Charles G. Finney on Sanctification
When I was a young Christian working as a staff member with the Agape Force Ministry (Lindale, Texas), we were required to read Finney’s Systematic Theology as a condition for seeking ordination. Little did I realize that the Holy Spirit would use Finney’s section on sanctification to set me free from several long-standing struggles. Imagine that a systematic theology would be used by the Holy Spirit to set someone free. That is exactly what God did in 1980 with the vital truths of sanctification by faith.
I learned from Finney that not only was my justification (getting right with God) was by faith, but also my sanctification (Christian growth) was by faith (1 John 5:1-5). My victory over sin came as I trusted in a particular attribute of Christ’s character or by standing on a particular benefit of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.
We need the light of the Holy Spirit to teach us the character of God, the nature of His government, the purity of His law, the necessity and fact of atonement to teach us our need of Christ in all His offices and relations, governmental, spiritual, and mixed. We need the revelation of Christ to our souls, in such power as to induce in us that appropriating faith, without which Christ is not, and cannot be, our salvation. We need to know Christ, for example, in such relations as the following:
1. As King, to set up His government and write His law in our hearts; to establish His kingdom within us; to sway His scepter over our whole being. As King He must be spiritually revealed and received.
2. As our Mediator, to stand between the offended justice of God and our guilty souls, to bring about a reconciliation between our souls and God. As mediator, He must be known and received.
3. As our Advocate or paracletos, our next or best friend, to plead our cause with the Father, our righteous and all prevailing advocate to secure the triumph of our cause at the bar of God. In this relation, He must be apprehended and embraced.
4. As our Redeemer, to redeem us from the curse of the law, and from the power and dominion of sin; to pay the price demanded by public justice for our release, and to overcome and break up forever our spiritual bondage. In this relation, also we must know and appreciate Him by faith.
5. As the propitiation for our sins, to offer Himself as a propitiatory or offering for our sins. The apprehension of Christ as making an atonement for our sins seems to be indispensable to the entertaining of a healthy hope of eternal life.
More from Finney’s Systematic Theology here.
More about theologian, pastor, evangelist, Charles G. Finney here.