In his book 10 People Every Christian Should Know, Pastor Warren Wiersbe reminds readers of why these ten men and women were so influential as Christian leaders in their lifetime and beyond. We can learn much from each of them. Here are some of Wiersbe’s thoughts on Jonathan Edwards, who lived from 1703-1758.
“He saw the mind and heart of God in creation; everything in nature revealed to him something about God.”
“Edwards was never content to have only book knowledge about God. He sought to experience God in his own life in a personal way.”
“Edwards saw the importance of uniting the mind and heart. This approach would govern his philosophy of preaching for the rest of his life. He would first aim for the heart and move the affections before trying to instruct the mind.”
Concerning Edwards’ list of resolutions, Wiersbe writes, “He used it not as a law to bind him, but as a compass to guide him and as a mirror to help him examine his progress in his spiritual walk.”
He and his wife had eleven children. Wow! “He used to spend at least one hour each evening with his children before they went to bed. He often studied thirteen hours a day, yet he took time for his family. He and his wife were very happy together; their marriage and their home were a testimony to the goodness and grace of God.”
Regarding the spiritual climate in America when Edwards began to serve as a minister: “Spiritual life in the American colonies was very low, and there was a desperate need for revival.”
“Edwards had experienced eternal life in an overwhelmingly personal way. It was his conviction that truth must be experienced in the heart as well as understood in the mind.”
“In 1734 he preached a series of sermons on justification by faith. The time was ripe, and the Spirit began to move. In the next year, Edwards saw more than 300 people unite with the church…. This was one of the early phases of the spiritual movement in America historians call the Great Awakening, which covered a period from about 1725 to 1760.”
On July 8, 1741 he preached a sermon called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” one of the most famous sermons ever preached in America. As Wiersbe describes it:
“The text was Deuteronomy 32:35: ‘Their foot shall slide in due time.’ There is no question that Edwards had one purpose in mind: to shake the people out of their religious complacency and into the saving arms of the Lord. Edwards was always quiet in his delivery; he read from a manuscript and rarely looked at the people. He did not pound the pulpit or shout. He simply opened up the Scriptures and warned lost sinners to flee from the wrath to come. The Spirit of God broke into the meeting, and many people came under conviction.”
“The churches that followed [George] Whitefield and Edwards continued to win the lost, send out missionaries, and train ministers who were true to the faith.”
“He was perhaps the greatest thinker that America ever produced, and yet he had the heart of a child. He was a great theologian, and yet his books and sermons touch life and reach into the heart. He was a rare blend of biblical scholar and revivalist.”
“Like every good teacher and preacher, he turned the ear into an eye and helped people to see spiritual truth.”
“He was a courageous man who held to his biblical convictions.”
Questions for us to consider:
- In what ways do you see Jonathan Edwards understanding Jesus’ words to “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself?”
- In what ways do you see him concerned for the lost to be saved?
- How can Edwards’ life be an example for us to follow?