Salvation: Part III

In Part II I looked at Fox’s exposition concerning three estates and three teachers wherein he declared that by following the serpent’s teaching, mankind entered the fallen estate. By following Jesus Christ’s teaching, we are brought up out of the fall into the state of Adam and Eve before the fall and into a higher state in Christ Jesus who never fell.

In Part III I am continuing to explore the answer to the question, “How are we to encounter this divine influence upon the heart that is reflected in life?” In this section, I am asking “How do we encounter Jesus Christ’s teaching?” In Edward Burrough’s introduction to Vol. III of the Works of George Fox, he specifically points out how we encounter this teaching, and he points to its consequences.

And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his spirit from heaven, and poured it upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works. (Works of George Fox, 1831, Vol. III:11-12)

The realization of Burrough’s statement was seen as impossible, absolutely out of the question. Burrough wrote this introduction sometime around 1659. As early as 1647, with the publication of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the established church had gone on record saying:

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare…His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased. (Opening paragraph of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647)

Not only was Edward Burrough declaring the Westminster Confession of Faith to be false, he portrayed a group of people living this testimony that Christ Jesus speaks directly to people, giving them life, and making them conformable to his will.

And this light gave us to discern between truth and error, between every false and right way, and it perfectly discovered to us the true state of all things; and we thereby came to know man, what he was in his creation before transgression, and how he was deceived and overcome by the devil, and his estate in transgression, and in disobedience, and how he is driven and banished from the presence of the Lord…And also by the light in us, we perfectly came to know the way of restoration, and the means by which to be restored, and the state of man when come out of transgression and restored. (Fox, Vol. III:12.)

The usual answer for how we are to know about “restoration and the means by which to be restored” is “read the Bible.” Look again at Edward Burrough’s statement, “by the light in us, we perfectly came to know the way of restoration.” He is not saying “we came to know about restoration.” “We perfectly came to know the WAY of restoration” is a statement of experience. They came to be restored and they knew the means by which that was accomplished and will be accomplished.

These things to us were revealed by the light within us, which Christ had given us, and lighted us withal…And also as our minds became turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know…So that all these things concerning man, and concerning the times and seasons, and the changing and renewing of times, and all things that pertain to salvation, and redemption, and eternal life, needful for man to know, all these were revealed, discovered, and made known to us, by the light which was in us, which Christ had lighted us withal. (ibid.)

And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to witness him to dwell in us; and through it the new covenant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation. And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing. (ibid. 12-13

The consequences of turning to Christ’s light within as their only teacher was that they gathered for the express purpose of experiencing Christ Jesus in their midst to teach and lead them. A partial listing of what happened includes:

  • We ceased from the teachings of all men, their words, their worships, their temples, their baptisms and churches
  • We ceased from our own words, professions, practices in religion
  • We were led out of all false ways, false preachings, from false ministers
  • We met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence, hearkened to the voice of the Lord, felt his word in our hearts to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God
  • We obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit
  • We took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways, and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord
  • We chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together:

We received often the pouring down of … God’s holy eternal spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb for ever, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. (ibid.)

Salvation begins and ends in hearing and obeying the voice of Christ Jesus as he speaks to us in his light within. It is not an event that happens in a moment, such that you can write a date on a piece of paper stating “I was saved on __ date. Rather it is a lifetime of living in dialogue with our Creator.

About Ellis Hein

I am a woodturner and the author of The Woodturner's Project Book. I have a life-long interest in the gospel preached by George Fox and the early Quakers. You can see some of my material on that subject at http://nffquaker.org/profiles/blog/list?user=1zw2th7nj9p89.
This entry was posted in Salvation, Understanding early Friends and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Salvation: Part III

  1. kwakersaur says:

    I would not say that I have experienced the way of restoration that Burrough speaks of (yet). What of you Ellis? Are you brought into that place where Adam was before the Fall? I sometimes feel the Inner Guide, but all too often the voices hidden amongst the noise of other voices.

    Like

    • Ellis Hein says:

      Thanks for the question. Am I brought into the place where Adam was before the Fall? Perhaps you are looking for a “yes” or “no” answer to that question. But the answer must have sufficient explanation. What was it that Adam and Eve had in the Genesis story of creation? Many hold (or at least talk and write as though they hold) that they had something, some component, that they could count as part of their native inventory. It was this component, or perhaps we could say ‘appendage’, that was discarded in the Fall. And ever since then man has been born with this deformity.
      However, what they had was a dialogic relationship with the Creator. It was this relationship that was their source of life–no need to eat from the tree of life. It was this relationship that was their source of the knowledge of good and evil–again no need to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In this relationship they had dominion over creation. In this relationship, they were clothed in life and light.
      So regarding my own life, I can say I experience Christ to be my shepherd, to lead me in the pastures of life, to give me the waters of life. He calls me back should I wander. He instructs me concerning things I need to do and things he needs to change. I know of no need to engage in such comparisons as “are you in Adam’s state before the Fall?” because those questions pull me away from the voice of the Shepherd. I am in Christ and have every confidence that he is capable of creating in me that which he desires. My part is to listen to and follow his voice.
      This may not be the answer you expected, but it is the only answer I can give.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kwakersaur says:

    Your answer is your answer and I bring no expectations to it other than that you give voice to your witness.

    We are each on similar projects: engaging traditional materials (scripture, Fox, Penington, Burroughs) and unpacking them in our contemporary contexts. While working with a pastoral letter by Penington I became struck at how difficult it was for me to move form analysis to (authentic) witness. Burroughs cited in your posting above struck me the same way. He promises not only restoration but “perfect” restoration. Something I am not yet ready to affirm from where my feet are.

    Liked by 1 person

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