Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (Jonathan Edwards)
CrossWay Community Church
October 31st, 2021
Among others, two thoughts I’ve had while spending time in this sermon:
It would be easy to see how so many in our context will have misunderstood this sermon, and Edwards, if they didn’t attend to its actual meaning carefully. The expression “being in an angry God’s hands” is actually meant as something positive for the sinner, as Edwards uses it. Why? Because it is the very “hands” of this God who otherwise has every right to damn the unregenerate person that keeps them from immediately entering that fate. It is the very God who rightfully abhors you in your sin that nonetheless is forebearing with you to this very hour. As Edwards argues in the sermon (his thesis, if you will), “There is nothing that keeps wicked people at any given moment out of hell except the mere pleasure of God.” For all the talk of God’s anger towards sin, it’s meant to point us to God’s forbearance and his offer of mercy in Christ.
Secondly, Edwards’ descriptions of God’s wrath undoubtedly will rub against our current contemporary sentiments, where we don’t like to think that God is angry with sinners; or if God were to be angry towards the unsaved, that would be reflective of some sort of defect in him. (This probably has something also to do with our loss of the doctrine of divine simplicity, which results in us thinking of certain of God’s attributes pitted against others–but that’s another topic.) However, Edwards doesn’t care about our contemporary sentiments. He presents God’s righteous indignation with sin in unbridled, blunt terms–language I imagine many of us will question or find abrasive, but which is only indicative of the fact that we need to hear it. We’re apt to soften the holiness of God. Edwards’ isn’t. But for as stark as Edwards gets, even he admits: it’s probably not stark enough; he’s really only scratching the surface of God’s ineffable holy hatred of sin.
“Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:3-4)Romans 2:4-5