The GOSPEL TRUTH
FAN the FLAME
A Condensation of Charles G. Finney's Lectures on Revivals of Religion
Condensed and Edited by
John D. Waldron
A study guide designed to lead the Church of Jesus Christ into an experience of Christian revival in our generation.
For use in group or individual study, preferably in conjunction with a copy of the original Lectures.
The Salvation Army (Eastern Territory) Literary Department 145 West 15th Street New York, N.Y. 10011
Salvation Army Honors Finney
TO commemorate the influence of the great revivalist Charles Finney on the Founders of the Army, the Empire State Division erected a plaque at Evans Mill N. Y. where Finney did much of his preaching. Above: Lt.--Colonel Clarence W. Kinnett, divisional commander with Commissioner John D. Waldron (R), research and program consultant.
It is a double joy to commend this great book from the writings of Charles G. Finney: first because it is being printed just when the Eastern Territory has declared its theme for the next three years to be "Baptized with Fire." O how we need it! Soul winners need it; young converts need to be established in the faith and to keep growing in grace. Finney is bound to stir up your adrenalin and possibly your dander as well!
My second cause for rejoicing is because any book or anthology from the heart and mind of Commissioner John Waldron is bound to be timely, scripturally sound, carefully researched, and ablaze with a passion for souls.
Finney was baptized with fire, his writings as power-packed as his preaching. Ordinary fire can do a lot of damage, but atomic fire can burn down whole states in a phenomenon called "firestorm." Finney stood at the blazing center of a spiritual firestorm.
It is quite all right for an evangelist to have an advance man for publicity; to bring along a soloist, song leader, pianist and organist; to use amplification, radio and television; to travel by car or plane. But Finney had none of these, just to prove what God can get along without. Yet he won hundreds of thousands to Christ, and inspired countless soul winners. He had no organization behind him; but he did have a mighty prayer warrior to support him.
During Finney's great revival, an old man called Father Nash used to pray for Finney all day long every day, and on Saturdays he prayed all night long as well. At one point, the revival ceased. No souls were being saved. Finney searched his own heart in agony, and called a prayer meeting. Everyone present was asking, "Lord, is it I?"
Eventually Father Nash got up and confessed that the previous Saturday he had failed to pray all night, thinking his labors didn't amount to much. Was he to blame for the interruption of revival? He promised to go back to his knees. Just as suddenly as the work of the Spirit had ceased, it exploded again in full force. No one could doubt who was behind the "firestorm"--the Lord of Harvest Himself and faithful Father Nash.
Finney knew how to wield the sword of the Spirit with terrible intensity to cut through Satan's flimsy arguments. He wanted cool heads and hot hearts that could come to a reasoned conviction, a lasting repentance, and a full-blown faith.
Finney didn't preach what Catherine Booth called "sloppy easygoing believism." As a trained lawyer, he knew how to present evidence. He aimed at heads as well as hearts. He preached for a verdict. He knew that God demanded repentance before saving faith was possible. He believed that sinners must "turn from darkness into light and from the power of Satan unto God" before they could "receive forgiveness of sin and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in [Christ Jesus)" (Acts 26:18).
William and Catherine Booth were greatly influenced by Finney's writings; in fact. Catherine called William's attention to Finney's revival lectures before they were married. They loved Finney's insistence that the gospel should be preached to the poor, and practical help given to the needy. Finney also believed the only plan God ever devised for the prevention of backsliding was holiness--the Spirit-filled life--and constant growth in grace. Little wonder The Salvation Army was founded upon these principles from the very beginning.
A hundred years ago it was expected that every Salvationist should be a sentry and soul winner. The Lord of Harvest has certainly led the Commissioner to gather together some of the writings of this Elijah of a man to call the half-saved of this "Me" generation to a whole-souled full salvation, that not only "saves from wrath" but "makes me pure." Hallelujah!
Lt.-Colonel Lyell Rader, D.D., O.F. (R)
Who was Charles Grandison Finney? Why are his writings on soul-winning so relevant more than a century after his death?
Billy Graham has written, "Few men have had such a profound impact on their generation resulting in one of the greatest periods of revival in the history of America ... Although Finney lived and worked over a century ago, the lessons and insights of his life are as applicable today as they were in his own age."
Other writers have declared that, "He probably led more souls to Jesus than any other man," and "He spearheaded a revival in America which literally altered the course of history."
Charles Finney was a brilliant young lawyer and a popular young bachelor in Adams, New York, at that time a frontier village in northern New York State. On October 1 0, 1821, he was "powerfully converted," and later that same day, he wrote, "I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Spirit ... I immediately found myself endued with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individuals were the means of their immediate conversion."
The story of his subsequent ministry and worldwide influence has been told in many books, and is beyond the purview of this "study guide." However, it is relevant to note than in 1834-1835 he delivered a series of "Lectures on Revivals of Religion" in his Broadway Tabernacle in New York. Presented extemporaneously, they were recorded stenographically, and became the basis for the published Lectures.
Valued as a high-water mark in revival literature, the book has been printed and reprinted as new generations have benefited from his vision and experience. The Lectures are presented here in greatly abbreviated form, with suggestions for group discussion following each chapter.
But what is the relationship between Charles Finney and The Salvation Army, remembering that Finney was converted eight years before the birth of Catherine Mumford and William Booth, and that he died when The Salvation Army was only ten years old? Recent research reveals that Finney's influence on the Army's co-founders, and on their associates, was more pronounced and formative than had been realized. William Booth, for example, writes of his apprentice teenage years in Nottingham: "I can remember reading the Bible or C. G. Finney's Lectures on Revivals of Religion as I went." Undoubtedly much of Booth's later strategy and fervor were influenced by these Lectures.
A recent biography of Catherine Mumford Booth declares, "Catherine re-read the story of Finney's conversion many times. Likewise, she studied reports about the thousands who were won to Christ through his ministry. Her copy of his Revival Lectures became dog-eared."
Earlier, Frederick Booth-Tucker wrote, "Finney was to Mrs. Booth what Wesley had been to the General .... She appreciated his massive intellect, enjoyed his lawyer-like logic, dived into the depths of his philosophy, and, above all, admired the zeal and Holy Ghost power of the Great Revivalist."
According to Booth-Tucker, "Mrs. Booth studied his writings perhaps more than those of any other author, and continued to do so, and recommend them to others, to the end of her life."
Some years later, Booth-Tucker published an abridged edition of the Lectures, at the request of General Bramwell Booth. In his introduction he declares, "The volume of Lectures has been my constant companion for the last fifty years."
Bramwell himself was introduced to Finney's writings by his mother, who sent him a volume to read and study. Bramwell responded to Mrs. Booth, "1 am reading Finney again ... What a splendid fellow--a sort of gigantic channel through which the power of God found access to the people."
George Scott Railton found a kindred spirit in Finney, and published The Inner and Outer Life of C. G. Finney ... the Great Lawyer and Soul-Saver. Later, Samuel Logan Brengle wrote of the Lectures and other Finney writings, "One can hardly imagine any officer neglecting these. They were among the most inspiring and formative of all the books I have read."
Researchers have discovered the "large stone schoolhouse" in the frontier settlement of Evans Mills, New York, where Finney began his preaching, and where he was ordained. Appropriately, Salvationists recently dedicated a suitable plaque in this quiet village, which reads, "Charles Grandison Finney began his worldwide Christian ministry in a large stone schoolhouse on Bedlam Road in Evans Mills, 1824-1825. This plaque is placed by The Salvation Army, Empire State Division, to recognize the Finney influence on the Founders of The Salvation Army, Catherine and William Booth."
The schoolhouse itself has now been bulldozed to make way for an expanding military establishment, but the message lives on. The Finney philosophy of revivals, so prominent in the early days of The Salvation Army, was never more urgently needed than in the closing years of the 20th century. Here is the message for today's soul-winners--a message that is timeless because it is built on eternal truth.
While the discussion outlines can be used for personal study and reflection, they are designed especially for group study and discussion, with 22 sessions extending over several months. It will be time well spent!
An important word of advice: We have drastically reduced a 470-page original to a more manageable size. This has meant leaving out most illustrations, arguments, detailed explanations, etc. The group leader, at least, should have a copy of the original Lectures for amplification and reference. Ask your bookseller to locate a copy among others, a fully annotated edition was published by Harvard University Press in 1960. Read, reflect, discuss, with searching minds and responsive hearts!----Commissioner John D. Waldron (R)
What A Revival Of Religion Is
Text: "0 Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
It is supposed that the prophet Habakkuk was contemporary with Jeremiah, and that this prophecy was uttered in anticipation of the Babylonian captivity. Looking at the judgments which were speedily to come upon his nation, the soul of the prophet was wrought up to an agony, and he cried in his distress, "0 Lord, revive Thy work;" as if he had said, "0 Lord, grant that Thy judgments may not make Israel desolate. In the midst of these awful years, let the judgments of God be made the means of reviving religion among us. In wrath remember mercy."
Religion is the work of man. It is something for man to do. It consists in obeying God. A "Revival of Religion" presupposes a decline. Men are so spiritually sluggish, there are so many things to take their minds off religion, and to oppose the influence of the gospel, that it is necessary to raise an excitement among them, until the tide rises so high as to sweep away the opposing obstacles.
I. What a revival is not:
It is not a miracle. A miracle has been defined to be a Divine interference setting aside or suspending the laws of nature. They are neither suspended nor set aside in a revival.
Another definition of miracle is something above the powers of nature. But religion consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. Revival is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means--as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means.
There has long been an idea prevalent that promoting religion has something very peculiar about it, not to be judged by the ordinary rules of cause and effect. No doctrine is more dangerous, and more absurd. Suppose a man were to go and preach this doctrine among farmers, about sowing their grain. Let him tell them that God is sovereign and will give them a crop only when it pleases Him; and that for them to plow and plant and labor as if they expected a crop is very wrong. Suppose the farmers should believe such a doctrine. They would starve the world to death.
II. What a revival is*:
It is the renewal of the first love of Christians resulting in the awakening and conversion of sinners to God. It presupposes that the Church is sunk in a backslidden state. It always includes conviction of sin on the part of the Church. Backslidden Christians will be brought to repentance and have their faith renewed. It breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians.
When the churches are thus awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow. The worst parts of human society are softened and reclaimed, and made to appear as lovely specimens of the beauty of holiness.
III. The agencies employed in carrying a revival forward:
Ordinarily there are three agents and one instrument employed in the work of conversion. The agents are God, some person who brings the truth to bear on the mind, and the sinner himself. The instrument is the truth.
A. The agency of God is twofold: by His Providence and by His Spirit.
By His providential government, He so arranges events as to bring the sinner's mind and the truth in contact. It is often interesting to trace the manner in which God arranges events so as to bring this about.
By His Holy Spirit, knowing infinitely well the whole history and state of each individual sinner, He employs that truth which is best adapted to his particular case, and then sets it home with Divine power.
B. The agency of man is commonly employed. Men are not mere instruments in the hands of God. Truth is the instrument. Man acts; he is not a mere passive instrument.
C. The sinner himself is an agent. The conversion of a sinner consists in his obeying the truth. It is therefore impossible it should take place without his cooperation.
1. For a long time it was supposed that a revival was a miracle, an interposition of Divine power which man had nothing to do with, and which man had no more agency in producing than he had in producing thunder, or a storm of hail, or an earthquake. Revivals are to be promoted by the use of means designed and adapted specially to that object.
2. Mistaken notions concerning the sovereignty of God have greatly hindered revivals. They have supposed it to be such an arbitrary disposal of events, and particularly the gift of His Spirit, as precluded a rational employment of means for promoting a revival. There is no evidence in the Bible that God exercises any such sovereignty. God has connected means with the end, in nature and in grace.
3. You see the error of those who are beginning to think that religion can be better promoted in the world without revivals. In the present state of the world, religion cannot be promoted to any considerable extent without them.
* [Editor's Note: The word "Revival" today is often used in a narrower sense to refer to the spiritual awakening and renewal of Christians, with the word "Evangelism" referring to the conversion of sinners. In this book, "Revival" covers both areas, as noted in the text above.}
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 1
1. Finney declares that a "revival of religion presupposes decline." What are the evidences of such decline in the Church today? In your local church/corps/congregation?
2. Discuss Finney's comparison between the evangelist and the farmer.
3. What does he mean by his statement: "Revival is not a miracle"?
4. Using his definition of a revival under II., discuss how this can be brought about in your local congregation.
5. Finney lists three "agencies" employed in conversion. Which of these is most often missing in the work of revival today?
