Great Awakenings Part 1 – The First Great Awakening

whitefieldcrowd

When we talk about a Great Awakening in America most people don’t even know what that means.

It has been so long since our nation has felt the kindle of revival’s fire that we’ve lost our sense of even knowing what to look for.

So today, I want to take you back…back to the beginning of our nation’s spiritual foundation. And this beginning takes back to a point in time before we were even a nation, when we were still an outpost of the British Empire.

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The First Great Awakening occurred in the 1730s and 1740s. Before the Revolutionary War. Before the Declaration of Independence. Before the Constitution. The church in America and Europe had fallen into a slump. A movement known today as The Enlightenment had infected the spiritual senses of both nations like a disease. Logic and reason trumped spiritual experience and reliance on God. Science as god was on the rise and the prevailing view was that it alone contained all the answers to mankind’s questions.

At this point of spiritual desperation within the church, three men were raised to prominence by the hand of God.

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Within the colonies of New England a preacher named Jonathan Edwards became a voice crying in the wilderness. Edwards preached for a decade, fervently calling people to a personal experience with God.   He also appealed for unity among all Christians regardless of denomination or spiritual background. His was a message of salvation by faith alone in God and not of works. It is difficult to overestimate the impact of Jonathan Edwards as I will come back to him in part 2 of this blog series.

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Another man called forth by God was George Whitefield. This British pastor became known as the Great Itinerant because he preached more than 18,000 sermons crossing the Atlantic between England and America multiple times. He was, without a doubt, the most famous preacher of his generation throughout the American Colonies. Everywhere Whitefield preached, mass media covered his every word and crowds would converge. The evangelical movement known as Methodism grew out of his ministry and served to shape the spiritual climate of America.

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A final figure that rose to prominence and marked the First Great Awakening was John Wesley. This itinerant preacher from England boldly proclaimed the Word of God for 65 years and was the architect of the evangelical revivals of the 18th century.   It is estimated that John Wesley rode over 250,000 miles on horseback during his ministry as he preached over 40,000 sermons and wrote 233 books. Together with his brother, Charles Wesley, he penned 9,000 hymns. John Wesley became one of the great church planters of his century leaving behind 750 preachers in England and 350 in America.

Jonathan Edwards.

George Whitefield.

John Wesley.

The First Great Awakening.

As we consider the current spiritual state of our land today , crying out to God to awaken us again, one can’t help but wonder:

What if we had God called men like this among us today?

Men who would go wherever, and preach whenever, to whoever. Boldly and without compromise.

Oh, that God would Open Up the Heavens and show us His glory once again. To awaken all of us and to call forth some of us to carry the torch of the Next Great Awakening.

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