The Church of Philadelphia Hall of Fame
Or, A Great Cloud of Witnesses
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us"
by Tom Stewart
HE PHILADELPHIA OF THE REVELATION-- the city of brotherly love-- was the site of a 1st Century Asia Minor church that received the praise of the LORD Jesus Christ. "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an Open Door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name" (Revelation 3:8). Many have concluded that the Seven Churches of Revelation-- found in chapters 2 and 3-- also represent the History of the Church from its inception to the present. Accordingly, Philadelphia is the sixth church named, and would represent a time frame from approximately 1700 to 1900 AD-- the Philadelphian Church Age. In comparison to the power of the primitive 1st Century Christians-- "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13)-- the Believers of the Philadelphian Church Age have only a "little strength". But, we should read of Philadelphia's exploits and only pray that we should be so blessed!
John Wesley: Turning England Back to God (1703-1791)
OD'S MAN TO TURN ENGLAND BACK TO GOD, WAS JOHN WESLEY. Providentially saved from a burning house at the age of six, Wesley described himself as a "brand plucked from the burning". From a long line of English preachers, John graduated from Oxford University, entered the ministry, traveled as a missionary to the Georgia colony in America in 1735, and returned to England, while still unconverted. Later, an admirer of Wesley said that "if John Wesley was not a good Christian in Georgia, God help the millions who profess to call themselves Christians." But, God met John Wesley one evening in a meeting of a religious society on Aldersgate Street on May 14, 1738. When someone read Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans, Wesley reflected that he felt his heart "strangely warmed". "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
Armed with the knowledge of justification by faith, John Wesley set out like a lion to preach the Gospel with the world as his parish. Not only did he preach to vast crowds in open air meetings-- for the established church would not receive him-- but he carefully organized the fruit into what came to be known as the Methodist Church. "Therefore whosoever heareth these Sayings of Mine, and doeth Them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a Rock" (Matthew 7:24). Stressing the free will of man, he urged his hearers to repentance and faith. In keeping with his deep sense of the necessity for personal holiness, he penned the book, "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection" ---New Window, in which he urged the possibility and necessity of complete consecration to God. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
John Wesley's great strength and blessing was his understanding that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). He was homo unius libri-- a man of one book, the Bible. He wrote, "I am a creature of a day, passing, through life as an arrow through the air... I am a spirit from God, returning to God... God Himself condescended to teach me the way... He hath written it down in a Book. Oh, give me that Book! At any price give me the Book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. Here then I am far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone. Only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His Book."
Jonathan Edwards: Awakening the Sleeping New World (1703-1758)
HOUGH JONATHAN EDWARDS WAS UNUSUALLY GIFTED INTELLECTUALLY-- graduating from Yale College and later invited to be the president of what would become Princeton University-- God used the simple willingness of this man of God to fan the flames of the Great Awakening in colonial America. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). Early impressed with the absolute sovereignty of God, Edwards' preaching insisted upon the awful offense that sinners have given to the Living God. In his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" ---New Window (1741), Edwards solemnly urged that "natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger."
"A Faithful Narrative of the Surprizing Work of God" (1736) was Edwards own account of his first revival at Northampton, Massachusetts. In 1740, George Whitefield, in one of his many trips from England, aided in the spread of this Great Awakening among the American colonies. Because Jonathan Edwards insisted that the members of his church needed to have a clear foundation of conversion to Christ, the dissenting church members removed him as their pastor in 1750. But, the "LORD is able to give thee much more than this" (2Chronicles 25:9); and, Edwards proceeded to Stockbridge, Massachusetts where he conducted missionary work with the remnant of the Mohican Indians. Here, he composed many of the theological works for which he is remembered. In the following century, Charles G. Finney often referred to "President Edwards" with great respect for his opinion and revival example. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1). Edwards' Sovereign LORD conducted him Home in 1758, when he succumbed to the adverse effects of a smallpox vaccination. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
Charles G. Finney: Apostle of the Philadelphian Church (1792-1875)
OD'S MAN TO REVIVE THE CHURCH IN THE MIDST OF THE PHILADELPHIAN AGE WAS CHARLES G. FINNEY. "O LORD, I have heard Thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2). Born in Connecticut state of the fledgling United States of America, and early raised in the wilderness frontier of Oneida County, New York, Finney represented the pioneering American spirit of his day. Trained as an attorney to the practice of law, he found himself hauled before the bar of the Judge of All the Earth (Genesis 18:25) and found wanting. He studied the Scripture references in his legal texts, which were (most probably) Sir William Blackstone's "Commentaries on the Laws of England" (1765)-- where Blackstone contended that all civil law received its validity from its conformity to the law of God.
Finney was powerfully converted to Christ in 1821 after long consideration of the claims of Christ upon him. "Just at this point the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time. I think I then saw, as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the atonement of Christ. I saw that His work was a finished work; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ. Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of something to be accepted; and that it was full and complete; and that all that was necessary on my part, was to get my own consent to give up my sins, and accept Christ. Salvation, it seemed to me, instead of being a thing to be wrought out, by my own works, was a thing to be found entirely in the Lord Jesus Christ, who presented Himself before me as my God and my Savior" (excerpted from "An Autobiography"---New Window by Charles G. Finney).
