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God’s Generals - Archbishop Benson Idahosa ... A Man With Robust Faith! (Part 1)

 

Benson Andrew Idahosa (September 11, 1938 – March 12, 1998) was a Charismatic Pentecostal preacher, and founder of the Church of God Mission International with headquarters in Benin City, Nigeria. 

As the first Pentecostal archbishop in Nigeria, he was renowned for his robust faith.

PERSONAL LIFE: Born to non-Christian parents in a predominantly non-Christian community, he was rejected by his father, John, for being frail and sickly. He constantly had fainting spells as a child, and on one of his spells, his mother, Sarah, abandoned him at a rubbish heap presuming him dead. Hours later, he came to, and began wailing and was rescued by his mother. . He grew up in a poor household. Like most of the surrounding houses, his family home was a mud house. This reality denied him access to education until he was fourteen years old, when he was able to attend a local government school.

EARLY LIFE: As a youth, he got converted to Christianity by Pastor Okpo, and joined his fledgling congregation as one of its first members. He was very active in proselytising and converting many to Christianity. After experiencing what he believed to be a revelation from God calling him into ministry, he began to conduct outreaches from village to village, before establishing his church in a store in Benin City.
God’s Generals - Archbishop Benson Idahosa ... A Man With Robust Faith! (Part 1)
By 1971, he had established churches all over Nigeria and Ghana. Known for his boldness, power and prosperity-based preaching, as well as an enormous faith in the supernatural, he was instrumental to the strong wave of revival in Christianity and marked conversions from animism that occurred between the 1970s and 1990s in Nigeria. He is regarded by Christian foes as the father of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, and was the founding President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). Many prominent Nigerian pastors like Ayo Oritsejafor, Bishop David Oyedepo, Felix Omobude, Fred Addo and Chris Oyakhilome were his protégés.

MINISTRY GROWTH: The headquarters of his ministry, Faith Miracle Center, is a cathedral that seats up to 10,000 people. Church of God Mission has branches the world over, from Europe to Africa to Asia to America. With his main task being evangelism, he launched Idahosa World Outreach television ministry (IWO TV), which was a broadcast reaching a potential viewing audience of 50 million people .

He is reported to have been used by God in performing many miracles, including healing the blind, and raising up to twenty-eight people from the dead at different times in his ministry. A claim made by Idahosa that he had raised eight people from the dead was dropped when challenged by the Advertising Standards Authority, who sought evidence that the individuals concerned had in fact been dead.

He was known for many notable quotes including “my God is not a poor God”, “your attitude determines your altitude”, “it is more risky, not to take a risk”, “I am a possibilitarian”, “A big head without a big brain is a big load to the neck”,”If your faith says yes, God cannot say no”, amongst others. Many of his messages on faith, miracles and prosperity remain a classic among Pentecostals.

He had strong links with international gospel ministers like Billy Graham, T. L. Osborn, Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Reinhard Bonnke, Morris Cerullo, Oral Roberts, amongst others; and took the gospel to 145 nations in his lifetime. At the time of his death in 1998, he was reputed as having preached to more whites than any black man, and to more blacks than any white man.

T. L. Osborn remarked on him as the greatest African ambassador of the apostolic Christian faith to the world.
His desire to meet the needs of the total man led him to establish several other arms of the ministry apart from the church. They include the Faith Mediplex, All Nations for Christ Bible Institute, Word of Faith Group of Schools and Benson Idahosa University which is currently under the leadership of his son, Rev. F. E. B. Idahosa. His wife, Bishop Margaret Idahosa is the current presiding bishop of the church.

CREDENTIALS:
1. In 1971, he earned a diploma in Divinity from Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas.
2. In 1981, he earned a Doctorate of Divinity from the Word of Faith College in New Orleans.
3. In 1984, he earned a Doctorate in Law at the Oral Roberts University.
4. He was the founding president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
5. He was a member of the College of Bishops of the International Communion of Christian Churches.
6. He was once the President of All Nations for Christ Bible Institute.

God’s Generals - 20 Powerful Faith Quotes By Archbishop Benson Idahosa

 

Benson Andrew Idahosa affectionately called PAPA or BABA by his followers, was a Charismatic Pentecostal preacher, and founder of the Church of God Mission International with headquarters in Benin City, Edo State.


Here are 20 Faith Quotes By Benson idahosa:
1. Faith is not a superstition or an intention; it is action.

2. What you need to succeed is already there. Just lean on God. For your Faith’s sake, God can disappoint the devil.

3. Life is full of choices but faith in God will affect them all, for Christ can do all things.

4. Living a daily life of absolute faith in God is the only secret to great success.

5. Faith will move God and man; it will take you through when everything else fails.

6. If you are afraid to do it, it cannot be done.
God’s Generals - 20 Powerful Faith Quotes By Archbishop Benson Idahosa
7. Whatever your situation or circumstance, set your eyes by faith on the Lord, keep looking to Him, and continue looking until the tide turns in your favour.

8. The name “I AM” is like a blank check. Our faith can fill in whatever the Lord is to us personally.

9. Faith does not suspend our sense of good judgment, it reinforces it.

10. With a stone in your hand, the Word in your mouth and faith in your heart, the giant will fall.

11. Faith in God is the most dynamic force in humanity.

12. If you must succeed you must learn how to take yourself out of conflict and put yourself in confidence.

13. When your language changes, your condition changes.

14. Faith does not make things easy, it makes things possible.

15. If science says that it can conceive and build, then faith declares that it can believe and create.

16. To practice faith, the first person you must defeat is yourself.

17. The distance between you and success is the length between your heart and mouth.

18. Fear and anxiety may force you to make a false move, but remember, “Where there is faith, there is no fear.”

19. Faith is the bricks and mortar with which we build our relationship with God.

20. “Fake it till you make it” Just keep doing it even if it doesn’t yet look like it. Have Faith and just Believe.

Read the biography of the Archbishop Benson Andrew Idahosa - God’s Generals - Archbishop Benson Idahosa ... A Man With Robust Faith! (Part 1)

God’s Generals - Who Are They and Why Have Some Failed?

 

Who are ‘God’s Generals’? Do you recall that old Sunday School song ‘I’m in the Lord’s Army’? Many will still remember the words they sang as a child though they are now adults! 


“I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery, I may never fly o’er the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army!” As kids, we sang these words loudly, along with all the actions, eager to be on the Lord’s side. Every child has a God-given dream to achieve greatness and what could be better than being a general in the army of God?

You won’t find that description in the Bible though, but you will read about Old Testament patriarchs, kings, priests, and prophets and New Testament apostles. These are the great leaders of the Bible, many of which are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the chapter that is referred to as ‘God’s Hall of Faith’. 

‘God’s Generals’ is a term that was propelled by William Booth the first General of Salvation Army and then made popular by Roberts Liairdon through his best-selling series of the same name which records extraordinary testimonies of pioneering men and women of God who have in the past two centuries laid the foundation for today’s Spirit-filled Church and its never-ending missionary outreach.
God’s Generals - Who Are They and Why Have Some Failed with Apostle P. Sibiya
God’s Generals - Who Are They and Why Have Some Failed with Apostle P. Sibiya
In today’s context then, God’s Generals are those who achieved greatness for God’s Kingdom as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or leaders. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Remember To Follow Our Online God's General Series:

The Word says we are called to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give." Matthew 10:8 (NASB)

Glory Ministries (www.glorymin.net) will be sending you biographies of God's Generals (both living and dead) from these pages we will present brief introductions to the men and women of God who pioneered in the areas of healing and miracles.
Often they took what light God gave them and sought to follow Him with that light. A lot of attention has been given to those who fell into error, but there are as many who worked tirelessly for God and ended well. We desire to "give faces" to those Kingdom Generals.

