Sunday, July 18, 2010

Most Famous Sermon in American History

The Most Famous Sermon in American History

Several years after his sermon on saving faith in Jesus Christ, Edwards preached the most famous sermon in American history, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” In his homily, he sought to sweep all false views of hell and leave his hearers with biblical images that would drive them to faith in Christ.

Edwards diagnosed the presumptuousness of the unredeemed human heart in words designed to scorch away its natural narcissism.

Were it not that so is the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun don’t willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth don’t willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air don’t willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies.
God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and don’t willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. (Works 22, 410)

Pursuit of Conversion

Having laid out in great detail the agonies of hell and the frailty of human existence, Edwards summoned his hearers to the mercy of Christ while they could still grasp it. He modeled godly shepherding in his preaching on saving faith, which he did throughout his ministry. The pursuit of conversion—the cornerstone of missional faith—was always on his mind. He knew that he was responsible for the spiritual well-being of his people and that this role necessitated that he publicly articulate biblical truth for the health of his people and also for the salvation of some who thought themselves converted.

For Edwards, truth and doctrine were not minor matters, mere footnotes of the Christian faith that believers arranged as they saw fit. If he and his fellow ministers tinkered with these truths, Christians would grow weak and worldly. Their minds would grow confused, their hearts weak, and men and women would spiritually suffer even as God lost glory due to him.
If churches held fast to truth, however, and preached it passionately and vigorously, Christians would flourish and stand firm in their faith.

They would taste the rich blessings of theological confidence and spiritual hope. Unbelievers would see this distinctive way of life and question their beliefs and behaviors. Though embattled, the church and its members would remain faithful and fruitful. God, observing and orchestrating these events from his throne, would gain glory. This is what can happen when a pastor preaches with purpose and passion, the Spirit moves, and men and women join him on mission in the name of Jesus.

taken from: (Resurgence)

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