Saving impressions

Charles G Finney » Power from God » Saving impressions

(From the book ‘Power from God‘, Whitaker House, Page 17)

The apostles and believers received it on the Day of Pentecost. What did they receive? What power did they exercise after that event? They received a powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit, a vast increase of divine illumination.

This baptism imparted a great diversity of gifts that were used for the accomplishment of their work. It clearly included outward things. The power of a Holy life. The power of a self-sacrificing life. (The manifestation of these must have greatly influenced those to whom they proclaimed the Gospel.) The power of a cross-bearing life. The power of great meekness, which this baptism enabled them everywhere to exhibit. The power of a loving enthusiasm in proclaiming the Gospel. The power of teaching. The power of a loving and living faith. The gift of tongues. An increase of power to work miracles. The gift of inspiration, or the revelation of many truths before unrecognized by them. The power of moral courage to proclaim the Gospel and do the bidding of Christ, whatever it cost them.

In their circumstances, all these gifts were essential to their success, but neither separately nor all together did they constitute the power from on high that they manifestly received. What they manifestly received as the supreme, crowning, and all-important means of success was the power to prevail with both God and man, the power to fasten saving impressions on the minds of men. This was doubtless the thing that they understood Christ to promise. He had commissioned the church to convert the world to Himself. Everything that I named before were only means, which could never secure the end unless they were vitalized and made effective by the power of God. The apostles, no doubt, understood this, and laying themselves and their all upon the altar, they entreated the throne of grace in the Spirit of entire consecration to their work.

They did, in fact, receive the gifts before mentioned; but supremely and principally, they received the power to make saving impressions on men. It was manifested right on the spot. They began to address the multitude, and wonderful to tell, three thousand were converted the same hour. However, observe, no new power was manifested by them upon this occasion, except the gift of tongues. They worked no miracle at that time, and they used these tongues simply as the means of making themselves understood.

Please note that they had not had time to exhibit any other gifts of the Spirit that I have named above. They did not at that time have the advantage of exhibiting a Holy life or any of the powerful graces and gifts of the Spirit. What was said on the occasion, as recorded in the book of Acts, was said with a new power; otherwise, it could not have made a saving impression on the people.

This power was not the power of inspiration, for they only declared certain facts of their own knowledge. It was not the power of human learning or culture, for they had but little. It was not the power of human eloquence, for there appears to have been but little of it. It was a power from on high – God in them making a saving impression on those to whom they spoke.

Power That Cuts to the Heart

This power to make a saving impression stayed with and upon them. It was no doubt, the great and main thing promised by Christ and was received by the apostles and early Christians. It has existed, to a greater or lesser extent, in the church ever since. It is a mysterious fact often manifested in a most surprising manner. Sometimes a single sentence, a Word, a gesture, or even a look will convey this power in an overcoming manner.

To the honor of God alone, I will say a little about my own experience in this matter. I was powerfully converted on the morning of the tenth of October. In the evening of the same day and on the morning of the following day, I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Spirit, which went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul. I immediately found myself clothed with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individuals were the means of their immediate conversion. My words seemed to fasten like barbed arrows in the souls of men. They cut like a sword. They broke the heart like a hammer. Multitudes can attest to this. Oftentimes, a Word dropped, without my remembering it, would fasten conviction, and often result in almost immediate conversion.

Sometimes, I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go out, visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that this power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This has been my experience throughout my life.

I could fill a volume with the history of my own experience and observation with respect to this power from on high. It is a fact of consciousness and of observation, but it is a great mystery.


previous — next

Consecration, Prayer, Supplication

Charles G Finney » Power from God » Consecration, Prayer, Supplication

(From the book ‘Power from God‘, Whitaker House, Page 10)

How will we get power from on high? Christ expressly promised it to the whole church and to everyone who has the duty to labor for the conversion of the world. He admonished the first disciples not to undertake the work until they had received the outpouring of power from on high. Both the promise and the admonition apply equally to all Christians of every age and nation. No one has, at any time, any right to expect success unless he first obtains this outpouring of power from on high. The example of the first disciples teaches us how to obtain this outpouring. They first consecrated themselves to this work. Then they continued in prayer and supplication (see Acts 1: 14) until the Holy Spirit fell upon them on the Day of Pentecost, and they received the promised outpouring of power from on high. This, then, is the way to get it.

The council desired me to say more upon this subject. Consequently, on Sunday, I took for my text the statement of Christ that the Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him than we are to give good gifts to our children. (See Luke 11: 13)

I said that this text informs us that it is infinitely easy to obtain this outpouring of power from the Father. I also said that this outpouring is made a constant subject of prayer for many people. Everybody prays for this repeatedly, and yet with all this intercession, how comparatively few are really clothed with this spiritual power from on high! This need is not being met. Lack of power is a subject of constant complaint. Christ says, “Every one that asketh receiveth” (Matthew 7: 8), but there certainly is a great gulf between the asking and receiving that is a sizable stumbling block to many.

The truth and prayer

Charles G Finney Quotes » Principles of prayer » The truth and prayer


(From the book ‘Principles of Prayer‘, Edited by LG Parkhurst, Page 18)

There are two kinds of means requisite to promote a revival: one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer is employed to move God. When I speak of moving God, I do not mean that God’s mind is changed by prayer or that his disposition or character is changed. but prayer produces such a change in us as renders it consistent for God to do as it would not be consistent for Him to do otherwise.

When Christians offer effectual prayer, their state of feeling renders it proper for God to answer them.

Truth, by itself, will never produce the effect without the Spirit of God, and the Spirit is given in answer to prayer. Sometimes it happens that those who are most engaged in employing truth are not the most engaged in prayer. This is always unfortunate. For unless they have the spirit of prayer (or unless someone else has), the truth, by itself, will do nothing but harden men in impenitence. Probably in the Day of Judgement it will be found that nothing is ever done by the truth, used ever so zealously, unless there is a spirit of prayer somewhere in connection with the presentation of the truth.


Principles of prayer — next