3crossesHome Enclave The Church of the Love of Christ

Charles Finney on Evangelism

Brief Synopses of

Revival Fire – Power from God


Copyright 2004
Montgomery Paul Webb

Revival Fire: Letters on Revivals to All Friends,
and Especially Ministers, of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Superficial Revivals

Revivals of religion are becoming more and more superficial. They exhibit a lesser depth of conviction of sin, of brokenness in heart, of the graces of God. The converts have not really searched their hearts, felt their depravity, sensed their shame. They go on to experience little of the Spirit of Christ, practicing religion without humility or very much dependence on prayer.

The character of revival may be assessed by the stress it lays on the depravity of the heart. The preaching must convict the sinner, provoking a sense of shame before God, and stripping away every excuse to self-justification. It should be emphasized that repentance cannot be accomplished by the natural ability of sinners to see their dependence on the grace of God, but by necessity and only through divine influence. If God’s work is made to be superficial, He withholds His influence. There must be a real presence of the Holy Spirit and not just a focus on producing excitement.

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II. Unhealthy Revival Excitement

It is an error to encourage an excessive degree of emotional excitement during a revival. Some excitement is inevitable, but too much exposes the sinner to delusions and controls the will. Religion must be obedient to intelligence rather than the influence of emotion. The soul controlled by feelings, rather than the Gospel and intelligent truth, is not religious.

Encourage only enough excitement to fix the attention of the mind to truth. Anything more is dangerous. People get the idea that they are religious, that revival occurs, in proportion to a degree of emotional expression. But, feelings alone are not religion and serve only as a basis for false hopes in revival.

Appealing to the emotions leads to a selfish submission to God. A person motivated only by the fear of punishment, the hope of reward, has no virtue. God does not reward those who follow him for loaves and fishes, but sinners must love God disinterestedly.

At times, the attention of the sinner can only be diverted to salvation by addressing hopes and fears, but such an appeal should never be done in a selfish way, and as soon as possible, the focus should shift to giving oneself entirely to God. Describe the character of God, the nature of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and excite the sinner to exercise disinterested, universal love, as contrasted to a life of self-will, self-dependence, pride, ambition, hate, lust, spiritual death. The more calm the sinner remains, the more his will is free to comply to the truth. Avoid unnecessary excitement but instruct the will.

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III. A Cause of Spurious Conversions

Spurious converts are numerous. Spurious conversions arise from: a) insufficiently demonstrating human depravity, the nature of sin, the need for the Gospel; b) urging submission, repentance, service to God, without providing adequate knowledge and understanding of these states; c) leading sinners to Christ before they really know who he is and why he died for us; d) preaching that a godly life merely consists of resolutions to obey, rather than walking in faith and love.

Legalists resolve to serve the Lord. They are very active in the church, but they do not have a loving, gentle, meek, long-suffering nature. They are easily excited but selfish and unbroken. Their sense of a conviction of sin is an affirmation of the mind without supernatural illumination. The fundamental idea of Christianity is not clear to them. They have never been stripped of self-dependence, self-righteousness, have never considered themselves dead, condemned sinners, and do not apprehend the necessity of the Gospel. They are not students of the Bible. They serve God as they would serve someone for wages, and not out of disinterested love.

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IV. Errors That Hinder Revivals

Many leaders of revival do not understand the true idea of religion. Many believe it is feelings, legalistic observances, or passive states of mind. They do not regard selfishness as the essence of sin, or even as sinful, at least not in some forms. The Christian religion is love, and any human conduct that does not proceed from love denies virtue and truth. To be converted to a true believer is to turn from selfishness, and to love God and neighbor.

Some revival leaders have developed correct ideas of faith, love, repentance; but, they only have an intellectual understanding of religion, and they never let what they know leave their minds and enter their hearts. They understand faith but do not exercise faith.

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V. Erroneous Revival Preaching

It is an error to preach on the tenets of religion in such a puffed up manner, as to leave the impression that everything about spiritual truth can be understood and explained. These preachers may declare that some things must be received merely by faith, but they always try to create the notion that their study and wisdom makes all things understood. The human mind greatly flatters itself, when it fancies comprehension of all, or at least most, of the truth relating to God.