Subsequent to his conversion, he gave up all attempts at a legal career, and endeavored to preach the Gospel. His theological training was conducted by his pastor, Reverend Gale, but he found much difficulty receiving the Old School Calvinism-- which Hyper-Calvinism he rejected. After his ordination, he immersed himself in the evangelistic work for which history best remembers him. Since the conversion of sinners must first be preceded by the awakening of Backslidden Professing Christians, Finney stressed the need for holiness in the Church, that would manifest itself in the powerful conversion of the Lost. "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" (1Peter 4:17). It would be difficult to estimate the number of subsequent Saints-- Jonathan Goforth, Watchman Nee, etc.-- who pointed to Charles G. Finney's "Revival Lectures" ---New Window as a model of how the Church should promote revivals and seek the conversion of the Lost.
Keenly aware that sinners could not help but act in accord with their misunderstanding of Scripture, he said, "I felt it my duty to expose all the hiding places of sinners, and to hunt them out from under those peculiar views of orthodoxy, in which I found them entrenched" (from Chapter 18 "Revivals at Wilmington and Philadelphia" of his autobiography). "Is not My Word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a farmer understands the cause and effect relationship of his reaping and sowing, Finney carefully demonstrated "what saith the Scripture" (Romans 4:3) to his hearers, that the Spirit of Truth would produce the "faith which worketh by Love" (Galatians 5:6). Especially believing that the resulting obedience came from the willingness of the hearer in conjunction with the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, Finney methodically explained what he meant and did not mean. Charles Finney spoke often of the Promised Spirit of the New Covenant in his articles published in the "Oberlin Evangelist". [See Timothy L. Smith's compiled and edited works of Charles G. Finney on holiness, "The Promise of the Spirit".] "I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27).
At one time, newly converted Finney received his pastor's permission to contradict the pastor's Hyper-Calvinism, just so that a Universalist lecturer could be refuted in public. And, to the relief and perplexity of Finney's pastor, the Universalist was effectively routed, while gaining the conversion of a young woman, who had been deceived by Universalism (from Chapter 4 "His Doctrinal Education" of his autobiography). "For them that honour Me I will honour" (1Samuel 2:30). About three miles outside of the western New York town of Antwerp, Finney preached at a schoolhouse where he spontaneously chose the text, "Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city" (Genesis 19:14). As he preached, the people became visibly angry; but, Finney energetically pressed home that their ungodliness was evidenced by their never having a religious meeting in that place. Suddenly, an awful solemnity settled down on the people, when they began to fall from their seats and cry for mercy. Finney began to circulate among the people preaching Jesus into the ears of individuals, until each came to terms with Christ. Only later did Finney learn that the place had been nicknamed Sodom, while the old gentlemen that invited him to preach was derided with the name Lot (from Chapter 8 "Revival at Antwerp" of his autobiography). "And thou shalt speak My Words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious" (Ezekiel 2:7).
Though Finney disliked sensationalism in his preaching, he believed in an honestly direct approach. "I always have pursued a different course. I have often said, 'Do not think I am talking about anybody else; but I mean you, and you, and you.' Further, I have often said to people, when I saw that they looked offended, 'Now you resent this and you will go away and say that you will not come again; but you will. Your own convictions are on my side. You know that what I tell you is true; and that I tell it for your own good; and that you cannot continue to resent it.' And I have always found this to be true" (from Chapter 7 "Remarks Upon Ministerial Education" of his autobiography). "But Wisdom is justified of all Her children" (Luke 7:35). And, "The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life; and he that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30).
His later years were dedicated to training ministers and Christian workers at Oberlin College, and his "Systematic Theology" (1851) best reflects the foundation of his revival thinking. "True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter and in changing our views and language and practice as often and as fast, as we can obtain further information" (excerpted from the preface to Finney's "Systematic Theology" ---New Window). "And thine ears shall hear a Word behind thee, saying, This is The Way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). The "Memoirs of Charles G. Finney"-- now entitled, "An Autobiography"-- were published after his death. The editors affixed an epilogue to that 1876 publishing: "To set forth the results of his life in these [other] respects, would require another volume, which will probably never be written; but other generations will reap the benefits, without knowing the source whence they have sprung." And, the "path of the Just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more unto the Perfect Day" (Proverbs 4:18).
George Mueller: Ambassador of the Prayer Hearing God (1805-1898)
MAN OF FAITH EMERGED OUT OF THE UR OF THE CHALDEES to whom the LORD promised, "I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the Earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). Abraham was that man for that hour, but George Mueller was uniquely God's man to call His Philadelphian Church to trust in the God "that hearest prayer" (Psalm 65:2). A Prussian by birth, Mueller was not raised in the "nurture and admonition of the LORD" (Ephesians 6:4), but lived a dissolute life of sin, even while preparing at the University of Halle for a career as a clergyman. "I thought no parish would choose me as their pastor... and without a considerable knowledge of divinity I should never get a good living. But the moment I entered Halle... all my resolutions came to nothing... I renewed my profligate life afresh, though now a student of divinity... I had no sorrow of heart on account of offending God" (from Basil Miller's "George Mueller: Man of Faith and Miracles").
Mueller's conversion came about the middle of November 1825 through a backslidden friend, Beta, who brought him to a cottage meeting-- to sing, to pray, and to read the Word and a printed sermon-- conducted at the home of a simple, Christian tradesman, a Mr. Wagner. Struck by the power and simplicity of these common people, George was warmed to God. He was truly happy. He said, "If I had been asked why I was happy, I could not have clearly explained it" (at the time). Our concept of what Gospel Salvation appears like, was addressed by A. T. Pierson-- Mueller's biographer-- when explaining the manner of George Mueller's conversion: "Our rigid theories of conversion all fail in view of such facts. We have heard of a little child who so simply trusted Christ for salvation that she could give no account of any 'law work.' And as one of the old examiners, who thought there could be no genuine conversion without a period of deep conviction, asked her, 'But, my dear, how about the Slough of Despond?' she dropped a courtsey and said, 'Please, sir, I didn't come that way!'" (excerpted from A. T. Pierson's "George Mueller of Bristol"). "I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16).