6. Have you (or your congregation) ever been involved in the kind of revival described in this chapter? If so, what brought it about? If not, what hindered it?
7. Habakkuk agonized over the judgment to come upon his nation because of its sins (e.g. 1:4; 1:13; 2:5,6,8,10,15,17,19). From this scriptural context, draw parallels between the evils he describes and the evils that are apparent in our day.
When A Revival Is To Be Expected
Text: "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6).
This Psalm seems to have been written soon after the return of the people of Israel from the Babylonian captivity. The Psalmist feels that God has been very favorable to the people, and while contemplating the goodness of the Lord in bringing them back from the land where they had been carried away captive, he breaks out into a prayer for a revival of religion. Since God has reestablished the ordinances of His house among them, he prays that there also be a revival of religion to crown the work.
1. When is a revival of religion needed?
A. When there is a want of brotherly love and Christian confidence among professors of religion.
B. When there is dissension and jealousy and evil speaking among professors of religion. These things show that the people have gotten far from God and it is time to think earnestly of revival.
C. When there is a worldly spirit in the church. The church is sunk down into a low and backslidden state when Christians conform to the world in dress, parties, worldly amusements, and in reading books such as the world reads.
D. When the church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sin.
E. When there is a spirit of controversy in the church or in the land.
F. When the wicked triumph over the church and revile it.
G. When sinners are careless and stupid and sinking into hell unconcerned, it is time the church should bestir itself. It is as much the duty of the church to awake as it is for the firemen to awake when a fire breaks out.
II. The importance of a revival of religion in such circumstances:
A. A revival of religion is the only possible thing that can wipe away the reproach which covers the church and restore religion to the place it ought to have in the estimation of the public.
B. Nothing else will restore Christian love and confidence among church members.
C. A revival of religion is indispensable to avert the judgment of God from the church.
D. Nothing but a revival of religion can preserve a church from annihilation. A declining church cannot continue to exist without revival.
E. Nothing but a revival of religion can prevent the means of grace from doing a great injury to the ungodly. Without a revival they will grow harder under preaching. The gospel is the savor unto death if it is not made the savor of life unto life.
F. There is no other way in which a church can be sanctified, grow in grace and be fitted for heaven.
III. When a revival of religion may be expected:
A. When the providence of God indicates that a revival is at hand. The indications of God's providence are sometimes so plain as to be a revelation of His will.
B. When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and humbles and distresses Christians. Frequently the most outrageous wickedness of the ungodly is followed by a revival. If Christians feel that they have no hope but in God, there will certainly be revival.
C. When Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival, when they pray as if their hearts were set upon a revival--a deep, continual, earnest desire for the salvation of sinners. When this feeling exists in a church, unless the Spirit is grieved by sin, there will infallibly be a revival.
D. When the attention of ministers is especially directed to this particular object, and when their preaching and other efforts are aimed particularly for the conversion of sinners. A man may enter in the work of promoting a revival with as reasonable an expectation of success as on any other work, with the same expectation as the farmer has of a new crop when he sows his grain.
E. When Christians begin to confess their sins to one another.
F. Whenever Christians are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to carry it on--to sacrifice their feelings, their business, their time. Ministers must be willing to layout their strength, and to jeopardize their health and life.
G. When ministers and professors of religion are willing to
have God promote it by whatever instruments he pleases.
1. You can tell from our subject whether you need a revival or not. What do you say? Do you need a revival? Do you expect to have one? Have you any reason to expect one?
2. You see why you don't have a revival. It is only because you don't want one, because you are not praying for it, nor anxious for it, nor putting forth efforts for it.
3. Do you wish for a revival? Will you have one? If God should ask you this moment by an audible voice from heaven, "Do you want a revival?" would you dare to say, "Yes"? If He asked, "Are you willing to make the sacrifices?" would you answer, "Yes"? If He asked, "When shall it begin?" would you answer, "Let it begin tonight--let it begin here--let it begin in my heart NOW"? Would you dare to say so to God, if you should hear His voice tonight?
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 2
1. Review section I. carefully, then discuss which of these conditions exist today. In the Church? In your local congregation? In your personal life? In what ways?
2. In what contemporary ways have Christians "conformed to the world" today--ways that did not exist in Finney's day?
3. Are there people in your congregation who have grown "harder under preaching"? Has the Church itself? Have you? If so, what is the solution?
4. Finney outlines seven conditions which must prevail if a revival is to be expected. Is there evidence of these in the Church today? Which elements are missing in your local church/corps?
5. Engage in a time of private or corporate prayer, considering carefully and honestly the closing paragraph under "Remarks."
How To Promote A Revival
Text: "Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).
The Jews were a nation of farmers, and the Scriptures refer for illustration to their occupation. The prophet Hosea addresses them as a nation of backsliders, reproves them for their idolatry, and threatens them with the judgments of God. A revival consists of two parts; as it respects the Church, and as it respects the ungodly. I shall speak of a revival in the Church. Fallow ground is ground which has once been tilled, but which now lies waste and needs to be broken up and mellowed before it is suited to receive grain.
1. What is it to break up the fallow ground?
To break up the fallow ground is to break up your hearts--to prepare your minds to bring forth fruit unto God. Sometimes your hearts get matted down hard and dry. It is a softening of the heart, so as to make it feel the truth, which the prophet calls breaking up your fallow ground.
II. How is the fallow ground to be broken up?
If you wish to break up the fallow ground of your hearts, you must go to work just as you would on any other subject. You must begin by looking at your hearts, by examining and noting the state of your minds, to see where you are. Your sins were committed one by one. They ought to be reviewed and repented of one by one.
A. Take up first what are commonly, but improperly, called your sins of OMMISSION.1. Ingratitude. Write down all the instances you can remember when you received favors from God for which you have never exercised gratitude.
2. Want of love to God. Think how grieved and alarmed you would be if you discovered any flagging of affection for you in your wife, husband, or children. Remember that God styles Himself as a jealous God.
3. Neglect of the Bible. Do you pay so little regard to it as not to remember what you have read?
4. Unbelief. If you have not believed nor expected to receive the blessing which God has expressly promised, you have charged Him with lying.
5. Neglect of prayer. Times when you have omitted secret prayer, family prayer, and prayer meetings.
6. Neglect of the means of grace. When you have suffered trifling excuses to prevent you attending meetings--a disrelish of spiritual duties.
7. The worldly frame of mind in which you have performed these duties.
8. Want of love for the souls of your fellow men. How many days have there been in which you did not make their condition the subject of a single fervent prayer, or even an ardent desire for their salvation.
9. Neglect of family duties.
10. Neglect of social duties.
11. Neglect of watchfulness over your own life.
12. Neglect of watchfulness over your brethren. How many times have you seen them growing cold in religion, and have not spoken to them about it?
13. Neglect of self-denial--never denied yourself for Christ and the gospel.
B. From these we now turn to sins of COMMISSION1. Worldly-mindedness.
2. Pride. Would you take all these pains about your looks if everybody were blind?
4. Censoriousness. A bitter spirit, devoid of charity and love.
5. Slander. Telling the truth with the design to injure.
6. Levity. Trifling before God as you would not trifle before earthly sovereigns.
7. Lying. Any species of designed deception.
9. Hypocrisy. Confessing sins when you as much expect to repeat them as you expect to live.
10. Robbing God. Wasting time, squandering money on your lusts. Think of a professor of religion using God's money to poison himself with tobacco or rum.
11. Bad temper.
12. Hindering others from being useful.
Go thoroughly to work in all this. In breaking up your fallow ground you must remove all obstructions. Drive the plow right through them. If your mind is still dark, you will find there is some reason for the Spirit of God to depart from you.
1. It does no good to preach to you while your hearts are in this hardened, fallow state.
2. Much preaching is wasted because the Church will not break up its fallow ground.
3. Professors of religion should never satisfy themselves, or expect a revival, just by starting out of their slumbers. They must get their fallow ground broken up.
4. Will you break up your fallow ground? If you don't do this, and get prepared, you can go no further with me. It will only harden and make you worse. If you don't get about this immediately, I shall take it that you don't mean to be revived.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 3
1. Discuss what Hosea and Finney mean by the term "fallow ground." To understand the phrase better, look up Hosea 10:12 in several scripture translations.
2. As suggested in II. A., list the Divine favors for which you have never expressed gratitude to God.
3. Keep a chart for a week or a month, listing (a) the number of hours watching TV, and (b) the number of hours spent in prayer and Bible study (secret, family, and prayer meetings). Would the result lead to a revival?
4. Early Salvationists often spoke of a "passion for souls." To what extent do we demonstrate this today? Discuss II. H.
5. Do you have the courage to "plow right through" all of the 12 "sins of commission"?
6. When, why, and how is "so much preaching wasted"?
Text: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
There are two kinds of means needed to promote a revival: one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer to move God. When Christians offer effectual prayer, their state of feeling renders it proper for God to answer them.
Prayer is an essential link in the chain of causes that lead to a revival; as much so as truth is. Sometimes those who are the most engaged in employing truth are not the most engaged in prayer. This is always unhappy. Unless they, or some others, have the spirit of prayer, the truth by itself will do nothing but harden men in impenitence. Others err on the other side. Not that they lay too much stress on prayer, but prayer might be offered forever by itself, and nothing would be done. To expect the conversion of sinners by prayer alone without the employment of truth, is to tempt God.
1. What is prevailing prayer?
A. Effectual, prevailing prayer does not consist merely in benevolent desires.
B. Prevailing effectual prayer attains the blessing that it seeks.
II. Essential attributes of prevailing prayer:
A. Pray for a definite object. Some fall down on their knees and pray for just what comes into their minds. This is not effectual prayer. It must have a definite object.
B. Pray in accordance with the revealed will of God. God's will is revealed:1. By express promises or predictions in the Bible.
2. By His providence.
3. By His Spirit.
C. Pray with submission to the will of God.
D. Pray with a desire for that object commensurate with its importance. If the desire is strong, benevolent, and not contrary to His will, the presumption is that it will be granted, for two reasons:1. The general benevolence of God.
2. The Spirit of God is exciting these very desires.
E. Pray with right motives.
F. Pray by the intercession of the Spirit.
G. Pray with perseverance. Do not think you are prepared to offer prevailing prayer if your feelings will let you pray once for an object, and then leave it.
H. Pray with an agony of desire.
I. Pray a great deal.
J. Pray in the name of Christ. His name has all the virtue on your lips that it has in His own.
K. Pray only after renouncing all your sins.
L. Pray in faith.
III. Some of the reasons why these things are essential to effectual prayer:
A. These strong feelings illustrate the strength of God's feelings. They are like the real feelings of God for impenitent sinners.
B. They are the natural results of a clear view of the dangers of sinners.
C. The souls of Christians when they are thus burdened, must have relief. At length they must make a desperate effort and roll the burden off upon the Lord Jesus Christ. They then feel relieved with a sweet assurance that the blessing will be granted.
D. The effects of the spirit of prayer upon the body are themselves no part of religion.
E. Effectual prayer forms a bond of union between Christ and the Church.
F. This travailing for souls creates a remarkable bond of union between warm-hearted Christians and young converts.
G. It is the only way in which the Church can be properly prepared to receive great blessings without being injured by them. If Christians received the blessing without this deep prostration of soul, they would be puffed up with pride.
IV. Such prayer as I have described will avail much.
Elijah the prophet mourned over the decline of the house of Israel. He prayed that the judgment of God might come upon the guilty nation. When he saw that it was time to relent, he agonized in prayer. The blessing was obtained; the time had come for the calamity to be turned back.
John Knox was a man famous for his power in prayer. Queen Mary used to say she feared his prayers more than all the armies of Europe. Events showed she had reason to do it.
1. A great deal of prayer is lost and many people never prevail in prayer because, when they have desires for particular blessings, they do not follow them up. When you find these holy desires in your minds, take care of two things: don't quench the Spirit, and don't be diverted to other objects.
2. Without the spirit of prayer, ministers will do but little good. The most successful preachers are those who have the most of a spirit of prayer themselves.
3. Not only must most ministers have the spirit of prayer, but the Church should unite in offering that effectual fervent prayer which can prevail with God. I have only to ask you, "Will you do it?" Can you pray now? Will you join and offer prevailing prayer, that the Spirit of God may come down here?
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 4
1. How much of our praying contains the attributes of "prevailing" prayer listed in II.?
2. Discuss this question under each of the 12 "attributes" in this section.
3. Discuss the two reasons given for the "presumption" that prevailing prayer will be granted. See II. D.
4. When is it possible to be "injured" by "great blessings"?
5. Elijah and John Knox are given as illustrations of those who engaged in prevailing prayer. Can you think of others in Church history (or in your own circle) who could be added to the list?
