the Lord, to the degree that He decides who should be saved and who should not. Moreover, he decides this before you are even born and has a chance to do anything good or bad.
Let’s find out what Jonathan Edwards can teach us in this matter.