Book Review: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Hello, friends, and welcome to the Year 2020! I have been absent from my blog for several months, having given most of my attention to my piano art. Now I am back, at least for a while. I’ve decided to cut back on my writing to continue to focus on my art. But I sure have missed my WordPress family, and I look forward to not only sharing my own thoughts, but also reading and commenting on yours.

A couple years ago one of my cousins encouraged me, through her own example, to read more books, and to log my progress on GoodReads. Oh, I was already a reader, but I quickly realized that by tracking my reading, I became a more deliberate reader.

Well, this year I’ve decided to go one step further and share my book reviews with you. My reading list contains a variety of genres, and by sharing my reviews I hope to whet your appetite for reading just as my cousin did for me. These will not follow a schedule, but I will share the reviews as I finish reading the books. I may also go back and share some reviews written in previous years.

That said, the first book I completed this year was Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (Whitaker House, 1997), and here is my review:

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book got under my skin. That is not a complaint, but a compliment. I am a Christian, and my home is in heaven. Satan and hell have no power over me. But I have grown complacent in my faith, having forgotten that hell is real, and that more people are heading there than to heaven. Reading this book has made hell more real to me. Edwards was harsh, but rightfully so. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). He preached what the Bible says, and what most of us would rather forget about. We like reading about God’s love, promises, and mercy, but we cannot have those attributes without contrasting them to His righteousness, justice, and wrath.

The original audience of this sermon was greatly moved to seek the Lord and His mercy. Why? Because although Edwards gives very little overt attention to it, the message of the mercy and grace of God certainly runs throughout the entire sermon. It is true that we do not know when we will breathe our last breath. It is true that we are already under the control of Satan before we turn to Christ. But it is also true that God’s mercy is the only thing keeping us from falling through the rotten boards over hell upon which we stand. God is angry with the wicked, yes, but He also loves the wicked. Just recall the most famous verse in all of Scripture, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you have children, then you understand that though their disobedience and rebellion can make you angry, it can never cause you to stop loving them.

The most gripping part of this sermon for me was when Edwards brought the message into the present time by referring, not to the hearers of his sermon, but to the readers of his book:

“There is a reason to think that there are many now reading this book, who will actually be the subjects of this very misery for all eternity. I do not know who they are, or in what places they now sit, or what thoughts they now haveā€¦.

“If we knew that there was one person, and only one, among all our friends and neighbors, who was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight it would be to see such a person! How all the rest of our friends and neighbors would lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him!

I would like to take that thought one step further. If I knew that only one person in my circle of friends was destined for hell, I would do all in my power to change his or her destiny. I would beg that person to receive the gift that Christ offers to all. But the truth is, I don’t know who needs the message of salvation, and so God has told me–us–to share the gospel with everyone. By God’s grace I will do that with more urgency that I have ever known before.

View all my reviews

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