Relocating to England, Mueller began preaching. He was led to Bristol, where he founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, in 1834. Only a year later, he opened his first orphans house with the stated purpose: "1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare" (from Appendix E: "Reasons Which Led Mr. Mueller to Establish an Orphan House" of A. T. Pierson's "George Mueller of Bristol"). Never soliciting his needs to man, but only to the Living God through prayer, Mueller secured from the LORD over $7.5 million during his lifetime for the support of thousands of orphans, matriculating over 121,000 students from their schools, distributing 300,000 Bibles in different languages, dispersing more than 1.5 million New Testaments, supporting more than 163 missionaries, and distributing over 111 million Gospel tracts. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
George Mueller revealed that the secret to his faith in prayer was that he believed what he read from the Word of God. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it" (Psalm 81:10). During the 63 years following his conversion, he read the Bible through each year, half of that on his knees. Dying at the age of 93, he left an estate of less than $1,000, but careful investigation revealed that he had given back to the Institute more than $500,000, which he had received as personal gifts. "Of whom the world was not worthy" (Hebrews 11:38).
James A. Wylie: Earnest Contender for the Faith (1808-1890)
AMES AITKEN WYLIE WAS BORN IN SCOTLAND IN 1808. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23). His collegiate preparation was at Marischal College, Aberdeen (a North Sea port city and industrial center of northeastern Scotland) and at St. Andrews (Fife, East Scotland). "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lamentations 3:27). Though we could find no account of his conversion, he entered the Original Seccession Divinity Hall, Edinburgh (Scotland, the land of John Knox) in 1827, and was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1831; hence, the name "Rev. J. A. Wylie" is affixed to most of his written works. "And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Timothy 3:15).
His disposition to use the pen as a mighty "Sword of the LORD" (Judges 7:18) is evidenced by his assumption of the sub-editorship of the Edinburgh "Witness" in 1846. "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1). In 1852, after joining the Free Church of Scotland-- which was only inaugurated in 1843 (Dr. Chalmers as moderator), insisting on the Crown Rights of King Jesus as the only Head and King of the Church-- Wylie edited their "Free Church Record" until 1860. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). The Protestant Institute appointed him Lecturer on Popery in 1860. He continued in this role until his death in 1890. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians 10:5).
Aberdeen University awarded him an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) in 1856. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my LORD: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). His travels took him to many of the far-flung places, where the events of Protestant history transpired. "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Romans 1:15). As a prominent spokesman for Protestantism, Dr. Wylie's writings included "The Papacy: Its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects"-- which was awarded a prize by the Evangelical Alliance in 1851-- and, his best known writing, "The History of Protestantism" ---New Window (1878). "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the Common Salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints" (Jude 3).
It is a solemn and sad reflection on the spiritual intelligence of our times that J. A. Wylie's classic, "The History of Protestantism" went out of publication in the 1920's. "Little children, it is the Last Time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the Last Time" (1John 2:18). But-- "we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:39). And, we continue to "look for Him" (Hebrews 9:28) to come for us to cause us to "escape all these things" (Luke 21:36) in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, while we intently "occupy" (19:13) for Him in the Gospel fields, which are "white already to harvest" (John 4:35). "Even so, come [quickly], LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). Amen, and Amen.
Charles Chiniquy: The LORD's Faithful Witness to the Harlotry of Rome (1809-1899)
TESTIMONY OF THE LOVE OF GOD "to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by [Christ Jesus]" (Hebrews 7:25), and a faithful warning to the Church of Jesus Christ concerning the treacheries of the Harlot Church of Rome, is the life of Charles Chiniquy. As a French Canadian youth, Chiniquy was given the gift of his love for the Word of God by his unconventionally Roman Catholic parents, even though Scripture in the common tongue had been expressly forbidden by the Council of Trent. Without his knowledge, the seeds of Protestantism had been effectively sown in him, as desired by the blessed translating efforts of both John Wycliffe and William Tyndale. "But he that received Seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matthew 13:23).
Why all the commotion about Protestants historically encouraging the reading of the Word of God, when both Catholics and Protestants may freely read-- but generally ignore-- the Scriptures today? "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Because the Word of God does not benefit anyone unless it is believed. "For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). Worse, too many are oblivious to their false sense of security in a Deceptive Faith that has not the works of Love. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by Love" (Galatians 5:6). [Please read our article, "Is Faith the Only Condition for Eternal Salvation? Or, The Biblical Doctrine of Justification by Faith" ---New Window, for an important clarification of this often misinterpreted concept.]
Chiniquy aspired to the priesthood of Rome, but his joy of being ordained a priest of Rome became "as if a thunderbolt had fallen upon me when I pronounced the awful oath which is required from every priest: 'I will never interpret the Holy Scriptures except according to the unanimous consent of the Holy Fathers' " (excerpt from Chiniquy's "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome" ---New Window). How unlike Rome's oath is the Scripture, "20 But ye have an Unction [Greek, chrisma] from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 27 But the Anointing [Greek, chrisma, or unction] which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (1John 2:20,27)!