6. What is meant by the statement, "Prayer might be offered forever, by itself, and nothing would be done"?
7. Prayerfully discuss the questions raised in number 3 of the Remarks.
The Prayer Of Faith
Text: "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11 :24).
These words have been supposed by some to refer exclusively to the faith of miracles. But there is no evidence of this. That it does not refer exclusively to the faith of miracles is proved by the context. Our Saviour desires to give His disciples instructions respecting the nature and power of prayer, and the necessity of strong faith in God. He therefore stated a very strong case, the removal of a mountain. If they exercised a proper faith in God, they might do such things. But His remarks are not to be limited to working miracles, for He goes on to say, "When you stand praying, forgive ... "Does that relate to miracles? Is that required only when a man wishes to work a miracle? As if the faith of miracles was different from faith in God.
I. Faith is an indispensable condition of prevailing prayer.
There is such a thing as offering benevolent desires, acceptable to God as such, that do not include the exercise of faith in regard to those blessings. These desires are not prevailing prayer. I am speaking of the faith that ensures the blessing.
II. What we are to believe when we pray:
A. In the existence of God.
B. That we shall receive, not anything as it happens, but the very things we ask for.
III. When are we bound to make this prayer?
When we have evidence of it. Faith must always have evidence. Kinds of evidence:
A. When God has especially promised the thing. God says he is ready to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. You have no right to say, "If it be Thy will, give us the Holy Spirit." This is to insult God.
B. Where there is a promise in the Scriptures, which may apply to the particular case.
C. Where there is any prophetic declaration that the thing prayed for is agreeable to the will of God.
D. When the signs of the times, or the providence of God, indicate that a particular blessing is about to be bestowed.
E. When the Spirit of God is upon you, and excites strong desires for any blessing.
IV. This kind of faith always obtains the object.
A. Otherwise we could never know whether our prayers were answered.
B. Otherwise, it must be that the Spirit of God deceives us.
C. What is the meaning of the passage, "If a man ask for bread will he give him a stone?"
D. You may feel difficulty about the prayers of Jesus. Did He not pray for the cup to be removed? That prayer was answered. Was it the Cross He prayed to be delivered from? Not at all. An angel appeared from heaven, His mind became composed and calm, and the cup was gone. Till then He sweated drops of blood, but after that, it was all over.
E. The prayer of faith will obtain the blessing. Our faith rests on evidence that to grant that thing is the will of God.
V. How are we to come into the state of mind in which we offer such prayer?
A. Obtain evidence that God will bestow the blessing.
B. Cherish good desires. If you have the least desire for blessing, don't trifle it away.
C. Be sure you are entirely consecrated to God.
D. Persevere. God will grant answers to prayer when it is importunate.
E. Be sure to walk every day with God.
VI. Some objections which are brought forward against this doctrine:
A. "It leads to fanaticism, and amounts to a new revelation." But you must have evidence to believe before you can offer the prayer of faith.
B. "Is it our duty to pray the prayer of faith for the salvation of all men?" No, for we have no evidence that all will be saved. [Editor's Note: Even when we pray for people, we must realize that the decision to accept Christ is theirs to make.]
C. "If we were to offer this prayer for all men, would not all men be saved?" Yes, they would all be saved if they would all repent. But they will not.
D. "For whom are we to offer this prayer? What places, times, etc.?" When you have evidence from promises or prophecies of the leadings of the Spirit that God will do the things you ask for.
E. "So many prayers of parents for children are not answered." Has God's promise failed, or have these parents not believed in the prayer Of faith? [refer to editor's note under letter B.]
F. "Will not these views lead to fanaticism?" This is simply an argument against all spiritual religion.
1. Persons who have not known by experience what this is, have reason to doubt their piety.
2. Millions are in hell because believers have not offered the prayer of faith.
3. You say, "This leaves the Church under a great load of guilt." True, it does.
4. Many professors of religion live so far from God, that to talk to them about the prayer of faith is impossible.
5. Do you know what it is to pray in faith? Did you ever pray in this way?
6. Finally, see what combined effort is made to dispose of the Bible. What are our Bibles for if we do not lay hold on their precious promises?
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 5
1. Discuss the difference between "benevolent desires" and "prevailing prayer."
2. Why does Finney tell us not to pray, "If it be Thy will, give us the Holy Spirit"?
3. Five kinds of "evidence" are given as a basis for our faith. As you pray for revival, review these, and discuss whether all of these conditions are present today.
4. Finney's interpretation of the Gethsemane prayer of Jesus is different from that of many commentators. In what way?
5. What do you think would happen if we prayed for revival in the "state of mind" described in the five statements under v.?
6. Six "objections" are listed against this teaching. Which ones are heard most often today? Which ones have troubled you in your prayer for revival?
7. What is it that leaves Christians under a "great load of guilt"?
Spirit Of Prayer
Text: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26, 27).
I. What Spirit is it that is spoken of in the text?
Some have supposed that it means our own spirit. Attention to the text will show plainly that this is not the meaning. "The Spirit helpeth our infirmities" would then read, "Our own spirit helpeth the infirmities of our own spirit." It is evident from the manner in which the text is introduced, that the Spirit referred to is the Holy Ghost.
II. What does the Spirit do?
He intercedes for the saints. He helps Christians to pray according to the will of God, or for the things that God desires them to pray for.
III. Why is the Spirit thus employed?
Because of our ignorance. We do not know what we should pray for as we ought.
IV. How does He make intercession for the saints?
A. Not by superseding the use of our faculties. He prays for us by exciting our faculties. If the Spirit of God leads us to things calculated to excite warm feelings, and we are not excited by them, it proves we have nothing of the Spirit of Christ.
B. He makes us feel the value of souls.
C. He leads us to understand and apply the promises of Scripture. In no age have Christians been fully able to apply the promises of Scripture to life; not because they are obscure, but because there has been a disposition to overlook the Scriptures.
D. He leads us to desire and pray for things of which nothing specifically is mentioned in the Word of God.
E. He gives us spiritual discernment respecting movements of Providence.
V. In what degree are we to expect the Spirit of God to affect believers?
The Spirit excites desires too great to be uttered except by groans, something that language cannot utter. God understands the language of the heart.
VI. How are we to know whether it is the Spirit of God that influences our minds?
A. Not by feeling that some external influence or agency is applied to us, but what leads our minds to exercise feelings for sinners by the Holy Spirit.
B. Try the spirits by the spirit and temper of religion as revealed in the Bible.
VII. How shall we get this influence of the Spirit of God?
A. Pray fervently in faith. Pray from right motives.
B. Use means adapted to stir up your minds on the subject, and keep your attention fixed there. God is not going to pour these things out without any effort of your own.
C. Watch unto prayer. Keep a lookout, and see if God grants the blessing when you ask Him. Confess and forsake your sins.
D. Aim to obey the written law perfectly. Have no fellowship with sin.
VIII. For whom does the Spirit intercede?
For the saints, for all saints, for any who are saints.
1. Why is it that so little stress is laid on the influences of the Spirit in prayer, when so much is said about His influences in conversion?
2. This subject lays open the difficulty felt by many on the prayer of faith. The whole difficulty lies in the fact that the Spirit's influences are entirely overlooked. When are we under obligation to believe that we shall receive the blessing that we seek? (a) When there is a particular promise, as when we pray for the Holy Spirit. (b) Where God makes a revelation by His providence. (c) Where there is a prophecy. But in none of these cases do we believe without the Spirit of God.
3. Some have supposed that Paul prayed in faith for the removal of the thorn in the flesh, and it was not granted. But they cannot prove that Paul prayed in faith.
4. In praying for an object, it is necessary to persevere until you obtain it.
5. Fear of being led by impulses has done injury. We do wrong if we let the fear of impulses lead us to resist the good impulses of the Holy Ghost.
6. We see the absurdity of using forms of prayer. Prayer does not consist [only] of words. [Editor's Note: Prayer is more an attitude of the heart. Words, however profound they may be, are many times inadequate to express the feelings of our hearts.]
7. The subject furnishes a test of character. Those who are saints are thus exercised.
8. It is important to understand this subject: (a) in order to be useful; (b) as necessary to your sanctification.
9. If people do not know the spirit of prayer, they are apt to be unbelieving in regard to the results of prayer.
10. Those who have the spirit of prayer know when the blessings come.
11. There are three classes of persons who are liable to error: (a) those who place great reliance on prayer and use no other means; (b) those who use means, and pray, but never think of the influences of the Spirit in prayer; (c) those who have strange notions about the sovereignty of God, and are waiting--for God to convert the world without prayer or means.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 6
1. Look up the word "intercession" and discuss the ways that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
2. Do you think we could pray effectively without this intercession?
3. In your congregational prayer meetings or your personal prayer life, have you felt that you fulfilled the conditions listed in IV.?
4. Is it possible for us to pray from wrong motives? Cite some examples.
5. Are there any Christians for whom the Holy Spirit does not intercede?
6. In what ways is it possible for us to be led by wrong impulses if we resist the good impulses of the Holy Spirit?
7. Three groups of people are liable to error in their praying. Which of these is most evident today? Do you feel that you are in one of these groups?
Be Filled With The Spirit
Text: "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).
When the necessity of the influences of the Spirit is held forth, some persons are in danger of abusing the doctrine, and understand by it that they cannot repent until they feel the Spirit. The "cannot" consists in their unwillingness, not in their inability. If you live without the Spirit, you are without excuse. The influences of the Spirit are wholly a matter of grace. Christians are not bound to pray in faith because they have the Spirit, but because of evidence.
I. You may have the Spirit.
"How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." God has commanded it. This command is the highest evidence that we can do it.
II. It is your duty.
A. You have a promise of it.
B. God has commanded it.
C. It is essential to your own growth in grace.
D. It is as important as it is that you should be sanctified.
E. It is as necessary as it is that you should be useful and do good in the world.
F. If you do not have the Spirit of God in you, you will dishonor God.
III. Why many do not have the Spirit:
A. Some live a hypocritical life; their prayers are not earnest and sincere.
B. Others have so much levity that the Spirit will not dwell with them.
C. Others are so proud that they cannot have the Spirit--so fond of dress, high life, fashion, etc.
D. Some are worldly-minded, clinging to a multitude of things by which the Spirit of God is grieved.
E. Others do not fully confess and forsake their sins.
F. Others are neglecting some known duty.
G. Some have resisted the Spirit of God, and are in the habit of resisting the Spirit.
H. Some do not desire the Spirit.
I. Some do not pray for the Spirit, or pray and use no other means.
IV. The great guilt of not having the Spirit of God:
A. The guilt is as great as the authority of God is great, which commands every Christian to be filled with the Spirit.
B. It is equal to all the good you might do if you had the Spirit of God in as great measure as it is your duty to have Him.
C. It is further measured by all the evil which you do in consequence of not having Him.
V. The consequences of having the Spirit:
A. You will be called eccentric, and probably will deserve it.
B. You act under different influences, take different views, are moved by different motives, are led by a different Spirit.
C. You may be thought deranged by many, as Paul was before Festus.
D. You must expect to feel great distress in view of the Church and the world.
E. You will often be grieved with the state of the ministry.
F. You must make up your mind to have much opposition in the Church and in the world.
G. You must expect frequent and agonizing conflicts with Satan.
H. You will have greater conflicts with yourself that you ever thought of, your own corruption making strong headway against the Spirit.
I. But you will have peace with God; it will flow like a river.
J. You will have peace of conscience, calm and quiet, like a summer's lake.
K. You will be useful.
L. You will not find yourself distressed and worried when people speak against you.
M. You will be wise in using means for the conversion of sinners in a way adapted to the end.
N. You will be calm under affliction.
O. You will be resigned to death.
VI. Consequences of not being filled with the Spirit:
A. You will often, and reasonably, doubt whether you are a Christian.
B. You will always be unsettled in your views about the prayer of faith.
C. You will be very apt to stumble at those who have the Spirit, censuring to justify yourself.
D. You will have a reputation like that of the impenitent and the carnal.
E. You will be much troubled with fears about fanaticism.
F. You will be much disturbed by the measures that are used in revivals.
G. You will be a reproach to religion.
H. You will know little about the Bible.
I. If you die without the Spirit, you will fall into hell.[NOTE: All who are saved have the Spirit of God in their lives; being without the Spirit of God would indicate a backslidden condition.]
