The Power of a Godly Life

We all realize, and could truthfully testify to the solemn conviction resting upon our hearts, that we stand today in need of a great spiritual awakening, and that we must have more power from God.

By A.G. Daniells

We all realize, and could truthfully testify to the solemn conviction resting upon our hearts, that we stand today in need of a great spiritual awakening, and that we must have more power from God. The blessings which have attended us in days gone by will not suffice for present needs, for the days are growing more evil and the situation more baffling, and only a new manifestation of God's power will enable men to stand firm for the right in this old world of sin. It does not matter how nicely the automobile runs on the level, or makes the slight ascents; in making the mountain climb there must be a re­serve power to draw on in order to reach the top. The same principle governs the Christian life, and the same instruction which Jesus gave to His disciples applies to us,—"tarry ye . . . until ye be endued with power from on high."

The burden of heart so often ex­pressed is, What can we do to inspire our ministry? I understand that that word "inspire" means to lead. It is not merely to create a desire or an admiration for greater spirituality and more power, not merely to wish that we might be more useful; but the ques­tion is, How can we lead our minis­ters into that very experience whereby day by day there will be steady growth in spirituality, piety, and usefulness? And we know that the man who grows in spirituality, piety, and usefulness will become increasingly efficient.

In answer to that question, I wish to repeat what is so often stated, that no man can lead another man into greater spirituality and piety and use­fulness without himself experiencing that very thing. There is no man who can bring a person into such a desir­able experience merely by talk. It is absolutely essential that there shall be a moral force back of his talk—an experience in his life which will give power to his words.

I would like to read to you what I consider a classic gem in the teach­ing of divine truth:

"Those who will put on the whole armor of God, and devote some time every day to meditation and prayer and to the study of the Scriptures, will be connected with heaven, and will have a saving, transforming influence upon those around them. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth and duty to God, will be theirs. They will be yearning for purity, for light, for love, and for all the graces of heavenly birth. Their earnest prayers will enter into that within the veil. This class will have a sanctified boldness to come into the presence of the Infinite One. They will feel that heaven's light and glories are for them, and they will become re­fined, elevated, ennobled by this inti­mate acquaintance with God. Such is the privilege of true Christians."—"Testimonies," Vol. V, pp. 112, 113.

Now what is the foundation of that beautiful experience which it is the privilege of true Christians to have? The foundation is a connection with heaven. It is on such a foundation that the preacher needs to stand in order to exert a saving, transforming influence upon all those with whom he comes in contact. When the Maj­esty of heaven abides in the heart of a man, a mighty power attends the life.

In my memory of boyhood days there stands out a man of God whose kindly words and conduct of life gripped my wayward heart. That man was Elder George I. Butler. When I heard my mother say that she had invited this preacher of God to our home for the night, I sincerely wished she had not done so. I had no thought of religious things at that time, and I was afraid of a preacher. I planned to get my chores done and get off to the field in the morning be­fore he got up for his breakfast. But my plans were not successful, for as I came up to the veranda with my bucket of milk, there was the preacher already up and waiting for me.

The smile with which he greeted me, won my heart, and made me feel that even though he was a preacher, yet he was a friend to a boy like me. Then I remember so well his cordial greeting. "Good morning, Arthur," he said, and there was a bright twinkle in his eye which gave assurance of interest and sympathetic understand­ing. Then he asked: "Do you like good books?" I did not know what reply to make, because I did not have any books, and had no liking for them. "Here is a nice book I want to give you," he said. At this stage he not only allayed my fears, but he secured a permanent place in my boyish heart. The book he gave me was entitled "The Advent Keepsake," and I cher­ished this little volume for many years.

This is an example of what it means to a youth to come in contact with a man of piety and spirituality, a man of earnest prayer and deep study of the Bible and the Testimonies of God's Spirit. It was not mere talk which reached my heart. If he had started to give me a lecture on what I ought to do to be a Christian, he would have driven me clear away. But there was in his life a moral force that laid hold of me. Years later, Elder Butler bap­tized me, and still later he laid his hands upon my head in ordination.

Then he called me to go to Australia. A few years ago, when he was dying, he told those who were caring for him that he would like to have me preach his funeral sermon, and I gladly re­sponded.

Who can estimate the power of a truly godly life—a life connected with heaven. Such a life is possible to those who "put on the whole armor of God, and devote some time every day to meditation." That means to come to a full stop, and to sit down and meditate. This is not an age of meditation and thought. It is an age of activity—push, bustle, crowd, and drive. We are even so rushed with the work of the Lord that we seem not to have time to maintain connec­tion with heaven. The only way it is possible to exert "a saving, trans­forming influence upon those around" us, is to comply with the specific in­structions given. With the message we claim to have for the world, the shortness of time before us, and the solemn fact that millions of people are going down to Christless graves, dare we neglect to avail ourselves of our Christian privilege?

