The Revival Legacy of Charles G. Finney | Jesse Morrell

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THE REVIVAL LEGACY OF CHARLES G. FINNEY

The Impact & Influence of Charles Finney’s Lectures on Revival

By Jesse Morrell
http://www.OpenAirOutreach.com

“It would be impossible to estimate the influence exerted on revival movements all over the world during the past hundred years by Charles Finney’s lectures on prayer in his Revivals of Religion.” Arthur Wallis

Charles Finney was, by far, the greatest evangelist and revivalist that the United States has ever seen. And after Finney published his “Lectures on Revival,” revivals started popping up all over the world.

In the early days of the Salvation Army, a street preaching movement started by William & Catherine Booth, they used Finney’s Lectures on Revival as a type of Official Manual for their army….

One of Catherine’s biographers said, Finney “she considered to be a sound champion of the truth.” And “Mrs. Booth studied his writings perhaps more than those of any other author, and continued to do so, and to recommend them to others, to the end of her life.” She said, “I often wish I could have an hour’s talk with Finney.” She sent her son, Bramwell Booth, who succeeded William as General, a copy of Finney’s Lectures on Systematic Theology to study.

“Catherine Booth referred to Finney’s Revival Lectures as ‘the most beautiful and common-sense work on the subject that I ever read.’ In the 1880’s, when the Booths wanted to train Salvation Army cadets in revival methods, they used Finney’s books.” Historical Dictionary of The Salvation Army, by Major John G. Merritt, p. 168

“Charles Grandison Finney wrote Lectures on Revival, which greatly influenced Catherine and William Booth. Their approach to revivalism copied Finney’s ‘American’ methods…. The Booths and hundreds of others committed to memory his manual for successful evangelism.” Origins of the Salvation Army by Norman H. Murdoch, p. 13

“George Scott Railton, Booth’s mission secretary in the 1870’s, placed Finney above Wesley and Whitefield as Booth’s model for sermon making. Catherine often remarked on the parallels between the careers of Finney and her husband. The clergy rebuffed both for their preaching manner and unconventional educational backgrounds. Both refused to become ministerial trainees when that meant embracing Calvinist dogma. To Catherine, Finney was “an American William Booth.” Origins of the Salvation Army by Norman H. Murdoch, p. 13 [I think that technically, that would make William Booth an English Charles Finney]

Jonathon Goforth, the foremost missionary revivalist in early 20th century, read Finney’s Lectures on Revival and afterwards saw revival in China….

Goforth said in his biography, “Late in the fall of 1905 Eddy’s little pamphlet, containing selections from “Finney’s Autobiography and Revival Lectures,” was sent to me by a friend in India. It was the final something which set me on fire. On the front page of this pamphlet there was a statement to the effect that a farmer might just as well pray for a temporal harvest without fulfilling the laws of nature, as for Christians to expect a great ingathering of souls by simply asking for it and without bothering to fulfill the laws governing the spiritual harvest. “If Finney is right,” I vowed, “then I’m going to find out what those laws are and obey them, no matter what it costs.” Early in 1906, while on my way to take part in the intensive evangelistic work which our mission conducted yearly at the great idolatrous fair at Hsun Hsien, a brother missionary loaned me the full “Autobiography” of Finney. It is impossible for me to estimate all that that book meant to me. We missionaries read a portion of it daily while we carried on our work at the fair.” By My Spirit, Chapter 2

Goforth wrote about the impact of Finney’s ministry and how it even inspired Spurgeon to pray for revival:  “Finney depended more upon the prayers of fathers Nash and Clary to bring down Holy Ghost revival than upon his own resistless logic. So accustomed are we today to the Laodicean condition of the Church that the all-pervading influence of prayer in Finney’s time amazes us. Imagine forty ministers and missionaries being thrust into the Lord’s harvest field as the result of prayer during one revival in a Rochester High School! By 1857, Finney was seeing fifty thousand a week turning to God. In many cities there was no building large enough to hold the prayermeetings. It was at that time that the Fulton Street prayermeeting started in a side room in a church, and in a few weeks had taxed the capacity of the entire building to the utmost, and had even overflowed to neighbouring churches.