1. Christians are as guilty for not having the Spirit as sinners are for not repenting.
2. As you have more light, you are so much more guilty.
3. All beings have a right to complain of Christians who do not have the Spirit.
4. If you do not have the Spirit, you are in the way of the work of the Lord.
5. You see the reason why Christians need the Spirit, and the degree of their dependence.
6. Do not tempt God by waiting for His Spirit while using no means to procure His presence.
7. If you mean to have the Spirit, you must be childlike, as yielding as air.
8. Christians ought to be willing to make any sacrifice to enjoy the presence of the Spirit.
9. It must be very difficult for those in fashionable life to go to heaven.
10. See how crazy those are who scramble to get up to these circles.
11. Many professors of religion are as ignorant of spirituality as Nicodemus was of the new birth. When will they set themselves to work, filled with the Spirit?
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 7
1. In what way does levity sometimes interfere with the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit?
2. Finney gives six reasons why it is the Christian's duty to be Spirit-filled. Which of these reasons do you find most convincing?
3. In what ways is it possible to resist the Spirit of God?
4. Are most Christians willing to be considered "eccentric" or "deranged" for the privilege of having the Spirit? Are you?
Discuss whether or not the Spirit-filled Christian will be exempt from opposition by the Church, the world, Satan, and his or her corrupt nature.
5. Reflect on some of the positive consequences of this experience, as outlined in V.
6. In view of God's clear command, is VI. I. possible even for the Christian?
Meetings For Prayer
Text: "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:19).
Hitherto I have confined my remarks to secret prayer. I now speak of social prayer, prayer offered in company.
I. The design of prayer meetings:
A. To promote union among Christians. Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than prayer together.
B. To extend the spirit of prayer. We communicate our feelings to one another.
C. To move God. When Christians are praying as they ought, God opens the windows of heaven.
D. To convict and convert sinners.
II. The manner of conducting prayer meetings
A. It is often well to open by reading a short portion of the Word of God.
B. The person who leads should make some short and appropriate remarks to explain the nature of prayer.
C. In calling on persons to pray, let things take their own course, where this is safe.
D. If necessary to name those who are to pray, call on the most spiritual first.
E. The prayers should always be very short. Some preach, some exhort the people, till everybody wishes they would stop; and God wishes so too, undoubtedly.
F. Each one should pray for some one object.
G. If it becomes necessary to change the subject, let the leader explain it in a few words.
H. The time should be fully occupied.
I. The leader of the meeting should press sinners present to immediate repentance.
III. Several things which may defeat the design of a prayer meeting:
A. When there is an unhappy want of confidence in the leader.
B. When the leader lacks spirituality. He will have no spiritual discernment, and he will be dull and dry in his remarks.
C. When the leader lacks suitable talents.
D. When the leader has a bad spirit.
E. When the meeting is interrupted by persons coming late.
F. When persons make cold prayers and confessions of sin, quenching the spirit of prayer.
G. In some places, it is common to begin a prayer meeting by reading a long portion of Scripture--a long hymn, a long prayer, a long extract from a book or magazine, another long prayer. Such prayer meetings hinder a revival.
H. When there is a great deal of singing. If your house was on fire, would you first stop and sing a hymn before you put it out?
I. When subjects of controversy are introduced.
J. When the motions of the Spirit of God are not narrowly watched. Be sure not to quench the Spirit.
K. When individuals refuse to pray when called on.
L. When prayer meetings are too long.
M. When heartless confessions are made. When people confess their sins and don't forsake them.
N. When Christians spend all the time praying for themselves. They should have done this in their closets.
O. When there is a lack of appropriate remarks.
P. When individuals who are justly obnoxious are forward in speaking and praying.
Q. When persons take part who are so illiterate that it is impossible to follow them.
R. When there is a want of union in prayer.
S. When secret prayer is neglected.
1. A poorly conducted prayer meeting often does more harm than good.
2. A prayer meeting is an index to the state of religion in a church.
3. Every minister ought to know that if the prayer meetings are neglected, all his labors are in vain.
A great responsibility rests on the leader of a prayer meeting.
Prayer meetings are the most difficult meetings to sustain as they ought to be.
6. Prayer meetings are the most important meetings for the Church: (a) to promote union; (b) to increase brotherly love; (c) to cultivate Christian confidence; (d) to promote Christians' growth in grace; (e) to cherish and advance spirituality.
7. Prayer meetings should be so numerous and so arranged as to exercise the gifts of every individual member, male and female.
8. It is important that impenitent sinners should always attend prayer meetings--go out and invite them.
9. The great object of all the means of grace is to aim directly at the conversion of sinners.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 8
1. How many meetings are held each week (or each month) in your church/corps specifically for prayer?
2. How large a crowd is necessary to assure a response from God? Should prayer meetings be cancelled because of meager attendance?
3. Review the four purposes of prayer meetings. Discuss ways in which our meetings can be broadened to include all of the these "designs."
4. In your opinion, when is it not "safe" to let things take their own course?
5. Discuss the length of prayers, as referred to in II. E. Should this always be the pattern? See also II. G.
6. There are many references to the prayer meeting leader under II., III., and Remarks. Make a list from these of the qualities and talents which should be evident in the leader. How can such qualities be developed?
7. In your experience, what are the things that often defeat the design. of a prayer meeting?
Means To Be Used With Sinners
Text: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen" (Isaiah 43:10).
I have been dwelling on the subject of prayer, which is intended to move God to pour out His Spirit. I now commence with the means to be used for the conversion of sinners. No being can look at the great truths of religion as truths, and not feel deeply concerning them. One grand design of God in leaving Christians in the world is that they may be witnesses for Him. God has scattered His children everywhere, in families and among nations.
I. To what points are the children of God required to testify?
Generally, they are to testify to the truth of the Bible. The Christian is conscious that the Bible is true. He may hear objections from unbelievers that he never thought of and that he cannot answer, but he cannot be driven from his ground. Christians are to testify to:
A. The immortality of the soul, clearly revealed in the Bible.
B. The vanity and unsatisfactory nature of all earthly good.
C. The satisfying nature and glorious sufficiency of religion.
D. The guilt and danger of sinners. You have seen your own sin, and know of its nature.
E. The reality of hell, as a place of eternal punishment for the wicked.
F. The love of Christ for sinners.
G. The necessity of a holy life.
H. The necessity of self-denial and living above the world.
I. The necessity of meekness, heavenly-mindedness, humility and integrity.
J. The necessity of an entire renovation of character and life.
II. How are Christians to testify?
By precept and example, on every proper occasion, by your lips, by your lives. Christians have no right to be silent with their lips; you should rebuke, exhort, and entreat with all long-suffering and doctrine. But your main influence as witnesses is by your example. You should live in your daily walk and conversation as if you believed the Bible.
A. Testify to a belief in the immortality of the soul, death being but the entrance into an unchanging state. Precept without example on this point will do no good.
B. Testify to the vanity and unsatisfactory nature of this world. Demonstrate this by your life.
C. Testify to the satisfying nature of religion. Show by your conduct that you are actually satisfied with the enjoyments of religion, without the vanities of the world.
D. Testify to the guilt and danger of sinners. Warn sinners of their awful condition, but with tact and genuine compassion.
E. Testify to the love of Christ. Bear witness to the reality of the love of Christ by the regard which you show for His precepts, His honor and His kingdom.
F. Testify to the necessity of holiness in order to enter heaven. It will not do to depend on talking about this. You must live a holy life.
G. Testify to the necessity of self-denial, humility and heavenly-mindedness. Show by your own example what kind of religion is expected of men. That is the most important preaching of all. How can you make people believe that separation from the world is necessary if you do not practice it?
H. Testify to the importance of meekness. The people of God should always show a temper like the Son of God.
I. Testify to the necessity of entire honesty, extending to every part of life.
1. It is unreasonable for professors of religion to wonder at the thoughtlessness of sinners. They will never care about religion unless God's witnesses rise up and testify. The great body of Christians live so as to testify on the other side by their conduct. How can we expect sinners to get the right idea?
2. We see why it is that preaching does so little good, and how so many sinners get gospel-hardened. If the Church were to live only one week as if it believed the Bible, sinners would melt down before it.
3. The standard of Christian living must be raised or the world will never be converted. I never knew means to fail of a revival, where Christians lived consistently.
4. Every Christian makes an impression by his conduct, and witnesses either for one side or other. You are either gathering with Christ or scattering abroad. Are you asleep while all your conduct is exerting such an influence? You are living epistles, known and read of all men. If you show pride, levity, bad temper and the like, it is like tearing open the wounds of the Saviour.
5. It is easy to see why revivals do not prevail. As far as their influence goes, most people are in the way of a revival.
6. Finally, God and all moral beings have great reason to complain of this false testimony.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 9
1. Why has God left Christians in the world? How well are we fulfilling that purpose?
2. What is the source of all .the truths to which we are called to testify? To what extent are we to quote this source in our witnessing?
3. Find scripture passages where Jesus taught the danger of eternal punishment. Do you think we should ignore it if the Bible teaches it?
4. What is our main influence as witnesses?
5. How should we bear witness to the reality of the love of Christ?
6. Why is it that preaching sometimes does so little good? What can be done about it?
7. If Finney were preaching in your community, would he repeat his challenge found in Remarks 5?
Winning Souls Requires Wisdom
Text: "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11 :30).
The most common definition of wisdom is the selection of the most appropriate means for the accomplishment of an end. He that winneth souls is wise. I shall confine my attention to the private efforts of individuals for the conversion and salvation of men.
I. The manner of dealing with careless sinners:
A. In regard to the time, select a proper time to try to make a serious impression on the mind of a careless sinner:1. When he is disengaged from other employments.
2. When he is not strongly excited over any other subject.
3. Since the cases of intoxicated people being truly converted are extremely rare, it would be wise only to preach to people who are perfectly sober.
4. When he is in a good temper.
5. When he or she is alone.
6. When the events of Providence seem to favor your design.
7. At the earliest opportunity. Don't put it off from day to day. Seek an opportunity; and if none offers, make one.
8. When you have a feeling about the person, and that feeling continues. .
B. In regard to the manner of doing this:1. Be sure to treat him kindly. Let him see that you love his soul.
2. Be solemn. Who could trifle if his heart was sincere?
3.. Be respectful. A rude and coarse address gives an unfavorable opinion of you and your religion.
4. Be sure to be very plain. Keep back none of the truth.
5. Address his conscience.
6. Bring the great and fundamental truths to bear upon the person's mind. The present business is to save his soul, not to settle controversial questions in theology.
7. Be very patient.
8. Guard your own spirit.
9. If the sinner is inclined to entrench himself against God, do not take his part; do not take his side against Christians.
10. Bring up the individual's particular sins, kindly but plainly.
11. Be brief; get his attention to the point as soon as you can.
12. Be sure to pray with him.
II. The manner of dealing with awakened sinners:
Distinguish between an awakened sinner and one who is under conviction. Do not take it for granted that a person is convicted of sin, and omit to show him his sin. Persons are often awakened by some providential circumstance. If you find a person awakened, no matter by what means, pour in light upon his mind.
III. The manner of dealing with convicted sinners
(By a convicted sinner, I mean one who feels himself condemned by the law of God as guilty.)
A. When a person is convicted and not converted, there is generally some specific reason for it, some difficulty, maybe something that escapes even his own observation.1. Sometimes he has some idol which he loves more than God.
2. Perhaps he has done an injury to someone that he is unwilling to confess or make just recompense for.
3. Sometimes there is some particular sin which he will not forsake.
4. Perhaps there is some work of remuneration which he
is bound to do.
5. Perhaps he has entrenched himself somewhere, fortified his mind in regard to a particular point.
6. Perhaps he has a prejudice against someone.
7. He may feel ill will towards someone, and cherish strong feelings of resentment.
8. Perhaps he entertains errors in doctrine, wrong notions respecting what must be done. He may be waiting for more conviction, for certain feelings. He may think his sins are too great, and that he has committed the unpardonable sin.
B. Be careful not to make any compromise on any point where the person has a difficulty. Drive him away from every refuge.
1. Make it an object of constant study and daily reflection and prayer to learn how to deal with sinners to promote their conversion.
2. Many professors of religion do more harm than good, they have so little knowledge and skill.
3. Find the point where the Spirit of God is pressing a sinner, and press the same point.
4. False hopes have been created by not discriminating between an awakened and a convicted sinner.
5. Anxious sinners are to be regarded as being in a very solemn and critical state. They have come to a turning point. The Spirit of God will not strive always. Here their destiny is settled. The judgment day will reveal it. Never was an angel employed in a more solemn work.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 10
1. How do you understand the difference between a "convicted" sinner and an "awakened" sinner?
2. This chapter deals entirely with personal evangelism. Is this more rewarding than public preaching? More difficult? A special gift?