We encourage you to check out these articles and also pray for this year's edition of Tiyambuke 2018 - as we will be Building Kingdom Generals!

God's Generals Series - (The Generals The We Have Covered So Far!)


1. God's Generals - Billy Graham - "Ordinary Man ... Extraordinary Call" (Part 1)
2. God's Generals - Kathryn Kuhlman ... "I Believe In Miracles!" (Part 1)
3. God's Generals - Smith Wigglesworth The Apostle of Faith (Part 1)
4. God's Generals - John G. Lake ... A Man Of Healing (Part 1)
5. God's Generals - William J. Seymor - The Catalyst Of Pentecost (Part 1)
6. God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)
7. God's Generals - Oral Roberts 'The Voice Of Healing!' (Part 1)
8. God's Generals - Charles Finney and The Blazing Fire! (Part 1)
9. God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)
10. God's Generals - John Wesley and Methodism ... A Brand From The Burning (Part 1)

Mark Your Calenders For TICC 2018 with Apostle P. Sibiya:

Date: 01 - 09 September 2018
Theme:
 Building Kingdom Generals

For more information please feel free to visit - Glory Ministries (www.glorymin.net). You can also visit Glory Conferences (http://conferences.glorymin.net/) and Apostle Pride Sibiya (http://www.pridesibiya.com/) for more daily and weekly updates!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiyambukeicc/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tiyambukeicc/

God’s Generals - Who Are They and Why Have Some Failed with Apostle P. Sibiya
God’s Generals - Who Are They and Why Have Some Failed with Apostle P. Sibiya
Also get in touch with the Tiyambuke International Christian Convention Chairperson - D. Pastor A. Musakwa on +263 77 288 2879

With this year's edition of Tiyambuke International Christian Convention just around the corner - Watch This Space For Details!

God's Generals - John Wesley and Methodism ... A Brand From The Burning (Part 1)

 

John Wesley, best remembered as the Father of the Methodist movement, was born in England to an Anglican clergyman and his devout wife. 

Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, Wesley was ordained first as a deacon and then as a priest of the Anglican Church. Later he went to the United States to become the minister of the newly formed Savannah parish; but the venture was highly unsuccessful and he returned home beaten and depressed. He began to see the light when by chance he discovered the Lutheran doctrine of salvation by faith alone. 

Eventually, he started the Methodist Movement, which became a huge establishment within his lifetime. Although he never severed his ties with the Church of England, Methodist Church gradually became a separate denomination. Today, there are around 80 million Methodists across the earth. The United Methodist Church, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Wesleyan Church are some of the largest bodies which follow Wesleyan theology. Apart from these, the Holiness movement and Pentecostalism also owe their origins to him.

Childhood & Early Life

John Wesley was born on 28 June 1703, in Epworth, near Lincoln. His father, Samuel Wesley, was a clergyman belonging to the Church of England. His mother, Susanna Wesley (née Annesley), was a devout woman, who took care to inject moral values into her children.

The couple had nineteen children, out of which John was born fifteenth. The siblings, including the girls, were not only taught to read and write English, but were also expected to become skilled in Latin and Greek and learn major parts of the New Testament by heart.

On 9 February 1709, the roof of their home caught fire while they were all sleeping. Although his parents could evacuate his siblings, John was caught in the first floor, with no scope for escape. Ultimately, a parishioner, standing on a human-ladder, pulled him out through the window.

The memory of the fire remained with him forever. In later years, he often quoted the famous text from Bible, 'A Brand Plucked out of the Fire', to describe the incident.

In 1714, as he turned eleven, John Wesley was sent to the Charterhouse School in London. He graduated from there in 1720 and entered Christ Church, Oxford, on scholarship with classics and logic.

In 1724, he graduated from Christ Church with a Bachelor’s degree. He now decided to pursue a Master’s degree and concurrently become a fellow of the university. With such an aim, he was ordained a deacon on 25 September 1725.

In March 1726, he was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. He now began to receive a salary. But soon the call of the ministry became too loud to ignore and so after receiving his master’ degree in August 1727, he returned home to Epworth.

Career

In 1727, Wesley started his career as a curate in his father’s parish. Although he was ordained as a priest on 22 September 1728 he continued serving as the curate till November 1729.

Thereafter, he returned to Oxford at the request of the Rector of Lincoln College and took up his position as a junior fellow. He mainly taught Greek Testament. Although he enjoyed the rich social life at Oxford he also began to delve deeper into religion.

Around this time, his younger brother, Charles Wesley, also a student at Oxford, started an association of like-minded individuals who met on regular basis to read and study scriptures and also to undergo rigorous self-examination. In addition, they took part in charity and visited the prison regularly.
God's Generals - John Wesley and Methodism ... A Brand From The Burning (Part 1)
God's Generals - John Wesley and Methodism ... A Brand From The Burning (Part 1)
Very soon, John Wesley took up the leadership of the group. In the beginning their detractors referred to them as ‘The Holy Club’. However from 1732, they began to be referred to as the Methodists because they followed a rigorous method and tried to ensure that each hour was used wisely.

This also had an adverse effect on his career. The authorities as well as the guardians began to fear that he was trying to indoctrinate the students. His father asked him to take charge of his parish; but Wesley refused the offer.

At this juncture, he was requested to take up the position of the minister of Savannah parish in the Province of Georgia in the American colonies. Accordingly, Wesley sailed for Savanna from Gravesend in Kent along with his brother Charles on 14 October 1735.

On the way, their ship was caught in a terrible storm. Although he was terribly frightened, he noticed that the German Moravians on the ship were praying calmly. On introspection, he realized that the Moravians possessed a deep-rooted faith on God, which he lacked. The incident affected him deeply.

Eventually, they reached the colony in February 1736. His main mission was to convert the native Indians there; but in actual practice, his work was limited to the European settlers of that area.
Nonetheless, the attendance at the church began to increase. Publication of ‘Collection of Psalms and Hymns’ was another of his significant achievements of this period. In fact, it was the first Anglican hymn book published in America.

In spite of such success, Wesley had to flee the colony in December 1737 because of some legal problems arising out of a failed love affair, and returned to England broken and depressed. In England, he met Petrus Böhler, a German-English Moravian missionary and received counsel from him.

However, he was still very depressed. On 24 May 1738, he unwillingly attended a Moravian meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, where he heard a reading of Martin Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. Suddenly, Wesley began to see a new light and his heart became warm.

All these years, he had tried to fight against sin following the path set up by the church. He now began to believe that it was faith on Christ rather than good deeds, which leads to salvation.

Subsequently, he along with Charles and another gentleman founded another group, which in later years became known as the 'Fetter Lane Society'. The membership increased quickly and for convenience, they divided the members into several smaller bands.

In 1738, Wesley visited the Moravian headquarters in Herrnhut, Germany. On returning to England, he drew up rules for these bands and also published a collection of hymns for them.

He also began to preach extensively on the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, which angered the established church. Consequently, he was barred from preaching. However, he refused to bow down and in April 1739, he gave his first sermon near Bristol in the open air.

