Joshua Peterson

REL 319

Prof. Westblade

28 April 2006

 

 

 

Revival Fire Fall

 

“One thing I ask and I would seek; to see the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in the House of the Lord forevermore.”

-King David, Psalm 27:4 (NIV)

 

            These words were part of an ancient worship song commissioned by King David over three thousand years ago.  In this Psalm, he voices a desire to, first, truly see the splendor of the Real and Most High God, and secondly, to intimately commune with that Glorious Being, the King of Kings, for all eternity.  The world is in a tumultuous state at this present time, and while the world has always been in a state of flux and things change in response to the natural cycles of life and death, the rise and fall of empires, years of surplus and years of famine, as well as wars and rumor of war, the importance of acknowledging the present condition of the world puts the plea of David into an important context.  The very state of this day and age in when compared to the splendor and Glory of God should compel the person to drop to his knees, to cry out, “God, from now on, I want only You!”  Jonathan Edwards was one such man, and God granted his request.  The church is, and has been, praying for new wine to rain down from heaven, and the life and perspective of Jonathan Edwards presents a compelling example to emulate for a desperate bride awaiting the return of her king.

            Jonathan Edwards shepherded the Puritan town of Northampton, Massachusetts during the years of the Great Awakening in America.  He was born in 1703 and died in 1758 of a small pox inoculation.  Most famous for his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, preached in 1741, Edwards wrote numerous theological treatises and sermons during the course of his lifetime.  He was not a revivalist, as some would think, but rather the simple minister of a New England congregation.  J.I. Packer says it best:

Edwards was in the thick of the reviving work of God, first in Northampton in 1734 and then in New England’s Great Awakening, 1740-42, and his revival meetings have classic status.  Should we then call him a revivalist […] and so making it look as if revival involvement was the most important part of his public life?  Surely the label is inappropriate.  Since Charles Finney in the 1830s, revivalist has been used to mean a specialist in what Finney called “protracted meetings” (modern equivalents are “revivals,” “crusades,” and “renewal missions”) – that is, special series of preachments designed to invigorate Christians and convert unbelievers.  But that is not what Edwards was at all.  He was a preaching pastor, the long-term servant of a regular congregation, and as such he was a meticulous textual expositor who in a broad sense was preaching the gospel in what he hoped was an awakening way all the time, as indeed his surviving sermons clearly reveal.[1]

 

Edwards employed not the use of fancy parlor tricks as some of his contemporaries would use, nor was he a charismatic orator; rather, he spoke from true conviction of the reality of the supremacy of God in all things, and he relied upon the work of the Holy Spirit for his message to come across.  The Glory of God captivated Edwards in a way similar to the apostles and prophets of old, and likewise, his words are a prophetic declaration of that glory.

            Edwards said in his sermon entitled, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners:

God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty.  To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness.  He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable.  He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honourable than they.  His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him […] So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment.- Nothing is more agreeable to the common sense of mankind, than that sins committed against any one, must be proportionally heinous to the dignity of the being offended and abused; as it is also agreeable to the word of God.[2]

 

Here, Edwards encapsulates the whole of his perspective.  The greatness of God is infinite and anything that attempts to detract from that is a crime of the most infinite estimation.  God alone is worthy to be exalted because of His infinite loveliness, excellency, beauty, greatness, majesty, glory, honor, and authority.  Edwards sounds much more like an angel that praises God in the throne room of Heaven than he does an expositor of the immutable, unattainable, yet revered God of neo-Platonism.  Like the seraphim that sing, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS, WHO IS, AND WHO IS TO COME”[3], and like the twenty four elders who cast their crowns before the King of Kings while saying, “"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created"[4], Edwards too praises God in the vein of the heavenly choruses.  Like David, Edwards wishes to “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”[5].  This is the very core of his message; it explains the meaning of life, the chief end of man, and the ultimate purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  While it may seem like a cold cop-out to say that the purpose of everything is being for the purpose for the glorification of God, humans and fallen angels are the only ones who ever want to resist that very purpose of their existence.  The rest of creation proclaims this very truth, and the Word of God declares that the Glory of God shall fill the earth.