3. In regard to timing, which of Finney's eight rules are, in your opinion, the most relevant to your personal witnessing?
4. Have you personally seen an exception to the statement in I. A. 3.?
5. Twelve admonitions are given regarding the manner of dealing with sinners. Several of these relate to the Christian's personal attitude--kindness, patience, respect, etc. List these separately, and discuss whether or not we display these qualities.
6. In your experience, which "specific reasons" given in III. have you encountered most frequently? What response should be given to each of these "reasons"?
7. Why is dealing with sinners such a solemn matter?
A Wise Minister Will Be Successful
Text: "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11 :30).
I have preached from the same text on the methods private Christians should use in dealing with sinners. At this time, I take up the more public means of grace, with particular reference to the duties of ministers.
I. A right discharge of the duties of a minister requires great wisdom.
A. Sinners often exercise great cunning in evading all the efforts made to save them.
B. A minister needs to use the means appointed to be employed in the work.
C. A minister has the power of earth and hell to overcome, and that calls for wisdom.
D. The same is seen from the infinite importance of the end itself, the salvation of the soul.
E. A minister must understand how to wake up his church, and get the members out of the way of the conversion of sinners. This is often the most difficult part, and requires much wisdom and patience.
F. He must know how to get his church to work when it is awake.
G. A minister needs great wisdom to know how to keep his church involved in the work of soul-winning.
H. He must understand the gospel.
I. He must know how to divide it, to bring forward the particular truths to make them bear upon those points and at such times, to produce a given result.
J. A minister requires great wisdom to reach different classes of sinners successfully.
K. A minister needs great wisdom to get sinners away from their present refuge of lies without forming new hiding places for them.
L. A minister must know what measures are best calculated to aid in accomplishing the great end of his office, the salvation of souls. The object of our measures is to gain attention, and sometimes new measures do this most effectively.
M. A minister sometimes needs wisdom to know when to put a stop to new measures.
N. A minister must know how to deal with careless, awakened, and anxious sinners, to lead them right to Christ in the shortest and most direct way.
II. The amount of a minister's success in winning souls (other things being equal) invariably indicates the amount of wisdom he has exercised.
A. If he wins souls, he skillfully adapts means to the end, which is to exercise wisdom. His wisdom is seen in direct proportion to the number of sinners that he saves.
B. This principle is not only asserted in the text, but is a matter of fact: that "He that winneth souls is wise." He has employed means adapted to the end.
C. Success in saving souls is evidence that a minister understands the gospel and human nature.
D. Success shows that a minister not only knows how to labor wisely for that end, but that he knows where his dependence is. He must depend on the Spirit of God alone for his success.
"What will you say about the ministry of Jesus Christ; was He not wise?" Yes, infinitely wise.
1. His ministry was vastly more successful than is generally supposed. Five hundred were assembled together at one time, a vast number scattered over the country.
2. His public ministry was very short.
3. His main object was to make atonement for the sins of the world, not to promote revivals. The "dispensation of the Spirit" was not yet given.
1. A minister may be very learned, and not wise.
2. An unsuccessful minister may be pious as well as learned, and yet not wise.
3. A minister may be very wise, though he is not learned.
4. Want of success (other things being equal) proves: (a) that he was never called to preach; (b) that he was badly educated; or (c) that he knows how to do his duty but is too indolent to do it.
5. The best educated ministers are those who win the most souls.
6. There is evidently a great defect in the present mode of educating ministers.
7. A want of common sense often defeats the ends of the Christian ministry.
8. We see one great defect in our theological schools--young men confined to schools and books, and shut out from contact with the common people's minds.
9. The success of any measure designed to promote revival demonstrates its wisdom, except when (a) a measure is introduced for effect to produce excitement, but which appears to be a mere trick; (b) success may be attributed to the measure alone.
10. Much fault has been found with measures which have been pre-eminently blessed of God.
11. Christians should pray for ministers.
12. Laymen who know how to win souls are to be counted wise.
Who among you can lay any claim to the possession of this Divine wisdom? Laymen? Ministers? Are we trying to make ourselves believe that success is no criterion of wisdom? It is a criterion. Don't say, "How can I convert sinners? God alone can convert sinners." Look at the text: "He that winneth souls is wise;" and do not think you can escape the sentence. True, God converts sinners. But you have something to do, wisely, to ensure the conversion of sinners in proportion to the wisdom employed.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 11
Finney lists 14 reasons why a minister/corps officer/pastor needs wisdom. Study these, and identify those that are particularly relevant to your local congregation.
Can you add to the list in the light of 20th century demands on our spiritual leaders?
How often have you prayed, personally and corporately, that your pastor might have grace and wisdom for these tasks?
If success in winning souls is the test of our wisdom (11.), discuss how wise we are as laymen and ministers (Proverbs 11:30).
What does a "want of success" often prove?
Explain the teaching that we may be both learned and pious, yet not wise.
What are the ways by which a church can stand in "the way of the conversion of sinners"? How can we help to overcome this?
How To Preach The Gospel
Text: "He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11 :30).
I. The Bible ascribes conversion to men.
There are many passages which represent the conversion of sinners as the work of men.
A. Daniel 12:3--"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
B. 1 Corinthians 4:15--"For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."
C. James 5:19-20--"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
II. This is not inconsistent with those passages in which conversion is ascribed to God.
The Scriptures ascribe the conversion of a sinner to four different agencies--to men, to God, to the truth, and to the sinner himself. The passages which ascribe it to the truth are the largest class. In conversion, God gives the truth efficiency to turn the sinner to God. He is an active, voluntary, powerful agent in changing the mind. But the man who brings the truth is also an agent.
III. Several important particulars connected with preaching the gospel:
A. First, in regard to the matter of preaching:1. All preaching should be practical. The proper end of all doctrine is practice.
2. Preaching should be direct; preach to men, and not about them.
3. A minister should hunt after sinners and backslidden Christians wherever they are entrenched.
4. A minister should dwell most on those points which are most needed.
5. He should be very careful not to introduce controversy.
6. The gospel should be preached in such proportions that the whole gospel may be brought before the minds of the people.
7. The sinner should be made to feel that he is guilty, not merely that he is unfortunate.
8. A prime object must be to make present obligations felt.
9. Sinners ought to be made to feel that they have something to do--to repent. Religion is something to do, not something to wait for.
10. Ministers should never rest satisfied until they have annihilated every excuse of sinners.
11. Sinners should be made to feel that if they now grieve the Spirit of God by rejecting Him, it is very probable that they will be lost forever.
B. Secondly, in regard to the manner of preaching:1. A minister should be conversational, his preaching should be colloquial in its style.
2. He must use the language of common life, such words as are in common use.
3. Preaching should be parabolical; illustrations should be constantly used, drawn from incidents, real or supposed.
4. Illustrations should be drawn from common life, the common business of society.
5. Preaching should be repetitious, repeating whatever is not perfectly understood.
6. A minister should feel his subject deeply, in solemn earnestness in what he says.
7. A minister should aim to convert his congregation.
8. He must anticipate the objections of sinners, and answer them.
9. If a minister means to preach with effect, he must not be monotonous, and put people to sleep.
10. A minister must address the feelings to secure attention, then deal with the conscience.
11. A minister should learn the effect of one sermon before he preaches another.
1. We see why so few of the leading minds in many communities are converted. The gospel has not been commended, has not grappled with mind and reason.
2. Before the gospel can take general effect, we must have extemporaneous preachers: (a) no set of men can stand the labor of writing sermons and doing all the preaching; (b) written preaching is not calculated to produce the requisite effect; (c) it is impossible for a man who writes his sermons to arrange his matter, and turn and choose his thoughts. The practice was unknown in the apostles' day.*
3. A minister's course of study and training for his work should be exclusively theological. I would want ministers to understand science, but it should be in connection with theology. Science is a study of the works of God. **
4. We learn what revival preaching is. All ministers should be revival ministers.
5. There are two objections to this kind of preaching: (a) that it is letting down the dignity of the pulpit to preach in this colloquial style; (b) that this preaching is theatrical. The actor suits the action to the word, and the word to the action. His looks, his hands, his attitude are designed to express the full meaning of the writer. This should be the aim of the preacher.
6. A congregation may learn how to choose a minister. At this point the primary concerns seem to be: (a) that he should be popular; (b) that he should be learned. Very well, but this point should be first: "Is he wise to win souls?"
It is the duty of the church to pray for ministers. Like Paul, we can say, "Who is sufficient for these things?"
*[Editor's note: Contemporary training practices encourage ministerial candidates to write out their sermons so as to maintain a train of thought and to avoid rambling. Not everyone is able to speak without the help of expanded notes.]
**[Editor's note: Due to the complexity of today's society with all of its social problems, contemporary training curricula include subjects dealing with psychology, sociology, finance, counselling and other topics related to the work of the evangelist.]
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 12
1. Since the Bible teaches that the conversion of sinners is the work of men and women, why are there so few conversions in many churches today?
2. The act of conversion (salvation) is itself ascribed to God alone. What, then, is the part to be played by the soul-winner?
3. Those called to preach should, if possible, study the full Lecture texts of III. and IV. as a "post-graduate" review of their preaching "matter" and "manner." Show how these basic presuppositions for preaching are as relevant today as when they were written.
4. Can you think of preachers who demonstrate all 22 of these qualifications?
5. In what ways can we support and strengthen our ministers?
6. Finney was a strong advocate of extemporaneous preaching. Is this a popular concept today? Discuss its advantages and disadvantages.
7. Today, much more than in Finney's day, the privilege of the pulpit is often extended to non-ordained laymen. In what ways can this Lecture be especially helpful and instructive to them?
How Churches Can Help Ministers
Text: "And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he. let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" (Exodus 17:11-13).
The cooperation and support of Aaron and Hur have been generally understood to represent the duty of churches to sustain and assist ministers in their work. I shall now consider the importance of the cooperation of the church in producing and carrying on a revival.
I. Several things which Christians must avoid if they would support ministers:
A. Keep clear of the idea, both in theory and practice, that a minister's task is to promote revivals alone. Where this spirit prevails in the church, it has taken the course to prevent a revival, however good the minister may be.
B. Do not complain of your minister if there is no revival, if you are not doing your duty.
C. Do not let your minister kill himself by attempting to carry on the work alone.
D. Do not complain of plain, pointed preaching, even when its reproofs fasten on you.
E. Sometimes professing Christians take alarm, lest the minister offend the ungodly by plain preaching, especially if the more wealthy and influential members are offended.
F. Do not take part with the wicked in any way. It will strengthen their hands.
G. To stand by your minister in promoting a revival, do not contradict his preaching by your lives.
H. Do not needlessly take up your minister's time.
I. Do not sanction anything that is calculated to divert public attention from religion.
II. Several things which churches must do if they would promote a revival, and aid ministers:
A. Attend to the minister's temporal wants.
B. Be honest with your minister. Remember, you are dealing with Christ.
C. Be punctual with him.
D. Pay him his salary without having to be asked.
E. Pray for your minister. Even the apostles used to urge the churches to pray for them. The church must desire and pray for the blessing. God says He will be inquired of by the house of Israel. There can be no substitute for this.
F. The church should provide for the minister irrespective of the ungodly.
G. See that everything is so arranged that people can sit comfortably in meeting.
H. See that the house of God is kept clean, as you would want your own house kept.
I. Make sure that the house is just warm enough and not too warm.
J. Of all houses, a church should be the most perfectly ventilated.
K. Leave your dogs and very young children at home. If children are present and weep, they should instantly be removed.
L. Aid the minister by visiting from house to house.
M. Hold Bible classes; suitable individuals should be selected for the instruction of the young people.
N. Sustain Sunday schools; watch and bring children into the school, teach them faithfully, and lay yourselves out to promote a revival in the school.
O. Watch over the members of the church, visit each other in order to stir each other up. Know each other's spiritual state, and provoke one another to love and good works.
P. Watch for the effect of preaching.
Q. Beware, and do not give away all the preaching to others. Christians should take their portion to themselves. If the word should be quite searching to you, you should make the honest application.
R. Be ready to aid your minister in effecting his plans for doing good.
S. Make it a point to attend prayer meetings, and attend on time.
T. Study and inquire what you can do, and then do it.
1. A minister's want of success may not be wholly on account of a want of wisdom in the exercise of his office. If he is blameworthy, let him be blamed. Sometimes the church is much more to blame than the minister; if an apostle or an angel from heaven were to preach, he could not produce a revival in that church.
