Focus: The Everlasting Justice of God
Ezekiel 34:15-16 (NIV) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Hell is not a popular topic these days. You don’t hear it preached like we did when I was young. But the fact it may not be preached from the pulpit doesn’t release any of us from the responsibility to be aware of the consequences of wickedness. We live in a time when everything is distorted. What was once right and good is often viewed with disdain today.
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I seriously doubt whether a particular sermon delivered by Jonathan Edwards in 1741 is still taught in public schools. I remember it from American Literature. The sermon title was, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’.
The sermon was written and preached during a period called, ‘The First Awakening’, or ‘The Great Awakening’. This movement that lasted approximately 25 years from 1730 to 1755, swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies during the 1730s and 1740s. It left a permanent impact on American religion.
The Awakening resulted from powerful preaching that gave listeners a sense of deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ. In contrast to religious rituals and ceremonies, The Great Awakening made Christianity an intensely personal experience to the average person. It fostered a deep sense of spiritual conviction and the need for redemption by encouraging people to search themselves and live their lives according to a new and higher standard of personal morality.
The Great Awakening focused on church members. It challenged their rituals and piety and the established authority. It caused division between old traditionalists and the new revivalists, who encouraged a more personal and emotional involvement in their commitment.
‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ combined vivid imagery of Hell and many scripture references. It had a powerful impact on the church and is still studied by Christians and historians. In a nutshell, the sermon promotes that ‘There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.’
There are ten well known ‘considerations’ as follows:
- God may cast wicked men into hell at any given moment.
- The wicked deserve to be cast into hell. Divine justice does not prevent God from destroying the wicked at any moment.
- The wicked, at this moment, suffer under God’s condemnation to hell.
- The wicked, on earth, at this very moment, suffer the torments of hell. The wicked must not think simply because they are not physically in hell, that God (in Whose hand the wicked now reside) is not, at this very moment, as angry with them as He is with those miserable creatures He is now allowing to be tormented in hell, and who, at this very moment, do feel and bear the fierceness of His wrath.
- At any moment God shall permit satan, who stands ready, to fall upon the wicked and seize them as his own.
- If it were not for God’s restraints, there are, in the souls of wicked men, hellish principles reigning which presently, would kindle and flame out into hellfire.
- Simply because there are not visible means of death before them at any given moment, the wicked should not feel secure.
- Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God’s wrath.
- All that wicked men may do to save themselves from hell’s pains shall afford them nothing if they continue to reject Christ.
- God has never promised to save us from hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.
The age in which we live has neutralized the Gospel. We have come to see our God as a tender Shepherd who wouldn’t hurt a flea. We must remember, He is still the Righteous Judge who does not change, and we should do our best to heed His ways.
Declaration: I will seek the God of the Bible, not the God of the modern day pulpit. I will remember He is the Righteous Judge and His Word is everlasting. I will search myself and live by a new and higher standard of personal morality.
Note: Information drawn from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
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