Assuming this inflated position results in two evils. It substitutes human reason for faith and the word of God. And, it creates a class of Christians who reject all doctrines which they cannot philosophically understand, and who have no real confidence in the testimony of God.

This type of preaching does not humble Christians but makes them wise in their own conceits, without true faith or real trust in the Bible. Preaching should set forth spiritual truth merely as facts to be believed, in the same manner that the Bible presents truth. Then, faith is strengthened, as God is trusted on the authority of his own testimony. Philosophical explanations later may seem charming and edifying, but they will not serve as a basis of authority.

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VI. Excitement in Revivals

In every age of the Church, there have been genuine manifestations of divine truth through the means of being slain in the Spirit, just as the prophet Daniel and the apostle Paul serve for examples. However, in real cases of this overwhelming power, the intelligence is not stultified or confused. The person remains calm. There are no tears or unusual displays of emotion, but the mind sees truth unveiled. The incidents occur by a simple revelation of God, not by external means adapted to the result, or by appeals to excite the imagination.

These incidents should be distinguished from mere states of excitement aroused by zealous preaching designed to strain the nervous system. Excitement produced by the Holy Spirit enlarges perceptions of intelligence by calmly overpowering the soul. These cases can be verified by inquiry on the nature of the revelation concerning the character of God and his government. If there is no intelligent reason for the altered state, most likely it is false.

Finney cites an example from his experience at a New York meeting. The leaders approached some women in the congregation, began clapping their hands and yelling “power, power, power,” until everyone was shouting, clapping, and shrieking. Then, it was proclaimed the power of God had descended from heaven — but, there was no word of truth, no prayer, no exhortation.

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VII. Fanatical Excitement

Satan will take advantage of highly excited feelings to mingle a spirit of fanaticism into religious revival. Fanaticism is loveless light, exclaiming what people ought to be and to do, resulting in indignation, denunciation, and rebuke. Emotion carries fanatics away to outrageous and vindictive efforts to sustain what is regarded as righteousness and truth. They are always present during a revival, censoring, finding fault, reviling. They make war on anything that opposes them and allow no one the freedom of a private opinion. They especially attack ministers and influential leaders in the church.

The fanatic spirit often arises through stealth, in pleading the example of Christ, the prophets and apostles, and in quoting Scripture. The fanatic minister stands in God’s stead, wholly engrossed in the faults of the church and the ministry. He sees nothing good and questions whether the entire visible church is filled only with hypocrites. He believes all ministers are self-deceived stewards of the devil. His words are often tainted with bitterness.

Revival preachers who are attacked by fanatics will sometimes fall into a censorious spirit, at first allowing only a little leaven to arise, but eventually moving the revival completely away from an expression of love to recrimination and bitterness, destroying true meekness, kindness, and compassion. Revival preachers should be very guarded about how to react to opposition and merely urge forbearance in a conciliatory manner. It is often better to take no notice of opposition, making no reference whatsoever to the fanatics, rather than to fan the sparks of disruption into a flame. Otherwise, the revival preachers themselves may become fanatics. Any preacher is susceptible to having a fanatic reaction. Make sure your spirit is full of heavenly wisdom, purity, peace, gentleness, mercy, and good fruits.

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VIII. Excitement in Revivals

Many revivals are false. They are not based on love but a fiery zeal mixed with bitterness and sarcasm. The meeting is calculated to promote excitement, not an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit from Satan takes over. A dark cloud hangs over those gathered at the meeting, and the state of mind is not open or meek, but a determined sentiment of “I am holier than thou.” The converts come out bitter and faultfinding.

A fanatical spirit always tries to arise at a revival, and the leader of the meeting must look for it and warn against it. Left unchecked, it will spread. The spirit of fanaticism is also common among oppossers of revivals. These people, often professors and church leaders, imagine defects in the promoters of the revivals, finding fault with and having a hostile spirit toward their work. The promoters must be careful not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.