As a proponent of total abstinence from alcoholic beverages, he was vehemently opposed by his drunken fellow priests. "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre" (Titus 1:7). He was horrified at the liberties taken by the priests of Rome, especially with their female confessors, who were required to confess their most intimate faults to the ears of a man, in the name of Auricular Confession. "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Ephesians 5:12). He led an effort to bring Catholicism to the United States by bringing in a large colony of French Canadian Catholics to the state of Illinois. Attacked by jealous priests, Chiniquy was compelled to require the services of Abraham Lincoln, who ably defeated the Jesuits in open court battle; however, as Chiniquy warned, the Jesuits would not forgive or forget their wound. Chiniquy later demonstrated that Lincoln's assassination in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth was carefully orchestrated by a conspiracy of Jesuit-Catholic accomplices. "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2Corinthians 2:11).
Suffice it to say that Chiniquy's breaking into the full freedom and liberty of the Gospel was aided by the whale vomiting its unwanted meal. Rome ultimately excommunicated Chiniquy, but not before he gave his resignation. The bishop "answered angrily: 'Mr. Chiniquy, I am your superior, I do not want to argue with you. You are inferior: your business is to obey me. Give me at once an act of submission, in which you will simply say that you and your people will submit yourselves to my authority, and promise to do anything I will bid you.' I calmly answered: 'What you ask me is not an act of submission, it is an act of adoration. I do absolutely refuse to give it.' 'If it be so, sir,' he answered, 'you can no longer be a Roman Catholic priest.' I raised my hands to heaven, and cried with a loud voice: 'May God Almighty be for ever blessed'" (excerpt from Chiniquy's "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome"). "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16).
Chiniquy returned to his room to contemplate the enormity of his situation. Taking his New Testament, he glanced providentially at these words, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men" (1Corinthians 7:23). Gospel Salvation now became very plain to this former priest. "Strange to say! Those words came to my mind, more as a light than an articulated sound. They suddenly but most beautifully and powerfully gave me, as much as a man can know it, the knowledge of the great mystery of a perfect salvation through Christ alone. They at once brought a great and delightful calm to my soul. I said to myself: 'Jesus has bought me, then I am His; for when I have bought a thing it is mine, absolutely mine! Jesus has bought me! I, then, belong to Him! He alone has a right over me. I do not belong to the bishops, to the popes, not even to the church, as I have been told till now. I belong to Jesus and to Him alone! His Word must be my guide, and my light by day and by night. Jesus has bought me,' I said again to myself; 'then He has saved me! and if so, I am saved, perfectly saved, for ever saved! for Jesus cannot save me by half. Jesus is my God; the works of God are perfect. My salvation must, then, be a perfect salvation. But how has He saved me? What price has He paid for my poor guilty soul?' The answer came as quickly as lightning: 'He bought you with His blood shed on the cross! He saved you by dying on Calvary!'" (Chiniquy's emancipating thoughts from his "Fifty Years in the Church of Rome").
READ TWO INTERESTING EXCERPTS ---New Window
Andrew Murray: Proving the Reality of Abiding in Christ (1828-1917)
NDREW MURRAY WAS POSSIBLY THE STRONGEST SPOKESMAN OF THE PHILADELPHIAN AGE to expound the Body's necessity to abide in Christ, like the Apostle John before him. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (John 15:4). Murray was born into a family of four children in the then remote Graaff-Reinet region (near the Cape) of South Africa. Educated in Scotland, which was followed by theological studies in Holland, Andrew returned to his native land to work as a missionary and minister. Given the daunting task of ministering to Bloemfontein, a remote region of 50,000 square miles and 12,000 people beyond the Orange River, Murray already began to sense the need to for the "deeper Christian life". "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30). Oh, the wisdom of God to teach His servant that "without [Christ Jesus] ye can do nothing" (John 15:5)! Though successful in preaching and bringing many to Christ, Murray found many of his greatest lessons in the School of Suffering, as will all who follow in the path of obedience. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).
Murray's daughter noted that following a time of sickness, her father emerged, beginning to show "in all relationships that constant tenderness and unruffled lovingkindness and unselfish thought for others which increasingly characterized his life from that point." This was an expression of his full surrender and simple faith in Christ, which God worked in Him "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). And, what more than faith can please God? "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). His authoring of some 240 devotional and instructional works for Christians, drew him into a closer walk with His LORD, because "he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (Proverbs 11:25).
John the Baptist pursued the right idea about the LORD Jesus that "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Andrew Murray was Philadelphia's epitome of just such humility. Though Andrew and his wife, Emma, had a house bustling with the activity of their nine children, he found the time and the love for all the Children of God to compose the book, "The True Vine" ---New Window. He wrote in its preface, "I have felt drawn to try to write what young Christians might easily apprehend, as a help to them to take up that position in which the Christian life must be a success. It is as if there is not one of the principal temptations and failures of the Christian life that is not met here. The nearness, the all-sufficiency, the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus, the naturalness, the fruitfulness of a life of faith, are so revealed, that it is as if one could with confidence say, Let the parable enter into the heart, and all will be right. May the blessed Lord give the blessing. May He teach us to study the mystery of the Vine in the spirit of worship, waiting for God's own teaching." "1 I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. 2 Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:1-2).
J. Hudson Taylor: Demonstrating God's Love for China (1832-1905)
VEN AS A CHILD OF FOUR, JAMES HUDSON TAYLOR seemed to be groomed by God for China. "When I am a man I will be a missionary and go to China," were the brave words of this son of an English Methodist minister, who himself was physically disqualified from the same missionary endeavor. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). At the age of 17, young Hudson Taylor had yet to commit his life to Christ, but found himself at that unexpected crossroad when he whiled away the unoccupied hours of his holiday, reading in his father's library. He wrote, "I turned over a little basket of pamphlets, and selected from amongst them a Gospel tract which looked interesting..."
