Edwards On Evangelism -- By: T. M. Moore
RAR 8:2 (Spring 1999) p. 139
Edwards On Evangelism
In the history of the Christian church, evangelism and revival are often as inextricably linked as thunder and lightning. Where revival occurs evangelism will not be far away. As God’s Spirit begins to renew the hearts of His people and to revive His churches, the revitalized people of God respond, like the early believers on the church’s first Pentecost, by moving among their contemporaries, “gossiping the gospel,” calling their neighbors, friends, and any who will listen to join them in worshipping the risen Lord and Christ. As evangelism brings the saving news of Christ to hearts prepared by the striving of God’s Spirit and the sovereign good pleasure of the Father, the fires of revival burn brighter and brighter, often leading to awakening, or, revival on a larger scale, and reformation. Wherever one looks in the history of revival, evangelism seems ever to be one of the first and most consistent of its fruits.
This is not to say, however, that all evangelism leads to revival. The thunder may not always be accompanied by visible lightning. The ministry of the prophet Jeremiah is testimony enough to that fact. There may be many reasons why the church’s work of evangelism does not eventuate in renewal and revival, some of which can be attributed only to the inscrutable counsel of God.
Others, however, may well be related to some failure or inadequacy on the part of God’s people. Our evangelism may not be sufficiently consistent, clear, or compelling to be
RAR 8:2 (Spring 1999) p. 140
useful as a tool of God’s Spirit for the conversion of His elect. Or the testimony of our lives, or the fragmentation of our churches may present stumbling blocks to wary unbelievers. In other cases it may be that some critical aspect of the message of evangelism is missing—such as the warning of God’s wrath—or that our motives in the work or our means of prosecuting it may not be such as truly honor God.
This is not to say, however, that all
evangelism leads to revival. The thunder
may not always be accompanied by visible
lightning. The ministry of the prophet
Jeremiah is testimony enough to that fact.
Whenever our labors in evangelism do not appear to be as fruitful as we might expect—whenever we thunder for the Lord without any evidence of lightning splitting the skies—we should take pains to see if we can discover why this is so. At such times it can be useful to review the work of previous generations who saw both revival and evangelism in their ministries. For then we can believe both the powerful moving of God’s Spirit and the true and faithful labors of His people were effectively at w...
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