Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is acknowledged to have played a role in the one of America’s First Great Awakening and he experienced the first revival in 1733-1735. He is also known to be one of America’s greatest intellectuals and philosophical theologians.
His famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was taken from Deuteronomy 32:35. “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”
He preached this sermon with power from on high, and Eleazer Wheelock who was with Edwards, reported that before Edwards was done, these “thoughtless” people were “bowed down with an awful conviction of the sin and danger.” The people were consumed with conviction as the Holy Spirit revealed their hearts to them. The outcome of this conviction is best measured by Edwards’s own words:
God Holds you over the Pit of Hell
Just like one holding a dirty spider by the web over a fire, God holds you over the pit of hell. He abhors you; His anger is provoked; and His wrath burns against you like fire. He looks at you as worthy of nothing but to be cast into the lake of fire. His eyes are too pure to have you in His sight. You are ten thousand times more detestable to Him than the most hated venomous snake is in ours. You have offended Him infinitely more than any criminal has offended a judge, and yet it is nothing but His hand that keeps from falling.
There is no other reason that you were allowed to wake up this morning and did not go to hell last night after you closed your eyes to sleep. There is also no other reason that you have not dropped into hell today, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason why you have not gone to hell since you walked into church today when His eyes saw the wicked way you have attended His worship. Yes, there is no other reason that you do not drop down into hell this very minute.
Here is how Leonard Ravenhill described Jonathan Edwards:
For us to see Him ascend his pulpit today, a candle in one hand and his sermon manuscript in the other would cause a titter in the congregation. His tongue must have been like a sharp two-edged sword to his attentive hearers. His words must have been as painful to their hearts and consciences as burning metal on flesh. Nevertheless, men gave heed, repented, and were saved.”
Knowing the terror of the Lord” (a thing seemingly forgotten in our day both by pulpit and pew)” Edwards smoldered with holy wrath. Impervious to any consequences of such severity, he thundered these words from his pulpit:
The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and His arrows made ready upon the string. Justice points the arrow at your heart and strings the bow. It is nothing but mere pleasure of God (and that of an angry God without any promise or obligation at all) that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.
To utter truth like that with tears and tenderness takes an anointed and therefore fearless and compassionate man. But in the hearts and minds of the hearers there must also have been some prevenient grace at work. Apart from this, men would have rebelled at this stern sweep of power on their souls. As it was, before Edwards’ spiritual hurricane, the crowd collapsed. Some fell to the earth as if pole-axed. Others, with heads bowed, clung onto the posts of the temple as if afraid of failing into the nethermost depths of hell.
As pastor of the one New England’s largest, wealthiest, and most socially-conscious congregations, Edwards had a rare perception of the needs of his flock. He also had a heart of great tenderness for spiritual health.
Let’s go to the woods where Edwards is alone with his God. Let’s creep up behind that old gnarled tree and listen to his broken prayer:
I feel an urgency of soul to be….emptied and annihilated, to lie in the dust and annihilated, to lie in the dust and be full of Christ alone, to love Him with a holy and pure love, to trust in Him, to live on Him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.
Significantly, he was convicted of his own wickedness. He could preach with great sincerity, because God had already worked it in his own heart.
I have had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently to such a degree as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together; so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my wickedness, and the badness of my heart, than ever I had before my conversion…. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be than heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. Very often, for these many years, these expressions are in my mind, and in my mouth, Infinite upon infinite….Infinite upon infinite!” When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. I have greatly longed of late for a broken heart, and to lie low before God…it is affecting to think how ignorant I was, when a young Christian, of the bottomless, infinite depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy and deceit, left in my heart.
Space and time forbids writing more about this flaming revivalist. But let us look at another 22-year old newlywed Jessa Seward of “19 Kids and Counting” (pictured left below with husband Seward) who warns that “God’s judgment” is not something to be taken lightly.
She conceded that this “hard truth” would not bring her any popularity but she could not “hide the truth” from her followers because she cares too much about their eternal destiny. The following is a conscience summary of her Face book fiery sermon:
One of the most quoted verses from the Bible is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not!” Whenever someone speaks out against something that God calls sin, “Don’t judge!” can be heard coming from a thousand lips. People don’t like to have other people disapprove of the way they’re choosing to live their life.
I will speak to you a hard truth. I do not write this because I think that it will bring me popularity. It won’t. But it is Truth from the Word of God: the Bible. To not tell people this is to hide the truth from them. To keep silent is to not care for their eternal destiny! I care about you, and this is why I am speaking out!
In this world, people have seared their consciences. The standard of what is “ok” or “permissible” in our society today, hardly reflects God’s standard.
People are content to live on in lying, cursing, pride, anger, bitterness, disrespecting of parents, lust, pornography, fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins– and if anyone tries to confront them, their attitude and response is, “You live your life, I’ll live mine. Don’t you tell me what to do! Only God can judge me!”
They don’t even realize what they’re saying. God’s judgement isn’t something to be taken lightly! It should scare you! Man’s “judgement” is a 1000x lighter… usually just a voicing of disapproval. But when unbelieving, sinful men die and stand before God, He justly condemns them to hell.
But people disregard the Bible, and instead use all kinds of human logic to try to justify their way of living:
Person #1: “I’ve been living this lifestyle for years, and I’m a ‘Christian.’ I don’t feel that God is angry with me. I believe in a loving God, not one who would send people to hell.”
The person speaking this is right– their god is not angry with them. He can’t be, because he doesn’t exist. They are not talking about the God of the Bible. They have created a god in their own mind to suit themselves. They have removed any notion of the Justice of God, and have created a god of their imagination that they can be comfortable with.
The Bible teaches that God is a Just Judge, and He must punish sin. Every one of us have broken God’s law, and hell is our deserved punishment. (Unless you’re reading some very distorted “translation” of the Bible, you cannot get around the fact that there is a hell).
Person #2: “I have a ‘peace’ about this, and I’m listening to my heart. God doesn’t seem to be judging me. If God didn’t approve, why wouldn’t He strike me dead right now?”
First off, our human hearts are bent toward sin and not righteousness. We shouldn’t follow the inclinations of our heart, but rather we know what is right and wrong according to what we find in God’s Word: the Bible.
Secondly, God isn’t slacking to fulfill His promised Judgement on sin–its coming. And the only reason you are alive right now is because He is merciful and has kept your heart beating for another day. He is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance. But He will not hold back forever. The hours of your time here on earth are ticking away.
You’re not promised another day, or even another breath. God’s Day of Judgement draws near. It will come as a thief in the night–when you least expect it. Everything that you have done in secret will be exposed. Nothing we do is hidden from God’s view. (1 Peter 3:9&10)
This should be concerning to you. I know it was for me! When I saw myself in light of God’s standard, and I knew that I fell short. But I found hope in the Gospel– the “good news” of Jesus Christ! I would still be lost today were it not for His grace!
Read what God has done so that you and I might be forgiven of our sins and saved from the punishment we deserve:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:16-21)
Repent! Turn away from sin, and to Jesus Christ today! Be saved from the wrath to come. The believing man has Christ’s perfect record put to their account. God gives him a new heart and new desires.
If you find yourself a sinner in need of Jesus, then open your Bible today and begin to read the books of John and Romans. Let the Word of God root out the sins of your heart. Do not let up until you have found Salvation for your soul!