He soon found that preaching in the open was the best way to reach out to the people, who generally stayed away from the churches. So he continued his field preaching enthusiastically. This earned the displeasure as well as prosecution by the church.

Undeterred, Wesley began to expand his organization and appointed lay preachers to reach out to more people. He also began to build chapels, first at Bristol and then in other towns. Subsequently, he broke away from the Moravians and formed Methodist Society.

In 1742, he introduced the ‘class-meeting’ system so as to enforce discipline within the society. To keep out the undisciplined members, he also introduced the probationer system. Initially, he visited each unit personally at least once in three months; but soon the organization became too big for that.

Therefore in 1743, he drew up a set of rules to be followed by all the units. Later on these rules became the basis of the Methodist Discipline. In the following year, he held the first Methodist conference.

Over the next decade, he worked tirelessly, moving across Great Britain and Ireland, preaching to thousands of people, who were otherwise excluded from the church. Moreover, he organized the movement more systematically, dividing the groups into societies, then classes, connections and circuits with a superintendent at the helm.

Unfortunately, in his struggle to establish Methodism, he neglected his own health and became inflicted with tuberculosis. On his recovery in 1751, he once more immersed himself into the work, making sure the movement he had started would continue after his death.

Slowly, the movement spread to the United States of America. Since he was still a member of the Church of England, he refrained from ordaining priests, but worked with the help of priests ordained by the Church and also the lay preachers. In 1776, with the independence of the USA, the situation became different.

In 1784, the Bishop of London refused to ordain priests for the American Methodists. Thus Wesley was forced he ordain two lay preachers and appoint Thomas Coke as superintendent before he sent them to America. With this, the Methodists slowly moved away from the Church of England and became a separate denomination.

Major Works

John Wesley, along with his brother Charles and George Whitefield laid the foundation of the Methodist movement within Protestant Christianity. Vigorous missionary work ensured that the movement spread throughout the British Empire and the USA. Today there are approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

It is said that throughout his long career, Wesley had travelled over 250,000 miles and had preached 40,000 sermons across the country, trying to reach out to the poor and downtrodden. He also kept on working on social issues such as prison reform and universal education until his death.


Personal Life & Legacy

In 1751, at the age of forty-eight, Wesley married Mary Vazeille, a well-to-do widow with four children from her previous marriage. However, Wesley was too busy with his work to pay much attention to his wife. Unable to cope, she left him for good after a few years.

Wesley died in his bed on 2 March 1791. He was then eighty-seven years old. As his friends gathered around his death bed he bid them farewell and then said "The best of all is, God is with us", repeating the words several times and then died peacefully.

Later he was entombed at Wesley's Chapel, built in City Road, London. Wesleyanism, or Wesleyan theology, which refers to the theological system, inferred from his various sermons, theological treatises, letters, journals, diaries, hymns carry forward his legacy.

Trivia

Susanna Wesley is known as Mother of the Methodists because two of her sons, John and Charles Wesley founded the Methodist movement.

God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)

 

William Booth was born into affluence in Nottingham, England in 1829, but his family descended rapidly thereafter into poverty. 

When his father could not pay for schooling, William was apprenticed by a pawnbroker. Soon Booth was converted to Methodism, and he declared, “God shall have all there is of William Booth.” He trained himself in writing and oratory, and he preached the Gospel with his closest friend until the young man died of TB.

The following three decades until Booth formally founded the Salvation Army would seem a hodge-podge of disappointments and false starts unless one looks closer for the hand of God in the events. He began pawnbroking but was miserable. He did lay preaching on the side, then open air evangelism on street corners. He joined the Methodist Reformed Church but became increasingly dissatisfied when they assigned him to pastorates; he longed to be free to preach evangelistic campaigns. At about this time, William married a Catherine Mumford (1855), a woman who was apparently in full support of his desire to launch out independently.

When he resigned from the denomination the Methodists barred him from campaigning in Methodist congregations. However, some missionaries heard him evangelizing and invited him to hold a revival on an ancient Quaker cemetery on Mile End Waste. He began preaching often to the poor and destitute of London’s East End—ministering even to alcoholics, criminals and prostitutes. The work could be discouraging and many hurled stones and set off fireworks during his meetings. His wife said he often arrived home in the evening with torn clothing and a bloody bandage wrapped around his head.

Booth’s Christian Mission became the Salvation Army in May, 1878. Booth was dictating a letter in which he claimed his group was “a volunteer army.” A son heard this and declared, “I’m not volunteer, I’m a regular,” so the name Salvation Army was birthed. What we may consider a bit eccentric, eventually proved effective for the Salvation Army: they produced uniforms, had a flag, military ranks, rousing music, and military orders. Of course, Booth himself became known as the “General.”
God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)
God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)
They initiated many programs for the needy such as Food for the Millions (a soup kitchen), job training, industrial schools, homes for fallen women and recovering drunks, because many were not allowed into churches. This was far from a Commun

istic concept. The primary mission remained preaching the Gospel to all who would hear it. Salvationists who immigrated to other countries began writing to Booth of the need for a chapter here or there, and Booth was quick to respond. Operations were set up in the United States, France, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, India, South Africa. Argentina… During Booth’s lifetime the Salvation Army would spread to fifty-eight countries and colonies.

With perhaps some ghostwriting assistance, Booth’s book In Darkest England and the Way Out became a best seller and established a philosophy and a structure for ministries such as his. Of course, there could not be such a burgeoning ministry without some opposition. Alcohol merchants feared he would hurt business so they attacked marches against drunkenness. Several Salvation Army members were killed in clashes. In the year 1882 alone 662 members were assaulted: 251 females and 23 under age fifteen.
The press and the Church of England were often hostile toward the Salvation Army and among their charges was that Booth and his wife were becoming insanely wealthy through a phony ministry front. Nepotism was charged when Booth placed many members of his family in leadership positions. It was claimed that Booth could be rigid and dictatorial. He was criticized also because he placed women in leadership positions when they proved dedicated and competent. The Army’s motto “Blood and Fire” was misrepresented as glorying in the blood of sinners and the flames of hell. The actual meaning of the motto was “the blood of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

However, in the end it was impossible to argue against the great good that Booth’s ministry was doing throughout the world. Public opinion began to soften. As he reached older age, he was invited into audience with kings, emperors, and presidents. He began losing his sight in both eyes and his right eye was finally removed in 1909. In spite of this he campaigned in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and other nations. 

He died at age 83 and 150,000 people were said to file past his coffin as it lay in the Clapton Congress Hall. He had completed his mission.
God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)
God's Generals - William Booth ... Evangelist & Founder of Salvation Army (Part 1)

God's Generals - Charles Finney and The Blazing Fire! (Part 1)

 

Charles Finney’s life spanned nearly the entire first century of U.S. presidents - from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant - and no single individual had more influence in the United States’ coming to be considered “A Christian Nation.” 


Finney’s revivals sparked the Second Great Awakening and unified the country around the Bible and the power of prayer, while his moral stances for social justice laid the foundations for everything from abolition to temperance to the civil rights movement. His teachings on Christian perfectionism inspired the Holiness Movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century and the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements in the twentieth century. Finney’s evangelistic style and methods - include prayer meetings before and during the event, nightly meetings for weeks at a time, altar calls, and pushing for decisions before listeners leave the auditorium - influenced everyone from Dwight L. Moody to Billy Graham.

