Finney – A Lesson From History

When we sanitize the long and sorted history of God’s people by filtering it through our personal traditions, we miss out on a greater appreciation for the saying, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

On to the subject matter…

Now to him who works, the reward is not counted as grace, but as something owed. But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.

Even as David also pronounces blessing on the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin.”

Is this blessing then pronounced on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it counted? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?

Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they might be in uncircumcision, that righteousness might also be accounted to them.

Romans 4:4-11 (WEB)

Now consider this quote:

“There can be NO justification in a legal or forensic sense, but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to law. This is of course denied by those who hold that gospel justification, or the justification of penitent sinners, is of the nature of a forensic or judicial justification. They hold to the legal maxim, that what a man does by another he does by himself, and therefore the law regards Christ’s obedience as ours, on the ground that He obeyed for us.”
– Charles G. Finney, Systematic Theology, 362

Why not instead say that faith without works is dead, as say the scriptures? The claim of justification without any sanctification is self-deception; but this does not permit us to throw out the former because we do not see enough of the latter. They are both part-and-parcel of the grace of God in salvation. This conflation of the two leads to a denial of what both are. For there is judicial righteousness, and there is experiential righteousness – and the two are not at odds (except in the minds of some). They are both present in true salvation, yet they are distinct in function; for the one is the begining and underpinning of the other. It is not without purpose that the apostle Paul frequently structured his letters according to this principle. Peter then shakes awake our sleepy hearts from interpreting Paul carnally, and puts in us the fear of God, convicting us of God’s holiness; and James with John clarify the synthesis: that the righteous will practice what has been given to them, and the rest are evidently not of His sheep.

It is not a question of too much or too little grace; it is a question of authentic grace. It is not a question of to much or too little law; it is a question of authentic law. Now the authentic article of faith is the divine law being written upon the heart of a man by the finger of God, and it is the giving of empowerment to obey such by the indwelling Holy Spirit – and this is all of grace. For no man has this inherently: he must be granted it from heaven. To deny this justification by faith in order to begin sanctification is to remove a foundation before building a house.

Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is GOD who justifies.
Romans 8:33 (WEB)

To set out upon a sanctified walk without being justified by faith is to set out across a bridge with no beams supporting it. It is doomed to fail, for it has no basis. It has no preexsisting grace by which to affirm that the way is sure and the goal attainable; and it has no ever-present grace to remind us that even what we have attained is all by God’s mighty power.

The man Finney often preached well against the tyranny of the self; but at times offered little more than the pitiful power of the fallen human will as its antidote – which only can perpetuate the cycle of said tyranny. (Rom 7). It is a sad truth that a great wealth of spiritual excitement and conviction can dwell alongside a ghastly lack of staying power.

Now this may be objected to by those who are aware of Finney’s teachings on the Holy Spirit, which are numerous and in many aspects quite excellent. But the Holy Spirit, were He bound by the choices of the human will or limited to man’s “uninterrupted obedience to law,” would have no power to sanctify us. For the will of man is the very first and primary matter that the Spirit comes to set right in us. For the law of God is not written on our hearts until the Lawgiver by the Spirit does so; and if He cannot do so without a sinner’s permission, then it will most assuredly never happen. But if we accept such teaching, we are left quite to ourselves, and we deny much of God’s help, however unwittingly.

For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Romans 8:6-9 (WEB)

And how is the Holy Spirit obtained?

I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see Him, neither knows Him. You know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you.
John 14:16-17 (WEB)

The more true obedience to His maker that a man walks in, the more he ought to behold the gracious preordination of God in every step along the way, and all the more quickly should he therefore yield himself unto the doing of that same will of God. But the man who becomes proud of his own obedience sees it only as the doing of his own will, and mocks the grace of the God who had soveriegnly worked it all in him. This man takes little delight in being humbled; and rather than simply surrendering to the will God, he constantly makes treaties with his Creator, thinking it to be the Lord’s method. Man’s desire to “be like the most high” of his own accord and by his own means is insatiable; and it must be crushed by the overbearing power of the Spirit of Grace, who is the mouth of the fount of true sanctification.