There is a type of a believer extremely given to impulses, especially while a message is preached on the necessity and reality of divine influence — such as, praying in, being filled with, or led by the Spirit. These believers are not familiar with the true manner in which the Spirit influences the mind and look for Him to impress their feelings. Hence, they are full of deluded impressions that they ought to do certain things: for example — calling for prayer at a time that creates disorder, interrupting a speaker, warning against a minister, going somewhere to converse with or rebuke someone.

In general, true impressions by the Holy Spirit may be distinguished by their compassionate affection for a person’s salvation or spiritual welfare. Strongly guard against impressions not connected with love, compassion, the Spirit of prayer, etc. Otherwise, you may render yourselves ridiculous.

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IX. Why So Few Revivals?

Ministers should not look beyond themselves to understand why there exists a lack of revival. The primary and fundamental reason for the decline rests with their own spiritual state, their want of holiness, anointing, power in prayer and preaching, self-denial, and energetic effort in a ministry. Many ministers are so involved in church politics, government, proceedings, and projects, but they do not have time for revival. Ministers must recant first themselves.

The churches are not aware of the state of the ministry, as the members of the congregations are also in a state of decline. Exposing the need for revival within the ministry and the church does not have to arise from a spirit of faultfinding, but just from being frank, humble, and honest. Why not have a church convention for prayer, confession, and getting into revival?

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X. Causes of the Decline of Revivals

The church has focused so much on the conversion of sinners, that it has neglected preaching on the entire gospel, until its own piety has been affected. Consequently, the church has become legalistic, self-righteousness blustering, carnal, mechanical, unbelieving, until its efforts to make converts have fallen into disrepute. As the ministers do not themselves live in Christ, they are in no state to promote true religion.

Ministers preach that Christians are expected to sin as long as they live, as they are afraid of causing the error of perfectionism, until the entire church is backslidden. These ministers believe it is better to guard against the error of perfectionism, than to guard against sin, and they create a prejudice against holy living. However, holiness must be insisted upon as indispensable and as a practical attainment. Believers must expect to cleanse themselves of sin, or the lower set standards will lead to backsliding. Urge the church to holy living.

Many ministers expect to promote revival without the use of any special means. They believe that revival is a work of God, and that it makes no sense to take the job out of his hands. However, there must be calculated means to arouse interest and excitement toward revival. In the present time, everyone is reforming society, and many questions on the ways of life are arousing deep public interest, with a surplus of advocates, lecturers, journals. Ministers must multiply their efforts in proportion to the activity of the worldly proponents of a new society, until by the grace of God, the attention of the public is gained and hearts are subdued. “…if the Church is expecting to promote revival without great powerful, and protracted efforts, they will find themselves mistaken. The fact that revivals are the work of God, instead of affording a reason for neglecting efforts, is the very reason which renders them indispensable.”

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XI. The Impolicy of Spasmodic Efforts

Prejudice is eating up the piety of the churches and preventing the promotion of revivals. Prejudice grieves the Holy Spirit and hinders communion with God, prayer, and living by grace. Prejudice extends to many subjects — moral reform, Christian leaders, revival measures, theological positions. Even in maintaining a position based on truth, if it is supported with prejudice, it shuts out God. Christ intended that we make a candid, thorough, and charitable examination of assertions of truth. Some ministers do nothing else but preach on their prejudices, but we must fear to excite prejudice on any subject.

Some people confine their religion to protracted meetings and excited awakenings, which is just as prejudicial as opposing revival measures. It is important to have meetings to promote Christian spirituality throughout the year, despite how useful prolonged sessions might be at times.

Revival meetings should never be so many, as to distract people from their worldly chores and duties. However, as excitement to the attention of worldly subjects increases, so should the means to have people focus on salvation. We must follow the law of the mind, and as means are essential to the Spirit’s work, they must be multiplied, if we expect results from divine influence. The church should make a steady effort to promote revival, in proportion to worldly influences toward secular thinking. However, normal church duties should not be neglected, nor should revival meetings be left for when the church has little else to do.

(Section XII qualifies this section, that when time can be spared, it is only natural that special efforts should be made).

