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Preparing for the Sermon - Christmas Affections (Part 1)

20171217 preparing post

Prepare your heart for the Sermon by looking through these suggestions that will assist you in making the most of our time together hearing God's Word.

You will find suggestions for thinking more critically through the passage, meditating more intently on the text, and prayerfully seeking wisdom to deepen your understanding of the passage to be preached this Sunday.

Carefully Think

  • The next series of sermons will focus on writings of Jonathan Edwards found in his work, “Religious Affections”.  This three-part series will be the morning and evening of Christmas Eve and the following morning of New Year’s Eve.
  • To prepare for the sermon you can read through A Treatise to Religious Affections found in the sermon study class notes found below. The study notes are only four pages in length for all three sermons. It should provide a very brief but adequate overview.
  • Edward’s states ‘True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections’. What do you think of when you think of the words used in this phrase? “True religion”, “Affections”. What imagery fills your mind with these words? Realize these thoughts and images you have are presuppositions to this reading and impact how you will think and what you will understand. Edwards does not intend to mean “feelings” as we think today, but rather as an attitude of the heart, language we are very familiar today in studying Scripture in our church.
  • The mere having affections will be shown to neither prove (or disprove) affections are gracious (given from God). There are twelve signs in the reading, read through them and think through in your own heart what your affections to God are like and what the source of your affections are.  
  • The second set of twelve affections do not prove salvation but are given to help see what good and holy affections of God right rooted in Himself are in ourselves and one another. Read through the list and determine if you find yourself in any truly gracious affections.
  • The Sermon Study equipping class notes are available online for anyone wanting to dig deeper. Please review this week's notes to help facilitate preparation for these sermons. Click here for the notes.

Prayerfully Meditate

  • In reading through the twelves signs that one can have and actually not be converted, think of a time in the past or even now that you have relied on these signs as a means of claiming true belief and salvation either of yourself or of others. 
  • How can affections be filled with power and not prove that they are from God?  Do you think about the reality of the “cosmic power of darkness” and “the spiritual forces of evil” around us and which are acting in ways to destroy us each and every day?  Eph 6:12; 1 Peter 5:18
  • These signs are filled with religious thoughts, words, and even actions.  How can something be “religious” and not prove that it is from God?  
  • How challenging are these to think through in your own heart?  Do you bristle against and chose not to think on these affections, or is your heart pricked and your desire intensified to pursue the Lord?