Do I hereby condemn Charles Finney? No! Based on many other things he said, I actually believe that he himself had a real and powerful walk with God. For by God’s grace, many who are attracted to vain philosophy may yet be constrained by His power to truly know and walk with Him despite their most carnal notions; and they are herein most blessedly inconsistent. Finney also lived in a day of great spiritual slumber – and despite the shear reactionism behind such of his teachings as those here quoted, he was apparently not without a good measure of real fruit. I dare any one of us to presume that we were the better man for that hour. God knew what He was doing.

The legacy of those things which we call the movings of Christ throughout the ages is one often beset with the mixture of man’s disasterous religious recipes and earthly philosophy.

O Lord, give us eyes to see that which is pure, holy, and becoming of You; that we may test all things, and hold fast to what is good!

Quote – Paul Washer

Perhaps the greatest lie in evangelical Christianity today is that if you “ask Jesus into your heart,” He will most definitely come in.
– Paul Washer

You have not chosen Me, but I chose you out and planted you, that you should go and should bear fruit, and your fruit remain, that whatever you should ask the Father in My name, He may give you.
John 15:16

To Whom Salvation Belongs

And He said, “Because of this, I have told you that no one is able to come to Me except it is given to him from My Father.” From this time many of His disciples went away into the things behind, and no longer walked with Him.
John 6:65-66

Many will say “Amen” or at least silently tolerate you when you tell them that nature determines fruit. But as soon as you say that the will of God determines nature, most will at best leave you for the things that are behind, and perhaps even seek to destroy you. Carnal hearts defy the sole glorification of God alone in salvation.

The Love & Hatred of God

And I made known to them Your name, and will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
John 17:26 (LITV)

Here the Son prays to the Father not concerning the world, but concerning those whom the Father has given Him out of the world (Jn 17:9-10); and He speaks here of a very particular love: “the love with which You have loved Me.” This is not the same love by which God “so loved the world” (Jn 3:16) For it is not the world, but whoever believes in Him out of the world that has eternal Life; and that Life is in the Son, and that Life is to know the Father who loves the Son: it is the very Life which the Godhead has within itself, “the love with which You have loved Me.”

For we, who by necessity possess different kinds of affections or loves toward different things, ought not to marvel if God, after whose image we were created, has a holy range of affections infinitely beyond the wisdom of our own. We dare not be so arrogant as to postulate that just because “God so loved the world,” He cannot still be “angry with the wicked every day,” or “hate all the workers of iniquity,” or “abhor the bloody and deceitful man.” (Ps 5:5-6, 7:11, 10:3) Truly, it is because God is love that He must absolutely hate; and not only the sin, but the sinner also. He is jealous for the glory of His own great Name, and the sins of men who were made in His image are defamatory to that Name.

The purest love necessitates the purest hatred. A man with a heart after God’s own heart was able to say of the Lord’s enemies, “I hate them with a perfect hatred…” (Ps 139:22) The man who loves one thing and does not hate the other is lying to himself; and God is not such a one. For He loves all that is good, right, perfect, and holy; and the higher these are, the more in His love are they evidenced to abide. Therefore He must hate all that is wicked, perverse, corrupt, and unholy; and the lower these are, the more under His wrath are they evidenced to abide.

Who then are we to judge that God should not have a general affection for the whole creation, yet also reserve a specific and salvific love for only a portion? The God of all the earth will do right; and in so doing He separates His righteous ones from the wicked before the latter are destroyed (Gen 18). And the righteous are so because He has mercifully made them vessels of honor, and of covenant love. He had the right to hate all men, yet He has chosen to lavish such love upon a people: the very love with which the Father loves the Son.

