Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Paul prays in Ephesians 1 that the hearts of the Ephesians be enlightened:

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

How does effect this change — what means does God use to enlighten the heart? This is the way of discipleship and change. William Romaine explains that such change takes place by means:

The answer is, God has established the means of grace for this very purpose, of which his word is the principal: For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light: And when his good Spirit accompanies the hearing or reading of the word, then it is indeed a lantern unto our feet, and a light unto our paths. Then the word discovers to us the wretched darkness of our natural state, strips reason of all its high and divine titles, and thereby humbles us before God, and brings us low before his foot stool, waiting upon him in all the the means of grace, and particularly in prayer, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ may mine into our dark and sinful hearts. To expect this light without the use of the instituted means is enthusiasm; and to expect to keep this light, after you once have it, •without continuing in the use of these means, is the very madness of enthusiasm. In them God has promised to be found of those that seek him. Out of them you have no promise; and you may as reasonably hope God will create a new light for you to read by in the night, as that he will enlighten you without the established means, without prayer, and the word and sacraments.

William Romaine “The sure Foundation. Two discourses, preached before the University of Oxford, April 11, 1756, in the morning at St. Mary’s, and in the afternoon at St. Peter’s.

First there is the content: the word of God. Second there is the Spirit’s application of the word sought and effected through prayer. Finally, there is the use of baptism and the Lord’s Supper to draw out the picture and to present Christ.

When we see these means we see the right basis of the work of ministry: whether preaching, teaching or counseling the Word of God is brought to bear upon one’s heart. No opinion, however “useful’, has within it the power to effect the change. This would be some version of bare human reason. Second there must be prayer that the Holy Spirit will apply the Word. This is the basis of spiritual discipline.

Note: Romaine’s critique of “reason” comes at the high point of the Enlightenment. Reason at this time was the belief that human thinking was capable without revelation was capable of knowing all things — including everything which could be known of God. Romaine is not advocating that one be “unreasonable”.

Second, “enthusiasm” refers to the opposite extreme: the idea that one can simply get some sensation and knowledge often even without words or content; an immediate (without any means) contact with God.