The Sermon on the Mount: pt 18, The Nature of True Faith

by Steve Reynolds  /  Matthew 7:13-27  /  May 29, 2016

Jonathan Edwards was an 18th century pastor, theologian & president of Princeton who is widely considered by scholars to be one of (if not the) most influential American-born theologian. However, most Americans now know Jonathan Edwards for one thing. In 1741, Edwards preached a sermon entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God; the sermon is a vivid picture of the judgment of God with horrific imagery of Hell & called his listeners to repentance. Edwards was effective in this task with people crying out throughout the sermon, “What shall we do to be saved?” The sermon has survived to this day with many of us now reading it in high school as a picture of puritan literature. It was a harsh sermon, and many have used it to point out the cruel nature of Puritan preaching. However, if one simply reads this one work, they get a skewed view of Edwards; his other sermons paint a picture of a love for God & love for his people. He spoke and wrote vastly more material on the subjects of Heaven & joy than he ever did on Hell. This sermon was merely one in this man’s life but showed us that Edwards loved people enough to speak a “hard word” when it was needed. As one contemporary preacher said in an interview, “There are times when a “hard word” must be preached, even to God’s people. However, the church and the individual believer do not grow by daily helpings of “hard words,” but by being nourished and encouraged by the full counsel of God.” This morning our text gives us a hard word; as your pastor, I would be unloving if I didn’t preach this text for what it says.