"I sat down to read the little book in an utterly unconcerned state of mind... seventy or eighty miles away. [His mother] rose from the dinner table that afternoon with the intense yearning for the conversion of her boy... She went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until her prayers were answered... in the meantime... while reading [the tract] was struck with the sentence, 'The finished work of Christ.'... 'Why does the author use this expression?'... Immediately the words 'It is finished' suggested themselves to my mind... 'If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is left for me to do?' And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall on one's knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him for evermore. Thus while my dear mother was praising God on her knees in her chamber, I was praising Him in the old warehouse to which I had gone alone to read at my leisure this little book." "I will not let thee go, except Thou bless me" (Genesis 32:26).
Taylor studied both medicine and theology. In 1854, he went to China to work in a hospital through the auspices of the China Evangelization Society. Marrying the daughter of another missionary, two years later, they returned to England. There he translated the Bible into the Ningpo dialect for five years; but, his ability to share his vision of God's work in China, caused him to establish the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1866. "I have set before thee an Open Door, and no man can shut it" (Revelation 3:8), but "there are many adversaries" (1Corinthians 16:9). Like George Mueller's orphan houses, Taylor's China Inland Mission was a faith work. Before his death in 1905, J. Hudson Taylor was used of God to establish 205 mission stations with some 849 English missionaries. But, all of this was only an impetus to which the Chinese Christians responded in producing their own mighty men of Christian faith, such as Watchman Nee. "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1Corinthians 3:6).
Taylor's only book was "Union and Communion" ---New Window, dedicated to teaching the Body of Christ, its intimacy with the Heavenly Bridegroom, as set forth in the Song of Solomon. "Make haste, my Beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices" (Song of Solomon 8:14) has often been employed by those who long for the appearing of their LORD at the Pre-Tribulational Rapture-- as did J. Hudson Taylor. He described the "daughters of Jerusalem" (Song of Solomon 2:7) as... "not clearly the bride... we never find them occupied with the person of the Bridegroom; He is not all in all to them; they mind outward and earthly things... They may form part of that great company spoken of in Revelation 7:9-17, who come out of the great tribulation, but they will not form part of the 144,000, 'the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb' (Rev. 14:1-5)."
"They have forgotten the warning in Luke 21:34-36, and hence they are not 'accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.' They have not, with Paul, counted 'all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the LORD [Philippians 3:8].' We wish to place on record our solemn conviction that not all who are called Christians, or think themselves to be such, will attain to that resurrection of which St. Paul speaks in Philippians 3:11, or will thus meet the Lord in the air. Unto those who by lives of consecration manifest that they are not of the world, but are looking for Him, He will appear without sin unto salvation" (excerpt from "Appendix: The Daughters of Jerusalem" of J. Hudson Taylor's "Union and Communion").
Charles H. Spurgeon: Philadelphia's Great-Heart (1834-1892)
OHN BUNYAN'S ALLEGORICAL CHARACTER'S NAME, GREAT-HEART-- from "The Pilgrim's Progress" (Part 2) ---New Window, where Christiana followed her husband to the Celestial City-- is a most appropriate description of Charles H. Spurgeon. As the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London, England, and as the author of the "Morning By Morning", "Evening By Evening", and "Faith's Checkbook" ---New Window devotionals, he has shepherded multitudes of Philadelphia's sheep. "2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1Peter 5:2-4).
Born on June 19, 1834, in Kelvedon, Essex, England, Charles became one of England's best known Baptist ministers; but, his spiritual beginnings were at a small Methodist chapel in 1850, where he providentially sheltered himself during a snow storm, while on his way to an appointment. "The preacher was reading from Isaiah 45:22. 'Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.' There was nothing needed-- by me, at any rate-- except his text. Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, 'That young man there looks very miserable'... and he shouted, 'Look! Look, young man! Look now!' I can never tell you how it was, but I no sooner saw whom I was to believe than I also understood what it was to believe... As the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer, I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found, for I was white as the driven snow through the grace of God." And so, Spurgeon testified that Gospel Salvation is as simple as "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of Our Faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
Spurgeon prepared himself for the ministry, and preached his first of many sermons, in 1851. And presently, some have estimated that no other Christian author-- living or dead-- has more material in print than C. H. Spurgeon. God has truly been merciful to His Church to give to His people such a faithful minister. "For He said, Surely they are My people, children that will not lie: so He was their Saviour" (Isaiah 63:8). Charles Spurgeon became a mighty preacher, and it ought to rejoice us that he is on our side. "For he that is not against us is on our part" (Mark 9:40).
More than an eloquent speaker, Spurgeon had the Great-Heart of a Pastor-Shepherd. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" (1Corinthians 13:1). Take the following devotional comments on "Dwelling Safely Apart" as a sample of Spurgeon's shepherding of the Church of Philadelphia: "'Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew' (Deuteronomy 33:28). The more we dwell alone, the more safe shall we be. God would have His people separate from sinners, His call to them is, 'Come ye out from among them.' A worldly Christian is spiritually diseased. Those who compromise with Christ's enemies may be reckoned with them. Our safety lies, not in making terms with the enemy, but in dwelling alone with our Best Friend. If we do this, we shall dwell in safety despite the sarcasms, the slanders, and the sneers of the world. We shall be safe from the baleful influence of its unbelief, its pride, its vanity, its filthiness. God also will make us dwell in safety alone in that day when sin shall be visited on the nations by wars and famines. The LORD brought Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, but Abram stopped halfway. He had no blessing till, having set out to go to the land of Canaan, to the land of Canaan he came, He was safe alone even in the midst of foes. Lot was not safe in Sodom though in a circle of friends. Our safety is in dwelling apart with God" (from June 12th's "Dwelling Safely Apart" entry to "Faith's Checkbook").