For the Sake of the Elect

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

This is the heart of our Apostle and High Priest. The longsuffering of our Lord with this fallen world is truly astounding, and ought to give us pause in our own haughtiness as we face the same world every day. We have not suffered as He, nor shall we ever suffer in the same manner. And though the glories be few and far between, let the well of His Life water our souls in this desert, sending rivers out from us toward any who would come and drink of His fountain. For we are called as abassadors of He who endured all things for the sake of His elect. As for His flock which are driven to and fro in this hour, He has purposed for none of His true sheep to perish, but that each of them should reach repentance, that they may hasten the Day of the Lord. (2Pet 3:9-12).

And the words of His elect’s repentance are these: “I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light.” (Lam 3:1-2) For He makes darkness His slave, and the shadows He bends to His own will. In an hour of such thick darkness, there is yet a people that the Lord has determined to have for Himself, and He will have them even if He must drag them as it were through hell. But if this heart of Christ does not blossom and bear fruit within those who have knowledge in these things, how wretched shall they be to find that the labours of those with little understanding, yet great courage, showed forth the greater wisdom of God in the earth.

Or was it not also the will of the Lord to grant repentance to Ninevah for a time, so much so that He pursued a reluctant prophet, bringing glory to Himself by the mouth of the obstinate? The prophet of God was given no choice, and the soil of the heathen hearts was already tilled to recieve the seed of the Sower despite the imperfect method of its delivery. Shall any deny that this softness of Ninevah’s heart was the direct work of the very Spirit of the Lord; even as was the forcing of Jonah’s hand, who’s wavering heart God still knew to love righteousness? “So, then, it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of the One showing mercy, of God.” (Rom 9:16) And knowing then that it is of mercy, let us by hope do better than Jonah, not grumbling in our witness; but let us rather stand firm upon the foundation of God which promises, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and also commands, “Let everyone naming the Name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

As Isaiah says regarding God’s electing grace,

I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, “Behold Me! Behold Me!”
Isaiah 65:1

For they will sing, “Worthy are You to receive the scroll, and to open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood purchased us to God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9) This scroll of which they speak is the Book of Life, in which the Father has already written the names of His own! Yet by what means has the Lord determined to unveil this marvel of redemption in the earth? By the foolishness of preaching! The time is at hand when the hidden men of God must arise from their dwellings and proclaim to those who have no choice the God who chooses men.

I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.
John 10:16

He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house, and He will not cease to intercede until each one of them is fully His; but to the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” Yet who will bring His gospel to all their ears? Who will bear the burden of His call? Is not the Lamb worthy to receive the reward of His sufferings? And how little in comparison shall we ourselves suffer for the glory that is to be revealed in us!

What a sure hope there is for those whom He is drawing to Himself! Let this be an encouragement to all those whom He sends.

Love endures all things.

Our Lady of the Maculate Deception

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Daniel 12:10

The Devil well knows that men long for participation in something greater than themselves, and that most will blindly descend to any depth of hell to keep the feeling of such alive. This is why the institutions, organizations, and movements which falsely call themselves the “church” in our day continue marching on into the mouth of destruction as though they have never lost God.

These empty husks which have long ensnared many a true member of the body of Christ have largely been abandoned by God and are now being emptied of His obedient children; for they have together become a repurposed corpse, animated by the spirit of antichrist.

Today we hear the cooing of their religious and “spiritual” leaders to involve the power of earthly governments and institutions in what they suppose to be the work of God. They will certainly help “change the world;” and in so doing remain bound to its fate.

Do not build the house of the Lord, for only He can build His church; and all else becomes a brothel of Babylon. To satiate the hunger for righteousness by her bread, and to quench the same thirst with her cup, is to engage in her abominations. Those who thereby aquire her tastes soon lust also after the blood of the saints, and are swift to harken unto the powers and principalities of the earth.