In 1858, Mr. Spurgeon called his great congregation together and said: “The Spirit of God is saving multitudes now in the United States. Since God is no respecter of persons we will pray until He sends similar showers of blessing upon our land.””

Someone just said, “And how many of those “saved” in Finney revivals could be found in church attendance a year later? Practically none! Easy “freewill” “Easy believism” conversions are mostly false!”

I said: The vast majority of Finney’s converts remained in the faith until the end of their lives and Finney did not preach Easy Believism but the contrary!

Leonard Ravenhill said, “Finney never made an altar call within the first twenty eight nights of preaching. Most of our evangelists don’t have twenty eight sermons. Twenty eight nights in a row and he never made an altar call. He didn’t preach the love of God. He didn’t say “you’re a sinner, God loves you.” He said “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps 7:11) which the Word of God says. He didn’t preach grace, he preached Law. He didn’t preach love, he preached judgment. He didn’t preach heaven, he preached hell. He didn’t say “you’re a wonderful person” he said “you’re a rebel”. But he got results. 64% of D. L. Moodys converts backslid, 72% of the converts Finney got stood because he knew how to attack the human will, not just the emotions.”

It has been well recorded that Finney had around 500,000 converts. And if 72% stayed in the faith, as Leonard Ravenhill said, then that is about 129,000 that fell away. Is that a lot of people? Sure is. But that is 387,000 that remained in the faith. Even Jesus had backsliders. It says in Joh 6:66 “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. ” The word many means a large group, or most. Of course, Finney’s 72% of souls soundly saved is much better than the track record of John Calvin, who did not have any converts at all that we know of. Finney converted the enemies of God, but Calvin burned his opponents. He wasn’t winning souls. He was burning heretics. I would take Finney over Calvin any day.

This is from soneone who was around back then. “Charles G. Finney was born in Warren, Conn., August 29, 1792. The one hundred years which have passed since that date are doubtless the most remarkable 100 years of the world’s history. The influence of Mr. Finney has been one of the potent factors in producing these remarkable years. More and more his name is receiving honorable mention as his work and power are better known and appreciated. There can be no question that it is to stand among the few greatest leaders of religious thought of the century.” Memorial Address. By Prof. John Ellis. 1892.

It would do us and the lost much good if the modern Street Preacher Movement also read up on these very important lectures. May these writings continue to plant the seeds of revival!

Lectures on Revivals of Religion

Lectures on Revivals of Religion by Charles G. Finney is a classic volume on revivals. Finney was America’s greatest revivalist. Over half a million souls were soundly saved under his ministry. After Finney published his lectures on revival, revivals started breaking out all over the place. This book is a must read for any believer who wants to win souls to Christ!

471 pages

$16.00

To Order: Click Here

SEE ALSO: 

The Secret of Success In The Ministry of Charles G. Finney by Gordon C. Olson

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8 Responses to The Revival Legacy of Charles G. Finney | Jesse Morrell

  1. Norm says:

    Charles Finney said in his book Systematic Theology ““The doctrine of imputed righteousness, or that Christ’s obedience to the law was accounted as our obedience, is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption.” That is the basis, the very foundation of becoming a Christian!!!! That Jesus PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS is imputed to us. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. So when you stand before a holy God, you can choose to stand in filthy rags of your own righteousness as Finney taught, or you can choose to stand in the perfect righteousness of Jesus as the Bible teaches.

    • Norm,

      Finney did teach the doctrine of imputed righteousness – that our faith is imputed as righteousness and that God forgives us and does not impute our trespasses against us as stated in Romans 4. The Bible nowhere teaches that the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ – something even John Wesley admitted. Study Romans 4 and you will see that “imputed righteousness” to Paul was not Christ’s obedience to the Torah. Imputed righteousness was being reckoned or considered righteous by faith and being forgiven and not having your sins imputed to you. The Bible speaks of “imputed righteousness” or faith being “considered righteousness” but nowhere speaks of “the imputed righteousness of Christ.”

      The Bible says that Abraham believed God and his faith was imputed or considered as righteousness. Abraham was not justified by the law because the Torah didn’t even exist yet. It is not that Jesus’ obedience to the Torah was imputed to Abraham, but that Abraham’s faith was imputed as righteousness. And by faith Abraham obeyed God. Faith, which is righteousness in God’s eyes, will result in righteous living.