            Edwards’ writing emphatically declares the sovereignty of God in all things, but his writings are neither cold nor are they stale even after 250 years.  The reader his conviction ooze off of the pages of his sermons as they find themselves wading in a love and fear of God as thick as honey.  Too often today it seems that the message given at the pulpit is the preacher’s own vain attempt to convince even himself of the truth of the gospel.  Jesus does not reign supreme as the Eternal King in the lives of people because even today, kings are figureheads for the will of the people; they have no power, and the people have forgotten what a true king is supposed to look like – how can they ever come close to imagining even a fraction of the reign of Lord of the Universe?  For Edwards, God was the ultimate cause and end of everything – He is a God who whistled His Will and sang over His people -, and a God who intervened where He may, the primary example of this being the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; a God who became flesh in order to interact with a people who were too afraid of even hearing His voice lest they die, a God who wants a loving relationship with the very beings He created in order that they know and proclaim His Glory, and a God who desires His Glory to be manifested and magnified to such an infinite degree that He was willing to undergo the most horrific form of execution known to man – a stark contrast from the distant Clockmaker espoused by the Enlightenment Deists of his time.  It is before this God whom Edwards worked out his salvation in fear and trembling, and it is before this God whom he wished that the rest of the world would do the same. 

            It follows then, that the doctrines of both Heaven and Hell that Edwards preached upon were natural extensions of his view of the Glory of God as the purpose of all things.  In his sermon, Heaven, A World of Charity Or Love, Edwards says:

Heaven the “palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One, whose name is love, and who is both the cause and source of all holy love.  God, considered with respect to his essence, is everywhere – he fills both heaven and earth […] But heaven is his dwelling-place above all other places in the universe; and all those places in which he was said to dwell of old, were but types of this.  Heaven is a part of creation that God has built for this end, to be the place of his glorious presence, and it is his abode; and here will he dwell, and gloriously manifest himself to all eternity.[6]

 

Heaven is a world of love because an infinitely loving God who is the cause and fountain of all holy love dwells there.  He describes at as a place where streams of love flow, and those who dwell there bathe in these streams.  Only lovely objects, which are perfectly lovely, and the very best and good of this world will be in heaven, for it is a place where only the purest of love and lovely objects can reside – ultimately, it is where, as Edwards says:

…above all, we shall enjoy and dwell with God the Father, whom we loved with all our hearts on earth; and with Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior, who has always been to us the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely; and with the Holy Ghost, our Sanctifier, and Guide, and Comforter; and shall be filled with all the fullness of the Godhead.[7]

 

Heaven is a place where the children of God will enjoy Him forever, seeing and desiring the eternal manifestation of His Glory.  Along with the angels that cry, “Holy”, the ancient praise, “He is good and his mercy endures forever”[8] shall be sung.  God is glorified in the gracious enactment of His infinite mercy towards the elect, the repentant, the children of God.  The free gift of Salvation, the citizenship of the kingdom of Heaven, is the product of the kindness from the heart of God, which overflows, both first and foremost, necessarily and infinitely towards Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son, and it is from the head of Christ that the love of God flows down towards those happy citizens of the kingdom.  In Heaven, everyone who dwells therein exercises the fullest expressions of the fruit of the Spirit, with the fullest expression being a perfect expression and nothing less, and all of the love is always mutual.  The saints return this perfect love towards one another and towards the Holy Trinity, yet only because He first loved them.  Edwards says: 

The saints in heaven love God for his own sake, and each other for God’s sake, and for the sake of the relation that they have to him, and the image of God that is upon them.  All their love is pure and holy […] Such will be the sweet and perfect harmony among the heavenly saints, and such the perfect love reigning in every heart toward every other, without limit or alloy, or interruption; and no envy, or malice, or revenge, or contempt, or selfishness shall ever enter there, but all such feelings shall be kept as far away as sin is from holiness, and as hell is from heaven!”[9]

  

In Heaven, only perfect intimacy between God and those who love Him exists.  All of those in Heaven will be united and employed in the same business of serving and glorifying God; there will be that final marriage between Christ and His Bride.  This is the sole purpose of Heaven, however, entry into this world of love is not without terms and conditions, yet to truly appreciate the conditions set before the person, the hearer must also see and understand the reality of Hell and it’s purpose in the Glorification of God.

