The inspiration for naming this blog site “burning and shining light” is taken from Jonathan Edwards sermon on John 5:35. It was preached on Aug. 30, 1744 at the ordination of Rev. Robert Abercrombie to the work of the ministry. This text captures what Edwards calls “the excellency of a minister of the gospel”. Gospel ministers are to be both burning and shining lights. Edwards describes these two traits in the following way…Implied in being a burning light is “1. That his heart be full of much of the holy ardour of a spirit of true piety”. “2. The inward ardour of his soul is exercised and manifested in his being zealous and fervent in his administrations.” Implied in being a shining light is “1. That he be pure, clear, and full in his doctrine.” “2…that he be discreet in all his administrations” i.e wise “3…that he shines in his conversation” i.e. his behavior.
Truly this picture of a burning and shining light captures the balancing elements of what every minister of the gospel should strive to be. Fervent, zealous, full of the Spirit and of power and also pure and accurate in his doctrine, wise in his dealings with men, and holy in his conduct. A burning light alone gives the picture of zeal without knowledge, blind fanaticism and emotionalism lacking in doctrinal depth and sound understanding. A shining light alone gives the picture of speculative knowledge that lacks the power thereof or dead orthodoxy. The minister of the gospel, and every Christian for that matter, should be concerned to have both heat and light.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones draws attention to another way this combination can be stated in two words in one of his lectures found in Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. He takes the name given to those Christians of the Evangelical Awakening in Great Britain, particularly in Wales, who were called “Calvinistic Methodists”. Though this eventually became a denominational title Lloyd-Jones does not use it in that way. He refers to the concepts associated with those names and the combination of them both together. “Calvinistic” points to strong and sound doctrine. “Methodist” points to felt Christian experience and dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Surely today we are in great need of both. May God grant that our lives and churches, and those who lead them, can truly be described as “burning and shining lights!
Coconut Creek Fl.