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XII. Hindrances to a Revival Spirit

The denominations which in the past have led in the promotion of revivals have recently become highly sectarian in spirit and given to schism, which constitutes an immense evil. Unless ministers cease from this sectarian spirit, its strife and prejudice, and move toward promoting brotherly love and harmony in the church, revival will no longer go forward.

Many ministers are so deeply sectarian, they are unconscious of their attitude, supposing they are only contending for the purity of the truth once delivered to the first Christians. These ministers have exalted their views to be so fundamental, that they consider anyone who does not embrace their beliefs as evil.

All great revivals are broken up by sectarianism, when ministers try to purify the church through their own ambition and prejudice. They rush to official church meetings to shock everyone into adopting the corrective views. They are not sufficiently honest and upright to be willing to examine patiently and judge charitably. To properly commune with God, all prejudice must be given up, and no opinion should be expressed that has not been carefully and properly examined. Many times, ministers will speak on subjects they obviously do not understand, and its plain that they have no power with God.

Ministers should settle the question of sectarianism by laying their hearts open to the throne of God.

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XIV. Hindrances to Revival

“It cannot be expected…that the Spirit of God should be poured out, and the labors of the Church and the ministry be blessed in the salvation of souls, any further than there is…a deep sympathy with Christ in the hearts of those who are forward as co-workers…When the church and the ministry are deeply exercised with disinterested love to God and man, when they have such love for the brethren that they would die for them, and such love for precious souls as to be willing to toil and make any sacrifices, and even lay down life itself for their salvation - then, rely on it, their labors will be blessed…(a person) must go forth and labor in the very spirit in which Christ came to die for sinners.”

When ministers are not in sympathy with God, they cannot distinguish between genuine and spurious revivals. Without the Spirit of Christ, revivals are mechanical, “so much of men and so little of God.” The leaders seem to expect that they will be awakened during the meeting. They may experience a few real conversions after a protracted effort, but for the most part they will only produce discouragement and disgust for revival efforts.

The revival leader first must have a deep inward talk with God and then must have the life of God developed in himself, to be able to prevail in prayer and preaching and to experience the power of Holy Spirit in the meeting. Hundreds of ministers should gather together to pray and labor for each other’s spiritual welfare, until there is a deep and thorough revival among them.

As very little has been done to promote piety in the churches, new converts are not given sufficient training in walking with God and avoiding the wiles of the devil. They actually cannot find a true spiritual environment. In general, the churches have lost the spirit of prayer and power with God, which renders superficial revival efforts. Any who preach on piety in the church are admonished to redirect their efforts toward sinners. Reform measures are received only with bitterness. Thus, most members know nothing more of Christ, than the fact that he died as an atoning sacrifice — nothing of full consecration to him, or of being led by the Holy Spirit to conform to his image and to deny ungodliness. If the church continues to refuse to be reformed, very soon it will no longer be Christian.

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XV. The Pernicious Attitude of the Church on the Reforms of the Age

Many fear the possibility of false excitement so much, that they try to keep revival from commencing, or shut it down as soon as they are any sparks of excitement. While they guard against the possibility of false excitement, they also shut down the opportunity to preach the truth of the Gospel.

False excitement arises from preaching error. Preaching strictly the truth, especially in reference to salvation, does beget a wholesome excitement.

Ministers who fear false excitement are also afraid to make any powerful appeal — to lift up their voice, to stress the urgency of the eternal life. If any excitement arises, immediately the over prudent throw out the caution, which renders revival impossible. The proper way to guard against inflaming doctrine is to powerfully press the real truth of the Gospel, until there is no room left for fanaticism. The best way to correct anything counterfeit is, to labor in private with the person causing the false impression, without distracting the congregation. Let the congregation be held fast with the truth. Do not promote great excitement, but remember deep excitement of feeling is natural and incidental to a revival. Let it come and do not fear it. And remember, the best way to prevent spurious excitement is to thunder forth with the power of the truth of the Gospel. If you suppress the true excitement of the Gospel, you may be assured the false excitement will spring up. But true excitement in the Gospel will never cease from any age. Divine Providence multiplies the occasions for excitement, and our only inquiry should be how to guide and control it to secure good results. To attempt to arrest it, would be like damning the Mississippi River; it will break out somewhere else. Excitement should not be arrested but channeled, or anarchy will result.