Charles Grandison Finney was born in Warren, Connecticut only a year after the death of John Wesley. He was the seventh child of Sylvester and Rebecca Finney. When Charles was about two years old, the family moved to Oneida County, New York, which, at the time, was a relative wilderness.

Sylvester, Sr. was a farmer who had fought in the Revolutionary War. In all the years Charles lived with his family, he had little religious education. Though Methodist circuit riders would speak in the local one-room schoolhouse from time to time, they were usually uneducated and rarely held their audience’s attention. Western New York at this time had become known as the “Burned-over District,” as it had seen so many preachers that the local population had grown immune to their preaching.

Charles the Lawyer

In 1818, Finney’s parents persuaded him to enter the law office of Judge Benjamin Wright in Adams, New York, not far from their home near Lake Ontario. Though he had never attended law school, young Finney’s mind took to the law profession with a passion.

It was in Adams that Finney met Reverend George W. Gale, the pastor of the town’s Presbyterian church. While Finney was not greatly moved by Gale’s sermons, he spent a good deal of time discussing them. Finney was determined to make sense of what he heard, but the more he talked with Gale, the more questions formed in his mind. Gale found Finney well-informed about religion but hardened to it.

At the same time, as Charles studied the law, he began to notice how writers quoted the Bible as a basis for many of the great principles of common law. This piqued Finney’s curiosity to the point that he went out and purchased his first Bible. Then, when he would come across legal texts that referred to Scripture passages, he would check the references and their biblical context. He soon found himself reading the Bible more and more, and with greater and greater interest.

Is God a Lie?

On Wednesday morning, October 10, 1821, Finney prepared himself for work, still mulling over these questions of God’s existence and the state of his eternal soul. When he set out for the law office that morning as he always did, a voice within confronted him: “What are you waiting for? Did you not promise to give your heart to God? And what are you trying to do? Are you endeavoring to work out a righteousness of your own?”
God's Generals - Charles Finney and The Blazing Fire! (Part 1)
God's Generals - Charles Finney and The Blazing Fire! (Part 1)
1. The answer to these questions came just as suddenly:
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 ...

Without being distinctly aware of it, I had stopped in the street right where the inward voice seemed to arrest me. How long I remained in that position, I cannot say. But after this distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the question seemed to be put, “Will you accept it now, to-day?” I replied, “Yes; I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the attempt.” 

2. Instead of going to work, he went into the woods and hiked over a small hill - he retreated to a place where some trees had fallen and formed a partially covered enclosure.
As he tried to pray, the words wouldn’t come. He was too concerned that someone would see him. When he realized what was holding him back, he said to himself, “What! . . . such a degraded sinner as I am, on my knees confessing my sins to the great and holy God; and ashamed to have any human being, and sinner like myself, find me on my knees endeavoring to make my peace with my offended God!” 

3. A Scripture passage came to his mind: “Then shall ye ... go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. [Then] ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12–13). Charles seized this message, crying out, “Lord, I take thee at thy word. Now thou knowest that I do search for thee with all my heart, and that I have come here to pray to thee; and thou hast promised to hear me.” 

4. Charles’s heart opened, and God filled it with promises from His Word. He accepted each personally, as if it had been made to him alone. Soon, Finney found himself on his way back to town with no idea how long he had been in the woods. He thought, “If I am ever converted, I will preach the Gospel.” He then realized that the despair for his soul was completely gone.

Meeting Jesus Face-to-Face

That afternoon, the law office employees were occupied with moving all of the furniture and books from one office to another. When it was dark and the move was complete, Judge Wright bade Finney good night and went home. Finney described what happened next:

As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. . . . I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears. . . .

I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. . . . The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. . . .

These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more”; yet I had no fear of death. 5

Charles’s Anointing Starts to Spread

In the following months, Charles took it upon himself to undergo training to be a Presbyterian minister. It was suggested that he attend Princeton, but he opted instead to stay in Adams to be tutored by Rev. Gale and to study Gale’s library of religious books. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in March of 1824.

Finney did not desire to preach to an established church or regular congregation, so he took a six-month commission with a women’s missionary society in Oneida County in upstate New York, and traveled to the town of Evans Mills to begin his ministry. He traveled back and forth between there and a German settlement in Antwerp, ministering regularly at both.

At the time, Finney was engaged to Lydia Andrews of Whitestown in Oneida County, and they married in October 1824 and traveled to Adams. Two days after the wedding, Finney went back to Evans Mills with the intention of returning about one week later to move the couple’s home there. However, E2revival took off so quickly and the work was so much that Charles wouldn't return until early the spring of 1825 - some six months later.

Meeting the Prayer Warrior

It was in Evans Mills that Charles was reacquainted with Daniel Nash, a minister he had first encountered when he was examined to be ordained. Charles soon learned that since they had last met, Nash had been infected with an eye disease that had left him lying in a dark room, unable to read or write. Because of his ailment, Nash had given himself almost entirely to prayer; eventually, he had emerged from the sickness physically healed and spiritually transformed into a man of intercessory prayer. As Finney and Nash began to pray together in meetings, Charles was deeply moved by the power of Nash’s prayers and the magnitude of his faith.

After meeting again at Evans Mills, Finney and Nash began working together. They determined to make the unchurched their primary focus. As Nash stated in a letter,

When Mr. Finney and I began our race, we had no thought of going amongst ministers. Our highest ambition was to go where there was neither minister or reformation and try to look up the lost sheep, for whom no man cared. We began and the Lord prospered. . . . We go into no man’s parish unless called. . . . We have room enough to work and work enough to do. 6

For the next seven years until his death, Nash became a key part of every meeting Charles led. Together, they learned a great deal about “praying down revival.” Nash was not timid in prayer - it was said his prayers could sometimes be heard up to half a mile away. When Father Nash died on December 20, 1831, Charles gave up his itinerant ministry within four months to take a position as a pastor.

100,000 Saved

The greatest outpouring of Charles’s life came in Rochester, New York, starting in September 1830. Lyman Beecher, one of Finney’s harshest critics in his early years, would eventually call the revival in Rochester “the greatest work of God, and the greatest revival of religion, that the world has ever seen, in so short a time. One hundred thousand . . . were reported as having connected themselves with churches.” 7 It was recorded that as many as eighty-five percent of those converted remained Christians years later.

It was a revival that touched all social classes - from civic and business leaders to schoolteachers, physicians, shopkeepers, farmers, and migrant workers. Bars closed for lack of patrons. Crime rates dropped dramatically and stayed low for years, even as the population grew. At one point, the teenagers in the local high school were so distraught about the condition of their souls that they paid no attention to their lessons, so the director invited Finney to come and speak. Nearly the entire student body was saved, including the director, who had originally thought it was a ploy by the students to get out of their work. Forty of the students went on to become ministers. One of these later wrote:

The whole community was stirred. Religion was the topic of conversation, in the house, in the shop, in the office and on the street. The only theater in the city was converted into a livery stable; the only circus into a soap and candle factory. Grog shops were closed; the Sabbath was honored; the sanctuaries were thronged with happy worshippers; a new impulse was given to every philanthropic enterprise; the fountains of benevolence where opened, and men lived to good. 8

The Rochester revival would prove to be the height of the Second Great Awakening and a spark to light the fuse of a national revival that ran like wildfire throughout the United States in 1831. A host of evangelists, including Beecher himself, took up the torch from Rochester, and the rolls of membership swelled in churches everywhere - Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Congregational, and others alike. New England churches grew by one-third in 1831 alone.

