The Implications of the Edwardsian Principle for Evangelism and Preaching (Part II in a Series)

What is the Edwardsian principle, that is, the keystone rule of Jonathan Edwards?  If you have paid any attention to John Piper’s ministry over the last thirty years, you know it.  And I would argue that the principle itself is not original to Edwards or Piper, but is in fact derivative.  It is derivative from the Scriptures.  God is the original of it.  But what is it?  Simply this: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.  Or, God’s passion for his own glory and his passion for my joy in Him are not at odds.  Edwards writes, “The end of the creation is that the creation might glorify [God].  Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at the glory he has displayed,” and elsewhere, “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted,” and it is this magnification of His glory in the happiness of His creatures in that glory that God is committed to with unswerving zeal; thus, again, God’s passion for his own glory and his passion for my joy in Him are not at odds.

This morning I simply want to show, by virtue of Piper’s quotes on the matters, what implications this holds for evangelism and preaching.

First, for evangelism, —

If the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls are one thing, then evangelism means depicting the beauty of Christ and his saving work with a heartfelt urgency of love that labors to help people find their satisfaction in him.  The most important common ground with unbelievers is not culture but creation, not momentary felt needs but massive real needs.  Augustine’s famous prayer is all important: ‘You made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you.’  If a person realizes that the image of God in man is man’s ineffably profound fitness to image forth Christ’s glory through everlasting joy in God, then he will not gut the great gospel of its inner life and power. . . . Our evangelistic task is not to persuade people that the gospel was made for their felt needs, but that they were made  for the soul-satisfying glory of God in the gospel.

Second, what of preaching?

Similarly, Christian preaching, as part of the corporate worship of Christ’s church, is an expository exultation over the glories of God in his word, designed to lure God’s people from the fleeting pleasures of sin into the sacrificial path of obedient satisfaction in him. . . . When Edwards pondered the aims of preaching for the glory of God he said, ‘I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.’  High affections rooted in, and proportioned by, the truth — that is the goal of preaching.

John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory, 39-40.

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