And, how did God equip His elegant mouthpiece to minister to His sheep? Through suffering; or, as one scholar observed, "Spurgeon had everything-- except good health." As the LORD Jesus learned "obedience by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8), Spurgeon learned patience and compassion for his flock through his own suffering. "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1Peter 5:10). It is a mistake for us to youthfully conclude that only other people suffer. "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin" (4:1). Charles Spurgeon carried the burden of various ailments-- including the rheumatic gout from which he died-- as well as the shepherding of the sheep. "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (2:25). Neither Spurgeon nor ourselves need to pursue suffering as a monk in a monastery, because we have access enough to it through "our vile body" (Philippians 3:21) to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in [our] flesh" (Colossians 1:24)!
Spurgeon's life was short-- dying at the age of 57-- but intensely useful to His LORD and the Philadelphian Church. Like John the Baptist, C. H. Spurgeon was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35); and, we can still rejoice in the shepherding the Holy Spirit gives us through his writings. "He being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4). May the God of All Grace, use the gifts of Philadelphia's Great-Heart to encourage and complete that work of grace in us. "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). [Read about Mr. Spurgeon's life in "Life and Works of Charles H. Spurgeon" ---New Window by Henry Davenport Northrop]
E. M. Bounds: Teaching Philadelphia to Pray (1835-1913)
F YOU HAVE ANY FAMILIARITY WITH THE NAME OF EDWARD MCKENDREE BOUNDS, you already know that Bounds was zealous that the Church of Jesus Christ would pray. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). The famous quotation from E. M. Bounds' "Power Through Prayer" ---New Window is, "What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use-- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer." "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the Earth by the space of three years and six months" (James 5:17).
Then, who was E. M. Bounds? He was an American prophet of prayer, born on August 15th 1835 and died on August 24th 1913-- at the age of 78. He briefly practiced law, and was later ordained a Methodist minister in 1859. "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:9). During the Civil War, he served as a Confederate Army Chaplain, where he was captured and held for a short time. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). The ravages of the war had taken their toil upon the Church, and Bounds saw the need for a revival that would only come from prayer. "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).
Though Bounds wrote eight books on prayer, only two were published before he died. He lived the Scripture, "Pray without ceasing" (1Thessalonians 5:17). E. M. Bounds cried out for a holiness in the Church that would set the Body to praying; but, it would especially unsettle the ministry that was "at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1). Those who have read his books, will recognize the familiar quotations from noted Christians at the beginning of each chapter. It would only be appropriate to include one such quotation. J. Hudson Taylor: "A young man had been called to the foreign field. He had not been in the habit of preaching, but he knew one thing, how to prevail with God; and going one day to a friend he said: 'I don't see how God can use me on the field. I have no special talent.' His friend said: 'My brother, God wants men on the field who can pray. There are too many preachers now and too few pray-ers.' He went in his own room. In the early dawn a voice was heard weeping and pleading for souls. All through the day, the shut door and the hush that prevailed made you feel like walking softly, for a soul was wrestling with God. Yet to this home, hungry souls would flock, drawn by some irresistible power. Ah, the mystery was unlocked. In the secret chamber lost souls were pleaded for and claimed. The Holy Ghost knew just where they were and sent them along" (from Chapter 12 "Answered Prayer (Continued)" of E. M. Bounds' "The Possibilities of Prayer"). "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
Dwight L. Moody: An Uncomplicated Man of Divine Power (1837-1899)
HE LIFE OF D. L. MOODY teaches us what God can do to empower a man wholly submitted to Him. "Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He shall lift you up" (James 4:10). Dwight L. Moody was the sixth of seven children born to Edwin and Betsy Moody on February 5th 1837 in Northfield, Massachusetts. The death of his father, when Moody was four, left his mother with practically no means of support. And, later in life, Dwight understood with peculiar sympathy the plight of others in want. "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27).
Working in his uncle's shoe store in Boston, Moody agreed to attend church. And, at the age of 17, Mr. Edward Kimball, Moody's Sunday School teacher, led him to the LORD. "Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings" (Isaiah 3:10). Moving to Chicago in 1856, D. L. Moody prospered as a traveling salesman for a wholesale shoe firm; but, he did not forget his committment to Christ. Recruiting Chicago street urchins into a Sunday School class-- proclaimed as "Moody's Body Guard"-- with himself as their Bible teacher, Moody whetted his taste for Christian work. "It is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing" (Galatians 4:18).
A turning point in Moody's life occurred when he assisted a dying teacher who visited each of his unruly class of young girls-- none of whom had yet to accept Christ-- to tell them of their teacher's terminal condition and to implore them to come to Christ. "Be ye reconciled to God" (2Corinthians 5:20). Unaccustomed to praying and expecting someone to be converted there and then-- he did, and they were converted! "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). Moody commented about the farewell meeting with the teacher, "The height of my ambition had been to be a successful merchant, and if I had known that meeting was going to take that ambition out of me, I might not have gone. But how many times have I thanked God since for that meeting!" (from Chapter 6 "Giving Up Business" of "The Life of D. L. Moody" by his son.) "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23).
