POWER FROM ON HIGH
INTRODUCTION - By John
POWER FROM ON HIGH is an article by C. G. Finney in a tract I found in my father’s things after he died. Handwritten on its cover is a brief note, "God has not changed since Finney’s day and is willing to give you all He gave Finney and keep His power on you as He did on him. Let’s meet conditions."
I recognized the handwriting. It was that of Sister Nuzum. She was a member of our church, where my father was the pastor. And she was a very successful soul-winner. She was also a close friend of the family and we often had her to dinner at our home. This was when I was in first grade.
In the tract Charles Finney said that when he came to the Lord "..on the morning of the 10th of October, 1821" he was powerfully converted in the morning and the same day received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Spirit.
The major immediate result he refers to was the power to witness to others and fasten SAVING IMPRESSIONS on the minds of men. When he lacked this power he would humble himself and with prayer and fasting cry for help. "The power would return with all its freshness."
One of my many memories of Sister Nuzum: When I had to feed the chickens she went with me. A chicken was drinking water and would repeatedly raise its head as it drank. Sister Nuzum said, "Other creatures appreciate what God provides. Look John, every time that chicken takes a drink she raises her head in thanks to God."
Through the years I have held on to this tract. I repeatedly forget about it. But then when I come across it I read it again – and it always leads me to rekindle my prayer life and faith. "Thank you" Sister Nuzum.
POWER FROM ON HIGH
WHAT IS IT?
Charles G. Finney
The Apostles and Brethren, on the Day of Pentecost, received it. What did they exercise after that event?
They received a powerful Baptism of the Holy Ghost, a vast increase of Divine illumination. This Baptism imparted a great diversity of gifts, that were used for the accomplishment of their work. It manifestly included the following things: The power of a holy, and self-sacrificing life. (The manifestation of these must have had great influence with those to whom they proclaimed the Gospel). The power of cross-bearing life. The power of great meekness, which this Baptism enabled them everywhere to exhibit. The power of a loving enthusiasm in proclaiming the Gospel. The power of teaching. The power of a loving and living faith. The gift of tongues. An increase of power to work miracles. The gift of inspiration, or the revelation of many truths before unrecognized by them. The power of moral courage to proclaim the Gospel, and do the bidding of Christ, whatever it cost them.
In their circumstances, all these induments were essential to their success; but neither separately nor all together did they constitute that power from on high, which Christ promised, and which they manifestly received. That which they manifestly received as the supreme, crowning, and all-important means of success was the power to fasten SAVING IMPRESSIONS upon the minds of men. This last was doubtless the thing which they understood Christ to promise. All that I have named above were only means, which could never secure the end unless they were vitalized and made effectual by the power of
God. The Apostles doubtless understood this, and, laying themselves and their all upon the alter, they besieged a Throne of Grace in the Spirit of entire consecration to their work.
They did, in fact, receive the gifts before mentioned; but supremely and principally, this power to savingly impress men. It was manifested right upon the spot. They began to address the multitude; and, wonderful to tell, three thousand were converted the same hour. But observe there was no new power manifested by them upon this occasion, save the gift of tongues. They wrought no miracle at that time and used these tongues simply as the means of making themselves understood. Let it be noted that they had not had time to exhibit any other gifts of the Spirit which have been above named. They had not at that time the advantage of exhibiting a holy life, or any of the powerful graces and gifts of the Spirit. What was said on the occasion as recorded in the Gospel, could not have made the impression that it did had it not been uttered by them with great power and authority; making a saving impression upon all the people. Now this power was not the power of inspiration, for they only declared certain facts of their own knowledge. It was not the power of human learning and culture, for they had but little. It was not the power of human eloquence, for there appears to have been but little of it. It was God speaking in and through them. It was a power from on high—God in them making a saving impression upon those to whom they spoke. This power to savingly impress abode with and upon them. It was doubtless, the great and main thing promised by Christ, and received by the Apostles and primitive Christians. It has existed, to a greater or less extent, in the Church ever since. It is a mysterious fact often manifested in a most surprising manner.
Sometimes a single sentence, a word, a gesture, or even a look will convey this power in an overcoming manner.
To the honor of God alone I will say a little of my own experience in this matter. I was powerfully converted on the morning of the 10th of October, 1821. In the evening of the same day I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost, that went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul. I immediately found myself endued with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individual were the means of their immediate conversion. My words seemed to fasten like barbed arrows in the souls of men.
They cut like a sword. They broke the heart like a hammer. Multitudes can attest to this. Oftentimes a word dropped without my remembering it would fasten conviction, and often result in almost immediate conversion.
Sometimes I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go and visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray, with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that his power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself, and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This has been the experience of my life.
I could fill a volume with the history of my own experience and observation with respect to this power from on high. It is a fact of consciousness and of observation.
This power is a great marvel. I have many times seen people unable to endure the word. The most simple and ordinary statements would cut men off their seats like a sword, would take away their strength, and render them almost as helpless as dead men. Several times it has been true in my experience that I could not raise my voice, or say anything in prayer or exhortation, except in the mildest manner, without overcoming them. This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of the one who is highly charged with it. Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place, will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin and in many instances converted to Christ. When Christians humble themselves and consecrate their all afresh to Christ, and ask for this power, they will often receive such a baptism that they will be instrumental in converting more souls in one day than in all their lifetime before. While Christians remain humble enough to retain this power, the work of conversion will go on, till whole communities and regions of country are converted to Christ. The same is true of the ministry.
From Words of Life – Extra Edition, Nov. 1921