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Tag Archives: the first Great Awakening

An Important Message from the Past

 

The first Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals began in England during the 1730’s.  This spiritual movement quickly spread to Britain’s thirteen colonies lasting until the 1740’s.  During these two decades, Jonathan Edwards played an integral role as a preacher, theologian and writer in America.  One of Edwards’ lasting legacies is a quote from an old sermon, “you contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; Ephesians 2:8.

As individuals struggled with the notion that you can earn your salvation through good works, Jonathon Edwards uses the teaching of the apostle Paul to stop this train of thought.  Perhaps, members of the church of Ephesus shared a similar belief.  The passage above is part of a letter Paul wrote to expose this flawed mindset.  Salvation is a gift from God, only accessible by grace through faith in Christ.  This verse inspired Jonathan Edwards’ comment that mankind’s only contribution to salvation are transgressions from the past and present.

Not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us], Ephesians 2:9-10.

To fully understand the apostles’ teaching, you have to look to verse 10.  Human beings are merely a piece to the puzzle, a work in progress.  As the Holy Spirit works behind the scenes to sanctify newly converted Christians, this process takes a lifetime to complete.  Meanwhile, God the Father serves as a potter, molding and fashioning followers of Jesus like clay.  Trials and tribulations serve as a furnace to remove our imperfections.  Instead of trying to earn your salvation, Paul urges readers to become a willing participant, eager to fulfill the good works God has prepared for you  in advance to accomplish in life.  This is an important message from the past to remember.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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The X Factor of Growth

The term X factor refers to a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.  In the context of a sporting event, the X factor could be a replacement, substitute or specific play that changes the momentum of a game.  This may be an unlikely hero or a star who seizes the moment by coming up clutch.  In the 1996 film Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays Roy McAvoy, a driving range golf professional who qualifies for the United States Open.  This reckless golfer takes unnecessary chances, following the motto, “each shot is a defining moment.  Either you define the moment or the moment defines you.”

They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to]eating meals together and to prayers. 43 A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles, Acts 2:42-43.

During the first century, few churches had a physical building.  Some met in local synagogues, others met outdoors on the outskirts of town, but most gathered in homes.  According to Luke, this decision was the X factor in promoting spiritual growth.  As people from different ethnic backgrounds began to meet for fellowship, prayer and spiritual discussions, a special bond formed.  This spiritual climate set the stage for a revival, the first Great Awakening in history.  Outsiders were curious, hungry for what these followers of Christ demonstrated and possessed.

And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. 45 And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need, Acts 2:44-45.

Based upon the passage above, poverty was eliminated by this generous group of believers.  Whenever a member of the church had an emergency, problem or need, wealthy members sold their possessions to cover any cost or expense.  Ultimately, the X factor for any congregation is when people become the hands and feet of Christ.  This isn’t done out of a desire to be recognized.  Rather, genuine love keeps no record of wrongs, giving out of the goodness of your heart.  May the Holy Spirit inspire you to be the X factor in your community.

by Jay Mankus

Forgotten Faces, Places and Faiths

George Whitefield doesn’t get much recognition in the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.  Yet, during the Tent Revivals inspired by the first Great Awakening, George Whitefield traveled throughout northern Delaware. preaching along the banks of Pike Creek and as far south as the town that bears his name, St. Georges.  According to colonialist historians, Whitefield began his preaching and teaching in New England under Jonathon Edwards’ leadership.  From here Whitefield traveled to Pennsylvania following William and Gilbert Tennent to each event.  Whitefield also spent time helping Samuel Davies in Virginia as these awakenings using stationary tents led to many converts to Christianity.  Unfortunately, George Whitefield lived in the shadows of two friends from England, Charles and John Wesley.  While Whitefield received notoriety as an inspirational evangelist, the Wesley’s founded the Methodist Church.  As new converts to Christianity in Delaware grew, Methodist churches began to form up and down this state, embracing a methodical application of spiritual disciplines.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite, Isaiah 57:15.

The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is a 14 mile long body of water that connects the Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay in Northeast Maryland.  From 1822 and 1829, construction on this United States Army Corp of Engineers project faced many obstacles.  Besides financial issues and a changed in plans further south toward the Back Creek branch of the Elk River, the waterway finally opened in 1829 using a four lock system.  The total cost was 3.5 million dollars, the most expensive government project of its day.  During the rerouting of this canal, two cities were cut in half; Chesapeake City, Maryland and St. Georges, Delaware.  While Chesapeake City maintains a steady population fueled by restaurants and marinas on the north and south banks, St. George’s is nearly dead.  To add insult to injury, the bridge constructed to connect northern with southern Delaware was built directly over Main Street.  Thus, unless you visit one of the few dining establishments, not much remains of the town George Whitefield put on the map.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him, Hosea 6:2.

Like any good thing, even revivals come to an end.  Thus, instead of relying on emotions and a spiritual high, new converts to Christianity need to begin to exercise their faith.  Depending upon your past, this spiritual detox will take time along with pain and struggles of change.  To avoid falling prey to legalism, this transitional period should include an acceptance of rising and falling.  While perfection is unattainable, God simply wants our best effort with an expectation to grow closer to the Lord each day.  Although this sound logical, some faiths will grow cold and die.  When I was a youth pastor out of college, I took a country road to church every Sunday.  One day  I noticed a small church forced to close their doors as the congregation either passed away or moved on to another denomination.  A few weeks later, this abandoned building re-opened as a liquor store, a crushing blow to changing times.  Today, about a thousand churches close their doors each year worldwide.  While the number of believers have remained about the same, the commitment level has softened.  Thus, many Americans have forgotten godly leaders of the past like George Whitefield, towns like St. Georges and their faith in God.  May a new awakening come quickly so that souls will be revived with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as America celebrates Independence Day.

by Jay Mankus

Faith Week

When I was a child, schools did not have many national holidays.  Sure, I would miss days for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter break, but once school began in the fall, days off were few and far between.  In recent days, political correctness has added several new holiday days and theme weeks for educators to shape the minds of children.  Unfortunately, facts and history are being replaced by ideology, liberal philosophies and unproven theories.

As Earth Week began yesterday, Monday 22nd, going green will be shoved down the throats of all those who watch television the next 7 days.  I am not saying that I am against this movement, as the days of using rivers and streams as dumping areas is disappearing.  Nor are their any river fires like the 5 which occurred on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the last of which made national headlines in the early 1970’s.  My point is that the only thing individuals can really control their own life by being good stewards of those possessions God has bestowed upon them.

Well, since the media appears to have control the annual dates of days and themes, I want to declare April 29th-May 5th, Faith Week.  When I studied the Great Awakening in seminary, I was shocked by the moral decay of America in the 1790’s.  Societal patterns which existed in the late 1790’s are similar to those which exist in today’s colleges and universities.  Yet, when I few Christians began to meet together in a concert of prayer, another Pentecost occurred Acts 5:31.  If the church rises up, united in prayer, maybe another Great Awakening is around the corner.  As for now, follow in the footsteps of the apostles, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

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