On July 1, 1824, Charles Finney, an ordained Presbyterian minister, appeared in a number of churches and other buildings to lead revivals over the next few decades throughout New York and Pennsylvania.
Preaching three times on Sundays and three more times during the week throughout the red‐light district areas in these states, great revivals broke out as Finney taught that the atoning blood of Jesus Christ was all that was needed to open up the way for God to pardon people of their sin and only by repentance and the acceptance of Christ in one’s soul could one be saved from damnation and Hell’s fires and be assured of a place in Heaven.
A great decrease of the criminal activity in these areas was solely attributed to his gospel preaching and leading of thousands of sinners to Christ.
On one particular occasion, as Finney was about to enter the church he was to preach at, a man approached him and asked if he could privately speak with him after the service. Finney said yes, and after entering the building, a deacon pulled him quickly to the side and said, "Do you know who that man is?" Finney said no. The deacon said, "Don’t have anything to do with him. It’s rumored that he’s the one responsible for all the gambling, drugs, prostitution, and murders in this city. He’s a really bad man! Don’t have anything to do with him!"
Finney said that he had given his word to meet him after the service and must keep his word to see what he wanted, and he entered the church.
After the service, that man was waiting for Finney on the doorsteps of the building. Finney greeted him and the man said, "I would like to speak privately with you. Can you come to my office?" Finney said yes and began following him.
They walked a couple of blocks and then suddenly turned down a dark alley before coming to a door that led downwards into a small room in the cellar. In the room were just an old desk and one chair.
As the man sat down, looking up at Finney he said, "Do you know who I am?" And Finney responded, "Yes." Then the man slowly reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a gun and laid it on top of the desk and said, "I’d like to ask you a question."
He proceeded, "It has been said that I’m the one responsible for all the gambling, drugs, prostitution, and crime in this city. Can God forgive a man for having done all of these things?" Finney replied, "First John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The man just nodded and then said, "There are several families that have been ruined because I’ve had their husbands or fathers murdered. Can God forgive a man for having done all of these things?" Finney again responded, "First John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Again, the man just slightly nodded his head.
Then the man said, "I’m married and have a little daughter that I rarely see because I’ve been with several other women. Can God forgive a man for all of this?" Once again Finney declared, "In First John 1:9 it says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Finally, the man just looking up from his desk at Finney in the dimly lit room said, "You can now go." And without another spoken word from either, Finney departed.
After sunrise the next morning, the man went home. Upon hearing the front door unlock, the man’s wife quickly told her daughter that "Your daddy’s home but whatever you do, stay out of his way." The man entered his home. Upon smelling the scent of the breakfast, he entered into the kitchen where they were nervously standing. He walked over to his little daughter and picked her up and held her for the first time in his arms and kissed her cheek and told her how much he loved her. Then he proceeded to embrace his wife, and after kissing her, he asked her forgiveness for all that he’d ever done to her and announced that their lives would never be the same again because of Christ.
You don’t get to Heaven by being good or go to Hell for being bad. The Bible says we’re ALL born in sin or all bad, and we’ve ALL fallen short of the Glory of God and in need of a savior. God therefore saves those who believe in His Son, that He died on the cross for them and washed their sins away. Then God not only forgives our sin, but also purifies our heart.
The Eternal Son put on flesh and blood and died to wash us from our sins in his own atoning blood that we may have a new relationship and intimate fellowship with Christ and be destined for Heaven.
God Himself has provided the sufficient and effectual Sacrifice for sin that is needed throughout all the generations of mankind, without which a person is lost forever.
~Dr. Andrew Bills
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