The American Civil War was God's judgment upon America for tolerating the evils of slavery; and, God's cleansing of the nation from the practice of forced human bondage was accomplished through the warfare of 1861-1865. "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" (Isaiah 58:6). Disliking the idea of taking a gun to "shoot down a fellow-being", D. L. Moody enlisted his services with the United States Christian Commission, ministering to troops on both sides. Finding himself at the fronts at Pittsburgh Landing, Shiloh, and Murfreesboro, he attended to both the physical and spiritual needs of the wounded. "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward" (Matthew 10:42).
At Pittsburgh Landing, Moody noticed a dying young man, named William Clark. "I said to myself that I could not let him die without getting a message for [his] mother. Presently he opened his eyes, and I said: 'William. do you know where you are?' He looked around a little dazed, and then said: 'Oh, yes! I am on my way home to mother.' 'Yes, you are on your way home,' I said; 'but the doctor says you won't reach your earthly home. I thought I'd like to ask you if you had any message for your mother.' His face lighted up with an unearthly glow as he said: 'Oh, yes, tell my mother that I died trusting in Jesus!' 'It was one of the sweetest messages I ever heard in my life!'" (from Chapter 8 "The Civil War and the Christian Commission" of "The Life of D. L. Moody"). "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Moody's life after the Civil War was filled with greater and greater usefulness. "Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). "Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Mr. Moody in the earlier days of his work, loved to tell how he once said to him: 'It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.' I am told that when Mr. Henry Varley said that, Mr. Moody said to himself: 'Well, I will be that man'" (from R. A Torrey's "Why God Used D. L. Moody"). "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
His Sunday School work turned into organizing the Illinois Street Church of Chicago (1863) with himself as a deacon. "Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:21). By the time of the Chicago Fire (1871), Moody was actively preaching. Both Moody and Ira Sankey-- Moody's song leading evangelistic partner-- traveled to England in 1873 to conduct a series of quite successful revival meetings. Leaving America as relative unknowns, Moody and Sankey returned to America to national acclaim. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). The Moody Bible Institute (1889) was subsequently established to train Christian workers for service throughout the world, in keeping with D. L. Moody's desire to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Moody died on December 22nd 1899. "'Earth recedes; Heaven opens before me'... 'No, this is no dream'... 'It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go'... Turning to his wife, he exclaimed, 'Mamma, you have been a good wife to me!'" (from Chapter 45 "Within the Gates" of "The Life of D. L. Moody"). "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the LORD" (2Corinthians 5:8).
A. T. Pierson: Spiritual Warrior of the Philadelphian Church (1837-1911)
HE EPITOME OF THE PHILADELPHIAN CHURCH AGE was A. T. Pierson. Born on March 6th 1837 in apartments above Charles G. Finney's church in the former Chatham street theatre in New York City, Pierson's Christian parents were influenced by both Finney and Arthur Tappan, the Christian philanthropist, silk merchant, and employer of Arthur's father. "And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isaiah 54:13). Like Spurgeon, Pierson did not surrender his heart to Christ until he was a young man and under the influence of preaching in a Methodist church (1850); and, he demonstrated the reality of his profession by his willingness that the Bible be his "only guide" when making his choice of fraternities at Hamilton College (1853). "This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8).
Going on to and graduating from seminary training (1860), Pierson embarked upon several decades of pastoring churches across America-- including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-- and finally, in London, England to preach for C. H. Spurgeon, whom he succeeded upon Spurgeon's death (1892). "Feed the flock of God which is among you" (1Peter 5:2). During this time, Pierson was best known through his many books and speaking at Bible conferences, especially at D. L. Moody's Northfield Bible Conference. Modern readers may have heard the name of A. T. Pierson in connection with his Spirit filled chronicling of the life of the man of faith and prayer, "George Mueller of Bristol". Also, of interest, Pierson was a consulting editor of the original Scofield Reference Bible (1909). But, since the Philadelphian Church Era was particularly the age of modern missions, i.e., "I have set before thee an Open Door" (Revelation 3:8), it is instructive that Pierson was one of its foremost voices for missions through his editorship of "The Missionary Review of the World", beginning in 1887 and continuing for thirteen years. "Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me" (Isaiah 6:8).
Though Pierson may be remembered for helping to inaugurate the Student Volunteer Movement for the Evangelization of the World-- which sent out 5,000 volunteers as foreign missionaries from America alone by 1911-- and promoting the goal of evangelizing the world by 1900, his presence as a speaker at the Keswick Convention (Keswick, England), where the deeper life in Christ was emphasized, in 1896, demonstrated the continuing spiritual growth of this man of God. Most notably, the publication of "In Christ Jesus" ---New Window (1898) marked a capstone in his understanding of the need for sanctification in the lives of Christians. He portrayed the Believer's relationship to Christ to be supremely affected by our understanding of the multitude of instances in the New Testament that we are related to Christ Jesus, i.e., "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24), "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30), "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all Wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28), etc. Fittingly, Pierson was allowed by the LORD to visit the foreign mission fields for the first time, in particular, Japan and Korea-- only months before his death-- encouraging those who were sacrificing themselves in foreign lands, and hastening the LORD's coming. "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God" (2Peter 3:12). And, "this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall The End come" (Matthew 24:14). Arthur Pierson died at home in Brooklyn, New York on June 3rd 1911, with the words, "that we might be partakers of His holiness" (Hebrews 12:10), most frequently on his lips.