      The false doctrine of “the imputed righteousness of Christ” has lead to impenitence and unholy living. People think, “I don’t have to repent of my sins or obey the moral law. Christ already obeyed the moral law for me.” And it has lead to heretical statements like, “When I sin, God doesn’t see my see. He looks upon me and sees the perfect righteousness of Christ instead.” This is an absolute denial of the omniscience of God. God sees you when you sin. He said to the churches in revelation, “I know thy works” and “be zealous therefore and repent.” He didn’t say, “I see the perfect righteousness of Christ.” A believer who sins needs to repent. Trusting in the imputed righteousness of Christ, while you continue in sin, gives people false hope and false security and no doubt has damned countless souls.

      And you are creating a false dichotomy between being justified by our works of the law and being justified by Christ’s works of the law. We are not justified by works of the law at all but by grace and mercy through the atonement. It is not that Christ obeyed the Torah for us and His works of the law are imputed to us and we are justified in light of them. That would be works-righteousness and justification by works of the law. So your doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ is actually works-righteousness and justification by works. Rather than being justified by works of the Torah, we are justified by faith like Abraham was. And again, it was Abraham’s faith that was imputed as righteousness and not that Christ’s obedience to the Torah or works of the law was transferred to Abraham. Justification is by faith, not by obedience to the Torah.

      Also, Finney taught that a sinner who repents of his sins is pardoned by the grace and mercy of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ. But to teach that Christ’s works of the law are transferred to us and were are justified in light of His perfect works of the law essentially denies justification by grace and mercy through Jesus’ atonement. It is saying that His atonement is not enough for our salvation but we need works of the law also. The Torah was never a means of justification that is why the atonement was necessary. And so the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ leads to a denial of the need for the atonement because it says that we are justified by the works of the Torah and not by the atonement. Instead of trusting in works of the Torah, you need to trust in the atonement of Christ. It is not vicarious obedience to the law that saves us but His vicarious suffering in atonement that does.

      Christ is our righteousness, not because His obedience to the Torah is imputed to us, but because through faith in Him and His atonement we are reckoned and actually made righteous before God and in our hearts and lives.

      See also:

      https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-myth-of-the-imputed-righteousness-of-christ-jesse-morrell/

      https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/did-john-wesley-teach-or-deny-the-doctrine-of-the-imputed-righteousness-of-christ-a-study-by-jesse-morrell/

      https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/does-jesse-morrell-believe-in-works-righteousness-works-based-salvation-or-justification-by-works/

      • Norm says:

        I think your too educated and intelligent for me to have a discussion with you. Thanks for trying to express your viewpoint to me though.

    • I recommend reading Finney’s Systematic Theology itself. There’s Calvinist articles online that attack Finney and quote him out of context. It is best to go to the original source. I reprinted his theology in our bookstore: https://biblicaltruthresources.wordpress.com/books/theology-books/

  2. Norm says:

    I already have it. Finney took his knowledge of law and attempted to make salvation work inside of how this world’s justice system works. That’s not how God ever intended for the sacrifice of His Son to work. You said I should study Romans 4. Very good chapter. If you read it for what it says instead of twisting it to fit your theology, I believe you will have to see that “obligation to moral law” is not “faith”. Let me ask this simple question. When you stand in front of a holy God after you have left this life, what reason will you give as to why you should be given entrance to Heaven? There are only two answers you can possibly give. 1)Because of what Jesus did on the cross or 2) Because of what you did in this life. I personally choose number 1. I ask Jesus every day to create in me a heart of obedience, to help me walk worthy of the gospel, to be His ambassador as long as He wants me on this earth. Remember Peter. He told Jesus he would follow Him to death. Jesus said, “Before tomorrow morning, you’ll deny that you even know Me.”

    Pretty cocky of us to think we can create our own righteousness, that we can live such a good life that God OWES us Heaven. I don’t know my friend, just think about it.