            Jonathan Edwards has a reputation of being the stuffy Puritan minister that preached a sermon on the anger of God, yet those who have not read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in it’s entirety will not see that Jonathan Edwards himself saw the revelation of Hell as an act of the mercy and kindness of an infinitely glorious God.  It is, as Edwards would say, by the mere pleasure of God that the wicked have not fallen into damnation – God is the very one keeping them from the pits of Hell.  He is the only one who can separate men from His love.  In his sermon, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners, Edwards makes it clear that God is perfectly just in the damnation of sinners because their sins are of infinite offense to an infinitely Glorious Being, and He vindicates Himself in their damnation, yet, He is Glorified even more so by the mercy that He extends towards those who repent.  If Heaven, A World of Charity Or Love is a portrayal of an eternity filled with the love of God, then Edwards’ sermon The Eternity of Hells Torments reveals an eternity perfectly devoid of God and His infinite love.  God infinitely hates sin because it is an evil of infinite weight done against him, and He is an infinite enemy to it.  This is not a Manichean dualism of good versus evil.  There are no concessions made for sin and God will not have it in His presence because it wars against His Glory, it calls God a liar by calling into question His integrity and His infinite love – sinfulness is outright rebellion against the King of Glory.  God, in His Justice must and will cast away the sinner leaving the offender to the torments of an eternal Hellish existence.  The Hell that Edwards describes is not merely one of fire and boogey men, but one where inmates gnash their teeth for all eternity because of the pain from an eternally burning fire that will forever cause infinite pain.  Compassion is both absent and abhored, and pure malice towards one another is both desired and enacted.  Edwards says:

In hell all those principles will reign and rage that are contrary to love, without any restraining grace to keep them within bounds.  Here will be unrestrained pride, and malice, and envy, and revenge, and contention in all its fury and without end, never knowing peace.  The miserable inhabitants will bite and devour one another, as well as be enemies to God, and Christ, and holy beings.  Those who, in their wickedness on earth, were companions together, and had a sort of carnal friendship one for another, will here have no appearance of fellowship; but perfect and continual and undisguised will exist between them.  As on earth they promoted each other’s sins, so now in hell they will promote each other’s punishment.  On earth they were the instruments of undoing each other’s souls – they were occupied in blowing up the fires of each other’s lusts, and now they will blow forever the fires of each other’s torments.  They ruined on another in sinning, setting bad examples to each other, poisoning each other by wicked talk, and now they will be as much engaged in tormenting, as once they were in tempting and corrupting each other.[10]

 

If Heaven is a world of perfect love, then Hell is a world of perfect hatred: hatred of God, and hatred of each other!  Devils and their inmates alike revel in the eternal torment and destruction of each other, and actively seek out each others ruin for all eternity.  There is not and there will not be a single ounce of pity in Heaven above towards them felt by neither God Himself nor the saints, but rather the robe of Jesus Christ on the Day of Armageddon will be stained with the blood of His enemies, and all of Heaven will be in celebration at the sight of the Messiah appearing on the clouds in a blaze of glory and fire!  Edwards emphatically proclaims to those in a Christless-state , “These things are not cunningly-devised fables, but the great and dreadful realities of God’s Word, and things that, in a little while, you will know with everlasting certainty are true.”[11]  Hell is not some far off distant place, nor is it a conjured mechanism of fear meant to scare people into church memberships to bolster numbers.  The immediacy of the dangers of Hell were as real to Edwards as the chances of getting hit by a car when attempting to cross an eight-lane freeway in downtown Chicago during rush-hour are to a person in this day and age are.  He explains in the final paragraph of “The Eternity of Hells Torments” his motives for delivering a revelation of Hell:

…that you may effectually escape these dreadful and awful torments.  Be entreated to flee and embrace him who came into the world for the very end of saving sinners from these torments, who has paid the whole debt due to the divine law, and exhausted eternal in temporal sufferings.  What great encouragement is it to those of you who are sensible that you are exposed to eternal punishment, that there is a Savior provided, who is able and who freely offers to save you from that punishment, and that in a way which is perfectly consistent with the glory of God: yea, which is more to the glory of God than it would be if you should suffer the eternal punishment of hell.  For if you should suffer that punishment you would never pay the whole of the debt.  Those who are sent to hell never will have paid the whole of the debt which they owe to God, nor indeed a part which bears any proportion to the whole […] 0Justice therefore never can be actually satisfied in your damnation.  But it is actually satisfied in Christ.  Therefore he is accepted of the Father, and therefore all who believe are accepted and justified in him.  Therefore believe in him, come to him, commit your souls to him to be saved by him.  In him you shall be safe from the eternal torments of hell.  Nor is that all: but through him you shall inherit inconceivable blessedness and glory, which will be of equal duration with the torments of hell.  For, as at the last day the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, so shall the righteous, or those who trust in Christ, go into life eternal.[12]