Though many among them speak much of justice for the weak and equity for the poor, truly it is the great dragon speaking as a lamb. For these hearts, which the mystery of iniquity so easily pervades, are ravenous against what is holy; because the light of holiness exposes the pretention of man’s ways. The Light by nature demonstrates that to serve man is to be excluded from service to Christ; all service not directly unto Christ becomes the boast of the wicked one.

And upon these sayings is often made manifest the hearts of the pure and the hearts of the whores: for the whores will not abide such talk. Upon the hearing of it, they cringe and spit and hiss and taunt, and run back to their mother Babylon to recieve instruction. Then she says to them, “Request of the earthly ruler: Give to me the heads of the holy on a platter,” and the heathen king will not deny her this deed; for he is blinded by his own lusts also.

There is no spirit with which she will not readily commune, nor bed of deception upon which she will not gladly lie. There is no abomination which she will not flaunt, nor depth of depravity from which she will forbid herself. There is no scheme of man with which she will not conspire, nor man of God whom she will not attempt to claw into hell with her.

She is what men today call the church; and her great power is the fruit of men’s refusal to discern and judge the spiritual. Few that willingly enter into covenant with her escape her spell, and all who stand against her power must by necessity be marginalized, slandered, and eventually persecuted; for these look for a city whose builder and maker is God, and these submit to His authority at the cost of all others.

There is no more remaining in Babylon and serving God; it is time to return to the holy land. To leave behind her comforts and religious activities at first seems an exile; but in the wilderness are found many waters which can come only from God. She will always be there to draw away and lay waste to the saints. By the hand of Ceasar she will betray without remorse those who naively mistake her for a holy woman. She cannot be converted: a man-made system cannot possess its own soul. Its soul can only be possessed by another, and it is not the Spirit of God; for He concerns Himself with the betrothed of Christ, that she be found chaste and holy.

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take partake in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”
Revelation 18:4-5

Babylon, Babylon, mother of harlots:
How far you will fall, great whore of the earth!
Wrath you will reap, for by envy you war
With the saints in whom Christ is found birthed!

Christ the Power & Wisdom of God

“…there is not one that seeks after God.”

“Seek, and you shall find…”

Men do not find God because they do not seek for Him. For if they truly sought, they would find. A seeking of power or of wisdom as distinct from the seeking of God Himself is idolatry; and it is the fool who supposes that God will suffer His might or counsel to be either mingled with or weighed by that of men. Woe to them that go on tickling their own ears, who repent not of their own devices and conceptions when the Lord makes Himself known; for in due time He grants them strong delusion! Woe to them that become proud of seeking the satisfaction of their own minds as an end in itself, as though having no higher authority were the truest of wisdom; for in vain they seek out an excuse not to find the immovable reality of He who is Lord of all, and their reward is the void which they have so esteemed. To deify the mind of man is to blaspheme the mind of God. “Proffessing to be wise, they became foolish…”

All things (under the sun – natural light) are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes 1:8

The ears of men are ever itching to hear a new thing; but let a matter be spoken of God, and it cannot be tolerated. They cannot bear to hear of their true predicament, because it breaks the noise of their elaborate distraction: the machinery of artificial crisis, the religion of passing the blame. The monument to destruction is ever so carefully built up, the meaninfulness of vanity is ever so highly venerated to draw the heart unto anything but the subtance and reality of God Himself. The emptiness of man’s soul is ever feeding upon the devices of its own self, never to satiate its hunger. The more of its own debt that it thinks to pay, the more that it finds to be owing. Well does the symbology of the enemy mockingly betray a truth: that the serpent remains ever consuming its own tail, for it cannot fulfill itself. Such madness is the prospect confronting those who reach the end of all earthly learning and wisdom in a world which lies under the power of that wicked one.