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XVI. The Folly of Attempting To Sustain True Religion without Revivals

It is completely preposterous to believe that the church can exist and prosper as well without revivals as with them. Any efforts in history to have religion without revival has only lead to a nominal church or an extinct one, and this fact shall always be so, unless the Lord introduces a different mode of diffusing the Gospel. Further, the revivals of 1820 to 1840 in this country, as well as Europe, have clearly demonstrated their influence on legislation. But, without revival, Christians will die faster than new converts are won, and the influence of secular institutions will shape public opinion and take over our government, and society will be engineered by Hell, based on worldliness, pride, ambition, and everything that is hateful. It is impossible that desolation should not reign without revival. Do not look coldly on revival efforts. They are our life.

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Power from God
1. Power from on High.

To be successful in fulfilling the Great Commission, we need “to be clothed with Power from on high.” Without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5 ). Behold, I send the promise of my father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). (All citations KJV unless indicated).

Christ promised this Power to the whole church, to all Christians, and no one should expect success without obtaining this outpouring of power from on high. The first disciples set the example of how to obtain this outpouring. First, they consecrated themselves to this work, and then they continued in prayer and supplication until Holy Spirit fell upon them (Acts 1:4). Note, the Father is most willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13).

Everybody prays for this power, but why do only a few receive it? First, many are not willing to have what they ask for. Second, God does not regard us, if we have iniquity in our hearts, if we are self-indulgent (Psalm 66:18). Further, the petitioner may be uncharitable, critical, self-dependent, resisting conviction, refusing to confess wrongdoing and to make restitution. He may be prejudiced, resistant, revengeful, ambitious, resistant to instruction, denominationally selfish, lazy, negligent in business, focused on the world, self-justifying, self-focused, lacking consecration, filled with unbelief, or quenching the persistence of the Spirit.

However, to get rid of these forms of sin does not alone bring the blessing. We must be certain we will receive the promise of the outpouring and prevail in prayer until it is obtained.

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2. Saving Impressions

Included with the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the power of a holy, self-sacrificing, cross bearing life. The believer will receive the power of meekness, loving enthusiasm, teaching, faith, moral courage to proclaim and obey Christ whatever the cost, or the gift of tongues, miracles, discernment.

These gifts were essential to the success of the first disciples, but their supreme and essential gift from the baptism was “the power to prevail with both God and man, the power to fasten saving impressions on the minds of men.” Any means used toward salvation must be made effective by the power of God. When the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit, immediately the power to make saving impressions was manifested. They addressed the multitude, and 3000 people were converted that same hour. The only new power they demonstrated at the time was the gift of tongues; God speaking in and through them with power from on high to make a saving impression on the crowd.

The power to make a saving impression stayed with the disciples and “has existed, to a greater or lesser extent, in the church ever since.” It is manifest in a mysterious and often surprising manner, sometimes conveyed by a single sentence, word, gesture, or even a look. Words with power from on high fasten like barbed arrows, cut like a sword, break the heart like a hammer. If the believer finds himself emptied of this power, he must humbly fast and pray for its return. “The same is true of ministers and laity alike.”

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4. Conditions of Receiving Power

Do not confuse a conversion to Christ “with a consecration to the great work of the world’s conversion.” Conversion develops a personal relationship with Christ. The disciples had already been converted to Christ for some time before receiving a definite commission infused with power to win all nations to him.

Christ admonished them to wait until they were clothed with power from on high. They accepted the commission, assembled for prayer, and came to an understanding of the nature of their work and the opposition they would face. No doubt, while waiting they examined themselves and consecrated themselves to the task, denying themselves to the world and acting in one accord. While waiting, they did not try to prepare by study or by going about their business, but they persisted in prayer and continued their petitions until the answer came.

