FALSE COUNSEL TO SINNERSFinney continues, [i]The fact is, the anxious sinner is seeking a hope, he is seeking pardon, and comfort, and deliverance from hell. He is anxiously looking for someone to comfort him, and make him feel better, without being obliged to conform to such humiliating conditions as those of the gospel. And his anxiety and distress continue, only because he will not yield to the terms. Unfortunately, anxious sinners find comforters enough to their liking. Miserable comforters they all are, too, "seeing in their answers there remaineth falsehood." No doubt, millions and millions are now in hell, because there were those around them who gave them false comfort, who had so much false pity, or were themselves so much in the dark, that they would not let them remain in anxiety till they had submitted their hearts to God, but administered falsehood, and relieved their distress in this way, and now their souls are lost.[/i] I believe Finney is correct here. The time of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord when the person submits to God, not some assurance from man. [u]Man cannot give another man an assurance, only God can do that.[/u] To 'assure' a person who is under conviction is to militate against the Holy Ghost. Only submission can bring assurance and that from God ALONE. This submission will IMMEDIATELY begin relief of conviction of sin and will replace it with the joy and peace of God. So long as there is conviction- there MUST be rebellion. And when a sinner is in rebellion they cannot be converted to Christ. How can a person run from Christ and resist Him with all their might and be said to have changed their mind and turned to Him? Many people get up from modern altars or pray salvation prayers in their seats only to have been numbed by a host of false elixirs and opiates to the feeling of conviction by FALSE ASSURANCES given them by well meaning Christians. What can be construed as good counsel to a sinner that does not involve submission to God? If a person does not respond 'rightly' to the light they have- transformation will not take place.
_________________Robert Wurtz II
UNDERMINING THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE 'MOMENT' What a devilish practice it is to make lite of the eternal things of God when the Holy Ghost is bringing a solemn subject to the minds of men! I recently heard of a preacher who was preaching on hell until all the service was solemn and the people in distress of mind for their souls. All at once, when the people had come under great conviction and strivings with the Holy Spirit the minister could take no more and in a most frivolous manor made a joke with a pregnant woman near the front row about the baby falling out while she was walking. Incredible! That a man would preach such a message and then feel the need to lighten the moment until sinners plunged into hell! Pitiful! Finney comments on this behavior; [i]Sometimes an awakened sinner is comforted by being told that religion does not consist in feeling bad. I once heard of a Doctor of Divinity, giving an anxious sinner such counsel, when he was actually writhing under the arrows of the Almighty. Said he, "Religion is cheerful, religion is not gloomy, do not be distressed, be comforted, dismiss your fears, you should not feel so bad," and such like miserable comforts, when, in fact, the man had infinite reason to be distressed, for he was resisting the Holy Ghost, and in danger of grieving him away for ever. It is true; religion does not consist in feeling bad. But the sinner has reason to be distressed, because he has no religion. If he had religion, he would not feel so. Were he a Christian, he would rejoice. But to tell an impenitent sinner to be cheerful! Why, you might as well preach this doctrine in hell, and tell them there, "Cheer up here, cheer up, do not feel so bad."[/i]
So long as there is conviction- there MUST be rebellion.
What would be a good definition of conviction? When God's holiness confronts man's sin and brings an uncomfortable feeling?
YOU MUST SUBMIT TO GODOne of Finneys writings on dealing with anxious sinners reads, [i]The more experience I have, and the more I observe the ways in which even good people deal with anxious sinners, the more I feel grieved at the endless fooleries and falsehoods with which they attempt to comfort their anxious friends, and thus, in fact, deceive them and beguile them out of their salvation. It often reminds me of the manner in which people act when any one is sick. Let any one of you be sick, with almost any disease in the world, and you will find that every person you meet with has a remedy for that disorder, a certain cure, a specific, a panacea; and you will find such a world of quackery all around you, that if you do not take care and SHUT IT ALL OUT, you will certainly lose your life. A man must exercise his own judgment, for he will find as many remedies as he has friends, and each one is tenacious of his own medicine, and perhaps will think hard if it is not taken. And no doubt this miserable system of quackery kills a great many people. [/i]The answer to conviction is in submission to Gods known will alone. Everyone has a well-intended solution. But Gods word is the only remedy. They must submit on the point that God is demanding. False assurances and elixirs against their conscience and the Holy Ghost has not helped them, it has only eased their mind to the eventuality that they are on their way to hell with a counterfeit ticket to heaven. All the assurance really did was remove the conviction God was using to bring them to genuine regeneration and it greased their slide into hell. We must be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit in counseling folk in the throes of conviction.