But the spiritual are free of this vanity, for through the operation of the Spirit of Truth within them “by the faith OF the Son of God,” they overcome Devil’s persuasion to share in his fate. These recognize through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that all deception begins in the heart of a man, including their own; and must be overcome by the Truth of God dwelling in the innermost parts. By Him they are made free of their rebellious state, which disposes the heart to so readily to be flattered by the crafty peddler of the tree of knowledge. For the fruit of the tree of Life can only be planted and nurtured by that one Spirit of God Himself – which feat no mere man can accomplish, “because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither CAN it be.” With those after the flesh, the Sovereign Lord is righteous to find fault, and against such He is also righteous to execute judgement; “for the saving grace of God has appeared to all men,” and “men loved the darkness instead of the light, for their deeds were evil,” so that men are without excuse.

The demonstration of man’s depraved heart without God’s Life reveals His longsuffering and patience; and the impossibily of men to choose freedom from themselves reveals how much that grace truly is grace. For among whom none was righteous and not one merrited favour, He raises up from among the incapable dead a people for His own possession, which by Him are also made into His likeness; as the likeness of God was otherwise inseperably lost, and no man but those being conformed to the likeness of the One Son of Man can claim truly to bear the image of God – though even many christians are ignorant to this fact. It is not in the least unfair that the many are allowed into destruction: truly it is of His mercies that not all men are utterly consumed. Indeed it is a wonder that He has so decreed and laboured to save even some, working unto the good of those who love Him, who do so because they are “THE called according to His purpose.” And being that such is the gift of God, there are none of them which can boast! For not by prudence in observing signs of power have the zealots been delivered, any more than that by knowledge in plausible arguments have the wise been truly enlightened; but salvation is revealed “to those who are called, of both Jews and Greeks: Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

For the power is He who died now reigning over death; and the wisdom is He who was raised now living in those who by His operation have died.

For except the Lord has implanted the working of His faith within a soul, it proudly lives unto itself and remains dead to God, existing under that great darkness concerning which the apostle rightly spoke, “There is NOT ONE that seeks after God.” Now it is tempting for the carnal mind to minimize or try to deny so comprehensive and infinitely deep a chasm; but enduring faith rests upon power unseen of the eyes, and it reckons by wisdom unknown of the mind, having first accepted this horrible truth. And since the will of sinful man is utterly free of God, praise be unto God that His will is utterly free of sinful man, so that He may bridge the chasm without the loss of any to whom His mighty arm is revealed!

For the freedom of the human will is only ever unto the bondage of the tyranny of self; and the breaking of this evil will by God is required to bring about the true freedom of serving His good, pleasing, and perfect will. The creature indeed has capacity for much; but no son of Adam has any capacity for spiritual goodness without first the extension of uncommon grace which gives power to become a child of God. Seeking with the whole heart after the One who exposes the thoughts and intentions of the heart is a characteristic of those being made alive in Christ Jesus: it is the province of those that are being drawn of the Father; for only by His Spirit are uncovered the wonders of His great Mystery. And those who have found the mystery (which is the glory of God hidden in Christ, and living in them), if these shall continue to overcome the snare of mere human ingenuity, let the prayer of their regenerated hearts ever remain, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”

For if we are saved not of ourselves, but by the gift of God, how much more then should we also dispose the continuation of our growth in Him unto that same power and wisdom of Christ; for now within us He strives to will and to do according to His good pleasure. For that power and wisdom of Christ, which before we lacked and has now been endowed – shall we not with fear and trembling now submit to its working, a choice which before we could not have made? For it is not unto the heathen, but unto the children, that God says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” and, “receive not the grace of God in vain.” The Law of the Spirit of Life is come!

“…faith arises from disposition of soul, but dialectic from the skill of its inventors. Wherefore to those who have the inworking through faith, demonstrative argument is needless, or even superfluous. For what we know through faith you attempt to prove through words, and often you are not even able to express what we understand. So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments. We Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ.”
– Antony of Egypt, to the Greeks who came to visit him. (Taken from the account of his life written by Athanatius of Alexandria)