We have the same commission, the same promise, the same admonition to wait on power from on high. Let us accept the commission and consecrate ourselves to the saving of souls as our great and only life work. Again, this commission is not conversion to Christ, which is “a personal transaction between the soul and Christ,” but it is the acceptance of service to Christ. However, “to whom he giveth the commission he also gives the admonition and promise.”

Everyone has been given the Great Commission individually and is responsible to win as many souls to Christ as possible. “…whether we preach, pray, write, print, trade, travel, take care of children, administer the government of the state, or whatever we do, our whole lives and influence should be permeated with this power. Christ says, he that believeth on me…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Christians need the conviction that the Commission applies to everyone, as well as the promise for the outpouring of power, which definitely will come through an earnest faith. The proclamation of the Gospel does not apply only to preachers or selected believers. Christians must persist, and not waver, in waiting on God for power. Almost everyone acknowledges our dependence on the Holy Spirit, but few actually depend on the power in everyday life.

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5. Is It a Hard Saying?

The lack of infusion of power from on high is a disqualification for any leadership position in the church. This position is reasonable and scriptural. Would it seem unreasonable to have disqualified anyone as an apostle for not having this power? Could apathy, selfishness, unbelief, indolence, or ignorance have served as an excuse for failing to obtain the power for the apostles? The same is true of those who are commanded to disciple the world today. If for any shortcoming they fail to obtain the gift, they are disqualified. They have no excuse.

The church must emphasize that all believers have an obligation to give themselves no rest until they have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Believers should be encouraged to receive the baptism, rather than given theories to justify neglecting its attainment. We should not try to grasp the baptism of the Holy Spirit with our intellect but with our heart. A pastor cannot be a mere intellect, but he must have a heart and faith. History clearly demonstrates that men of little culture but having the power have been highly successful in winning souls, while man of great learning have been powerless in ministry. Religion is an experience, not the development of intellect. A real heart union with God overshadows doctrine, philosophy, theology, church history and sermonizing.

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6. Prevailing Prayer

The Bible indicates conditions for having our prayers answered.
(The below list follows closely actual section headings from this chapter)

a. Expecting to receive what we ask for.
b. Asking according to God’s will.
c. Sincerity, Matthew 6:10.
d. Unselfishness; …ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lust, (James 4:3 ).
e. A clear conscience; …if our heart condemn us not, then we have confidence toward God…we receive of him because we keep his commandments, and do things that are pleasing in his sight, (I John 3:20–22).
f. A pure heart; if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18).
g. Confession and restitution; (Proverbs 28:13).
h. Clean hands; Psalm 26:6; I Timothy 2:8.
i. Reconciliation among believers, Matthew 5:23,24.
j. Humility, James 4:6; Removing stumbling blocks; …these men have set their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them, (Ezekiel 14:3).
k. Forgiveness, Matthew 6:12;15:12?. A truthful Spirit, Psalm 51:6.
l. Praying in Christ’s name.
m. Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:26;27.
n. Fervency, James 5:16.
o. Perseverance.
p. Travail of soul. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Galatians 4:19).
q. The consistent use of means to attain the object of prayer, i.e. assuming a course of action, according to available options.
r. Specificity — all prayers answered in the Bible are for a definite object.
s. Speaking from the heart.
t. Believing God keeps his word.
u. Watching and praying in the Holy Spirit, I Peter 4:7; Jude 20.

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7. How To Win Souls

The following are points to consider in winning souls.

