Please, Lord—do it again!

Iam a contributing author for an upcoming book dedicated to my Ph.D. supervisor, Malcom McDow. I was asked to write a chapter based on my dissertation on the ministry of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) during the Second Great Awakening. God used McDow in wonderful ways in my life while I was a student at Southwestern Seminary.  

I understand that many are not fans of Finney. I certainly do not agree with many points of his theology and offered a critique in my dissertation. However, I greatly appreciate Finney’s love for the lost and his ministry to preach the gospel.

In 1830, Finney preached perhaps his most effective and memorable revival, which was held in Rochester, N.Y.  He returned in 1842 and God blessed yet again. Many were converted to Christ, including many leading citizens of the city. One of them was a man by the name of Judge Addison Gardiner. While Finney was preaching, Gardiner left his seat and Finney thought he was going home. To his surprise, the judge walked up the stairs to the pulpit and asked Finney to pray for him. Finney told the church the judge’s decision, and then spontaneously, without Finney asking them, many lawyers in the crowd arose and came forward. Finney asked if there were others who were ready to repent and surrender their lives to Jesus. To use Finney’s words, there was a “mighty movement.”

“Let’s share Jesus today with someone who does not know Him.”

Finney’s most memorable revival in England (1850) was held in London at the Whitefield Tabernacle, built in 1753 for the powerful evangelist of the First Great Awakening, George Whitefield. Finney preached for nine months at this church: twice on Sundays and once Tuesday through Friday evenings. On Mondays, they held a prayer service. The result of the revival was described as “little short of remarkable.” Finney asked Pastor John Campbell if he could conduct an inquiry meeting for those interested in salvation. Campbell was hesitant, fearing no one would attend the meetings.  

Finally, Campbell agreed to allow the meeting but informed Finney he could only use the infant room, which held around 40 people. Finney protested and said the meeting space was too small and requested to use the British school adjacent to the church. Campbell laughed at Finney and told him the school held up to 1,600 people. 

After Finney preached a short sermon in the evening, he informed the people they could either stay in the church and have communion or proceed to the inquiry meeting next door. Campbell was astonished when 1,500-1,600 people filled up the school. On one occasion during this revival, 2,000 people stood during the invitation.

When I read of God’s miraculous works in the past, I cry out to Him, “Please, Lord—do it again!”  May God stir our hearts to share both personally and publicly the saving message of Jesus Christ. If we are faithful to proclaim the gospel, I know God will do what only He can do—save the lost. Let’s share Jesus today with someone who does not know Him. 

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