Charles FinneyCharles Finney (1792-1875) knew about Revival, he knew how to be a soul-winner. He was a man with a message that burned through the religious community and secular darkness of his time. Finney was a lawyer by trade and did not come to know the Lord until he was nearly thirty years old.

He was criticized for nearly everything like most people who are being used by God. One of the main reasons Finney was criticized among the religious community was because he believed that a small group – or even one man, could start a revival and that we could actually initiate a revival. It was this belief that motivated him to evangelize the lost, to confront sinners and to initiate revival in the Church. Finney’s passion caused him to be one of the greatest revivalists of all time. He led about 250,000 souls to Christ. (Which was a big number considering the time he lived in) His passion for revival was so strong that at times he would simply walk through factories, and without speaking a word, people would become so overwhelmed with their sinfulness that they would drop to their knees in tears and repentance!

Charles Finney’s books reveal his secrets to revival. In chapter one of his book, ‘How to start a Revival’ he wrote, “Revival is renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.” Charles Finney knew how to stir up the hearts of man to seek God, to go to the Lord with repentance, and to equip the church to win souls. The book of James says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” (James 4:8 NLT) With this promise who does the initiation? The person who takes the initiative to come close to God.

“Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2Chron. 7:14 NLT)
The Lord gives us the initiative to go to Him. Jesus said “ask, and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mat. 7:7) The Lord through the prophet Jeremiah said, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jer.33:3) God has given His word that we CAN receive answers to prayer, but it is up to us to initiate it.

When is it time for revival?
You know it’s time for a revival when:
• There is a lack of brotherly love, and Christian confidence among believers.
• There are dissensions, jealousies and evil rumors within the church.
• The church has no interest to serve and has no concern for those dying without Christ.
• The Christians becomes selfish and prideful with no fear of God in our churches, homes and culture.
• There is a worldly, compromising spirit in the Church.
• Church leadership is openly living in sin.
• The Word of God is watered down and neglected in the pulpit and in private devotion.
• You see Christians conforming to the world in music, dress and talk.

When you witness these things then you know it’s time to wake up the Church and to get to work! It is as much the Christian’s duty to get to work as it is the fireman’s duty to get to work when a fire breaks out.
Christians in the Church must now wake up and get the sin out of our hearts and lives and out of our churches. What kind of fireman will be asleep when people are burning up? The fireman would be guilty of neglect of duty for not waking up and would be relieved of duty! The Christian will also be guilty of neglect of duty if they sleep while souls around them are headed for destruction. It is our responsibility to wake up and revive the Church! WE MUST WAKE UP!

Charles Finney said, “Christians are more to blame for not being revived than sinners are for not being converted. A church cannot continue without revival. Without it, more people will die unconverted inside a church building than new believers will be added to the Body of Christ!”

One of the first things we must do to start a revival is prayer–And not some weak general prayer asking God to save sinners, but serious, heart wrenching prayer for revival that will move God to act! Christians who have the spirit of prayer for revival will also have a deep concern for souls. The Greek word for “watch” is γρηγορέω (grēgoreō) and means to be awake and watchful, to give strict attention to, and to actively take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one. It is like the watchman of Ezekiel 33, who keeps watch for dangers and who is always aware of the situation.

Once again a message came to me from the LORD: “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths. “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself. (Ezek. 33:1-9)

Using the same word, Jesus told us to watch (grēgoreō) and pray. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak. (Mat 26:41 KJV)

Breaking up our fallow ground
We must not grieve away the Holy Spirit when God begins to send revival as a result of our prayers. Unless we remove the sin from our hearts, revival will not stay. One cannot continue in their hidden sins of the heart like pride, and expect a move of the Holy Spirit.

The primary purpose of a farmer plowing up the fallow ground is to turn over the upper layer of the soil, bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds. The remains of previous crops, and weed seeds will be plowed into the soil, allowing them to break down. It also aerates the soil and allows it to hold moisture better and provides a seed-free medium for planting an alternate crop.

Jesus compares our heart to the ground in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed: (Matthew 13:1-23)

We must prepare our hearts for revival by breaking up the fallow ground of our hearts.
…”Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (Hos. 10:12 NLT)

And the results will be a heart ready to receive God’s Spirit:
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put My Spirit in you so that you will follow My decrees and be careful to obey My regulations. (Ezek. 36:26-27 NLT)

Revival consists of two parts: 1st, that which affects the church and 2nd, that which affects sinners. The Bible talks a lot about having a hardened heart, a stony, stubborn, a non- teachable heart and attitude. The heart is like soil – whatever you plant in it will produce a harvest as long as it is good ground and not full of weeds or even worse, nothing but hard, stony ground. The Lord spoke a great deal against the hard- hearted person, the “stiff-necked” who will not repent or change. Stubborn people have this kind of heart, and unless the “hard ground of their heart” is fallowed, or broken up and softened, those people will be in danger of the fires of Gehenna.