Charles Becomes a Professor

Charles soon took a pastoral position in New York City because of the toll itinerating had taken on his health. Revival continued to flow whenever Finney spoke in New York through the end of 1834 and into the winter of 1835. As a result, he was suddenly faced with a large number of young men who wanted to go into the ministry but had no proper place to be educated and ordained according to the Gospel as Finney preached it. Soon, the requests for Finney to teach theology grew numerous enough that he agreed and began a lecture series.

Around this time, there was a controversy at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, that would soon take Finney’s career as a theology instructor a step further. The seminary was composed largely of converted young people from New York’s “Burned-over District” who firmly believed that owning slaves was a sin. Many of Lane Seminary’s trustees owned slaves themselves, however, and they tried to silence the students. Asa Mahan, a trustee, took up the students’ cause, and when the students left to start a new college in Oberlin, Ohio, Mahan left with them. He became the first president of Oberlin College, and the students requested Finney as their professor of theology. When the Tappan brothers offered to finance the professorship of Finney and seven others, Finney agreed to teach at Oberlin in the summer and return to pastor in New York City in the winter. The Finneys’ first summer in Oberlin was in 1835.

Oberlin College opened its doors to one hundred students when Finney began teaching there, and by 1840, five hundred students were enrolled. By the time Finney became the president of Oberlin in 1851, the college had more than one thousand students. After Finney’s death, U.S. President James Garfield affirmed to the student body of Oberlin “that no college in the land had more effectively touched the nerve centers of the national life and thought and ennobled them than did this institution to which Charles Finney devoted so many years of Christian service.” 9

A Deeper Baptism of the Holy Spirit

During his first years in Oberlin, Finney was troubled by the fact that some of those who had been converted during his revivals had since backslidden or fallen away from the faith. He began to think that Christians needed a deeper conversion, or “second blessing” beyond conversion, if they were going to live wholly sanctified lives on this earth. He came to believe that a further work of the Holy Spirit would allow Christians to live in holiness, thereby following Jesus’ exhortation in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48 to “be ye perfect.” This belief would bring criticism on Oberlin, an institution that many people came to see as a den of extremists - chief among them, Finney and Mahan. The Second Blessing was a theme that Finney developed in his lectures at Oberlin, which would eventually be published as the two-volume Lectures on Systematic Theology. Finney would not experience anything along these lines in his own life, however, until the winter of 1843–1844.
During this winter, the Lord gave my own soul a very thorough overhauling, and a fresh baptism of his Spirit. . . . My mind was greatly drawn out in prayer, for a long time; as indeed it always has been, when I have labored in Boston. . . . This winter, in particular, my mind was exceedingly exercised on the question of personal holiness; and in respect to the state of the church, their want of power with God; the weakness of the orthodox churches in Boston, the weakness of their faith, and their want of power in the midst of such a community. The fact that they were making little or no progress in overcoming the errors of the city, greatly affected my mind. 10

Finney’s Deepest Setback

Back in Oberlin, Lydia Finney had grown more and more frail, something that was not helped by the pregnancy and birth of her fifth child, Sarah, in 1841. Sarah fell deathly ill early in 1843 and died on March 9. The Finneys’ sixth and final child, Delia Finney, was born in 1844 but would live only eight years, dying from illness on September 1, 1852. Lydia Finney died when Delia was only three on December 17, 1847.

The burden of work for his revivals and the busyness of his teaching schedule made it difficult - if not impossible - for Finney to remain a single parent. It was a tough decision to remarry, but on November 13, 1848, Asa Mahan, then president of Oberlin College, officiated at the marriage of Finney and Elizabeth Ford Atkinson, a widow from Rochester. Though the marriage of Finney and Elizabeth may have been more of a matter of convenience than of love, Elizabeth proved an able mother to Finney’s children, and Finney came to love and admire her over time as she became a positive influence on his ministry and family throughout their years together.

Charles’s Final Years

After many requests, Charles and Elizabeth traveled to Great Britain in the fall of 1849 to minister there. Finney again found success with the methods he had come to rely on in the United States, and Elizabeth found success holding meetings for women - a greater empowerment of women’s involvement in ministry was started under Finney’s leadership.

In 1851, Finney became the president of Oberlin College, but he continued to travel and lead revivals as his duties would allow him. Between 1851 and 1857, he would travel and preach in Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Hartford, Connecticut; and again in Rochester. In 1859, he returned to England and pushed north to preach in Scotland. It was this last trip to the British Isles that taxed his health to its limits; after returning to the United States in 1860 at the beginning of the Civil War, Finney would not leave Oberlin again. On November 27, 1863, Elizabeth passed away. The following year, Finney married for the third time. His new wife, Rebecca Allen Rayl, was the assistant principal of Oberlin’s women’s department.

Though he continued to teach and preach in Oberlin for the rest of his days, Finney resigned from his position as college president in 1866. At the request of friends and colleagues, he would finish his Memoirs in 1868, even though they wouldn’t be published until a year after his death. Two weeks short of his eighty-third birthday, Finney passed away of natural causes as the first hints of autumn hung in the morning air of August 16, 1875.

Website: www.godsgenerals.com

God's Generals - Oral Roberts 'The Voice Of Healing!' (Part 1)

 

Oral Roberts was born in 1918, the fifth son of a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness church in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. 

His childhood was more balanced than many other healing evangelists although he was reared in abject poverty. At seventeen years of age he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was bedridden for more than five months. He was totally healed of this and his stuttering in July 1935 at a tent revival conducted by evangelist George W. Moncey in Ada, Oklahoma. For two years he was an apprentice under his father in evangelistic work. He was ordained by the Pentecostal Holiness church in 1936, and quickly became one of the outstanding young ministers in the denomination. Between 1941 and 1947 he served four different pastorates in small Pentecostal Holiness churches.

Beginning of the healing ministry

In 1947 he fasted and prayed intensively for God to direct and anoint his ministry, as he launched his own independent evangelistic organization. Roberts conducted his first revival in May 1947, in Enid, Oklahoma and soon added healing to his evangelistic methods.

He began his own magazine, Healing Waters, in November 1947 and reported his first major healing when he removed the braces from the legs of a young polio victim and reported that she was healed, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The magazine advertised his first book, ‘If You Need Healing—Do These Things’ and also asked for prayer, volunteers and finances. In addition he began a radio ministry over five radio stations which rapidly caused him to rival William Branham as the leader of the revival.

By 1951, the Healing Waters Office was constructed in Tulsa and in August 1954, the organization moved into a new three-story building that soon proved inadequate.

In January 1948, he ordered a "tent cathedral" to seat 2,000. Gordon Lindsay wrote in The Voice of Healing, "Brother Roberts has provided himself with perhaps the greatest and most complete equipment ever used by an American evangelist in gospel work." (Harrell, All Things Are Possible, p44) In the summer of 1950 the tent was destroyed by a storm and early in 1951 a new tent seating 7,500 was used but the success of his ministry required a tent seating 12,500 two years later. This was the largest portable tent ever used to promote the gospel.

By the end of 1948, Roberts calculated that in ten revivals he "prayed for 50,000 sick" and had 7,000 "saved." In one 1950 campaign in Columbia, South Carolina, there were 13,500 "altar calls." In eleven tent campaigns in 1952, reportedly attended by 1,500,000 people, the organization recorded 66,ooo people prayed for in the healing lines and 38,457 conversions.