 

Edwards preached about a reality that cannot be seen by the natural eye in order that people would trust in Christ and that God would be glorified in their acceptance of Him. God desires to be gloriously magnified and fill the whole earth – that Heaven invade Earth, more precisely, and that the whole world would be awakened to a desire for an intimate relationship of perfect love with God that would cause them to suffer violence upon the kingdom of heaven to have that relationship.  Jesus sovereignly reigns On High, and God is most glorified in this – revival happens when people are awakened to this reality and they submit to the reign of Jesus Christ by placing their trust – ultimately, their allegiances - in Him.  Their hearts are unveiled and their eyes see the Son of God.

            J.I. Packer wrote in his essay, The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards:

Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way, to draw them to himself through working from the inside out rather than from the outside in.  It is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life, but is sometimes overshadowed and somewhat smothered by the impact of other forces.  It is the near presence of God giving new power to the gospel of sin and grace.  It is the Holy Spirit sensitizing souls to divine realities and so generating deep-level responses to God in the form of faith and repentance, praise and prayer, love and joy, works of benevolence and service and initiatives of outreach and sharing.[13]

 

Revival and awakenings are not just about marathon conversions of the so-called unregenerate, nor are they the stereotypical Pentecostal meetings where people fall down on the floor having been overcome by the presence of God and others speak wildly in an unknown tongue.  Revivals are not where people bark like dogs and church services turn into circus tents.  They are about a radical transformation of worldviews and a specific reorientation and enlargement of true spiritual affections towards God, culminating altogether in a Christ-centered lifestyle.  They are about an intelligent and unrestrained passion for the love of God; to love God with all of one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength and to do likewise to one’s neighbor.  The heavens open up and rain down the Spirit of God and the earth opens up to receive the very blessings of that rain.  A life truly free from the oppression and tyranny of sin bought by the blood from the death of the Lamb of God, fought for and won by the warrior God who fought for the freedom of Israel, and lived out in that very freedom of being still and knowing that God is who He is – this is revival.  When we have been utterly destroyed and restored in the image of the Father, when we live as sons and daughters of the Most High God, when we can do nothing more but cry out from the mud and mire that our sinful condition has left us in towards the God who is strong when we are weak, this is revival.  Revivals are not about hype and Christian concerts, and they are certainly not about Sunday morning church attendance records.  They are not about maintaining relevancy in a postmodern world, and they are not about an emergent spirituality.  Packard continues on to say:

Now it is precisely the life of repentance, of cross-bearing, of holiness under pressure and joy within pain – the life, in other words, of following Jesus on his own stated terms – that God revives, for this is the reality of religion.[14]

 

Revival is an acknowledgement of such a thing as this: “Repent and believe, for the Kingdom of Heaven, the reign of Jesus Christ has come!”; and a claiming of the promise declared when he said to the lame man and the diseased woman, “Take heart child, your sins are forgiven.”  Revival from the sinful condition man has inherited from Adam comes by man’s utter dependence upon the God of the Universe, a complete and total allegiance to His Kingship.  This is the kind of thing that Edwards preached.  Ralph G. Turnbull says in his book Jonathan Edwards: The Preacher,   “The results of the Edwardsean preaching were conviction of sin, repentance unto life, and a revival of sincere piety among those influenced in the community.[15]  Jonathan Edwards desired seek the beauty of the Lord and dwell in His house forever.  Yet, Edwards approach to preaching and ministry remains to be contrasted with the way ministry and preaching are done in the modern American church today.  However, one does not need to contrast the modern American church to the ministry of Edwards - the time in which Edwards lived functions perfectly as a slide to analyze under a magnifying glass. 

