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Some people who soundly reject and oppose Calvinism make a very serious Scriptural mistake by reading the works from people of the past, who are held up in our apostate day as great men of God, rather than getting their doctrine exclusively from studying the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16,17). One such person of the past who is esteemed in that almost infallible way by some is Charles Finney (1792-1875).
Charles Finney (of the so-called Second Great Awakening) and known for real revial was not nearly as Biblically sound as what many conditional security people have been told. To be more precise, Charles Finney’s true repentance teaching is dangerously unscriptural. I submit the following documentation as proof and for your examination. Under the subheading of, true repentance is a permanent change of character and conduct we read:
...The individual, who has truly repented, has so changed his views and feelings, that he will not change back again, or go back to the love of sin. Bear this in mind now, all of you, that the truly penitent sinner exercises feelings of which he never will repent. The text says it is “unto salvation.” It goes right on, to the very rest of heaven. The very reason why it ends in salvation is because it is such as will not be repented of. And here I cannot but remark, that you see why the doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance is true, and what it means. True repentance is such a thorough change of feelings, and the individual who exercises it comes so to abhor sin, that he will persevere of course, and not go and take back all his repentance and return to sin again. (Charles Finney, Lectures To Professing Christians, Lecture IX. 1836, TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE by the Rev. Charles Finney)
Concisely stated, you just read that Charles Finney believes the following:
● The real Christian (who truly repented) will not return to sin.
●The Perseverance of the Saints is true.
That is the only way his writings here can be understood, but then further on in the same lecture he contradicts what we just focused on and confuses his listeners.
Charles Finney on
The Backslidden Christian vs The Hypocrite
Carefully read the following and observe how Charles Finney wrongly divided the word of truth. Don’t be deceived about the soundness of Charles Finney:
.... There is a radical difference between a backslidden Christian and a hypocrite who has gone back from his profession. The hypocrite loves the world, and enjoys sin when he returns to it. He may have some fears and some remorse, and some apprehension about the loss of character; but after all he enjoys sin. Not so with the backslidden Christian. He loses his first love, then he falls a prey to temptation, and so he goes into sin. But he does not love it; it is always bitter to him; he feels unhappy and away from home. He has indeed, at the time, no Spirit of God, no love of God in exercise to keep him from sin, but he does not love sin; he is unhappy in sin; he feels that he is a wretch. He is as different from the hypocrite as can be. Such an one, when he leaves the love of God, may be delivered over to Satan for a time, for the destruction of the flesh, that the Spirit may be saved; but he can never again enjoy sin as he used to, or delight himself as he once could in the pleasures of the world. Never again can he drink in iniquity like water. So long as he continues to wander, he is a wretch. If there is one such here tonight, you know it. (ibid.)
There Charles Finney taught the hypocrite (who was never saved) enjoys his sins, while the backslidden Christian doesn’t! They can both be sinning the same way, but the distinguishing characteristic between the unsaved and the backslidden Christian, who is still saved in his sins, is the latter isn’t happy in his wickedness! Such shamefully and dangerously false teaching is far from the Biblical whole counsel of God, which declares if the righteous man turns to evil he will die spiritually for it. If he can enjoy his sins or not is never an issue! No Scripture can be cited for that.
How could Charles Finney forget about the Scriptural ways we can tell a real Christian from a child of the devil and the possibility that a Christian can return to sin as a dog to his vomit (2 Peter 2:20-22)? In contrast to the unscriptural possible image of a Christian which Charles Finney presents through his backslidden Christian (saved person in wickedness) just described, the Bible says:
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.... (1 John 3:7,8)
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)
Reader, did you notice that nothing is cited there about loving sin or not? It simply states that one can be identified as a child of God or a child of the devil by his present tense behavior!
Charles Finney not only flatly contradicted his earlier unscriptural statement that true repentance results with never returning to sin again, but also leaves one with the following demonic possibility by endorsing the perseverance of the saints:Two men, both guilty of adultery, murder and lying (as backslidden King David was when he was dead and lost spiritually) live in the same neighborhood. The happy one who is enjoying his adultery, murder and lying is a person who was never saved, while the other man, who is not enjoying his wicked abominations, is a backslidden Christian, as he remains on the road to heaven! Remember, Charles Finney taught he would still be a Christian, though a backslider, and the perseverance of the saints is true! That is Charles Finney's teaching! Do you still think his teachings are so great and worthy of deep study?
The Bible teaches that the Christian walk is hard (Mt. 7:14) with many persecutions, problems and deceptions coming to the follower of Jesus through the devil and his servants. The Christian must remain guarded at all times. It is his responsibility under grace to hold on, keep and guard himself. If he is negligent or gets deceived, he can lethally fall (Heb. 6:6; Lk. 8:13; 1 Tim. 4:1; etc.), return as a dog to his vomit to his past way of life and sins (2 Peter 2:20-22), and become God’s enemy again (James 4:4) among other horrible things. Many Christians, who had true repentance, later lost their salvation (Mt. 24:10). Charles Finney promoters are misleading people by exalting him.
Instant Ministry Anyone?
In conclusion, for all the new Christians who want an instant ministry and hope to quickly gain a sound understanding of Scripture by reading Charles Finney, please trash that idea along with his materials and read, ponder and memorize Scripture. Glue yourself to the Bible. Especially focus in upon the New Testament.
Those who claim to stand opposed to the perseverance of the saints teaching are actually supporting and promoting that license for immorality and Calvinism by furthering the confused, contradictory and false teachings of Charles Finney on true repentance as just proven! Remember: to endorse the perseverance of the saints (once saved always saved) is to promote a license for immorality if it is done by Charles Finney or anyone else. Christians are to proclaim true Biblical holiness, which is not consistent with what Charles Finney taught here. God bless you.
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