2. Churches are exceedingly guilty when they employ a minister, and then neglect to aid him in his work.
3. Many churches cannot be blessed with a revival because they are sponging out of other churches, and out of the treasury of the Lord.
If you mean to be blessed, do your duty, do all your duty, put shoulder to the wheel, gird on the gospel armor, and come up to the work.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 13
1. From section 11., identify the very practical ways in which a church should assist the minister: temporal concerns, financial concerns, property, ventilation, etc.
2. In what ways can the work of revival be hindered in spite of powerful and effective preaching?
3. Discuss the laymen's responsibilities for house-to-house visitation, Sunday school, pastoral care, Bible classes, etc.
4. Most of us don't have Finney's problem of dogs in church! What are some of the modern distractions in your corps/ church that need to be dealt with?
5. What do you think Finney meant by his reference to "sponging" in Remarks--3?
6/ What should our attitude be if "plain, pointed preaching" offends us or offends the "more wealthy and influential members"?
Measures To Promote Revivals
Text: "These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans" (Acts 16:20,21).
"These men" were Paul and Silas, who very much disturbed the people because they supposed the preaching would interfere with their worldly gain. They charged the preachers with teaching doctrine, and especially employing measures, that were not lawful.
I. Under the Gospel dispensation, God has established no particular system of measures.
Under the Jewish dispensation there were particular forms enjoined by God Himself. This was never so under the gospel. It was left to the discretion of the Church to determine what measures should be adopted in giving the gospel its power. Do it the best way you can--ask wisdom from God--use the faculties He has given you--seek the direction of the Holy Ghost--go forward and do it.
No person can find any form of doing this laid down in the Bible. It is preaching the gospel that is important. The form is left out. In preaching the gospel there must be some kind of measures adopted: building churches, holding stated meetings, etc.
II. Our present forms of public worship have been arrived at by degrees.
A. Some things in regard to the ministry: Many years ago ministers used to wear a peculiar habit, a peculiar dress; just so in regard to wigs and gowns. These have all been given up one by one.
B. In regard to the order of public worship: The Church has felt as if God had established the following:1. Psalm books, singing David's psalms; and finally Watt's version, still opposed in many churches.
2. Lining out the hymns. By and by they introduced books.
3. Choirs, another innovation.
4. Pitchpipes. Some thought "whistles" were a profanation.
5. Instrumental music introduced to improve the singing.
6. Extemporaneous prayers. Many people talk as if the Prayer Book was of Divine institution.
7. Preaching without notes, themselves an innovation.
8. Kneeling in prayer. This made a disturbance in parts of the country. Others talk as if there is no other acceptable posture.
C. Labors of laymen1. Many have objected to a layman praying in public.
2. Lay exhortation has been made a question of vast importance. Now many ministers are glad of the layman's gifts.
D. Female prayer meetingsA minister attempted to establish these meetings, and had all the clergy around opposed to him. Even now, they are not tolerated in some churches. So it has been with all the active movements: missions, Sunday schools, temperance societies, Bible societies, etc.
E. Several men who were prominent in introducing these innovations:1. The apostles were great innovators. They broke down the Jewish system so as to leave scarcely a vestige.
2. Luther and the Reformers turned the Church upside down.
3. Wesley and his colleagues introduced so many new measures that Wesley was denounced.
F. In the present generation, many things have been introduced which have proved useful but have been opposed as "new measures":1. "Anxious meetings"--to hold personal conversation with anxious sinners, to go around to each individual.
2. Protracted meetings--a series of days devoted to religious services. Consider the following:a. Have regard to the circumstances of the people.
b. Ordinarily have the same minister conduct them.
c. Do not have so many public meetings as to interfere with duties of closet and family.
d. Families should not put themselves out so much in entertaining as to neglect prayer and other duties.
e. Guard against unnecessary late hours.
f. All sectarianism should be carefully avoided.
g. Be watchful against placing dependence on the protracted meeting as if that of itself would produce a revival.
h. Avoid the idea that revival cannot be enjoyed without a protracted meeting.
3. The "anxious seat"--the appointment of some particular seat in the place of meeting where the anxious may come and be addressed particularly, and be made subjects of prayer. As soon as you can get a person to make known his feelings publicly, you have accomplished a great deal. The anxious seat will detect deception and delusion, and thus prevent false hopes. The Church has always had something of this kind. In the days of the apostles, baptism held the precise place that the anxious seat does now, as a public manifestation of people's desire to be Christians.
1. In Church history, there has never been extensive reformation except by new methods.
2. The same distinctions that now exist have always existed, in all seasons of revival.
3. The present cry against new measures is highly ridiculous.
4. Those who have been making the ado about new measures have not been successful in promoting revivals.
5. Without new measures, the Church cannot succeed in gaining the attention of the world.
6. We must have more exciting preaching to meet the character and wants of the age.
7. It is important to have young ministers obtain right views of revivals.
8. It is the right and duty of a minister to adopt new measures for promoting revivals.
This zealous adherence to particular forms and modes, which has led the Church to resist innovations in measures, savors strongly of fanaticism. The only thing insisted upon under the gospel dispensation is that there should be decency and order.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 14
1. Why do you think that our Lord did not establish a particular form of worship or particular method of soul-winning for His Church?
2. Study the order of service at your church next Sunday. Are each of the elements designed to reach seeking souls? Do they exalt Christ? Do they communicate the gospel?
3. Finney mentions some "innovative" methods of his day--female prayer meetings, Sunday schools, Bible societies, etc. List some of the innovative methods of worship and evangelism introduced in The Salvation Army in recent years. In Billy Graham crusades. In various denominations.
4. The "penitent form" or "mercy seat" was first used by Finney as the "anxious seat." Discuss the value of this place of public confession and commitment today, noting Finney's reasoning. List some of the varieties of methods used today in various churches for acts of public commitment.
5. Has your corps conducted a series of revival meetings recently? How closely did it follow Finney's pattern under "Protracted meetings"?
6. What new methods or measures would you like to see inaugurated in your church for worship and soul-winning?
Hindrances To Revivals
Text: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3).
Whenever the servants of God do anything in His cause, and there appears to be a probability they will succeed, Satan regularly attempts to divert their minds and nullify their labors.
I. A revival of religion is a great work, because great interests are involved in it--the glory of God and the salvation of men.
II. Several things which may put a stop to a revival:
Some have talked foolishly on this, as if nothing could injure a genuine revival. "If your revival is a work of God, can any created being stop God?" But the farmer might just as well reason so, and think he can cut down his wheat and not hurt his crop, because God makes grain grow. Revival is the work of God, and so is a crop of wheat; God is as much dependent on the use of means in one case as the other. A revival will cease:
A. Whenever the church believes it is going to cease.
B. When Christians consent that it should cease.
C. Whenever Christians become mechanical in their attempts to promote it.
D. Whenever Christians get the idea that the work will go on without their aid.
E. When the church prefers to attend to its own concerns rather than God's business.
F. When Christians get proud of their great revival.
G. When the church gets exhausted by labor.
H. When the church begins to speculate about abstract doctrines.
I. When Christians begin to proselytize.
J. When Christians refuse to render to the Lord according to the benefits received.
K. When the church grieves the Holy Spirit:1. By Christians failing to feel their dependence on the Spirit.
2. By a spirit of boasting of the revival.
3. By saying or publishing things that undervalue the work of God.
L. When Christians lose the spirit of brotherly love.
M. Unless Christians are frequently re-converted.
N. When Christians will not practice self-denial.
O. . When there are controversies about new measures.
P. When there is continued opposition, and a bad spirit.
Q. When there is any diversion of the public mind.
R. When there is resistance to the temperance reformation.
S. If ministers and churches take wrong ground regarding human rights.
T. When the claims of missions are neglected.
U. When a church rejects the call of God for educating young men for the ministry.
V. When the revival is slandered.
W. When ecclesiastical difficulties grieve the Spirit.
X. When there is censoriousness on either side, especially between those engaged in carrying forward a revival.
III. Some things which ought to be done to continue the revival of religion:
A. There should be great and deep repenting on the part of ministers.
B. Those churches which have opposed revivals must humble themselves and repent.
C. Those who have been engaged in promoting the work must also repent.
D. The Church must take right ground in regard to politics, and must vote for honest men.
E. The Church must take right ground on the subject of slavery.1. It must avoid a bad spirit.
2. It must avoid an attempt to take neutral ground.
3. It must avoid a censorious spirit on both sides.
4. It must inform itself.
5. It must circulate suitable writings.
F. The Church must sanctify the Lord's Day.
G. The Church must take right ground on the subject of temperance and moral reform.
H. There must be more done for all the great objects of Christian benevolence.
I. If Christians expect revivals to spread and prevail, they must give up writing letters and publishing pieces calculated to excite suspicion and jealousy regarding revivals.
1. It is high time for great searchings of heart among Christians.
2. We must repent and forsake our sins, and amend our ways.
3. Those who have circulated slanderous reports in regard to revivals must repent.
4. We see the constant tendency there is in Christians for decline and backsliding.
5. Whatever is done must be done quickly. The scale is on a poise.
6. It is common, when things get all wrong in the church, for each individual to find fault with the church, and to overlook his own share of the blame. Let us mind our work and let the Lord take care of the rest. Do your duty, and leave the issue to God.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 15
1. In what ways can a church grieve the Holy Spirit?
2. Finney warns that even a genuine revival can be halted or aborted if certain circumstances develop. Review these (II. A-X) and discuss which of these conditions might apply to your corps/church.
3. Finney relates revivals to social issues--temperance, human rights, slavery, etc. In our day, do we tend to separate a "heavenly" revival from "earthly" human needs? Can you illustrate? What are some of today's human concerns? What should be done? What is being done? What would Christ's attitude be?
4. What do you think is meant by the phrase, "The scale is on a poise"?
5. What prompts Satan to try to "divert" those involved in revival efforts?
The Necessity And Effect Of Union
Text: "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:19).
The evident design of our Lord in this text was to teach the importance and influence of union in prayer and effort to promote religion.
I. In order to come within this promise, we are to be agreed in prayer.
A. We should agree in our desires for the object.
B. We must agree in the motive from which we desire the object.
C. We must be agreed in desiring it for good reasons, to honor and glorify God.
D. We must agree in faith, in expecting the blessing prayed for, in order to prevail in prayer.
E. We must agree as to the time when we desire the blessing to come. It must be the present time, or we shall not now use the means.
II. We are to agree in everything that is essential to obtaining the blessing that we seek.
Christ says there must be an agreement "as touching" the things prayed for.
A. We must agree in believing revivals of religion to be a reality.
B. We must agree in feeling the necessity of revivals.
C. We must agree in regard to the importance of revivals. When we desire the blessing with unutterable agony, we offer such prayer as will prevail with God.
D. We must agree in having correct scriptural notions about several things connected with revivals:1. The necessity of Divine agency to produce a revival.
2. The reason Divine agency is so indispensable.
3. The understanding that revivals are not miracles, but are brought about by the use of means.
4. The understanding that human agency is just as indispensable. A revival never occurred without both Divine and human agency.
E. We must agree in regard to the measures essential for promoting a revival:1. In regard to the meetings which are held.
2. In regard to the manner of conducting meetings.
F. We must agree in the manner of dealing with impenitent sinners.
G. We must agree to remove the impediments to a revival:1. In the exercise of discipline.
2. In mutual confession.
3. In forgiveness of enemies.
H. We must agree to make all the necessary preparations for a revival.
I. We must agree to do heartily whatever is necessary to be done for the promotion of the revival.
J. We must agree to labor to carryon the work, to pray, to visit and converse with our neighbors, to look for opportunities.1. We should agree to labor.
2. We should agree on how to labor.
3. We should agree to live accordingly.
K. We must agree in a determination to persevere.
1. We see why it is that so many of the children of professing parents are not converted. It is because the parents have not agreed as touching the things they should pray for on behalf of their children.
2. We see the hypocrisy of those who profess to be praying for a revival while they are doing nothing to promote it.
3. We see why so many prayers offered in the church are never answered -- those who offer them were never agreed as touching the things they asked for.
4. This text has been understood to mean something different from what it says, as if it was "If any two of you shall agree to ask anything ... " It is to be agreed as touching the things we are to ask for.
5. We may ordinarily expect a revival to prevail among those without the church in proportion to the union of prayer and effort within. Also, a revival will prevail out of the church among persons in that class of society among whom it prevails in the church.
