Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), a Puritan theologian and pastor who was a leading figure in America’s First Great Awakening, had this to say about revival in his thesis, Thoughts on the Revival:

Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble saint is most jealous of himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The spiritually proud person is apt to find fault with other saints . . . and to be quick to notice their deficiencies. But the eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home, and sees so much evil in his own heart, and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. . . . Pure Christian humility disposes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, and to make the most of it, and to diminish their failings, but to give his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Revival starts with us.  Listen to what Jesus had to say in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied, (Matthew 5:3-6, ESV, emphasis mine).

Only until we realize our spiritual poverty can we experience the Kingdom.  When we realize our spiritual poverty it fosters godly sorrow (mourning) that leads to repentance, (2 Corinthians 7:10).  When we realize our spiritual poverty who could not then be meek?  When we realize our brokenness and seek Christ’s righteousness, because for our sake Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin so that we might become the righteousness of God, (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It starts in our hearts.  It begins with our humility, as we also read in James.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you, (James 4:6-10, ESV).

Are you ready for revival?

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  1. ott, I ran across a children's picture book about famous Americans a number of years ago that I originally thought was rather innocuous. Each page concerned a particular theme, scientists, artists, politicians ,etc. Whilst flipping through the pages, I noticed that Jonathan Edwards was named. I thought that he was rather obscure to be cited in a picture book. I turned back & noticed that Edwards was listed on the page for famous American….villains!!! The accompanying few sentence blurb rationalizing this categorization asserted that Edwards was “judgmental”. I thought: “Well, throwing someone into the top 5 American villain list is also rather judgmental”.

    Unfortunately, I noted neither the author nor the title of the book & googling proved fruitless. I did run across a quote from a completely different book concerning Edwards' “sinners in the hand of an angry god” sermon: “A 21st Century congregation would probably be outraged, leaving the church in a huff or expelling the minister for being so judgmental.” Ironically, that basically is exactly what happened to Edwards.

  2. A villain huh? God used him in a powerful way during the Great Awakening. I think many people misunderstand the “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” sermon. He was all about proclaiming the grace of God, but we have to understand why it is that we need grace.

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