  3. Norm says:

    I’ve watched your videos of your street preaching. Sir, the spirit in which you preach is not from Christ. At one point, another man started to speak and sounded as though he was actually going to attempt to tell the crowd that what you were saying did have some truth in it and that they should think about what you were saying. It appeared that you were so full of pride that you didn’t want anyone else to speak. They were “your” crowd and thus you didn’t want him to “steal” your crowd. Sir, I want the message of the gospel to go out, the good news of Jesus Christ. Sir, as much as that may be what you are trying to do, you are only creating division and pushing people far, far away from Jesus, not drawing them to Him. Sir, you would do more for the cause of Christ by simply staying in your home and praying for the lost than what you are doing now. I guess I am judging you, and I know we are not to do that, but you are pushing people away from the Savior I love and I can’t just stand by and say nothing while you continue to do that.

  4. Norm says:

    The last thing I will say is that if you truly believe the scripture that says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves lest any man should boast” you will never again be able to go to a college campus or anywhere else that you go to preach and do so in the arrogant, condescending way that you come across in the videos I have watched of you. You will remember that YOU are the leper and that God graciously chose you to receive such a wonderful gift and from that foundation you can truly love the people you are speaking to and let them know that the same gift you received is available for them also.

    But, you must change your belief platform from that of Pelagius and Finney to that of Jesus Christ.

  5. You said, “When you stand in front of a holy God after you have left this life, what reason will you give as to why you should be given entrance to Heaven? There are only two answers you can possibly give. 1)Because of what Jesus did on the cross or 2) Because of what you did in this life. I personally choose number 1.”

    Actually, at first you said that you were expecting to get into Heaven because of the imputed works of the law of Christ. Are we saved by His atonement or by vicarious works of the law? If you say by atonement, then you have rejected your doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ and have embraced my doctrine that we are saved by the grace and mercy of God through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

    But what Jesus Christ has done on the cross does not save us unless we ourselves do something. Peter said “save yourselves” and that is by repenting and believing. So we are saved by what Christ has done, if we ourselves do what we must do. Salvation is conditional upon us as Jesus even said you must persevere unto the end to be saved. Jesus said that you must cut off your hand and pluck out your eye if they cause you to sin, thus you must do something about your sin and stop it if you expect to escape hell.

    You said, ” At one point, another man started to speak and sounded as though he was actually going to attempt to tell the crowd that what you were saying did have some truth in it and that they should think about what you were saying. It appeared that you were so full of pride that you didn’t want anyone else to speak. They were “your” crowd and thus you didn’t want him to “steal” your crowd.”

    If you ever preached in the open air, you would know that a lot of false Christians will try to steal the crowd to preach a false gospel about a false Jesus. They won’t call the crowd to repent, warn them about sin and hell, etc. Instead they preach that God accepts them as they are, God understands, nobody can stop sinning, etc. So I do rebuke these people who want to steal the crowd to preach their false gospel that is void of repentance and many biblical truths.

    You said, “Sir, you would do more for the cause of Christ by simply staying in your home and praying for the lost than what you are doing now. I guess I am judging you, and I know we are not to do that, but you are pushing people away from the Savior I love and I can’t just stand by and say nothing while you continue to do that.”

    Actually, I see souls saved on a regular basis – true converts repent of their sinful lives and trust in Jesus Christ who died for all men. I do not push people away from God. All I do is preach what the Bible says. But in light of biblical truth, many sinners choose darkness rather than light because they hate the light. Many sinners do hate me for preaching but it is not because of me but Christ who is in me who they hate. If they knew me on a personal level, they would like me. But because I preach the message that Jesus Christ preached, sinners who want to remain in their sins hate me like they did Christ. If you are not hated and rejected when you preach, you are not preaching like Jesus Christ did.

    I suspect that you have been influenced by the false gospel of Calvinism. My advice for you is to stay away from the sermons of Paul Washer, John Piper, John MacArthur, and other modern false teachers and study intensively the sermons of Jesus Christ. You will see that the Bible does not teach justification by a fictitious righteousness but an actual transformation of heart and life by faith in Christ. The Bible is clear that you must repent of all your sins, that true believers live a holy life, and that you must not return to your sins if you wish to remain saved. Read the Bible cover to cover as many times as you can each year and believe whatever it teaches you, even if the modern corrupt and compromised church calls biblical truth heresy.

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