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The Spirit of Revival (With the Complete, Modernized Text of The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God): Discovering the Wisdom of Jonathan Edwards Paperback – January 14, 2008
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"This edition will enable the curious to get a taste of eighteenth-century American religion and its most celebrated theologian."
—Gerald R. McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College; co-author, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards
"This reader-friendly volume begins with an introductory essay by Sproul. . . . For readers unfamiliar with Edwards, Sproul's essay is a valuable introduction. The book includes a discussion guide and a suggested application of the material for small-group settings."
—Glenn Kreider, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary; Contributor, Bibliotheca Sacra
About the Author
R. C. Sproul (Drs, Free University of Amsterdam) serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida, and is the founder and president of Ligonier Ministries. He has taught at numerous colleges and seminaries, has written over seventy books, and is featured daily on Renewing Your Mind, an international radio broadcast.
Archie Parrish is the founder and president of Serve International and faithfully works to train evangelical churches in prayer discipleship.
JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703–1758) was a pastor, theologian, and missionary. He is generally considered the greatest American theologian. A prolific writer, Edwards is known for his many sermons, including "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", and his classic Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards was appointed president of the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) shortly before his death.
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Many times one may hear is this of God or by mere man. In this work Jonathan Edwards discusses how one may know if a revival is from God or the construction of man. What is from the Holy Spirit and what does not come from the Holy Spirit. Through arguments and reasoning he urges the believer to explore whether a revival is a true Revival of God's church or just human activity. Pastor Edwards elaborates how human emotional expression and the body physically reacting God's word preached/shared may be the result of the Holy Spirit working within the individual; He also argues that emotional expression and bodily reaction is not conclusive proof it is the work of God.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 AV)
Jonathan Edwards argues every spirit should be tested. He does not argue the response has to be miraculous. Just because the reaction could occur without supernatural response does not mean the Holy Spirit has not intervened. God uses ordinary means to build His kingdom and the Holy Spirit leads the Christian in sharing God's word and to serve God. The Holy Spirit also leads the follower of Christ to respond emotionally. Rarely does the Holy Spirit use people to do God's miracles. The Holy Spirit commonly uses less spectacular methods. Erwin Lutzer's book titled Seven Convincing Miracles goes into greater detail about this.
So how does the Christian discern whether a revival is from God? Emotional reaction and physical response is worthy praise to God. But to some individuals may be ends to their own: a type of entertainment. Edwards asks whether the reaction is in response to God's word preached? Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached? To elaborate, is man's sinfulness expressed, do people learn about Jesus not sinning when living as man on this earth, do people hear about the suffering of Jesus, do people hear Jesus dying on the cross and on the third day raising from dead? Do people know they are sinners and only through Jesus can they avoid spiritual death?
Jonathan Edwards continues to argue that a sign of the Holy Spirit is whether the Bible is preached and shared. Included in this is whether people seek to be obedient to the Word of God. Co-author Archie Parrish tries to elaborate after the words of Jonathan Edwards are finished; Parrish's words do not seem to express continuity. Sproul's chapter before the message by Edwards will help the reader to comprehend the Jonathan Edwards' message. Arguments in how to use the book to bring revival to your own church are unconvincing.
The text of Edwards, Concerning the marks of the Spirit of God is much easier to read than his other works (although Sproul modernizes the text--this probably a good thing for many of Edwards' sentences would go on for pages). I would recommend this book for the challenge it offers Bible Believers (who else could be involved in a revival?) as they pray for revival. May God raise up another Edwards to combat the secularist, charismatic, postmodern onslought facing our churches!