His organisation

His administrative and management skills soon produced an organization and a revival team which helped his sustained success and continuance. During the spring and summer of 1948, Roberts' office staff answered 25,000 letters, mailed 30,000 anointed handkerchiefs, distributed 15,000 books, and dispensed 90,000 copies of his magazine. By October, the office staff had grown to seven. Each year the ministry reported impressive growth. In 1952, Healing Waters, Incorporated received 280,355 letters and mailed out 140,177 prayer cloths. The circulation of the monthly magazine grew from 115,000 in 1951 to 175,000 in 1952 and 265,000 in 1953.
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
In January 1954, he began broadcasting over nine television stations regardless of the immense costs. Skilful appeals to subscribers of Healing Waters paid for the shortfall and by mid-1955, his program was being aired weekly on 91 domestic and two foreign television stations. Three years later his network had grown to 136 stations.

Favour from the wider church

In 1948 he was chosen to deliver the closing address at the North American Pentecostal Fellowship meeting. By 1949, he was recognized as a giant in the Pentecostal world and within ten years he was an international celebrity.

Roberts always had a respectful relationship with William Branham, Gordon Lindsay and others in the Voice of Healing movement, though he never had an official role within the association. He became wary of some characteristics of less gifted and less responsible healing evangelists and gradually withdrew from their circles, though he never publically criticised them.

Of all the deliverance evangelists, Roberts was the most favoured by Pentecostal pastors. He belong to the Pentecostal Holiness church and was always supported by the larger Pentecostal denominations. Local pastors respected the fact that Roberts understood their needs.
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
‘If I were to have the cooperation of the organized church I'd have to do what they said. Or I'd have to turn away from the church and do it the way I had started. I've always been a churchman so I agreed with them and made that change in the latter part of the crusade.’

Lee Braxton wrote in 1951: ‘Oral Roberts recognizes good in all denominations, and is a strong believer in Church Organizations, but feels that he is called to bring Bible Deliverance to all people of all Faiths. People from almost all denominations attend the Roberts Campaigns, subscribe to Healing Waters Magazine, and support the Radio Broadcast’.

Roberts' work became more ecumenical with time. During a 1957 campaign in Raleigh, North Carolina, he listed among the churches represented in his audiences: Assemblies of God, Roman Catholic, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, Christian Science, Church of God, Episcopal, Free Will Holiness, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Missionary Alliance, Methodist, Glad Tiding Tabernacle, Presbyterian, Missionary Baptist, Pentecostal Holiness, and United Brethren.

Financial integrity

Always maintaining financial integrity and transparency he won the hearts of pastors and people alike, assuring them that finances were only an necessary part of the proclamation of the deliverance message. Local committees and pubic audiences were wisely informed of income and expenditure to avoid any misunderstanding or criticism.

The FGBMFI

In 1949, Roberts held a businessmen's luncheon during his campaign in Tacoma, Washington and thereafter there was formed the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, with Demos Shakarian as its founder. The FGBMFI remained one of Roberts' strongest supporters.

Oral Roberts' initial success and his continuing appeal rested on the healing ministry that began in 1947. His early preaching strongly emphasized the miraculous. But his ministry was never one simply of healing. He was always a passionate and effective evangelist. As the 50’s passed evangelism came to be the dominant theme, though healing was still a priority which God continued to bless.

The effect of Roberts' ministry

He rapidly became the exemplary leader of a generation of dynamic revivalists who took the message of divine healing around the world in the 50’s. P. G Chappell sums it up so well: ‘His ecumenical crusades were instrumental in the revitalization of Pentecostalism in the post-World War II era. He was also influential in the formation of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International in 1951 as well as a leading figure in laying the foundation for the modern charismatic movement. Roberts' most significant impact upon American Christianity came in 1955 when he initiated a national weekly television program that took his healing crusades inside the homes of millions who had never been exposed to the healing message. Through this program the healing message was literally lifted from the Pentecostal subculture of American Christianity to its widest audience in history. By 1980 a Gallup Poll revealed that Roberts' name was recognized by a phenomenal 84 percent of the American public, and historian Vinson Synan observed that Roberts was considered the most prominent Pentecostal in the world. Oral Roberts (became) the best-known salvation-healing evangelist during the 1950s and 1960s. (Art: P. G Chappell, International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (2002).

Other notable milestones in his life

His monthly magazine, renamed Abundant Life in 1956, reached a circulation of over a million, while his devotional magazine, Daily Blessing, exceeded a quarter million subscribers and a monthly column was written for 674 newspapers. By the 1980s there were more than 15 million copies of his eighty-eight books in circulation, and his yearly mail from supporters exceeded five million letters.

In 1966 he was invited to be a participant in Billy Graham's Berlin Congress on World Evangelism, transferred his religious affiliation to the United Methodist church in 1968, and began an ambitious television outreach in 1969 with prime-time religious variety shows. The success of the prime-time programming was remarkable, reaching as many as 64 million viewers. This led Edward Fiske, religious editor of the New York Times, to declare that Roberts commanded more personal loyalty in the 1970s than any minister in America.

In 1965 Roberts opened a coeducational liberal arts college in Tulsa. Oral Roberts University became a major institution when seven graduate colleges were added between 1975 and 1978: Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Law, Business, Education, and Theology. Dedicated in 1967 by Billy Graham, it is considered the premier charismatic university in America. Adjacent to the university Roberts established a 450-resident retirement centre in 1966.

The apex of Roberts' ministry came with the opening in 1981 of the $250 million City of Faith Medical and Research Centre. The complex consists of a thirty-story hospital, sixty-story medical centre, and twenty-story research facility. The philosophy of the centre is to merge prayer and medicine, the supernatural and natural, in the treatment of the whole person. In conjunction with the medical school, doctors are being prepared to serve as medical missionaries around the world.

Theologically Roberts is basically a classical Pentecostal, who maintains that speaking in tongues is normative for every believer. His trademark, however, has been essentially an upbeat message of hope. The whole thesis of his ministry has been that God is a good God and that He wills to heal and prosper His people (3 John 2).

Well done good and faithful servant!
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
God's Generals - Oral Roberts
Bibliography: D. Harrell, Jr., All Things Are Possible (1975); Art: P. G Chappell, International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (2002).

God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)

 

Martin Luther is remembered as a passionate writer and preacher, an influential theologian, and a loving father, husband, and mentor. 

In everything he did, he maintained an intensity, dedication, and sense of humor that served him and the Protestant Reformation well. His early need for assurance and search for truth led him on a journey that would change the course of history. His life serves as an inspiration for all who seek to know God better.

LUTHER’S EARLY YEARS: Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in the small town of Eisleben in the province of Saxony. This was part of the Roman Empire, predecessor to modern day Germany. His father, Hans, spent much of his life working in copper mining, while his mother, Margarethe, was a typical hardworking housewife. Young Martin was baptized on the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, and thus he was named after the famous Christian. He was the eldest son in his family, but not much is known about his brothers and sisters. Hans Luther desired for his son to become a lawyer and sent him to schools in Mansfeld, Magdeburg, and Eisenach, where he received a standard late medieval education. Martin was not particularly fond of any of these places.

