[b]From CONVICTION to JOY- a look at Charles Finney's experience.[/b]
Robert Wurtz II
I am challenged from time to time to understand exactly what the operation of the Holy Spirit is in an individuals life. How does God deal with people when each of their situations are different? For all of us it depends on where we are, with Him, at that moment.
[color=000066]And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 23, 24)[/color]
Notice the order here. On some 'compassion' is in order first. our first reaction should naturally be compassion. Can a person really come to repentance because God shows them compassion?
Romans 2 is particularly challenging. Paul writes, [color=000066] And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; [i]not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?[/i] (Romans 2:3, 4) [/color]
Is it possible that some really don't know that God can lead to repentance by His compassion and goodness as well as heavy conviction? But there is more. God is saying that when we judge folk for their sin thinking we shall in turn escape, we have despised the goodness of God that was meant to lead [u]us[/u] to repentance.
Can goodness lead to repentance? Surely only Holy Ghost conviction can do that? On [u]some[/u] have compassion. Jesus showed compassion to sinner after sinner. When Jesus showed compassion to sinners how would we have reacted if we were there? How would [u]I[/u] react? Jesus never called a harlot a viper did He? He never called a publican a viper. But He referred to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites 7 times in Matthew 23 alone and calls them vipers in verse 23.
Truly the route to repentance does not always travel the trail of tears. Sometimes people are so grieved over their sin and condition that they are needing a word of hope and salvation. Many don't need to be told they are sinners; they already realize that. They need 'good news'. The objective is genuine changing our minds about sin and turning to God. Do we find pleasure in saving folk with fear more than showing compassion? Do we prefer to see a sinner writhe in anguish under the load of their sin over seeing them delivered and in their right minds rejoicing that they can be saved?
Charles Finney had an experience in God that I have always took note of. He shares his experience in the Joy of the Lord after he was saved. He writes:
[i]I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, I shall die if these wavers continue to pass over me. I said, Lord, I cannot bear any more; yet I had no fear of death....[/i]
Once a person has truly turned to Christ the Holy Spirit leaves off the operation of conviction of sin and begins to pour in love and joy. God is not in the business of punishing sinners for their sin with more and more mental anguish and heaviness when they are willing to repent. The purpose of the conviction is to achieve the desired result of repentance. Finney states in effect, waves and waves of liquid love and joy filled his heart and life. He tried but could not feel conviction any longer.
So it would seem to me that the evidence of true repentance in our lives is the manifestation of love and joy as the Spirit switched from convicter of sin to [i]filler[/i] of love and joy. This is the point of breakthrough. When we can come into Romans 5:5 and testify to the time that it happened. Love, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost is proof positive that we are in right standing with God. This is the primary operation of God in the life of the regenerate. Is there any wonder Finney wept aloud with joy! What great cause for celebration!
Robert Wurtz II