THE SEEDS OF MODERN EVANGELISTIC METHODS (Section 3)NUMBERS NUMBERS NUMBERSIn the 1820's, Charles Finney, considered by many to be the "father of modern evangelism", used his so-called "new measures" that disturbed many pastors and created much opposition to the revivals. Many of these 'new measures' in one form or another are so 'a part' of modern evangelical Christendom that it will seem odd to the reader that these measures are in many cases less than 200 years old. Until Finney popularized the 'new methods', conversions were considered a personal affair. Whitefield may have witnessed excited emotional outbursts of folk crying out in repentance during the meeting, but he would never have asked inquirers to sit on an "anxious bench", or pray publicly any type of repeated prayer as a sign of repentance. Before Finney, people were presented with the truth, but were never asked to [u]respond[/u] to the message in any way. To elicit a response would be seen as [i]calculated to assure a planned result[/i], usurping the work of the Holy Spirit. Consider that the famous Jonathan Edward's sermon, "Sinners in the hand of an angry God" was not preached, but 'read', with little, or no voice inflection. The reason the hearers response to that message was considered a movement of God was precisely because the reaction it inspired was spontaneous. It was not a 'hyped' up message. Appeals to the emotions were [i]not[/i] generally considered a legitimate means of getting a sinner to turn to Christ. After the sermon, [u]no[/u] altar call was given. To the ministers in that time an altar call would have been considered [i]manipulative[/i]. They believed that if God were not willing to stir the people's hearts, why would a minister attempt to elicit an emotional response? Therefore it is safe to say that the appeal was not to the emotions, but the [i]conscience[/i] and hence the WILL. Emotions fade, but a genuine conversion to Christ will yield a born again Christian. Emotional decisions lead to spurious conversions. Consider that Jonathan Edward's toiled six months in the First Great Awakening and was ecstatic to see 300 souls saved. Compare that to modern evangelistic events where according to the promoters, "10,000 responding to the invitation to Christ" or in Africa were folks are responding in HUGE evangelistic campaigns by the hundreds of thousands and saved by the millions. Dr. D. James Kennedy recently reported that his stats show that over 45% of Americans are really Christians. The reason we arrive at those claims is that the criteria for determining who is or is not a Christian is very obscure and quite unbiblical in most cases. Once the emphasis was placed on 'quantity' and not 'quality' of conversions- it became a numbers game. It has been said that in order to 'manage' one must be able to 'measure'. And the Evangelical Church has been numbering the people for over 100 years.
Hi Robert :-) I believe you're right but you're using the wrong example. The Finney revivals boasted a retention rate of almost 90% where as someone like say a Billy Graham has published that only 30-40% who come for salvation have salvation that sticks with them. I personally believe that the method doesn't matter as much as it does to have a Father Nash backing you up in intense intercession before and after the campaign. Lord give us more godly intercessors.
"NEW MEASURES" IN THE WRONG HANDSPatrick McIntyre in his work [i]The Scandal of Modern Evangelism[/i] writes, Finney believed most Ministers disliked the "new methods" because they were unwilling to call their congregations to repentance. He thought they used the "sovereignty of God" as an excuse for putting up with nominal Christianity." A cursory look at Finney's "Lectures on Revival" demonstrate this. Yet, it must be remembered that Finney was a very dedicated man of God who's personal standard of holiness was so high he considering the drinking of tea to be an extravagance. His sober countenance, (and perhaps the presence of the Holy Spirit), caused many to break down emotionally. He took the words of Jesus literally, and eschewed the lures of the world without compromise. Perhaps the "new measures" were appropriate to his complete devotion and trust in the power of God. Finney believed folk should come out and demonstrate their repentance and faith. Like Elijah demanding "Who is on my side?" , or Joshua, "Choose this day who you will serve," his methods were a natural extension of his zeal. Finney did not compromise the born again standard. In fact, Finney was far more exacting than most conservative Evangelicals today ever hoped to be. His "False Comfort For Sinners" is perhaps the best guide ever written for ministers in dealing with the lost. But because the "new methods" appealed to the emotions, any persuasive charlatan (even a wolf in sheep's clothing) could use them with seemingly impressive results. Finney used whatever was at hand to bring a person to repentance and faith. He believed that a person could and MUST repent NOW. Everyone is not Charles G. Finney though. Where Finney might spend two weeks teaching on salvation before someone even got up and sat on the anxious seat; a lesser minister might try to convince sinners to come forward or to an after meeting after one sermon. Hence we witnessed the beginnings of new measures being used in the beginning as a good thing, but would later be taken by folk and used with a halfhearted Gospel and the results are unimaginably horrifying. What a dangerous thing these new measures became in the hands of careless ministers.
Brother PP wrote:
What would be a good definition of conviction? When God's holiness confronts man's sin and brings an uncomfortable feeling?
FROM HOPEFULLY CONVERTED TO SAVED IN 39 YEARS (Section 4)THE FIRST MODERN DAY ALTAR CALLSome accounts tell us that as early as 1740's, Eleazer Wheelock, a Congregational Minister, had to stop preaching because he was drowned out by the "distress and outcry" of the congregation. "Not being able to finish his sermon, with great apparent serenity and calmness of soul, he called to the distressed, and desired that they gather themselves together in the body of the seats below" (The front seats). This is perhaps the beginnings of the modern "altar call". Wheelock is said to have only shared the Gospel and prayed for the penitents. He never presumed to have them repeat a formula "sinner's prayer." Over the next 200+ years the practice of public invitation would evolve into the modern day 'altar call' as has been witnessed hundreds of times in modern mass evangelism crusades. Some, in the early days, used the simple mourner's bench. Anxious meeting were held after the meeting or the next day for those who felt 'anxious' about their soul. Some preferred the "inquiry room", where they have the exercises of prayer for the lost, and the like. Praying for penitents, in itself, was not considered a "new method." It was common with Whitefield and Wesley. Any who sought prayer, were welcome to see them [u]after the meeting[/u]. They prayed that penitents would yield themselves fully to God, but never led them in a formula "salvation prayer." By the 1800's, the practice of calling penitents forward for prayer was well established." Ministers usually, at the close of the preaching, would tell the congregation that if there were any persons who felt themselves lost and condemned under the guilt and burden of their sins, that if they would come near the stage, and kneel down, they would pray for them. Shame at first kept many back, but as the work increased, numbers, apparently under strong conviction, would come and fall down before the Lord at the feet of the ministers. Sometimes 20 or 30 at a time."