on faith and works

I started a book by Elmer Towns today. It is our current selection for our reading group: Understanding the Deeper Life. I had not been aware that Towns subscribed to Keswick views, but it is quite plain from this book. He spend his undergraduate years at Columbia Bible College (now Columbia International University) under Robert McQuilkin. McQuilkin and Columbia are Keswick, hence the influence on Towns.

In his introduction, Towns alludes to his experience as the president of Winnipeg Bible College (now Providence College and Seminary) and makes a very interesting observation:

Later, my experience as president of Winnipeg Bible College refined the principles by which I lived. I had some Christian mysticism that was not based on the Bible. I was tested and found wanting. (I prayed all night on several occasions for money but I did not get it. The problem was I only prayed. I learned that my walk with God must be based on biblical principles, not feelings. (The colleged prospered when I not only prayed for money, but organized a financial outreach campaign. God honors both faith and works.)

In thinking about this, I immediately made some application to our ministry and the need for growth and souls. We are praying for souls. We are praying for growth. We aren’t doing much. In years past, we have done many things – tried different types of outreaches, etc. I confess that the paltry results are demotivators.

A few years ago I was talking to a friend who planted a church over in the Lower Mainland. It is self-supporting now and pastored by another friend. I asked him what it took to build a church in Western Canada. He told me this: “You aren’t going to like my answer. … It’s knocking on doors.” He was right, I didn’t like his answer. But he went on to explain, “I can’t say that knocking on doors by itself did anything to build the church. We used to go around door-knocking offering in home Bible studies. We had some who were interested, most not. But as we worked, the church grew. The Lord blessed our efforts, often in ways we hadn’t expected.”

Well, I still don’t like knocking on doors. But the point expressed by Towns and illustrated by my friend resonates with me. It is time to be doing something, not just praying. Faith is good, but let’s work out our faith, eh?

While I can’t imagine just doing a strict doorknocking campaign, I do think that we must be more active in evangelizing our community. That will mean becoming more visible to the community in some way, making contacts, and encouraging people to respond. I have a few notions percolating around in my brain, it is high time to take action on them and move forward.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3