- Paperback: 64 pages
- Publisher: Whitaker House; Poc edition (February 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0883684152
- ISBN-13: 978-0883684153
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.2 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 222 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,665,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God Paperback – February 1, 1997
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From the Back Cover
Heaven or Hell?
Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and He stands crying out to all to accept His call. Jonathan Edwards presents a clear picture of the predicament of every sinner and lukewarm Christian. Through his words, you can discover much about what it means to follow God. He shows how you can...
* Know you have God's favor
* Avoid the tricks of the Devil
* Understand more about what sin really is
* Avoid the destruction that awaits sinners
* Realize the need for immediate action
* Be an intercessor
* Find your reward in heaven
With compelling words and imagery, Edwards describes the shaky position of those who do not follow Christ and God's urgent call to receive His love and forgiveness today.
"Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."––John 3:16 NIV
About the Author
Born in East Windsor, Connecticut, in 1703, Edwards was the only son of the Reverend Timothy Edwards and Esther Stoddard Edwards. He was a dedicated student and scholar from his early youth, well before he entered Yale University at the age of thirteen. Despite his scholarly bent, however, he was also philosophical, and he had an appetite for the divine. In 1729, after earning a Master of Divinity from Yale, Edwards succeeded his grandfather, the famed Solomon Stoddard, as full pastor of the First Church of Northampton, Massachusetts. In the twenty–four years that he lived in Northampton, Edwards was deeply concerned with the nature of true religion. Edwards was keenly aware of the fact that true religion had to be lived out, and he set forth to transform his congregation, as well as congregations throughout New England, from believers who only understood Christian doctrine to converted Christians who were truly moved by their beliefs.
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Contrary to many negative reflex and often revisionist reactions we tend to hear today about puritanism and Edwards, Edwards was not a constant fire and brimstone preacher. The writings of Edwards reveal a man who spoke much more on the grace and mercy of God then of His wrath. But really, the two go hand in hand. There's no need for God to be merciful if there's no eternal wrath to fear. There's no need for God to show grace to human beings if there's nothing bad enough in human beings to warrant divine punishment. It is impossible to adequately discuss God's mercy and grace without also dwelling very intently on the wretchedness of man and the divine justice that must be exacted if we believe that God is perfectly holy. This is the context in which this sermon by Edwards was given. He was invited to preach at a church that was spiritually dead and dominated by a spirit of skepticism and a deeply entrenched disbelief in the need for radical personal conversion. Such is the attitude that can be found in many churches today. Yet contrary to what happens each Sunday in these kind of churches all across America, the preacher at this particular church found such comfortable skepticism not to be a virtue of an enlightened congregation, but as a cancer that ensured that many in his church would go unsaved if things didn't change. Enter Jonathan Edwards, and his sermon to this church on that day changed the people in that church and made a lasting impact on American Christianity that is felt to this day.
The main purpose of the sermon, contextually speaking, was to abruptly dislodge and disrupt the culture of apathetic skepticism that reigned in this church. Edwards attempted to do this by drawing haunting imagery of God's mercy in all things, ensuring the congregation that the only reason they are even breathing is because of God's grace. He paints a picture of man dangling over an eternal fire, and stressing that this is where man finds himself right now, and that the only reason he doesn't fall in is because God (and a very angry God at that) has a hold of him and hasn't yet let go. For Edwards, it was clear that by holding on to sinful and unrepentant man and not allowing him to fall at any moment, God was being infinitely more merciful than we deserve, but that such mercy is not indefinite or inexhaustible, but instead serves either to keep an elect person alive long enough for him to reach a point of faith and repentence, or serves to harden the sinner's heart to the point where eternal damnation is a completely just punishment for having denied and defied the authority of their Maker for so long.
Some have commented that this kind of imagery is backwards because Christians shouldn't be in the business of trying to scare people into personal faith. While such a sentiment sounds good and tends to appeal to our modern sensitivities, such a view is decidedly unfaithful to the entire earthly ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels. Jesus talked about hell and punishment more than anyone else, and certainly far more than Edwards. If one accepts that Jesus is God and can therefore be considered a pretty reliable authority on the supernatural and the afterlife, then one must conclude that Christ's continual warnings about eternal punishment are authoritative, accurate, and should be heeded with deep seriousness. I found this sermon by Edwards to be very faithful to the uncomfortable and even scary warnings given by Jesus throughout the four Gospels of the New Testament. Edwards is not scaring people for the sake of scaring people. He is doing exactly what Christ did 2,000 years ago - out of a spirit of deep love and concern, he is warning people of the very real and terrifying consequences of deliberately walking away from Jesus Christ.