Like the surface of the moon as seen through a telescope, the depth of the mountains and valleys that define its surface only becomes more apparent – by drawing out distinctions that were there all along, so too does the depth of the key players, moments, and treatises of the Great Awakening increase in understanding them.  Jonathan Edwards was not a lone voice crying out in the wilderness of revival during the 18th Century, but he was one of the few who studied it more intensely not only to combat the onslaught of assaults launched by his critics, nor simply to chastise the spiritual lusts of some enthusiasts who craved the experiences and manifestations of revival more than God, but also to proclaim the good things which God was doing, all the more magnifying the glory brought to the Father.  Among the chorus of Edwards’ critics sang Charles Chauncy, the minister of First Church, Boston between the years of 1727-87.  Chauncy, who became a leader among the “Old Lights,” sang in a loud fortissimo against emotionalism and the revivalist preaching of his era: two of his targets being Edwards and Whitefield.  Rationalism was the key he played in and the “New Lights” were off key and out of tune with his symphony.  From the perspective of the “New Lights”, Chauncy would have been seen to be like a Saul who was zealous for the Lord and the Law, a persecutor of the Nazarene sect of the Way.  The entire revival culture was contrary to reason, and Perry Miller states that Chauncy viewed these “new creatures” to have been excited not by the spirit, “but by the corporeal frenzies of Whitefield and Tennent.”[16]  Not only were participants beyond reason, Chauncy noted that they were hostile to it: they were, as far as he was concerned, deranged.  He held Reason to be the only proper lens through which scripture to be viewed from.  Chauncy attacked Edwards’ use of sensory imagery in his sermons, as well as Edward’s assertion that there was a sort of spiritual sense – he said, “Satan can delude people through sensations and imagination.”[17]  Comments such as these prompted Edwards to respond with his work, The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, and later, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections; the first being a response to the “Old Lights” that set out to prove that the newly revived and converted were in fact a product of a move of the Spirit of God, and the second a response to the radicals within the “New Lights” – the James Davenports, who threw out reason altogether for the sake of having a revival – to show that external charismatic signs were not reliable to base a verdict of whether or not one was converted upon, but rather that a truly converted being will experience and grow in the fruits of the Spirit, and a love for God and others..  The criticism of Edwards must be taken seriously as well in order to first prepare for objection to the desire for and the actual outbreak of revival in the church, and secondly, to discern within the revival what is truly of God and what is of Satan.  There were two extremes that arose during the Great Awakening, and Edwards found himself in the middle: he desired for God to manifest His presence in his own life and the lives of his parishioners, but he also desired understanding and exercised discernment in the matter; it came down to passion for God and His glory, the main theme of Edwards’ ministry.

         The study of Edwards’ entire worldview remains important to the church because of one simple fact:  in this present darkness everything is not okay.  The world has been so caught up with having the right program and the right system of living to succeed in this life, and Christians have desperately tried to keep up with the demonic pace of society by falling into this very same agenda.  Packer said, “…the study of religion – professedly Christian religion, that is – has become a study of human feelings, attitudes, and struggles rather than of God’s gifts and calling and works and ways with humans, which was Edwards’s agenda.”[18]  Christian churches on the one hand have become support groups that deliver temporary solutions for broken people seeking a lasting answer to their problems, rotary clubs for the well-off who wish to do good and feel good about it, and religious YMCAs where the boys can go to have a good time.  On the other hand, church buildings have become coffins for a dead and dying world, the senior pastors of these buildings mere business managers seeking to maintain and increase pew occupation, and the youth pastors camp counselors and pep rally leaders who coordinate numerous games, lock-ins, sleepovers, and rock concerts all in the name of drawing the broken and orphaned child into the church to hear a five minute presentation of the gospel from a nervous man in the front too afraid to offend the crowd by calling them sinners.  There are religious debate societies with people that run around after each other in circles with the sole purpose of tearing down opposing theological points of view in order to build up their own worldview.  And do not forget the Christian campus ministries filled to the brim with students that believe in order to be truly called a Christian one must attend every bible study meeting, go to every outreach function, every training seminar on how to effectively deliver the five-minute inoffensive, straw-house presentation of the Gospel that falls apart when the person being told about Jesus breathes their very first question, and hang out with the same Christian people in order to even be considered a Christian.  The church, in an effort to maintain relevancy and compete with the pace of society has not been the counter culture revolution that it totes with banners, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and radio stations – it has become in the world and of the world.