a. People “are in rebellion against God, wholly alienated, intensely prejudiced, and committed against him. They are committed to self-gratification as their purpose for living.” It is their carnal mind, which is enmity against God, that needs radical change, (Romans 8:7).
b. This enmity is willful but can be overcome by the Word of God, when wisely presented and made effective by the Holy Spirit.
c. The necessary truths must be presented in an order adapted to the natural laws of the mind and of thought.
d. “Sinners must be convicted of their enmity.” In some, conviction is already ripe, but such cases are rare. “The knowledge of sin comes from the law.” By the law it is learned God is benevolent and opposed to all selfishness. The sinner must see the need for a pardon. He must understand his condemnation and God’s righteousness. He must be convicted of deserved punishment before he accepts mercy. By the law, the Holy Spirit annihilates the sinner’s sense of self-righteousness. Then, he comes to understand the impossibility of God not imposing a penalty when the law is broken. Then, he knows that he cannot be forgiven just because God is benevolent.
e. “Next, present the Atonement to the sinner as a revealed fact and point to Christ alone as his own sin offering.”
f. The truth should be preached to apply personally and directly to each person. Getting people’s interest in this way, making them feel this truth, is indispensable and causes them to forget about how much time is being spent on the subject. If they have no interest, they have not been addressed personally. Use fervency, earnestness, clearness, force.
g. However, common-sense must also be used, and spiritual wisdom must adapt the means to the end. “Matter and manner and order and time and place all need to be wisely adjusted to the end we have in view.”
h. “Souls need instruction in accordance with the measure of their intelligence.”
i. Explain terms used such as, repentance, faith, regeneration, and conversion.
Repentance — “the voluntary and actual renunciation of all sin…a radical change of mind toward God.” Faith — a heart felt trust in Christ, working by love, purifying the heart and overcoming the world. Regeneration — “a voluntary change of the ultimate preference of the soul, produced by the spiritual illumination of the Holy Spirit.” Conversion — the sinner’s action in response to the truth taken under the persuasion of the Holy Spirit.
j. Stress the mental effort the sinner must take to understand the truth and the acts of will required.
k. Be thorough. The inquiring soul will look for any bush, nook or corner, to find refuge, to maintain his delusion. Be so discriminating as to make it impossible for him to find false hope. Do not dress a wound that needs a probe. Do not fear discouraging the sinner by searching him out to the bottom. If the Holy Spirit is part of the process, it will be impossible for him to hide from or find rest in sin. Insist on full confession of all wrongs and total consecration to God. Make the sinner understand that anything short of this is not full repentance.
l. Constantly remind the sinner that to use the personal Christ dealing with him — it is God in Christ seeking reconciliation, II Corinthians 5:19. Assure him that salvation in Christ means eternal life.
m. When the soul receives this doctrine, instruct him in the basic precepts of the Christian life. Challenge him to be spiritually minded, and warn him of the desire of the flesh and the mind, (Romans 8:6; Ephesians 2:3). Instruct him on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whose power brings victory against Satan, “And extort him to run with patience the race that is set before [him], looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [his] faith (Hebrews 12:1,2).”

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8. Preacher, Save Thyself.

This chapter reviews 60 areas of character that should be obtained to avoid failure from disapproval and reproof.

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9. Innocent Amusements

It is a sad stumbling block to the unsaved to see Christians pursuing worldly pleasures. Living a religious life is living above the world, having a heavenly mind. The world should not be given the opportunity to scoff at Christians gratifying lusts. Sinners may profess to think of liberal Christians as good, less fanatic and without bigotry, but their sentiments are not sincere.

Whether an amusement is innocent or sinful depends on the motives for the act. Every activity of the Christian should be done for love of God and neighbor. Thus, we should not engage in amusements merely to gratify desire, and everything should be done in the service of God. Our time and money cannot be wasted.

The Christian should ask, does the amusement glorify God? Is it consistent with a holy heart? Living a godly life in itself brings peace, joy, serenity, and the countenance of this state recommends religion. Serving God is not a burden that must be set off against amusements. However, rest and recreation at times are necessary to secure the health of body and mind.

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10. How To Overcome Sin

Sin cannot be overcome by resolution — by praying about it and willfully subduing it. Sin is a voluntary commitment to self-pleasure, and “to eradicate selfishness from the heart by resolution is an absurdity.” Willfully struggling against sin does not touch the root of the problem and will only us as whitened sepulchers. Outward suppression only leads to inner delusion. The Bible teaches us to overcome sin by faith, (Acts 15:9; 26:18; Romans 9:31,32; I Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 6:16; I John 5:4).

Note, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure, Philippians 2:12,13). We do not overcome by force of resolution but by the inner working of God.

