Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jonathan Edwards on Guilt and Fear

I thought these words from Jonathan Edwards, expanded on by John Piper are not only good but especially so in our age in which we deny Hell and are afraid of guilt.  Piper says in "The Supremacy of God in Preaching":

"The use of threat or warning in preaching to the saints is rare today for at least two reasons:  It produces guilt and fear, which are considered to be unproductive, and it seems theologically inappropriate because the saints are secure and don't need to be warned or threatened.  Edwards rejected both reasons.  'When fear and guilt correspond with the true state of things it is reasonable and loving to stir them up.  And the saints are only as secure as they are willing to give heed to biblical warnings and persevere in godliness.'"  "Let him who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall", 1 Cor. 10:12.

But Edwards realized that love was the highest motivator.  "Holy love and hope are more efficacious to make the heart tender and to fill it with a dread of sin than is the slavish fear of Hell."  Then Piper makes a great statement:

"Preaching about hell is never an end in itself.  You can't frighten anyone into heaven.  Heaven is for people who love purity, not for people who simply loathe pain."  Edwards is then quoted for balance:

"Some talk of it as an unreasonable thing to think to fright persons to heaven; but I think is is a reasonable thing to endeavor to fright persons away from hell - tis a reasonable thing to fright a person out of a house on fire."

When we see thirty youth walking into convenience stores at a predetermined time to causally steal whatever they want and then leave daring anyone to stop them we can be pretty sure they aren't sitting under the preaching of Hell, Fire and Damnation!

1 comment:

  1. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear Him who us able to destroy both body and souli n hell. Here in Japan, there is very little fear of God, so few surrender their lives to Him..."If God loves me, I don't need to worry...".