Friday, May 27, 2011

BRC: A God-Sized Vision, week 2

As we continue in our Book Reading Challenge (BRC), this week we read about the First Great Awakening that took place here in America in the 1730's & 1740's. I don't know about you, but I love reading the accounts of how God worked in some remarkable ways in the lives of ordinary people. We learned about guys like Solomon Stoddard, who saw a revival at his congregation in Northampton between 1679 and 1718. But it was his grandson, Jonathan Edwards, who saw the real impact of revival on the Eastern Seaboard of America. The authors write about him:
"We remember Edwards as a deathly serious preacher, and he certainly rubbed some church members the wrong way. But he longed to see everyone find ultimate, eternal joy in the Creator and Savior . . . He was concerned for their souls as well. Their sins revealed a spiritual longing only God could meet" (40-41).
Much of the revival took place in Edward's ministry because he was not scared to talk about the hard things in life. Of course, his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, did much to bring about the cold, hard insensitive image many have of Edwards these days.
"Yet Edwards believed that he loved people by warning them of hell. Eternity separated from God is so terrible, Edwards believed, that a minister who explains it dispassionately contradicts himself. 'If I am in danger of going to hell, I should be glad to know as much as possibly I can of the dreadfulness of it,' he said. 'If I am very prone to neglect due care to avoid it, he does me the best kindness who does most to represent to me the truth of the case, that sets forth my misery and danger in the liveliest manner'" (43).
APPLICATION POINT #1: Let's Not Be Scared To Talk About The Eternal Destiny Of People. There has been much debate in the past several months about the nature of hell and who goes there and who doesn't. Or whether it really exists. If God is going to do an extraordinary (I say that completely understanding that any work of God is extraordinary) work in the hearts of people we come in contact with, we must talk about the future destiny of believers and unbelievers. Or at least, we must not be scared to do so. I am not saying we should be gloom and doom, but we should have courage to say that hell is real and without Jesus a person will go there for eternity (check out the heart of Francis Chan & Mark Driscoll when it comes to the issue of hell).

One of my favorite people I long to meet is George Whitefield. He preached more than 100 sermons in five months by the time he was 23 years old. What? Where are those young men today? One of his main messages was that "it wasn't enough for them to sign an orthodox creed or live morally. They must be born again" (45). He called people to real life change, not just moral life change. As well, the young man, David Brainard, called his friend to be born again when he admitted to him that he didn't have any religious affections. That means, he didn't feel any passion or excitement for the things of God. And Brainard's response was that he might not be saved. He told him to get into his closet and beg for new spiritual life (50).

APPLICATION POINT #2: We Must Be Careful Not To Preach A Gospel Of Morality. It isn't just about someone not sleeping with their girlfriend or not drinking or not doing ________. It is about change from the inside out. God wants our heart, not just our externals and therefore, we need to preach a gospel that changes from the inside out.

And now your thoughts! What did you learn? What are you thinking about as you read this book? Please give some comments below.


  1. Scott,

    Let me answer your question you posed last week about the nature of the filling ministry of the HS. It seems as though you were saying that in revival, the HS fills those He saves. True. Then you were wondering if losing the fervor is losing the filling? Is that right?

    I would say, no, they didn't lose the filling. But they are probably being disobedient. I would see revival as TRUE FILLING, meaning that people are being saved, even religious people who think they were beforehand. Remember that story of Brainard responding to that person. They might not have truly been saved.

    If they begin losing the feelings, they are probably being disobedient and grieving the HS.

    just some thoughts, not sure if I answered what you were asking though...

  2. Live convinced of heaven and hell.  Am I a functional universalist?

    The main thoughts I've been chewing on this week after reading are how these early evangelists seemed to have nothing else going in their life except the Word of God and their passion for making that Word known.  They not only believed in the awfulness of hell and life separate from the presence of God, but they lived their lives convinced of that belief.

    In a YouTube video by David Platt he talks about how many Christians are functional universalists. Though we don't believe everyone goes to heaven, we live our everyday lives like it is true.  We are functional universalists, to borrow his term.  

    I find myself concerned about what others might think if become more outspoken about the enormity of life and the decisions that are made during our time here.  It is not a popular message but it does seem as in the cases described in this book that God blesses His Word when it is spoken and it does accomplish His purposes when we are faithful to proclaim it.


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