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11. The Decay of Conscience

The study of phrenology has affected the church’s view of sin, and Christians commonly believe there is no free will, no moral agency. (Phrenology holds that person’s character is determined by the shape of the skull). The law of God must be held up to reveal the depravity of the heart. The minister must probe the conscience and emphasize the necessity of a holy life.

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12. The Psychology of Faith

Faith is not an intellectual acceptance of the doctrine of the Gospel but “the heart’s trust in the person of Christ.” To intellectually understand what Christ did is a first step to faith, but next the sinner must voluntarily trust in his person. Faith exists in the conscience and does not consist of a degree of knowledge, (John 5:39,40).

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from the Introduction to Church Essentials: Relevant Issues For A Spiritual Community.

Evangelism should always be a primary concern of every Christian, and the best techniques for bringing people to salvation and stimulating revival in the nation should be taught prevalently in the church. Instead, church leaders more often advise members to leave winning people to God to anointed experts. Actually, the principles involved in the process of winning people to Christ in general are not even comprehended well enough by most church leaders, that they could create an effective overall plan of instruction in evangelism for a group of believers.

In American history, no one understood revival more thoroughly or had more actual evangelistic success than Charles Finney (1792–1875). He believed in relying directly on divine intervention in winning people to Christ, but unfortunately, such a technique caused great resistance and persecution against him by Christians, who upheld that the biblical concept of the expression of supernatural power in people’s everyday lives has ceased in modern times, and that God works today primarily through scholarship.

However, even though Finney is a historical figure well over a century from our time, his influence remains pervasive, and attacks against his methods routinely continue by modern academics, still biased against the possibility of witnessing the power of God in any biblical manner. Later in Finney’s career and under popular pressure, he accepted a teaching position at Oberlin College and published some works in theology, which can be demonstrated as having certain inaccuracies of varying significance outside of the basis of salvation. Those who persecute Finney always have pointed to these mistakes in formal theology to discredit him as a Christian leader and to serve as a basis for representing his techniques in evangelism as invalid and false. However, in reality, his teaching on evangelism is consistent with Scripture and should be assessed separately from his other theological positions, and the great success of his techniques should be noted, as the most flourishing evangelists in the 20th century have done.

At the end of his evangelistic career, Finney wrote Revival Fire to help other Christians understand the process of success in winning people to Christ in actual experience. This book is often out of print and unavailable to the average Christian, but the importance of its message cannot be emphasized enough. His book Power From God demonstrates how he depended on the intervention of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of Christ in bringing people to salvation, complimenting and enhancing the value of the wisdom of the former treatise. Having an introduction to these works by Finney through the very brief synopses included herein can serve as a vital first step to a real appreciation of what can be accomplished by anyone with a true desire for revival.

However, as Edwards served as an example to Finney in many respects, the works of these men can be seen to compliment each other, with the former often also reviewing the aspects of how a person comes to salvation, and the latter additionally placing a proper perspective on the expression of emotion in religion.

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Charles Finey on Evangelism: Brief Synopses of Revival Fire and Power from God constitutes a chapter from Church Essentials: Relevant Issues for a Spiritual Community. Copyright 2004 by Montgomery Paul Webb. All rights reserved. However, permission is granted solely to private individuals to make ten copies of any disc containing this book, to include whatever other publications are available therein from the Church of the Love of Christ, for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the contents of the disc is copied;— 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.

From printed material, photocopies only of any chapter can be made privately by individuals for distribution to friends and acquaintances, on the conditions — 1. that the entirety of the chapter is copied and distributed, including the pages of the chapter rendering the name The Church of the Love of Christ, the author’s name, and the copyright notice; — 2. and that absolutely no change, addition, or omission is made.

Chapters include — Introduction | What Is The Non-Institutional Church? | What Is Love? | Seeking Christian Humility | The Image of Woman in Scripture | Corinthians Un-Compromised | A Brief Synopsis of Jonathan Edwards’ RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS. | Charles Finney on Evangelism: Brief Synopses of REVIVAL FIRE and POWER FROM GOD.

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