Is the moment that Christianity becomes the “cool thing to do” the moment that it ceases to be Christianity?  Many Christians today often live by the motto, “I want people to look at me and see the love of Christ.  I want them to see that being a Christian in this world is okay to do by my example.  I want them to see that it is cool to be a Christian.”  Christians have bought into the program and have in fact created an industry out of this idea.  Is it possible that ministry has been organized, categorized, and summarized into so many different slogans and Scripture-less motivational speeches that no true ministry of the Word of God takes place?  Aaron Lewis of the metal band Staind sings in their song Paper Jesus, “Question what they sell you / All the lies the lies that they are teaching / And they’ve made a corporation / Out of desperate people’s feelings… of fear.”[19]  The song scathingly blasts the institution of the church because it has failed to do its job at telling the people the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and instead the church has become a place for psychopaths and megalomaniacs to hide, push their agendas and take advantage of hurting people in need of God.  Satan has effectively diluted the church, and the church has gone quietly while getting caught up in the spirit of this age.  Worship Leader Jason Upton wrote a song called Dying Star, where in the first verse he sings from the perspective of God:

You’ve got your best man on your front side / You always show your front side / And evil’s always on the other side / You say this is your strategy / But son I hope you take it from me / You look just like your enemy / You’re full of pride.[20]

 

 “God is found in the rigid traditions of our forefathers.  Come to church and live the way we do,” one said of the debate yells while another side screams back, “God is found in doing the things we do, and you should see that Christianity is a cool lifestyle to live, so come to church and live the way we do.”  No one realizes that they are saying the same thing, and that they in fact have not even touched on who God is in their argument.  It is almost as if they are not thoroughly convinced of who God is, or they have read a small number of verses, call it a relationship with a Jesus Christ who lives in their hearts, and then continue on to live as they did before they prayed the sinners’ prayer.  The whole time each side is strategizing on how to win the most lost souls for the kingdom, and each side believes that with the right flare people will be amazed enough by them to want to convert.  Upton continues on in the second verse, again from the perspective of the Father: 

Star how beautiful you shine / You shine more beautiful than mine / You shine from sea to shining sea / World-wide is your strategy / But shining star I hope you see / If the whole wide world is staring straight at you / They can’t see me…[21]

 

The church does not see that it has missed the point of the gospel and has instead gotten in the way and stolen the credit from God – it has in fact completely lost it’s focus. 

C.S. Lewis said in his sermon on Worship that ‘the choir has the great privilege of worship God as the angels do, but it also has a great responsibility to bring the congregation to that very same level.’  Often times, worship leaders have been accused of being too showy for praise and worship and they distract the people from worshipping God, and so one move on the part of the emergent church is to remove the worship leaders off of the stage in front of the people to a place among the congregation so that the focus is taken off of the musicians and can be properly placed on God.  Most worship leaders are aware of the tension between truly expressing their desire for God through the music that they play and putting on a concert to perform for the congregation; and this tension is not in one single denomination. Upton sings in the refrain of his song:

We better trash our idols if we want to be / In the army of the Lord / And the greatest idol is you and me, / We’d better get on the threshing floor / When will we learn that God’s strategy is / Giving glory to the Lord? / We better trash our idols if we want to be / In the army of the Lord.[22]

 

Like Simon the Sorcerer, ministries seek to make a profit off of the acts of God, and for that, the Church will never see the dunamiV[23] of the Holy Spirit manifested in her ministries, nor in the lives of her people - she will never see the revival that she desires.  Only through a true repentance and desire of the people of God to reorient the focus of the church back onto the Glory of God and to turn away from striving for worldly success and rewards will God heal the land.

