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May 2013 17 May 17, 2013
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I often hear cessationists insist on a distinction between miraculous “gifts” of the Spirit, which they contend have ceased, and “miracles,” which they are happy to acknowledge continue even into the present day. That is to say, they deny that the “gifts” are valid but are open to the possibility that God can perform miracles if he so chooses throughout the course of church history. Let me say two things by way of response to this. Fi...Read More

May 2013 17 May 17, 2013

I can understand Paul saying that for him and for us “to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21a). But how is it that death can be viewed as anything but a horrible end to a wonderful life? How can death be anything other than the shattering of hopes and dreams and the end of one’s life work? How can it possibly be viewed as “gain” (Phil. 1:21b) over life? Be assured of this: Paul is not saying he is dissatisfied with life or that he desires to be don...Read More

May 2013 16 May 16, 2013
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Believe it or not, some in New England in the 18th century questioned the reality of the revival known as the First Great Awakening based on the tendency of people to sing all the time! Jonathan Edwards thinks he knows the basis for this objection. It arises from their doubts about the authenticity of the work of revival as a whole. These critics "doubt of the pretended extraordinary love and joys that attend this work, and so find fault with the manifestations of them....Read More

May 2013 15 May 15, 2013
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In Philippians 1:19-20 Paul wrote, “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” As the apostle endured the hardship of imprisonment in Rome (or in Caesarea, as some believe), he anticipates that in response ...Read More

May 2013 15 May 15, 2013
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During the First Great Awakening many insisted they would rather wait until a revival came in which no excesses or fanaticism or stumbling blocks were present. To which Edwards replied: "If they wait to see a work of God without difficulties and stumbling-blocks, it will be like the fool's waiting at the river side to have the water all run by. A work of God without stumbling-blocks is never to be expected. . . . There never yet was any great manifestation that God ma...Read More

May 2013 14 May 14, 2013

Paul’s reference to “life” and “death” at the close of Philippians 1:20 triggers in him an urge to comment on the attitude he has toward both. It can be summed up in 8 powerful words: “To live is Christ. To die is gain.” The options before us all are clear: either “to depart and be with Christ” (v. 23) or “to remain in the flesh” (v. 24). On the one hand, “to remain in the flesh” or to continu...Read More

May 2013 14 May 14, 2013

Some during the First Great Awakening (18th century) insisted that it was improper and unbiblical for pastors to preach in such a way that their people were moved and stirred. Edwards' response to this criticism is simple and to the point: "I don't think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a propo...Read More

May 2013 14 May 14, 2013

I think it was John Piper who said it, but even if not I still agree: The art of living well comes from knowing that dying is gain. Contrary to what many may think, that is not morbid. In fact, there is nothing quite as exhilarating and life-giving and joy-filled as pondering death. At least that’s true for the Christian. For most people, death remains a mystery, a dreaded, unexplored black hole in the future that threatens in the present to suck out of one’...Read More

May 2013 12 May 12, 2013
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In the endless dialogue on why a good and powerful God would permit the existence of evil, no one has provided a more cogent and biblical explanation than Jonathan Edwards. It may not answer all our questions; in fact, it even raises a few new ones. But my sense is that this is as close as we’ll ever come to understanding in small measure a mystery that is ultimately beyond our grasp. That being said, let me set forth a few cautious observations about the existenc...Read More

May 2013 11 May 11, 2013

Jonathan Edwards saw a direct cause and effect relationship between the faithful and fervent prayers of God’s people and the authenticity of heaven-sent revival. "When God has something very great to accomplish for his church, 'tis his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people; as is manifest by Ezek. 36:37, 'I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them'; . . . And 'tis revealed that when God is abo...Read More