6. We see how different denominations have been allowed to spring up in the Church. Many would never agree to pray and labor together.
7. We see why God sometimes allows churches to be divided: members are so much at variance.
8. It is evident that more churches need to be divided; they do not feel alike.
9. A few individuals, perfectly united, may be successful in gathering and building up a new church.
10. What glorious things may be expected when churches agree on these subjects.
11. There is vast ignorance in the churches on the subject of revivals.
12. There is a vast ignorance among ministers upon this subject.
13. How important it is that the church should be trained and instructed for a revival.
14. Revivals are often short because the church does not understand the subject.
15. Every church is responsible for the souls that are among it.
16. We see the guilt of ministers in not informing themselves, and rightly and speedily instructing the churches. This is the aim of the Christian ministry.
17. Pious parents can render the salvation of their children certain. They must pray in faith, and be agreed as touching the things they ask for.
In the light of this promise we see the awful guilt of the Church. If God's people agree, their prayers will be answered.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 16
1. To what extent is each member of your congregation conscious of the five elements on which Christians are to be agreed in prayer?
2. How can we bring about this sense of unity?
3. Have you ever known a group that prayed for a revival "with unutterable agony"?
4. Discuss the four scriptural "notions" regarding revival on which there must be agreement.
5. Why do many prayers offered in churches go unanswered?
6. In Finney's day there was a "vast ignorance" regarding revivals among churches and ministers. What is the situation today? In your church?
7. List examples of churches and denominations uniting in citywide evangelistic efforts. Is this unity a fulfillment of Christ's promise?
False Comfort For Sinners
Text: "How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?" (Job 21 :34).
Job's friends came to comfort him, but not being able to understand his case, could afford him no comfort, but rather aggravated his grief.
I. The necessity and design of instructing anxious sinners.
Unless the truth is brought to bear upon a sinner, it is certain he will not be converted. Bring his mind by the shortest route to the practical conclusion: that there is no other way in which he can be relieved and saved, but to renounce himself and rest in Christ alone.
II. Anxious sinners are always seeking comfort.
They often imagine they are seeking Jesus Christ and religion, but this is a mistake. To seek religion implies a willingness to obey God, and a willingness to obey God is religion. The anxious sinner is seeking a hope of pardon, comfort, and deliverance from hell. Unfortunately, he finds comforters enough to his liking, "Seeing in their answers there remaineth falsehood."
III. Several ways in which false comfort is given to anxious sinners:
God desires that they be comforted, but He sees that there is only one way to give a sinner real comfort. False comfort is given:
A. By asking, "What have you done? You are not so bad!"
B. By telling a sinner, "Conversion is a progressive work." This is absurd.
C. By advising a sinner to dismiss the subject for the present.
D. By telling a sinner that religion does not consist in feeling bad.
E By involving religion in mystery.
F. By relieving the sinner from a sense of blame.
G. By telling a sinner of his inability.
H. By giving a sinner the impression that he is to be passive in religion.
I. By telling a sinner to await God's time.
J. By telling an anxious sinner to do anything for relief which he can do, and not submit his heart to God. A few of the things sinners are told to do:1. To use the means.
2. To pray for a new heart. Does God say, "Pray for a new heart"? Never. He says, "Make you a new heart."
3. To persevere. He ought to instantly lay down his weapons.
4. To press forward. You ought to say, "Stop! Do not take another step that way."
5. To try to repent.
6. To pray for repentance. God requires him to repent.
7. To pray for conviction. It lets him off from the pressure of the present obligation.
K. By telling him God is trying his faith. As if an impenitent sinner had faith!
L. By telling him, "Do your duty and leave your conversion with God." To say, "Leave your salvation with God" would be proper.
M. By saying, "Do not be discouraged; I was a long time in this way before I found comfort."
N. By saying, "I have faith to believe that you will be converted." On what does your faith rest?
O. By saying, "I will pray for you." This leads the sinner to trust in your prayers instead of in Christ.
P. By saying, "I rejoice to see you in this way; be faithful and hold out." You ought to be distressed to see him resisting the Holy Spirit.
Q. By saying, "You will have your pay for this; by and by God will reward you."
R. By telling a sinner he has not repented enough.
S. By telling him, "If you are elected you will be brought in." He has nothing at all to do with the doctrine of election, but if he did not repent he would be damned.
T. By saying, "You are in a prosperous way; I feel encouraged." He must feel his ways are wrong.
U. By applying scripture promises which were designed only for saints:1. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. "
2. "They that seek shall find."
3. "Be not weary in well doing, for in due time you shall reap if you faint not."
V. By saying, "I will tell you my experience." No two persons are alike.
W. By telling a sinner that God has begun a good work in him, and He will carry it on.
X. By saying, "You have broken off your sins, have you?" He may never have forsaken his sins.
Y. By saying, "Do what you can, and God will do the rest." In fact, the sinner has done nothing but resist.
Z. By saying, "You should be thankful for what you have, and hope for more."
IV. Errors in praying for sinners:
A. Praying as if they deserved to be pitied more than blamed.
B. Praying for them as poor sinners, rather than wicked and guilty.
C. Praying that God will help the sinner to repent, and relieve him of responsibility.
D. Praying, "Lord, these seek Thee, sorrowing." No sinner sought Jesus three minutes without finding Him.
E. Praying, "Sinners who are seeking Thy love to know," as if they were seeking to know His love and could not.
F. Praying, "Have mercy on these penitent souls." If they are penitent, they are Christians.
G. Thinking of them as "humble souls." If they had humbled themselves, the Lord would have raised them up.
H. Praying, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." They do know what they are doing.
I. Praying, "Lord, direct these sinners inquiring the way to Zion." This is applicable only to Christians.
J. Praying for more conviction. Bring them to the point of immediate submission.
K. Giving the impression that Christ is the sinner's friend, in a different way from the way God the Father is.
L. Giving the impression that you do not expect sinners to repent now.
1. Many who deal with anxious sinners do it from false pity.
2. Administering false comfort is cruelty.
3. Sometimes sinners become deranged through despair.
4. In dealing with sinners, remember that you will meet them in judgment.
5. Sinners! If you converse with Christians, and they tell you what to do, ask, "If I do that, will I be saved
Do not give a sinner any direction that does not include absolute submission to God.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 17
1. What is it that anxious sinners are primarily seeking? To what conclusion must we bring them?
2. Finney lists 26 ways by which Christians often give "false comfort" to seekers. Which of these errors are sometimes found in today's soul-winning efforts?
3. Why should we not urge the sinner to "pray for repentance"?
4. What do you understand to be the difference between "pray for a new heart" and "make you a new heart"?
5. What is the possible danger of telling seeking souls, "I will pray for you"?
6. Have we lost the element of repentance in our soul-winning by placing an undue emphasis on "only believe"?
7. In your prayers for the unsaved, have you ever made any of the mistakes listed in lV., "Errors in praying for sinners"? Which ones?
Directions For Sinners
Text: "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).
It is my design to explain to you what answer should be given to those who make the inquiry,
"What must I do to be saved?"
I. What are not proper directions to be given to anxious sinners?
No more important inquiry was ever made than this. It is of infinite importance that an anxious sinner should receive the right answer.
A. No direction should be given that will leave him still in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. No answer is proper to be given with which, if he complies, he would not go to heaven if he should die the next moment.
B. No direction should be given that does not include a change of heart and hearty obedience to God. Nothing is proper which does not imply actually becoming a Christian.
II. What is the proper answer to this inquiry?
You may give the sinner any direction that includes a right heart, and which, if you make him understand it and do it, will ensure that he is saved.
The most common directions are as follows:
A. It is generally a suitable direction to tell a sinner to repent. This is always proper, but will not always be effectual, for there may be some other things that the sinner needs to be told as well. Many suppose that remorse, regret, fear of hell, and remonstrances of conscience, are repentance. These are not repentance. True repentance always implies abhorrence of sin, forsaking sin.
B. A sinner should be told to believe the gospel, have it explained to him, be told what is and is not faith. Faith does not consist in an intellectual conviction. It is trust and confidence in scripture that makes people act as if it were true.
C. A sinner should be told to give his heart to God.
D. A sinner should be told to submit to God.
E. A sinner must both confess and forsake his sins, and must make restitution.
F. A sinner must: "Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve."
G. Let him understand what is meant by choosing.
III. Several errors which anxious sinners may fall into respecting this great inquiry:
A. Supposing that they must make themselves better to commend themselves in some way to the mercy of God. All they have to do is to accept salvation from God.
B. Supposing that they must suffer a considerable time under conviction as a kind of punishment.
C. Imagining that they must wait for different feelings before they submit to God.
D. Supposing they must wait until their hearts are changed.
E. Having the idea that they are perfectly willing to do what God requires. There is a difference between willing and desiring. People often desire to be Christians when they are wholly unwilling to be so.
F. Saying that they offer to give God their hearts, but God is unwilling. This is absurd.
G. Having the idea that they have repented when they are only convicted.
H. Looking at themselves to see if they cannot find something there that will recommend them to God.
1. The labor of ministers is greatly increased, and the difficulties in the way of salvation are greatly multiplied, by the false instructions that have been given to sinners.
2. These false instructions to sinners are infinitely worse than none.
3. No wonder the gospel has taken so little effect, encumbered as it has been with these strange dogmas.
4. You can understand what is meant by healing slightly the hurt of the daughter of God's people, and the danger of doing it.
5. Much depends on the manner in which a person is dealt with when he or she is under conviction.
6. Protracted seasons of conviction are generally owing to defective instruction.
7. Where clear and discriminating instructions are given to convicted sinners, if they do not soon submit, their convictions will generally leave them. When the truth is brought to bear upon their minds, and they directly resist the very truth that must convert them, there is nothing more to be done. The Spirit will soon leave them. The Spirit may strive even for years in great mercy to get sinners through the fog of false instructions. Then, if they do not submit, the Spirit of God forsakes them, and their state is well nigh hopeless.
8. A vast deal of the direction given to anxious sinners amounts to little less than the doctrine of indulgences.
9. So far as I have had opportunity to observe, those who have been converted most suddenly have commonly turned out to be the best Christians.
Afraid of sudden conversion! Some of the best Christians of my acquaintance were convicted and converted in the space of a few minutes.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 18
1. What answer would you give if someone asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
2. What are some of the experiences that are mistakenly supposed to be "repentance"?
3. Is it possible that soul-winners sometimes rely on a "ten easy steps to salvation" formula or a glib application of "spiritual laws" when the seeker really wants to discuss his personal yearnings, and to find answers to his in-depth questions?
4. Are there sinners whose state "is well nigh hopeless"? If so, how did they get that way?
5. Is it necessary for a seeker to suffer under conviction until he makes himself better, or to wait for different feelings before he submits to God?
6. Why are false instructions worse than none?
7. Are sudden conversions possible?
Instructions To Converts
Text: "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15).
Though Peter had special natural qualifications for such a work, he was quite a superficial saint. Christ took this effectual method to secure a thorough work in his soul. The Saviour undoubtedly designated Christians, members of His Church; the lambs probably represented young converts:
I. Several matters in regard to the hopes of young converts:
A. Nothing should be said to them to create a hope. Let their hope or belief that they are converted spring up spontaneously in their own minds.
B. When you see persons expressing both a hope and doubts too, it is generally because the work is no thorough.
C. There is no need for young converts to have doubts as to their conversion. A cheerful settled hope in Christ is indispensable to usefulness.
II. Some things worthy of consideration in regard to making a profession of religion:
A. Young Christians should ordinarily offer themselves for admission to some church of Christ immediately. If there is no particular reason for delay, ordinarily the church ought to receive them when they apply. That is the way the apostles did it.
B. In examining converts for admission to the church, be careful not to ensnare their consciences by examining them too minutely on doctrinal points, expecting that young converts would be at once acquainted with the whole system of divinity.
C. Sometimes persons who are known to entertain a hope dare not make a profession of religion for fear they should be deceived.
D. Sometimes professing converts will make an excuse for not joining a church, saying that they can enjoy religion as well without it. This is always suspicious.
III. The importance of giving right instruction to young converts:
Ordinarily their Christian character through life is molder according to the manner in which they were dealt with when first converted. There are many who have been poorly taught at first, but have been reconverted afterwards, and if they are then dealt with properly, they may be made something of.
IV. Some things which should not be taught to young converts:
A. "You won't always feel as you do now"--preparing their minds to expect that they will backslide. This is the way the devil wants young converts dealt with.
B. "Learn to walk by faith and not by sight"--a manifest perversion of scripture. Faith indeed! Faith without works is dead.