But God gives us a great example of how to break up the fallow ground of our heart by reading about Samuel confronting Saul:

Stubbornness is as idolatry: For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. (1Sam. 15:23-24)

You can break up the hard fallow ground of your own heart by self-examination. Soften up the ground of your heart by looking inside and examining your motives, your thoughts and the intentions of your heart. Make it a point to do this, but don’t be in a hurry. Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God give you a supernatural heart examination. The Lord is The Great Physician so let Him do a little heart surgery on you. He is The Lord of the Harvest, let Him plow your ground and uproot the bad seeds and roots of bitterness. Let Him uproot things that would grieve the Holy Spirit. Let the Lord of the Harvest plant and bring forth a harvest. As He points out these issues, stop and repent and plant the seed of the Word of God in its place. Sow the seed of the Word of God in your heart concerning the issue at hand. The Lord of the Harvest knows how to plow, uproot, sow and water.

Self-examination is opening up your heart and looking at your life and just like a computer virus scan, allow the Lord to scan your “system” in order to look for “threats” and things that contaminate your system’s function. Self-examination is looking at your true character; examining your sins one by one and then cutting out its source. It will revive and resurrect your conscience, causing you to come back to God. Don’t have a seared conscience and be stubborn. A seared conscience is someone who has no or little conviction and is so used to resisting the Holy Spirit that they have a seared conscience.

Examine yourself in light of the Word of God and find out why you do the things you do, why you say the things you say – examine your character and motives of your heart. Self-examination of your sins is a detailed examination and remember don’t just repent of sin in general, but confess every one of them to the Lord. When you committed those sins you did them one at a time and it would only be right that you repent of them one at a time and completely focus on uprooting them and replacing them with God’s Seed – The Word.

As you examine your heart don’t forget the sins we commit that would be considered “omission” like the things we neglect, like not being thankful. Ingratitude is a sin that needs to be repented of. There is no blessing that you have received that did not come from the Lord. God’s grace saved you and continually blesses you – do not neglect your duty to thank God.

Another thing we must look at is our lack of love for God. How would you feel if your child refused to obey you, took you for granted, and didn’t pay much attention to you unless they wanted something? Would you be moved to bless that child? Repent and make it right and revival will come to you.

Another sin of “omission” would be of neglecting the Word of God and prayer – allowing doubt to creep in to negate what you used to believe. The God of Truth has promised to give the Holy Spirit to those (of His) who ask Him (Luke 11:13) Do you believe this? Do you expect Him to answer? Poor spiritual attitude, a lack of concern for unbelievers and a lack of love for the brethren are all sins that must be repented of.

The sins that we willingly commit out of our free will of choice
Vanity and Pride are things that must be put away; the Word of God says that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. (1 Cor. 5:7) Do you put more effort on your outside appearance than you do on the inside appearance to God? When you get ready for church do you get ready spiritually, or is it all about outward appearance? Man looks on the outside appearance but God looks at the heart. (1Sam.16:7) Allow God to get in your business like Samuel did with Saul and like Nathan did with David.

Do you have a critical spirit? Remember the times you had a bitter spirit about a brother or sister and spoke against them in a way that was not in love? Have you ever slandered a brother or sister? Do you have a lack of seriousness in the things of God? These are things that hinder revival, get them out of your heart and you will experience revival and the refreshing presence of the Lord again!

Let us be like David and repent as God’s Spirit reveals the sin in our heart. We all need a Nathan who will point his finger at us and say “Thou art the man!” Deception is a lie and done with intention. Do you have a lying spirit? Have you ever lied to get your promotion or to receive an extra benefit? Cheating and hypocrisy and robbing God are sins that must be repented of individually and each one must be dealt with separately. If you sinned against God get it right; if you sinned against a anyone get it right and do your best to fix it with the person before moving on. Jesus said to not even give an offering unless you deal with the issue of the heart concerning your brother. (Matthew 5:23-24) By the grace of God, try to revive and resurrect your conscience and call it into accountability with God and His Word, and your ground – your heart, will experience revival as a fire burning in your bones! (Jeremiah 20:9)

Just as Paul told Timothy to “stir up the gift of God within you” and as Peter said in his epistle to “stir you up by way of remembrance”, I want to stir you up to seek God to correct these issues and prepare your heart for the spirit of prayer and partner with you to initiate a revival in the Church.

The secrets to revival are not secrets anymore. We must return to our First Love. We must not be luke-warm. We must return to the Lord and get our hearts in sync with His through repentance – repentance from religious works and repetitive, unfeeling prayer, and return to making God first.
When we come to the Judgment Seat of Christ we will each give an account to Him for what works we did and did not do. I exhort you today to return to your First Love and go back to doing what He told you to do! Keep yourself examined and be free of revival hindrances! Remember the sleeping fireman, and don’t be a sleeping Christian! The zeal of the Lord is in you! The divine embers of life from heaven are still in you and waiting for the wind of God’s Spirit to blow on them and cause them to explode!

This article includes excerpts from Charles Finney’s Revival Lectures. CLICK HERE for more.


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