Sir Robert Anderson: A Stalwart for Bible Prophecy (1841-1918)
HE SIGNIFICANCE OF SIR ROBERT ANDERSON'S BOOK, "THE COMING PRINCE" (1895) ---New Window, should not be underestimated by modern students of Bible prophecy, in that Anderson not only ably defended Daniel's authorship of the Book of Daniel from the "scholarship" of unbelief of the Higher Criticism of his day, but he clearly established the historical accuracy of the fulfillment of the time oriented prophecy for the First Advent of the LORD Jesus Christ.
Born into the Christian home of Irish Presbyterians of Dublin, Ireland in 1841, Robert Anderson did not come into "full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22) until he was nineteen years old, during the Irish Revival (1859-1860). Though he was enrolled at Trinity College (Dublin)-- from which he graduated in 1862-- he became active as a lay-preacher, bringing many to Christ. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing Precious Seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6).
Becoming a member of the Irish Bar in 1863, Anderson was introduced to police work, when he prepared legal briefs and interrogated prisoners that had attempted to overthrow British rule in Ireland. Serving with Scotland Yard until his retirement in 1896, he was knighted by Queen Victoria. His many friends included Handley G. Moule, Henry Drummond, James M. Gray, and C. I. Scofield. "I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts" (Psalm 119:63). It was Horatius Bonar who first taught Anderson the precious truths concerning the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto Salvation" (Hebrews 9:28). As a Christian writer, he authored seventeen major books, among them his "Human Destiny" was accounted by C. H. Spurgeon as the "most valuable contribution on the subject" that he had ever seen. Sir Robert Anderson remained active and useful to his LORD until his death in 1918. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2Timothy 4:7).
R. A. Torrey: Teaching the Church How to Work for Christ (1856-1928)
EUBEN ARCHER TORREY WAS BORN INTO A FAMILY OF WEALTH on January 28th 1856 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Possessing an athletic build, a keen mind, and strong determination, Torrey had the circumstances to do or be whatever he wanted. "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not" (Jeremiah 45:5). One day he read that a "Christian must be willing to do exactly what God wanted him to do. At this point he closed the book abruptly and cast it aside. 'If I say 'yes' to that, God will just as likely call me to preach the Gospel, and I have determined to be a lawyer. I will not become a Christian" (from Chapter 1 "A Determined Young Man" of Roger Martin's "R. A. Torrey: Apostle of Certainty"). Little did he know that his mother had been praying for him to become a minister. Torrey had a recurring dream for years that his mother would appear to him as an angel, securing his promise to become a minister of the Gospel. "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Acts 16:9). After entering Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, all was well with his plans to be a success until the end of his junior year. A series of disappointments brought young Torrey to great despondency, but he finally prayed, "God, if You will take away this awful burden, I will preach." Peace immediately settled over him. As he later recounted, "And though I had gotten over sermons and arguments and churches, and everything else, I could not get over my mother's prayers" (from Chapter 2 "Lux et Veritas" of Martin's "R. A. Torrey: Apostle of Certainty"). "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments" (1John 2:3).
Torrey completed his undergraduate work, and went on to complete his seminary studies at Yale Divinity School, fighting off a tendency to skepticism, "philosophy and vain deceit" (Colossians 2:8) through the aid of a cherished verse-- "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself" (John 7:17). Following his ordination as a Congregational minister, he held various pastorates and studied abroad; but, he continued to grow in his understanding of the Word of God and Its practical impact on his life. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18). And, in 1889, R. A. Torrey was asked by D. L. Moody to organize and direct a proposed Bible Institute in Chicago-- Moody Bible Institute. Torrey's books and sermons all have a tone of certainty to guide, instruct, and put the Church to work, i.e., "What the Bible Teaches", "The Holy Spirit: Who He Is, and What He Does", "Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God", "How to Work for Christ", etc., because his certainty came from Him whose "Name is called the Word of God" (Revelation 19:13).
Following in the steps of D. L. Moody, Torrey conducted a worldwide preaching tour-- with Charles M. Alexander as his song leader-- bringing multitudes into the Kingdom of God. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35). In Australia, Torrey became known as "the man with God a'back of him". After completing, more than one worldwide evangelistic tour, Torrey turned his attention to assisting the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola). Here, he also pastored the Church of the Open Door. "7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My name" (Revelation 3:7-8).
VERY NAME MENTIONED ABOVE, calls to mind many more. "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets" (Hebrews 11:32). Since we should not serve God for notoriety, but out of love, then, if God is pleased, we should have our highest satisfaction. "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2Timothy 2:4). What man does not note or see, God has carefully recorded. "Thou God seest me" (Genesis 16:13). But, what we have noted of the accomplishments of the Church of Philadelphia, should cause us to aspire to also be found faithful. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1Corinthians 4:2).
In comparison to the Professed Christianity of this present Laodicean Church Age, the Philadelphians are Spiritual giants. "Men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1Chronicles 12:32). It is the belief of this writer that any who keep the LORD's Word, i.e., possess a "faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6), are numbered with Philadelphia-- even in this Laodicean Church Age. And, thus, may partake of Philadelphia's Promise, which is the Promise of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture. "Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the Hour of Temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth" (Revelation 3:10). May these Philadelphian Church Age Saints inspire us to keep the Word of the LORD's patience, that we may be "accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
Amen, and Amen.
To read some of the writings from these servants of the LORD--
"Voices From the Church of Philadelphia" ---New Window
C. G. Finney
C. H. Spurgeon
D. L. Moody
R. A. Torrey
E. M. Bounds
J. A. Wylie
Sir Robert Anderson
A. T. Pierson
Section Index for Fellowship
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