C. "Wait till you see whether you can hold out." There is no scripture warrant for telling a person to wait when the command of God is upon him.
D. "Wait till you get strength before you take up the cross." Strength comes with exercise.
E. Young converts should not be made sectarian in their feelings.
V. Some important things which should be taught to young converts:
A. To distinguish between emotion and principle in religion.
B. To renounce the ownership of all their possessions, and of themselves; if they have not done this they are not Christians.
C. To cultivate a tender conscience.
D. To pray without ceasing, to be in a prayerful spirit all the time.
E. To be warned against adopting a false standard in religion. They should always look to Christ as their model.
F. To do all their duty.
G. To feel that they have no separate interests apart from the interest of Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
H. To maintain singleness of motive.
I. To aim at being useful in the highest degree possible.
J. Not to aim at comfort, but usefulness in religion.
K. To have moral courage.
L. To be sound in the faith.
M. To guard against censoriousness.
N. To say "No." If they do not wish to hand the cause of Christ over to scorn and contempt, they must learn to resist the beginnings of temptation.
O. To discern what is and what is not Christian experience.
P. Not to count anything which they do for God as a sacrifice.
Q. To be strictly honest in everything.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 19
1. Is it possible for young converts to have an "assurance of salvation"?
2. Discuss the importance of giving right instructions to young converts. Was this done when you were first converted? Is it done in your congregation?
3. Why is there sometimes an unnecessary delay in bringing young converts into church membership?
4. Section V. provides an outline for a program of training for young converts. Identify the subjects most urgently needed in teaching new converts in your church/corps today.
5. In view of today's peer pressure and cultural evils, how can we help new converts say "no"? Discuss the importance of our precept and example in this discipline.
6. Finney lists some things in section IV. that should not be taught to young converts. Can you add to this list from your own experience? From Finney's list, which are the most apparent today?
Instruction Of Young Converts
Text: "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15).
I. Further instruction which it is important should be given to young converts:
A. Young converts should be made to understand what religion consists in, and negatively, what religion does not consist in.1. Religion is not doctrinal knowledge. The devil has doctrinal knowledge, but no religion.
2. Religion is not a substance.
3. Religion does not consist in raptures, or ecstasies, or high flights of feeling.
4. It does not consist in going to meeting, or reading the Bible, or praying, or any other of what are commonly called religious duties.
5. It does not consist in desires to do good. Wicked men may have desires after holiness.
6. Nothing which is selfish is religion.
7. Nothing is acceptable to God as religion unless it is performed heartily to please God. All religion consists in obeying God from the heart.
B. Young converts should be taught that self-denial is a feature of the gospel.
C. They should be taught what sanctification is. It is obedience, and as a progressive thing, consists in obeying God more and more perfectly.
D. They should be taught to understand what perseverance is. Some talk as if "once in grace, always in grace." The true idea is that if a man is truly converted, he will continue to obey God, and as a consequence, he will surely go to heaven.
E. They should be taught to be religious in everything, every department of life.
F. They should be taught to be "temperate in all things."
G. They should be taught to have as much religion in their business as in prayer.
H. They should be taught to be as holy as they think ministers ought to be.
I. They should aim at being perfect. If it is not the converts' intention to live without sin, they have not yet begun to be religious.
J. They should be taught to exhibit their light.
K. They should be taught how to win souls to Christ.
II. How young converts should be treated by the church:
A. Old professors of religion ought to be able to give converts a great deal of instruction, and they ought to give it.
B. Young converts should not be kept back behind the rest of the church.
C. Young converts should be watched over by the church and warned of dangers, just as a tender mother watches over her children.
D. Church members should be tender in reproving young converts.
E. Church members should kindly point out faulty things in the new converts' lives which as yet are not perceived to be wrong by the converts.
F. Church members should not speak of the faults of young converts behind their backs.
III. Some of the evils of defective instruction to young converts:
A. They will never be fully grounded in right principles.
B. They will not grow in grace, but their religion will dwindle away and decay.
C. They will be left justly in doubt whether they are Christians.
D. If they are rightly instructed, they will generally take the right side on all great subjects that come before the church.
E. They will inevitably backslide.
1. The Church is undoubtedly guilty for her past neglect in regard to the instruction of young converts.
2. Young converts should be trained to labor, just as carefully as young recruits in an army are trained for war.
3. The Church has entirely mistaken the manner in which she is to be sanctified. Holiness consists in obeying God. Sanctification, as a process, means obeying Him more and more perfectly. The way to promote holiness in the Church is to give everyone something to do. Jesus Christ has made His people co-workers with Him in saving sinners. Sanctification consists in doing those things which are required to promote this work.
4. What a responsibility rests on ministers, and all who have opportunity to assist in training young converts. Young converts would never backslide as they do if the Church were prompt and faithful in attending to their instruction.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 20
1. In this chapter, Finney continues his outline of subjects to be taught to young converts. List those that are most relevant in your church today.
2. Do many converts (and sometimes their spiritual leaders) confuse a real Christian experience with the "negatives" listed in section I.A.?
3. What do you understand by "perseverance"?
4. Describe some of the results if young Christians are not well instructed. Can you illustrate this from experiences in your own fellowship? What can more mature Christians do?
5. Finney uses two illustrations of a church's care for converts: a tender mother watching over her children, and young recruits being trained for war. Are these contradictory? In your opinion, which is neglected most?
6. Who should feel responsible for the care and training of converts?
Text: "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways" (Proverbs 14:14).
I. Who are backsliders?
A. The term "to backslide" means to go back from a point.
B. You are a backslider if you have left your first love, if your zeal has grown cold.
C. If you were once converted, but do not enjoy secret prayer, you are a backslider.
D. If you do not enjoy the word of God, you are a backslider in heart.
E. If you are worldly-minded, you are a backslider.
F. If you do not feel your heart drawn out in painful anxiety and prayer in view of the state of the Church, it is because you are a backslider.
F. If you are insensible how low the state of religion is, you are a backslider.
G. When the wickedness of sinners does not distress and grieve you, it is a sign of backsliding.
H. You are a backslider if your secret prayers are short and far between.
I. You are a backslider if you can perform secret prayer in a slight manner without fervency of soul.
J. You are a backslider if you allow trifling excuses to prevent your praying in secret or in public.
II. Some of the principal causes of backsliding:
A. Bearing ill will towards any person.
B. Having too much worldly business to absorb your thoughts.
C. Being associated in business with an unconverted partner.
D. Being influenced by worldly companions.
E. Taking a worldly partner for life.
F. Fearing to give offence to worldly friends by being strictly religious.
G. Neglecting secret prayer. This is both an evidence and a cause of backsliding.
H. Neglecting the Bible.
I. Failing to be strictly honest.
J. Covetousness. Covetousness is idolatry.
K. Lacking perfect truth and sincerity in conversation.
L. Tale bearing.
N. Living intemperately.
III. Some of the consequences of backsliding:
A. Backsliders become the most unhappy people in the world.
B. Backsliders will be the most guilty people on earth.1. Their temper will be bad.
2. They have a clearer knowledge of duty.
3. They sin against peculiar obligations.
4. They are covenant breakers.
5. They bring up an evil report against religion itself.
C. Backsliders render themselves the most despicable of all people. Both sides condemn and despise them.
D. They are the most inconsistent people in the world.
E. They are the most difficult to please.
F. Very often, they are the most hardened people to be found.
G. They are loathsome. Christ says about them, "I will spew thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3: 16).
H. They are most injurious to the cause of religion.
I. They are the most hypocritical of all people.
J. If backsliders continue in that way without reformation, sooner or later the very thing will come upon them which they dread, and which was the occasion of their backsliding.
K. Backsliders may expect that by and by God will let them fall into some iniquity or disgrace.
1. There is no way for young converts to keep from being backsliders except by guarding against the beginning of decline.
2. You see the duty of church members to watch over young converts in love, and put them on guard against the beginnings of backsliding.
3. There is reason to praise God for all He does with His people when they backslide.
4. If you are in a backslidden state, or if you are a professing Christian and have these marks, if God does not chasten you, and if you are still prosperous, you have reason to fear that you are given up by God.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 21
1. Describe some of the characteristics of a backslider. After a period of honest self-examination, ask whether or not any of these evidences are to be found in your own Christian experience.
2. Is it possible to be a backslider, according to these criteria, and still be active in corps/church life? Even in leadership positions?
3. What happens when a person continues in a backslidden state?
4. How may young converts be kept from becoming backsliders?
5. When do we have reason to fear that we have been given up by God?
6. After a careful study of the principal causes of backsliding, discuss which are the most prevalent causes among Christians today.
Growth In Grace
Text: "Grow in grace" (2 Peter 3:18).
The term grace is used in the Bible in different senses. Grace, in God, is synonymous with beneficence, undeserved favor. In man, grace means holiness, to increase in conformity to God.
I. What is meant by growing in grace?
It is to govern our conduct more and more by the same principles that God does, to aim constantly to be more and more like God.
II. Some things that are not evidence of growth in grace, although sometimes supposed to be:
A. An individual cannot be said to have grown in grace simply because he grows in gifts. Certain exercises will improve by practice, whether by a sinner or a hypocrite.
B. Growing in knowledge is not evidence of growth in grace.
C. It is not evidence that a person grows in grace because he thinks he is doing so.
III. Some things that are evidences of growth in grace:
A. When a convert has more singleness of heart and more purity of motive in his conduct.
B. When he is more and more actuated by principle, and less and less by emotion or feeling.
C. When he shows more love to God.
D. When he increases in love to men as well as love to God.
E. When he feels more self-loathing with greater humility and self-abasement.
F. When he shows increased abhorrence of sin.
G. When he has less relish for the world and its wealth, honors, pleasures; when he is less fond of worldly company and conversation, and reading worldly books.
H. When he increasingly delights in the fellowship of the saints.
I. When he finds it easier and easier to exercise a forgiving spirit.
J. When he grows more charitable; he is more ready to ascribe apparently wrong conduct to mistake or misapprehension than to direct evil intention.
K. When he has less anxiety about worldly things.
L. When he becomes more ready to bestow property.
M. When he feels less as if he had separate interests, and more that all that he has is Christ's.
N. When he becomes more willing to confess faults before men.
O. When he rises more and more above the world.
IV. How to grow in grace:
This is a highly important subject for young converts.
A. Watch against your besetting sins:1. Levity.
5. Selfishness in all its forms.
9. Impure thoughts.
B. Exercise all the Christian graces, especially where you find yourself more deficient:1. If you are naturally worldly-minded, shut down the gate.
2. If you are in danger of being flattered and lifted up with pride, practice humility.
3. If you are reluctant to confess your faults, confess to everybody you have injured.
C. Exercise decision of character.
D. Possess great meekness.
V. Some things that are evidences of decline:
A. Weariness of being asked to give for the kingdom of Christ.
B. Reluctance to converse on the subject of religion.
C. Disinclination to engage in duties of devotion, public or private.
D. Taking more delight in public meetings than in secret communing with God.
E. Feeling less delight in revivals of religion.
F. Criticizing measures used in revivals.
VI. How to escape from a state of decline:
A. Admit the conviction that you are in a state of decline.
B. Apply to yourself all that God says to backsliders.
C. Find out the point where you began to decline.
D. Give up your idols, whatever distracts you from serving God.
E. Apply afresh to the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and peace with God.
1. There is no such thing as standing still in religion.
2. The idea that persons grow in grace during seasons of decline is abominable.
3. There are but few persons that do grow in grace.
4. We see the fault of ministers, how few pains they take to train young converts.
5. Unless ministers grow in grace, it is impossible for the church to grow.
6. Great pains should be taken by young ministers to grow in grace.
7. It is as indispensable in promoting a revival to preach to the church and make it grow in grace as it is to preach to sinners and make them submit to God.
8. See why revivals cease. If the church is kept advancing, the revival will not cease.
FOR DISCUSSION--Lecture 22
1. What is the difference between grace in God and grace in men?
2. Compare Finney's definition of "growing in grace" with Frederick Coutts' definition of holiness as "growth in Christ-likeness. "
3. What is the difference between growth in grace, and growth in gifts and knowledge?
4. Discuss the result of growth in grace as it relates to "relish for the world."
5. Which "evidences" in section III. are the most noticeable to others when demonstrated in a Christian's life?
6. In your opinion, how can we be objective enough to identify our own "besetting sins"? Do most people have the courage to try? Do you?
7. Will we eventually reach a point in our spiritual pilgrimage where we can "stand stili," neither growing nor declining?
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