God’s Generals is a series of books that tells the different testimonies of ministers of the Gospel with different giftings over the last 200 years in America. One book in the series is “The Revivalists”. The book begins in the early to mid 1700’s with the focus mostly in Colonial America. It tells the story of three men: John Wesley, George Whittfield, and Jonathan Edwards.
The Spiritual Climate right before the Great Awakening is not as we normally picture it. It wasn’t piety, religious with a high sense of morality. We were coming out of the Age of Enlightenment. Knowledge and technology was increasing. A lot of it was positive but the negative side was that there was a huge pressure for the Church to disconnect from the Word of God. The end result was that anything Supernatural in the Bible was reduced to a metaphor. Society then lost its Moral Compass. The Church was weak and Spiritually dead. They were disconnected from the Word of God. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:5-7, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. The Lord will never add Himself to a lie. God has nothing to add Himself to us, the Church if we aren’t taking a stand for truth. He is the Spirit of the truth. This doesn’t mean just not telling lies but this also covers not speaking up in truth. The Holy Spirit is the only thing that gives the local church its power; that anointing comes from the Spirit. If we disconnect ourselves from the Spirit, there is no anointing. Everything we see Jesus do in His ministry, He did it as the Son of Man empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Jonathan Edwards was American. Wesley and Whitefield were English. These three men met in college and started a small group together. They called it the Holy Club. They wanted to search the Scriptures, come out of their dark culture and live for God while teaching others to do the same. At first, they were concerned about their own souls but as they grew older, they started getting more responsibilities within the Church. There was tension between them and teachers, leaders of the Church as their anointing grew.
Soon, they came to the Colonies to bring the message. John Wesley writes a letter back home to his friend Whittfield, begging him to come to America and bring the Word. He told him the harvest is great and the workers are few. He asked him “What if thou art the man, George Whitefield, to bring revival to America?” This letter gripped Whitefield but he eventually made it to America and overnight, revival exploded. In just a matter of six short trips, he preached to over 80% of Americans alive at that time. Nothing like this had happened before and nothing has happened since. There was no amplification at that time; it was just him standing outside shouting with his voice carrying to anyone listening.
Through this, Christ was claiming America as His own.
Most preachers in their lifetime will preach maybe 2,000 sermons. Whittfield preached over 18,000 sermons in his lifetime. He died young so that means he was preaching seven days a week. Whatever day it was when he came to a town, that’s the day that revival started. He often preached several sermons a day. Multitudes were being saved at this time and every church in America more than doubled.
Here are some of the topics they preached on:
- Heaven and Hell
- The Repentance of Sin
- The Authority of God’s Word
- The Judgement of God
- The Grace of God
- The Love of God
- The Power of God
- The Power of the Cross
- The Blood of Jesus to Save the Sinner’s Soul
We look at these sermon titles and think “Oh yeah, these are classics” but these sermons were truly revolutionary at this time. A lot of the people at this time had never heard the Gospel preached. He was truly coming and preaching the light of Christ in a spiritually dark region.
Jonathan Edwards wrote a sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. He’s preaching truth and grace in harmony together. He starts his sermon by saying “Oh sinner, consider the fearful danger of hell you are in. And now you have this extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open. He stands at the door, calling with a loud voice to poor sinners. Many have responded and God has loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood. How awful it would be to be left behind on such a day as this.” The presence of God was so thick in this place that the conviction of the Holy Spirit caused them to fall to the ground, crying to the Lord. Edwards couldn’t finish his sermon because people were already responding. This same type of response was happening all over as people were responding to the convictions of the Holy Spirit.
Our culture today has the same type of age of enlightenment happening now that was happening back then. We get to a point where we feel “too advanced” but His word is timeless and will never pass away. The issues never change even as history changes. There’s still alcoholism and addictions where people do anything to feel better, promiscuity where people are doing away with the Lord’s design for marriage, etc. Only 9% of Christians in America are able to pass the test of having a true Biblical worldview. Only 9% have their faith rooted and grounded in Scripture. If our faith isn’t rooted and grounded in Scripture, then what is it rooted and grounded in?
Proverbs 16:25 says “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
If we’ll cry out to God the way they did back then, the Lord will respond the same way that He did back then.
What are three ways that we can do to help our nation get back on track?
- Humble repentant intercession. Intercession: standing in the gap. If someone else isn’t praying, we can intercede on behalf of them. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Get rid of compromise in the church, repent, turn to the Lord. The whole nation can benefit from this.
- Uncompromising confrontation with the truth of God’s Word. Our job isn’t to make people feel good. Our job is to be warm, kind, & welcoming. The message of the world is intense and confrontational so we can’t afford to not offend. If we become friends with the world, we cannot be a friend of God. We are called to be a champion of truth. We are to love them by calling them out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.
Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Our message isn’t one of compromise but one of an Ultimatum. No one comes to the Father but by Him. We cannot afford to be unclear in our messaging. We can’t play around with this message with our kids especially.
- A demonstration of Power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 says “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
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