            It is true that there are other theories circulating on how to reform the church, they are no secret.  They range from a complete overhaul of orthodox theology towards a radical Gnostic cosmology espoused by Dan Brown and company, all the way to more training from Rick Warren, Doug Fields, and friends on how to disciple believers and win the lost in a postmodern age.  One idea that has been catching fire in recent years is that the church needs to transform from a form that is decidedly modern and relates to a minimum of the current rising generation into a form that is explicitly postmodern.  While this may help the church fit in the new millennium, it still presents a secondary answer to the current problem.  It is once again another strategy bent on the survival of the institution rather than the spiritual awakening of a generation to the Glory of God.  The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”[24]   It is the Word of God that changes man, not the strategies developed by the wisdom of man.  Demonstrations of the Spirit’s power ultimately glorify God because they are, in fact, displays of the Glory of God meant to bring more Glory to Him.  The church needs to enthrall the world with a vision of the Bridegroom to whom she is betrothed in all His Glorious Splendor – she needs to give the world a reason to ask and seek one thing only: to see the beauty of the Lord and dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Christians need to see the example of Jonathan Edwards, a man with a “God entranced vision of all things”,[25] as Piper calls him, and follow it.  That does not mean to become more Edwardsean than Edwards himself; it means to pursue a vision of the splendor of God seated on the throne ultimately leading to an intimate and eternal communion with that infinitely Glorious Being.  Only after the disciples spent years with Jesus did the Revival Fire fall; only after they had seen His Glory, as the Apostle John so eloquently states in the beginning of His Gospel, and had become so enamored by Him could they even begin to want to see His Glory spread through the earth like water covers the sea .[26]  Jonathan Edwards desired for the Glory of God to be manifested and for others to know the Glory of God, and in turn God blessed him with two revivals in his congregation, each spanning for several years.  And so, like David, let the church ask and seek the beauty of the Lord, and dwell in His House forever.


Bibliography

 

Chase, Alston Hurd & Henry Phillips, Jr., ed.  A New Introduction to Greek, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1941), 199.

 

Edwards, Jonathan. The Eternity of Hells Torments.  1739. http://jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Warnings/Eternity.htm 

 

----------------------.  Heaven, A World of Charity Or Love.  1738. http://jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Charity/Charity%2016.htm

 

----------------------.  The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners.  (Great Britain: 1834; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004) 668 – 679 (page citations are to the reprint edition).en

 

 

 

 

----------------------.  The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.  (Great Britain: 1834; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004) 7 – 12 (page citations are to the reprint edition).

 

Lewis, Aaron.  Paper Jesus.  Elektra/Wea. 2005.

 

Miller, Perry.  Jonathan Edwards.  With an introduction by John F. Wilson.  (New York: William Sloan Associates, Inc. 1949; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005) 165 – 200 (page citations are to the reprint edition).

 

Piper, John & Justin Taylor, ed. A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards.  The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards, by J.I. Packer.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004.  Pgs. 81 – 108.

 

--------------------------------, ed.  A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards.  A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later, by John Piper.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004.  Pgs. 21 – 34.

 

Turnbull, Ralph G.  Jonathan Edwards:  The Preacher.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1958.  Pgs. 120 – 125.

 

Upton, Jason.  Dying Star.  Key of David Ministries.  2002.

 

Holy Bible.  New International Version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 



[1] J.I. Packer, The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards, John Piper & Justin Taylor, ed., A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 97.

[2] Jonathan Edwards, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1 (Great Britain: 1834; reprint, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2004), 669.

[3] Rev 4:8 NIV

[4] Rev 4:11 NIV

[5] Ps 29:1 NIV

[6] Jonathan Edwards, Heaven, A World of Charity or Love (http://jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Charity/Charity%2016.htm, 1738), 2.

[7] Ibid., 4.

[8] 2 Chron 5:13 NIV

[9] Jonathan Edwards, Heaven, A World of Charity or Love (http://jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Charity/Charity%2016.htm, 1738, 5-7.

[10] Ibid., 16.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Jonathan Edwards, The Eternity of Hells Torments (http://jonathanedwards.com/sermons/Warnings/Eternity.htm, 1739), 13.

[13] J.I. Packer, The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards, John Piper & Justin Taylor, ed., A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 100 – 101.

[14] Ibid., 107.

[15] Ralph G. Turnbull, Jonathan Edwards: The Preacher (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1958), 125.

[16] Perry Miller, Jonathan Edwards, With an Introduction by John F. Wilson (New York: William Sloan Associates, Inc. 1949; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), 168.

[17] Ibid., 174.

[18] J.I. Packer, The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion: A Study in the Mind of Jonathan Edwards, John Piper & Justin Taylor, ed., A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 95.

[19] Aaron Lewis, Paper Jesus (Elektra/Wea, 2005).

[20] Jason Upton, Dying Star (Key of David Ministries, 2002).

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] dunamiV, -ewV, h, power; force.  Alston Hurd Chase & Henry Phillips, Jr., A New Introduction to Greek,3rd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1941), 199.

[24] 1 Cor 2:4-5 NIV

[25] John Piper, A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later, John Piper & Justin Taylor, ed., A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 21.

[26] Hab 2:14