Pick this up at a bargain price

Thought that ONE of the useful things I could use blogging for was to record some book reviews.  I’ve read a number of books over the past two years or so that relate to revival in particular.  I also MAY start to build up a selection of literary reviews, as I have read a number of other books as well!  Perhaps there should be a blog out there somewhere for the Christian English teacher.  What am I supposed to say when, for example, Finney says: Don’t read any novels!  Er…

Anyway, in spite of that injunction I’m here to say the RHP Pound Classics are superb.  Charles Finney, Revival, contains some of the hottest stuff from his Lectures on Revivals of Religion (which you will find online at  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/finney/revivals.toc.html ).  The third  chapter contains a helpful list with explanations of a range of sins, and requires the reader to thoroughly inspect his/her life for these errors and make confession, before moving on with the book: he calls it breaking up your fallow ground.  If you don’t think you have any fallow ground, read his list of sins!

Finney writes out of a real and powerful experience of ongoing revival throughout his life.  He led hundreds of thousands to Christ.  He writes with an authority that few would pretend to adopt, and in an honest and direct way that all pastors should take note of, for example on prayer meetings: “In nine cases out of ten it is the leader’s fault that they do not attend.”  He criticises too much singing, meetings being too long, not enough focus on actual conversion of sinners.  He also says that “if the prayer meetings are neglected, all [a minister’s] labours are in vain.”

There is plenty of practical advice on how to speak to sinners, instructions to converts, and hindrances to revival.  I have to say that personally, although I read through the whole volume (after having read in Finney’s Lectures online) I found the first two chapters to be the most helpful for myself.  Many of the points that are made in here come across as extremely brief, and you may wish to look at his more detailed lectures.  You might find that some of his instructions rub up sharply against yourself, and you might think ‘That doesn’t apply to me’.  That is PRECISELY the moment, when reading any book devotionally, that we should repent to God and say ‘Sorry, Father, show me my sin’.  Rom 2:1-4 is helpful on this.   None of us is in a position to judge another.

I would say that a powerful rule of thumb when reading books to be stirred up by the Holy Spirit, is that if you feel strongly convicted while reading, pray and seek His face, write things down.  Decide how you will respond to what you have read.  This is true of all Scripture reading too.  Take one book and make prayerful, devout and regular use of it for some time; it will be a greater milestone in your journey with God than ten books skimmed through hastily (and I speak from experience of both!).

You may want to know more about Finney’s life after reading this book.  Liardon Roberts’ ‘God’s Generals’ has a helpful overview which covers the main points.  If you are passionate about revival, you cannot afford to NOT read about Finney’s revivals.

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