Hi! I'm currently studying "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards and am not quite sure what this piece of the text meant: "God certainly has made no promises either of eternal...

Hi! I'm currently studying "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards and am not quite sure what this piece of the text meant:

"God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen."

It would just be really awesome if someone could explain this.

Asked on by jrasor

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is a sermon written and delivered by Jonathan Edwards and is arguably the most recognizable and studied sermon in the western world. He wrote it out of a kind of despair that the believers he was speaking to (they were attending church, after all) had not been living as they ought and were in danger of eternal damnation because they were taking God's promise of grace for granted.

The passage mention in your question comes from the last section of the ten enumerations of God's wrath and judgment for those who do not turn to Him and believe.

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. 

The simplest "translation" is this: God has made no promises and is under no obligation to give anyone eternal life (in heaven) or keep anyone from eternal damnation (in hell) EXCEPT for ("but for") the promises He has already made.

Those promises of salvation and grace are contained in such verses as these, found in John 3:16-18:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Edwards's message was that God does not owe anyone in the audience (or anyone else, for that matter) a free pass to heaven or from hell other than the one He has already offered--the "covenant of grace" which these people had been ignoring. The promises God has made will be honored, either to condemn or to save by grace.

Sources:

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