Charles Finney: The Way

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One of my favorite books is Charles Finney’s Faith. Finney was a fiery evangelist who had a very low backslider rate due to using the Law in its proper place – as a means of convicting those outside of Christ. Here’s an excerpt:

The visible Christ embodied the true Godhead (Col 2:9). He is the way to God because He is the true God and the Eternal Life and Salvation of the soul.

Many seem to understand Christ in this role as nothing more than a teacher of a system of morality, by the observance of which we may be saved. Others regard this role as only implying that He is the way in the sense of making an atonement and thus rendering it possible for us to be forgiven. Still others understand this language as implying not only that Christ made an atonement and opened up a way of access to God through His death and mediation, but also that He teaches us the great truths essential to our salvation.

Now all this, in my understanding, falls infinitely short of the true spiritual meaning of Christ and the true spiritual significance of His role as the Way…He did not say, “I came to open the way,” “I came to teach the way,” or “I came to call you into the way,” but “I am the way” (John 14:6).

Do you know Christ by the Holy Spirit as the Living Way? Do you know Christ as a personal acquaintance? Or do you know Him only by report, by hearsay, by preaching, by reading, and by study? Do you know Him as in the Father and the Father as in Him? Have you had this revelation? And when He has been revealed to you as the True and Living Way, have you by faith personally entered the Way? Do you abide steadfastly in it? Do you know by experience what it means to live and move and have your very being in God?

Do not be deceived. He who does not spiritually discern and enter the Way, he who does not abide in it to the end, cannot be saved. See to it, then that you know the way to be saved, to be justified, to be sanctified. See to it that you do not mistake the way and take some other way… Christ in His own person is the Way. His own life living in and united to you is the Way and the only Way. You enter this Way by faith. Works of faith result from and are a condition of abiding in this Way, but the Way itself is the indwelling, living, personally embraced Christ, the “true God and eternal life” (1John 5:20).

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


10 Comments

  1. Mike

    Do you know Christ by the Holy Spirit as the Living Way? Do you know Christ as a personal acquaintance? Or do you know Him only by report, by hearsay, by preaching, by reading, and by study? Do you know Him as in the Father and the Father as in Him? Have you had this revelation? And when He has been revealed to you as the True and Living Way, have you by faith personally entered the Way? Do you abide steadfastly in it? Do you know by experience what it means to live and move and have your very being in God?

    How many people do you personally know who fit this description.

    I keep going back to Ephesians 3:19 To KNOW the love of Christ which PASSES KNOWLEDGE is to be filled with all the fullness of God. (capitals for emphasis)

  2. inos

    I love that Eph. 3:19 (where the impossibility to know that which cannon be known is presented) is followed directly by vs. 20-21:

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

    God’s power at work within us (the same power which raised Christ from the dead (Eph 1:19-20) makes the impossible possible, the unknowable knowable.

    I’m also reminded of Phil. 3, that to know Christ is to become like him in sacrifice and suffering.

    But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead.

  3. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mike, that’s the odd thing about truth – it’s paradoxical. There is a completeness, a fullness that we already possess in Christ. All the fullness of the Godhead lives in Christ in bodily form, and we are filled full, outfitted, whole, complete in Him.

    And then there’s the outworking of that inner salvation, the working out by faith that causes the River to begin to run, pressing through every dam and fallen tree and sandbar of our psyche that would block the flow of the Spirit through us. God wants to clear the channel and make an unstoppable River coming out of our inmost being.

    I know a few people like that. I know more people who are progressing rapidly to that state. I know even more, and know of more, who are still not cooperating in faith with God because they don’t believe a clear channel is possible in this life.

    So the River is dammed up, blocked in “my thoughts” and “my ways,” with a stream or a trickle escaping through their lives here and there as they dog- paddle around out on Forgiveness of Sins Lake. It’s fun, but a 4 yr old likes to dog paddle. A man wants to swim, raft, or canoe downriver to country not yet seen.

  4. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mike,

    “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

    Comprehend is katalambano – to apprehend, seize, lay hold of, take possession of.
    Know is ginosko – to perceive, understand, “know” in the sense of sexual intercourse, i.e., “be mixed with” or “one with.” That oneness is beyond gnosis, or mere head knowledge. It is experiential and is our power source for loving God and others.

    Once we get off our “Me4God” track and really it’s about Christ-through-me, things begin to move a lot faster in terms of life change, abiding, and all that.

    Also remember that God is not in a hurry.

  5. Mike

    “I know a few people like that. I know more people who are progressing rapidly to that state. I know even more, and know of more, who are still not cooperating in faith with God because they don’t believe a clear channel is possible in this life. ”

    Ron, I am tightly bound in the “how.” Now I know for sure that the “how” doesn’t exist except in Christ. But the “how” binds us all up. I don’t believe its learning “how” but learning “WHO” that unbinds us.

  6. Mike

    Ron have you ever studied the Cherubim that were positioned at the Gate of the Garden of Eden, over the Mercy Seat on the Ark and embroidered on the Temple Veil? IF you have time find a definition for Cherubim and let me know what you come up with.

  7. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mike,

    The “how” is in the Who – you’re totally correct.

    We are so apt to carry the idea of being separate from God too far, as if it is the only reality. But the truth is that the believer maintains his personality, individuality, while at the same time walking in a living union or unity with God. The “how” is to simply submit to Christ in faith – to see Him in the mirror, to recognize that since all the fullness of the Godhead lives in Christ in bodily form, and Christ lives in me, then all that power and passion and love and goodness of the Godhead lives in me, in Christ. We are so much more powerful than we think, because we are deceived not only by doublethink, but by devilthink.

    Faith, reliance, trust; an inner choice where we set our compass on God’s faithfulness, and His power and love within us. And then, through enduring in faith (which means continuing to trust His life in us even though we can’t see it coming out in our actions), through enduring in faith we begin to see Him manifested in our actions. That’s the way to life change – Romans 12:1,2. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (because we are indwelt by a living Lord who wants to do His living through us); refusing to be conformed to the way this world operates, with its performance-based acceptance, unbelief, and seeing-is-believing mentality; we refuse to be conformed by renewing our minds to Reality – God’s Reality, the only Reality – and so see our lives transformed by grace through the channel or agency of faith.

  8. Mike

    “We are so much more powerful than we think, because we are deceived not only by doublethink, but by devilthink.”

    My point about the Cherubim was that from what I understand they were not angels in the sense that they were separate beings but a manifestation of God HImself. They presented an image that had not been seen before and in the “imagi”nation we believed that we were incapable of eating from the Tree of Life, reaching the Mercy Seat, and entering into the Holy of Holies. Jesus came to show us the Father. For the first time sense the Fall men were able to walk with God in the cool of the day, face to face, without fear. For the first time when men drank of His blood and ate of His body they were eating from the Tree of Life again. He sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat and tore the Temple Veil so that we could freely enter the Holy place.

    We were enemies in our “mind”. But the Kindness of God leads us to repentence or a change of mind. We have to change the way we think about God. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

    The stinkin’ thinkin’ or devilthink is a product of a devil message that have caused us to remain at odds with God.

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