Finney: The Proper Attitude for Spiritual Renewal

Everywhere Finney went, revivals followed. Often, those of a different theological persuasion chastised him for believing Christians could actually work to bring people to a state of repentance. Seeking to put all the onus on God, they left out the agency of man in God’s plans. Conversely, others would be envious of what Finney accomplished in his preaching and teaching. He deals with both views in this section of his Revival Lectures:

RevivalA revival may be expected when ministers and professors [meaning professing Christians] are willing to have God promote it by whatever instruments He pleases. Sometimes ministers are not willing to have a revival unless they can have the management of it, or unless their agency can be conspicuous in promoting it. They wish to prescribe to God what He shall direct and bless, and what men He shall put forward. . . .

They have a good deal to say about God being a Sovereign, and that He will have revivals come in His own way and time. But then He must choose to have it just in their way or they will have nothing to do with it. Such men will sleep on until they are awakened by the judgment trumpet, without a revival, unless they are willing that God should come in His own way—unless they are willing to have anything or anybody employed that will do the most good.

Yes, the Holy Spirit is the power behind all conversion and renewed discipleship, but that doesn’t negate the agency of men. God has set it up in such a way that He seeks to work through those who are fully committed to acting on His Word. We aren’t to sit back and wait to see what happens; we are to be on the front lines making things happen. Then He will work with and through us to accomplish His purposes.