R3 Alliance | Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) Father of Modern Revivalism
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Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) Father of Modern Revivalism

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) Father of Modern Revivalism

Charles Finney’s conversion reads like something from the book of Acts. Under deep conviction from Scripture and dealt with by the Holy Spirit, he vowed one Sunday evening in the fall of 1821 to “settle the question of my soul’s salvation at once, if it were possible, to make my peace with God.”

The next two days his conviction increased, but he could not pray or weep. He felt if he could be alone and cry out loud of God, something might happen. Tuesday evening he became so nervous he felt he would sink into hell, but he survived until morning. Setting out for work, he was suddenly confronted by an “inward voice.” It riveted him to a spot in front of his office: “What are you waiting for? Did you not promise to give your heart to God? What are you trying to do—work out a righteousness of your own?” The whole essence of conversion opened to him there in what he called “a marvelous manner”: the finished work of Christ and the need to give up his sins and submit to His righteousness. The voice continued, “Will you accept it now, today?” Finney vowed, “Yes; I will accept it today or I will die in the attempt.”

Sneaking away over a hill to a small wooded area where he liked to take walked and avoiding anyone who might ask him what he was doing, the young lawyer fought a battle with his pride. Several times he tried to pray but rustling leaves stopped him cold; he thought someone was coming and would see him trying to talk to God. Finally, near despair, thinking his rash vow and hardheartedness had grieved the Holy Spirit; He had a sudden revelation of his pride:

“An overwhelming sense of my wickedness in being ashamed to have a human being see me on my knees before God took such powerful possession of me that I cried at the top of my voice…I would not leave that place if all men on earth and all the devilsin hell surrounded me…The sin appeared awful, infinite. It broke me down before the Lord.”

Just then a Scripture verse seemed to drop into his mind with a flood of light: “Then shall you go and pray to Me and I will hearken to you. Then shall you seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:12-13). It came to Finney with the flood of revelation, although he did not recall ever having read it. It shifted faith for him from the intellect to choice; he knew that a God who could not lie had spoken to him and that his vow would be heard.

 

Resource: Winkie Pratney, The Revival Study Bible