I have recently begun to read The Works of Andrew Fuller (1754 – 1815). This is a massive collection of the writings of a man who was in many ways the Father of Baptist Theology and Missions. Fuller was instrumental in maintaining support for the missionary work of William Carey in India. Michael Haykin in his introduction to the collection regarding Fuller’s work in opposing the harmful theological trends makes the following observation.
“Yet another vital controversy in which Fuller engaged was that with the Sandemanians, the followers of Robert Sandeman (1718 – 71), who distinguished themselves from other eighteenth century Evangelicals by a predominantly intellectualist view of faith. They became known for their cardinal theological tenet that saving faith is ‘bare belief in a bare truth’. In a genuine desire to exalt the utter freeness of God’s salvation, Sandeman had sought to remove any vestige of human reasoning, willing or desiring in the matter of saving faith.
In his Strictures on Sandemanianism (1810) Fuller makes a couple of telling points. First, if faith does concern only the mind, there would be no way to distinguish genuine Christianity from nominal Christianity. A nominal Christian mentally assents to the truths of Christianity, but those truths do not grip the heart and re-orient his or her affections. Then, knowledge of Christ is a distinct type of knowledge. Knowing Him, for instance, involves far more than knowing certain things about Him, such as the fact of His virgin birth or the details of His crucifixion. It involves a desire for fellowship with Him and a delight in His presence.”
“Andrew Fuller: Life and Legacy a Brief Overview”
Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
1 August 2007
The last line of that quotation is the most vital for me. Genuine saving faith involves a desire for fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and a delighting in His presence. This is the type of faith which transforms our lives, elevating us above the slavery to the flesh and to our sin that we so often find ourselves struggling with. Here we find ourselves delighting in prayer, and in the Word of God. Here worship moves us into a lifestyle of obedience to our Lord for the simple reason that we love Him. This seems to be what the Apostle John is describing in his first letter.
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”
1 John 1:3-4
Isn’t this what we long for? To have a deepening fellowship with God in Christ is the goal of every Christian. Such only comes about through the working of the Holy Spirit in the believer. The appeal of the Scriptures is consistently that we must ask God for this. Therefore this is our appeal to you that you will come to God in Christ and ask for this blessing from on high.