In the end, the basic question one has to ask when reading either Edwards or Scripture is whether the eternal punishment described by both is truthful or not. If it is, then how can it possibly be an act of love not to tell people about it? Better to offend with the truth and call people to faith in the one true God and personal repentance than try to make people feel comfortable believing a lie and not seeing a need for people to change anything about their beliefs, wrong and negatively consequential though they may be. If someone believes that eternal punishment is false, then that person has bigger fish to fry then Edwards, they must also patently reject the sayings of Jesus and adopt completely by blind faith a different view of the afterlife. Many have taken this latter road, just as Christ predicted would happen. But truth does not depend on whether our ears are sufficiently tickled. Those who sincerely want to know the truth will give Edwards a fair hearing here and put his views to the test.
"Life Is a Gift"
Human life is a gift. However it develops later on, it starts as a gift. We say that a mother gives birth to a child. No-one ever thinks of saying he gave himself life or birth. We all recognize that both were given to us. We did not work for or earn the life we have, nor did we even desire or will it. We came into the world for better or worse, without any say in the matter. We were just born. Whatever the known biological facts, it is God who gives the breath of life to every living soul.
Eternal spiritual life is as much a gift as natural life is. So Jesus Christ says, “You must be born again.” There is no alternative. How can a man believe he must be born naturally and yet not believe he must also be born spiritually? The man in the Bible to whom Jesus said, “You must be born again” never questioned the necessity of it, nor did he imagine there was any alternative to it. He was only baffled as to the possibility of it. He did not say “Why?” but “How?” Is there an enlightened soul anywhere on earth who will deny that he also needs a new life - not just a different, reformed, amended life, but an altogether new one?
God sent Jesus Christ into this world to meet that need. He says, “I have come that you may have life,” plainly implying that man has not begun to live until he receives the life that Jesus offers. He did not say, “I have come to add to your existing life, to help you improve or mend it, or make atonement for the past.” He has no intention of doing any such thing, for that is man’s way, whether by politics, science, education, philosophy or religion. God’s way is by birth, and because it is God’s way it must be man’s, for man has no choice in the matter. God ordained the birth-way for mankind. To have natural life you must be born. Similarly, to have eternal life you must be born again.
Nowhere is it disputed that the life of Jesus Christ is the most desirable of all lives this earth has ever witnessed. Its righteousness, purity, holiness, love and power were indestructible and proved unconquerable, even by death itself. Being of such quality, it is eternal. A person and his life are one. It can therefore be easily seen that no man can possibly have Jesus’ personal life until Jesus comes into him, for Jesus is that life. He is God’s gift to you. He was and is and ever will be God’s Son - God was His Father. God, wishing to give you eternal life, will give birth and life to you if you will fulfill His conditions. Whoever you are, God’s will is to give you that same eternal life that was in the Man Jesus. But in order to have it you must be born again. Our first birth was entirely physical, but the second birth is an entirely spiritual one. It is a miracle of God.
Are you prepared to begin all over again? Do you really want to make a completely new start? There are few who do not wish at heart that they could be different. Have you at times honestly wished you could live your life all over again? Then here is your opportunity. At this point receive inward assurance that you have the power to do what God requires of you. Only believe and God will do the miracle. The power is called faith, which is simply the determined response of your whole being to God. Do it now.
Be definite by a sincere act of will:
1. Turn absolutely from the past.
2. Believe on God’s Son Jesus Christ with your whole heart.
3. Receive Him into your entire being; confess Him as your own indwelling Savior and Lord.
This is the act of cooperation God requires of you. He will then by His Spirit give you birth into His family. This is the only way you can be born again. From that moment onward you may not go back to live your life all over again. It must be understood that it is precisely that old life with which you must part in order to have the new. Jesus Christ will now live in you and do His Father’s will through you. This is that new and eternal life that God will give you.
Maybe in the past you have given promises, made decisions, and vowed vows to be different. God is not unmindful of them all, but by themselves they will not be of any use. Man cannot give himself birth or life. Not the greatest amount of sincere trying can do that. Believe God now. Receive God’s Son, Jesus Christ, right into your own self and God will do the rest. Life - eternal life - is a gift." – by G.W. North