BECOMING A MONK: Martin then moved on to the University of Erfurt to study law. This is where we begin to see real signs of frustration. His study of the ancient philosophers and medieval academics was unable to satisfy his growing desire for truth. Of particular importance to Luther was the issue of assurance: knowing where one stood before God. His desire for such assurance was already drawing him to the scriptures, but a seminal event was to push him further in that direction. While riding at night in a thunderstorm, a lightning bolt struck nearby and Luther famously cried out, “Help, Saint Anne! I will become a monk!” He later attributed this statement to his fear of divine judgment, believing himself to be steeped in sin. Two weeks later, he became an Augustinian monk at the monastery in Erfurt, a decision that highly upset his father.
God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)
God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)
LUTHER’S THEOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH: Luther may have hoped that monastic life would bring him some internal peace, but it did nothing of the sort. Rather, he found himself working harder and harder to please God and becoming rather obsessive about confession. His superior, Johann von Staupitz, directed him toward teaching, sending him to the new University of Wittenberg to focus on theology. This proved to be highly beneficial for Luther. His entry into the priesthood had caused him a further crisis of conscience when he felt unworthy to conduct the Mass. However, in teaching through books of the Bible, Luther himself was to learn a great deal. Of particular importance were his lectures on the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, which led him to a new understanding of how man is made righteous before God. It was during this time that Luther became convinced that man is justified by grace through faith alone, and that God himself declared the sinner to be righteous based on the work of Christ. In this doctrine, Luther had what he craved: assurance of salvation.

LUTHER AND INDULGENCES: Despite his changing understanding of the scriptures, it is important to note that Luther did not immediately leave behind his monastic life. Instead, he continued on in teaching and clerical ministry just as he had previously, although he had greater spiritual peace. Yet, controversy soon arose due to the selling of indulgences within the empire. These were essentially certificates carrying the blessing of the Pope, which promised that the bearer would be released from a certain amount of penance, either in this present life or in Purgatory. These particular indulgences were given to those who made donations to build the new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther became concerned that the indulgence sellers were ignoring the need for personal repentance. Thus, he composed a list of 95 theses (that is, points for argument) that he intended to debate with his fellow academics, and sent it to one of his superiors, the Archbishop of Mainz. The public was quickly informed of Luther’s arguments when they were translated from Latin, the scholarly language of the day, into German, the language of the common people. Although he did not question the authority of the pope in this document, it was clear that Luther’s understanding of justification and repentance were somewhat different from those that had been taught by many medieval theologians.

MOVING FARTHER FROM ROME: The controversy surrounding Luther quickly grew, with some announcing their support but most of the Church hierarchy in opposition. This was a difficult time for Martin Luther as he had to decide between maintaining his unity with the Church and clinging to what he felt was the correct understanding of scripture. At first, he offered to remain silent if his opponents would do the same. However, he was eventually drawn into two different public disputations. The first involved his own monastic order – the Augustinians – and took place in the city of Heidelberg. Here Luther laid out some of his foundational beliefs about the nature of Christian theology, which were to pull him farther from Rome. In 1519, he traveled to the city of Leipzig, where his Wittenberg colleague Andreas Karlstadt was to debate the academic Johann Eck on the topic of free will. As it was clear that Eck really wished to attack Luther, Martin did end up agreeing to debate with him. During their disputation, Luther acknowledged his belief that scripture was the ultimate authority on issues of doctrine, and that Church councils and popes were capable of error. With this admission, Luther had taken another step away from Rome.

LUTHER’S SHOWDOWN AT WORMS: After their debate, Eck continued to press the case against Luther to those in Rome, and the following year, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull (edict) demanding that Luther retract many of his statements or be excommunicated. Surrounded by his university colleagues, Luther publicly burned the bull. The pope then followed through with the excommunication, and Luther was called to appear before Emperor Charles V at the imperial diet, which was meeting that year in Worms. (A “diet” was an assembly of the most important officials within the empire, and its edicts carried the force of law.) Although he was given a promise of safe conduct, Luther feared that this appearance may lead to his death under accusation of heresy. Nevertheless, he went to Worms, where he was once again called upon to recant what he had written. After some hesitation, Luther finally said the following:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”[1]

Once again, we see how concerned Luther was with the issue of spiritual truth, and how he considered his assurance from God more important even than his physical life.

LUTHER’S EXILE AT WARTBURG CASTLE: Even as he was allowed to leave the city of Worms, there was a high probability that Luther would be seized and put to death. Instead, he was taken captive by men working for the ruler of his home region of Saxony, Elector Frederick the Wise. The Diet of Worms had determined that Luther’s writings were heretical, banned them, and authorized his arrest. As a result, Frederick arranged for Luther to be hidden securely in Wartburg Castle, which lay within Frederick’s own electorate of Saxony.

Martin spent about a year there and put his time to good use, not only writing numerous letters and pamphlets, but undertaking what was to be among the most important works of his life: the translation of the New Testament into German. In actuality, there was not one standard form of the German language in the 16th century, but Luther’s translation would prove so influential that it helped to standardize German as we know it today.

In this endeavor, Luther received help from his friend and fellow Wittenberg professor, Philipp Melanchthon. It was the young Melanchthon who was left in charge of the reforming work in Wittenberg while Luther was away, and it proved to be a tumultuous time. Their early ally, Karlstadt, had adopted a more radical set of theological views, and there were soon others like him. This led to serious discord in the city and beyond.

LUTHER’S RETURN TO WITTENBERG: In March of 1522, Luther made his return to Wittenberg out of concern for the problems that had arisen in his absence. Despite the obvious risks to Luther’s life as a result of being declared a heretic, he received the tacit support of Elector Frederick the Wise, who permitted the Reformation to continue within Saxony. Luther’s first task was to preach a series of sermons correcting some of the errors that had taken hold while he was away. Of particular concern to Luther was respect for authority and the ending of civil discord, and this was to prove very significant when the German peasant class started to demand greater political and economic rights. Luther criticized much of the violence that occurred, at one point in 1525 coming down particularly hard on the peasants. However, he did care about the common man: he simply did not believe rebellion was the answer to society’s problems.

FORMULATING THE REFORMATION: Between 1520 and 1525, there were many changes in Wittenberg. Philipp Melanchthon published the first Protestant work of systematic theology, Commonplaces (Loci Communes). This work reflected much of Luther’s own thinking. Luther himself had published three important books just before appearing at the Diet of Worms: The Freedom of the Christian, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and his Letter to the German Nobility. Already, the ideas that were to drive the Lutheran Reformation were being codified. The Mass took on a very different form and was eventually abolished altogether as the standard of worship. Luther and his supporters also promoted the end of clerical celibacy and monastic vows, which would lead to the next major development in Luther’s life.

LUTHER’S SURPRISING MARRIAGE: As the ideas of the Reformation continued to spread, many men and women left the monastic life behind and sought to be married. It fell to Luther to arrange marriages for a dozen nuns who escaped to Wittenberg. He soon found husbands for all but one, a woman named Katharina von Bora. She eventually insisted that she would only be married to Luther or his friend and fellow theologian, Nicholaus von Amsdorf. Although he supported clerical marriage in principle, Luther at first rejected the idea of being married himself, fearing that he might be put to death, and in any case believing that the Reformation needed his full attention. In time, however, events led him to change his mind, and the former monk and former nun shocked everyone with the news of their private wedding service on June 13, 1525. A public ceremony was held later in the month. Some of Luther’s colleagues, including Melanchthon, feared that he had made a reckless decision that would attract scorn, but it turned out to be a good match, and Luther’s first son, Hans, was born within the year.

