Jonathan Edwards: A New Home; a New Ministry.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  

“There must be some Word of God. ’Tis unreasonable to think that God would always keep silence and never say anything to mankind. God has made mankind and given him Reason and Understanding. Has made him the chief of all the creatures. Given him reason that he might know God and serve Him. Did not give the other creatures reason: He did make ’em to serve Him. Other creatures are made for man. Man was made for God: to serve God, or else he was made for nothing. But we may be sure He did not make such a creature as man for nothing. But how unreasonable is it to think that God would make us for Himself and never say anything to us. God is the King that rules over all nations. But how unreasonable is it to think that God would make us for Himself and never say anything to us. God is the King that rules over all nations. But how unreasonable is it to suppose that He should be a King and never say anything to His subjects…. be a King and never tell them what His will or what His commands are, that His subjects may obey Him.” – Jonathan Edwards, 1753

Jonathan Edwards served as a frontier pastor and missionary from 1751-1757. He ministered to the Mohican and Mohawk Indians in Stockbridge, MA. The town was forty miles from Northampton.

It was in Stockbridge that Edwards preached and ministered to approximately 250 Native Americans and English settlers. Some might speculate that this ministry was beneath such a learned scholar like Edwards. Nothing could be further from the truth. Edwards understood the providence and sovereignty of God. He knew that what the congregation of Northampton meant for evil, God meant for good (Gen. 50:20). Edwards grasped that he was exactly where the Lord wanted him to be.

Edwards’ ministry in Stockbridge had its highs and lows. Through it all, God provided many converts (I Cor. 3:5-9).

However, the Ephraim Williams’ family, who had caused Edwards many problems in Northampton, continued to do the same while Edwards was in Stockbridge. Ephraim accused Edwards of embezzlement from the Indian school in Stockbridge. Edwards was cleared of all wrongdoing but the damage was done. The Mohawks left the school because they were weary of the conflict. The school eventually closed.

Yet it was also during these years that Edwards, spending thirteen hours a day in study of God’s Word, produced his most memorable works that remain in print today. These include The End for Which God Created the World (1755), Original Sin (1758), and his greatest literary achievement, Freedom of the Will (1754).

It was in Freedom of the Will that Edwards biblically argued that only the regenerate individual can truly chose Christ as Savior and Lord. This choice can only be made through the monergistic regeneration by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the one who wills to believe in Christ is the one in whom the Holy Spirit has already regenerated enabling the individual to believe in Christ (Ezekiel 36; John 3:1-8; 6:35-66; Eph. 2:1-10).  

Edwards understood that regeneration precedes faith. Unfortunately, many in the church today believe that faith precedes regeneration. Instead of following the biblical teaching that sinners are born again in order to believe, many teach that people believe in order to be born again. This latter and unbiblical teaching is an unfortunate result of people seeking to make the Bible teach and say what they want the Bible to teach and to say.

As believers in Christ we must resolve to teach, preach and believe what the Bible says is true and never to teach, preach and believe what we want the Bible to say is true. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!     

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