I recently read “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God” by Jonathan Edwards, and I was extremely impressed with his intellect and his ability to communicate. His sermon was connected to the Great Awakening, of which he played a large role. The Great Awakening was criticized by many, and Edwards felt compelled to defend the Great Awakening as a work of God. In doing so, he provided some solid guidance for determining whether God is responsible for what is happening. Of the things that Edwards mentioned, two things stuck out: the importance of Scripture and the supremacy of Christ.
First, Edwards’ sermon emphasized the sufficiency of Scripture. He said:
And here I would observe that we are to take the Scriptures as our guide in such cases. This is the great and standing rule which God has given to his church in order to guide them in things relating to the great concerns of their souls, and it is an infallible and sufficient rule.
Ultimately, the Scripture is infallible and sufficient to direct the church and to help us determine whether or not a work is actually from God. If the work aligns with Scripture, it is from God. If the work contradicts Scripture, it should not be considered a work of God. This goes beyond the church, though. Every Christian should ultimately evaluate what they do by using the Scriptures, not just churches. The Scripture is authoritative and should guide and direct all we do.
Second, Edwards’ sermon emphasized the supremacy of Christ. According to Edwards, every true work of God lifts up Jesus Christ. He said:
When the operation is such as to raise their esteem of that Jesus who was horn of the virgin and was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, and seems more to confirm and establish their minds in the truth of what the gospel declares to us of his being the Son of God and the Savior of men, that is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God.
If a church or movement lifts up the name of Jesus Christ, it should be commended. If it doesn’t, however, it should not be considered a work of God. Churches and movements that focus on emotions or secondary teachings instead of Christ are missing it. The central character of Scripture is Jesus Christ; the central story of the Bible is God’s redemption of mankind through the Person of Jesus Christ; and the central mission of the church is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world. Every true work of God will “esteem” Jesus and lift Him up. Again, this can also be personalized. Every individual Christian should attempt to exalt Jesus Christ with their life. Their words and their actions should “make much of Jesus.”
So, do you actively embrace the sufficiency of Scripture? Does the Scripture guide and direct all you do? And, do you currently demonstrate the supremacy of Christ in your life? Is He magnified by what you say and do? If the answer to any of these question is no, you need to make some changes!