Saturday, March 23, 2013

The power of the gospel: Salvation Army beginnings

God has allowed that I should be sick for these past four months. As I have been resting, I have been reading some biographies.  One I am just finishing is on the life of William Booth.  What struck me is that his ministry was focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It seems obvious, but in light of the social ministry of Salvation Army today, it wasn't clear in my mind how it all started.  William Booth was convinced that people could be totally sanctified,, spirit, body and soul. That they could dwell in the peace and power of God when they fully surrender to Him.  I believe He was talking and teaching about abiding in Christ and being who we truly are.  Of living holy lives because we have been made holy by God.  He focused on living out the new creation life in Christ!

The gospel he preached was powerful! Thousands of people came to Christ through his ministry and he called them to live as soldiers of Christ.  His meetings were gospel centered throughout most of his ministry until the ending years when he began to move more into housing people and meeting physical needs.  Whole cities throughout England were impacted by the movement of God through William Booth.  Crime dropped.  Police forces were not needed as much in many parts of England.  Eventually, opposition arose from the alcohol industry because they were losing business because of the radically changed lives of the poor.  City officials who were corrupt began to fight against Booth and his teams.  The persecuted the saints, but the revival just continued and grew.

Booth centred his work on the leadership of God and refused to give leadership to a man.  He refused to accept money that sought to control the work of God.  He chose to suffer hardship rather than compromise.

What would happen today if we had this same zeal for the gospel?  If we chose not to compromise even though the message we proclaim is not politically correct?  Even if it mean persecution and reviling at the hands of people who oppose it?  What is we proclaimed the beauty and fullness of the gospel, trusting that it is the power of God to all who believe, no matter who they are or what level of society they are in?  What if a wave of salvation passed over the country, through Canada, the US, and into the world?  What if so many people were transformed that the society would notice and the gambling halls and bar would lose business?

What would it take?  Who would we need to be to see this happen? To obey the passion of God within us that cries out for the salvation of mankind through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ?  The simplicity and power of the gospel.  The gospel that is sufficient to transform lives.  Just Jesus. Just His truth and complete surrender to Him in all and every way.  Denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him?  Knowing that we have been crucified in Him, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. And the life we life we live to Him.

May we see revival come in the hearts of God's children. May our hearts accept the truth of who we truly are and understand the peace that passes all comprehension in the kingdom of God where we reign in Christ.  May the spiritual eyes of our understanding be enlightened to know the hope to which we are called.  The power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.  Teach us Lord Jesus. Open our eyes, Holy Spirit.  Lead us Father God into your heart.

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