A WAR OF WORDS: In the same year that he was married, Luther was engaged in a high-level academic battle with the most respected Catholic scholar of the day, Desiderius Erasmus. Although he was more of a public intellectual than a theologian, Erasmus had been under pressure for some time to make clear his opposition to Luther’s ideas. He found a point of disagreement on the issue of free will, and in 1524, Erasmus published the rather short Diatribe on the Freedom of the Will (De Libero Arbitrio). His main argument was that, while the grace of God was necessary for salvation, man still maintained some power to believe or not believe. Luther saw things in terms of flesh vs. spirit, believing that a person still trapped in sin is incapable of moving toward God of their own accord. He published a much longer rejoinder, The Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio).

This dispute proved influential more on account of the participants than the particular doctrinal ideas put forward, but it was clearly an important moment for Luther. Before his death, he listed this book as one of the few that deserved to survive after he was gone. Although the publication of this work may have pushed away Erasmus, it shows once again Luther’s continual drive for truth, even if it is hard for some people to hear.
LUTHER’S HYMN WRITING: In addition to being a theologian, Martin Luther is also known as a musician. The many hymns he composed in the German language were a result of his concern that average people in the pews would understand the scriptural truths being put forward by the Reformation. He worked with his friends to create hymn books that could be used in all the churches. By far the most famous tune composed by Luther himself is “A Mighty Fortress is our God” (“Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott”), but he left behind a vast wealth of hymns, many of which had an influence on the history of German music, particularly Johann Sebastian Bach. However, it was the practical aspect of getting congregants to connect with sound theology that was at the heart of Luther’s musical work.

THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION: In 1530, the emperor called another diet, this time in the city of Augsburg. Protestants were invited to attend the diet and present their theological views for the emperor’s consideration. Luther himself was unable to attend, as he was still under an imperial ban due to the Diet of Worms, and was thus restricted to Saxony, where he had the protection of the elector. However, he met with some of the other Reformers beforehand to discuss what they would say. A doctrinal confession was drawn up, with Philipp Melanchthon as the main author. It was read before the diet, but they did not succeed in swaying the emperor to the Protestant cause. As a result, the various cities and provinces that supported the statement – which came to be known as the Augsburg Confession – created a military alliance that provided further security for the Reformation ideas to spread. Although Luther himself was not an author of the Augsburg Confession, it has been the main confessional document for Lutheranism down to the present day.

LUTHER’S RELATIONS WITH SWISS REFORMERS: While the Reformation had begun in Saxony, it quickly took root in other areas. One such place was the Swiss Confederation, which roughly lines up with modern day Switzerland. Here men such as Ulrich Zwingli developed their own ideas about how the Church should operate. There were a number of theological differences between the German and Swiss Reformers, but the one that proved to be particularly important involved the Lord’s Supper. Although Luther broke from Catholic tradition in his view of this sacrament, he did not go so far as Zwingli in adopting a largely symbolic view of what was taking place. A meeting between the two groups in 1529 produced an agreement on the fourteen Marburg Articles, but Luther and Zwingli were unable to come to terms regarding the Lord’s Supper.

This is another example of how Luther valued doctrinal truth above all else, for in pure political terms, it would have been to the advantage of the Protestants to stick together as closely as possible. Yet, Luther felt the issue so important that he could not compromise, and as a result, his relations with the Swiss Reformers were always strained. Even so, Luther’s writings would have a major influence on John Calvin, who in the next few decades became arguably the greatest theologian of the Swiss Reformation.

LUTHER’S FAMILY LIFE: Despite the many difficulties he faced in his life, Luther’s home was by all accounts a rather happy one, and certainly a full one. Not only was his and Katharina’s house to become home to six children – Hans, Elisabeth (who died as an infant), Magdalena, Martin, Paul, and Margarethe – but they also played host to many boarders over the years, most of them students. Over meals, Luther would answer their questions on a wide variety of topics. Some of these statements were recorded in a document now known as the Tabletalk. Luther’s experiences with his own children helped to shape his ideas on the importance of education and may have been in the back of his mind as he wrote the Small and Large Catechisms.

Although it began as a rather scandalous pairing, Luther’s marriage with Katharina proved to be highly beneficial both for him and for Protestantism by providing an ideal of marriage. Although the Luthers certainly had their share of marital difficulties, Martin’s letters to his wife demonstrate the love between them. Particularly difficult was the death of their daughter Magdalena at age thirteen, the young lady dying in her father’s arms. Although we possess little of Katharina Luther’s own words, we do have this statement that she made following her husband’s death:

“If I had a principality or an empire I wouldn’t feel so bad about losing it as I feel now that our dear Lord God has taken this beloved and dear man from me and not only from me, but from the whole world. When I think about it, I can’t refrain from grief and crying either to read or to write, as God well knows.”

LUTHER AND PASTORAL CARE: Although he is often known for his theological works and even his hymns, Luther was also a pastor, and the concerns of pastoral ministry were to dominate much of his thought. As the years went by and the ideals of the Reformation began to be implemented more and more, the need for good pastoral care only increased. It was concern for his parishioners that largely motivated Luther’s decision to take a stand on the issue of indulgences. Already in 1519, he wrote the Sermon on Preparing to Die, a topic that was surely of importance to many in his congregation. His translation work can also be seen in the context of a more practical kind of theology: helping average Christians to understand scriptural truth in their own language.

Between 1528 and 1531, a visitation was carried out among the Protestant churches in Saxony, both by Luther and others. This revealed several problems that were occurring in the congregations that Luther subsequently aimed to address. In his position as a university professor and leader of the Protestant movement, Luther worked for many years to mentor those who would proclaim the Word of God. He also was not above publishing a pamphlet on prayer for his barber when the man asked him a question. This shows Luther’s concern for all of his congregants. Even things such as sex, which affected everyone but were not openly discussed by most theologians, were addressed by Luther in a very straightforward manner.

LUTHER’S LATER YEARS: Less attention is typically given to the last 15 years of Luther’s life, by which point he had already written many of his most famous works. However, he was still very busy as both a pastor and professor, helping to reorganize the faculty and curriculum at the University of Wittenberg during the 1530s. In 1534, the full German translation of both the Old and New Testaments appeared in print. This translation continued to be revised, even after Luther’s death. Some of Luther’s pamphlets from this time, particularly regarding the Jews in Germany, proved to be very controversial due to their exceedingly harsh nature. Thus, Luther was not a perfect man, and some of the disappointments he experienced in his life undoubtedly added to his frustration.

Along with some of his comments during the Peasants’ War of 1524-25, Luther’s writings about the Jews have attracted much modern criticism. While not dismissing this criticism, we must consider the totality of Luther’s work, and that the very things that made him strong could also appear as weaknesses. Though imperfect, God was still able to use his passion for truth to do great things. He died on February 18, 1546 in Eisleben, the same town where he was born.

MARTIN LUTHER’S LEGACY: Martin Luther is remembered as a passionate writer and preacher, an influential theologian, and a loving father, husband, and mentor. In everything he did, he maintained an intensity, dedication, and sense of humor that served him and the Protestant Reformation well. His early need for assurance and search for truth led him on a journey that would change the course of history. His life serves as an inspiration for all who seek to know God better.
God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)
God's Generals - Martin Luther ... Reformation, Works and Facts (Part 1)

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