In reading a book a short time ago, I was struck by a few statements the author made, especially when he said, "As I see things, it is now a close race between Christianity and catastrophe. And the issue will be decided within the lifetime of my readers." That is a startling statement, but it is true, and there is need of just such startling statements being made. We are living in an age when it is very difficult to arouse people to a state of alarm re­garding spiritual things. If a man be­comes really in earnest and sets forth the danger in terms which arrest at­tention, he is often regarded with sus­picion, and there is a tendency to con­sider him a bit fanatical. Brethren, I want to see that thing go out of our ranks, for if there was ever need for alarm in this old world, now is the time for it.

The Bible says, "Sound an alarm," and I do not have any sympathy with the preacher who seeks to put the muffler on the alarm, and to make everything appear calm and peaceful. When we see a building on fire, we are stirred to sound the alarm. When a person is about to perish from any cause, it is a heartless man who does not feel intensely and act accordingly. But today we are facing the ruin and peril of millions of people. We have a mighty message from God that will awaken these people, and we are to sound forth the alarm. We are not to sound forth the warning with any tame utterance, but with our own souls on fire with zeal to rescue the perish­ing; and realizing that "it is now a close race between Christianity and catastrophe," and that "the issue will be decided" within our lifetime, we should sound forth the warning in trumpet tones.

O that we might have that strong, mighty power of influence and leader­ship in our lives that would cause men and women to know that we are con­nected with heaven. We recall that very impressive statement in the Scrip­tures concerning one of God's messen­gers, which reads: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." A man sent from God! Every preacher should come direct from God to his tasks each day; and when that is true, a power will attend our ministry which will lift us over the mountains of difficulty and carry us safely on to the end of the road.

My heart indites an appeal to the union presidents who are here at this meeting, to think back on your younger days and remember how you looked to your leaders for the help you needed. My own personal experience along this line may serve as illustra­tion of the point I have in mind.

At the time I entered the ministry, Elder E. W. Farnsworth was the pres­ident of the conference where I was located, and I remember how closely I watched him, and what a power­ful impression his conduct made on me. At one time I was engaged in holding meetings in a little coun­try schoolhouse, down in the woods, and I invited Elder Farnsworth to come and speak to the people. He accepted the invitation, and I took my buggy and drove to the place. As we neared the schoolhouse, Elder Farnsworth said, "Well, Arthur, I guess we'd better get out here, and pray." So we got out of the buggy, and I tied the horse.

It was just about dusk, and I re­member we walked off in the woods a little ways, and then we kneeled down to pray. I got down on my knees, but he lay down, prone upon his face. He asked me to pray first, and I prayed a little prayer. I was timid, as I had not been used to pray­ing with conference presidents. But after my prayer, Elder Farnsworth prayed such a prayer as I shall never forget. I had often heard him speak at the camp meeting, where he had held the large audience of people spell­bound; and now he was to speak to only about two dozen people in the woods, and yet he considered it nec­essary to cry to God for help and power to say something which would grip the hearts of the people and lead them to obey the truth. That experi­ence of my early ministry made a tre­mendous and lasting impression on my mind. Elder Farnsworth was my president, and that was the example which he set before me.

How is it today, brethren, as you go about your field? are you praying with your young men? I do not see how we are going to lead young min­isters into a life of greater spiritual power, greater devotion, greater seri­ousness, unless we ourselves are in di­rect and constant contact with heaven, and are truly being "sent from God" in all contacts which we make. My experience and observation lead me to fear that there is not enough pray­ing being done with our young min­isters.

We touch the lives of these minis­ters in the capacity of officials, as ad­ministrators, but is not the personal spiritual touch lacking? It should be our first business to lift all these preachers and Bible workers to a higher plane of experience and living. They must be helped to get such a hold on God as to lead to prevailing prayer in behalf of souls. They must enter into that experience whereby it is possible to pray effectively for those to whom they have preached the truth and are under conviction, and to bring these people over the line of decision. I would not say that every person who is convicted of truth will yield and make right decision, but I do fear that a great many people are lost because there is such a great lack of prevailing prayer among us. May the Spirit. of God awaken us, and make us the most ardent reformers the church has known, for the hour calls for it.

Too much dependence should not be placed on material prosperity in our work. After all, the things that are not seen are more indicative than the things that are outwardly observed. Spiritual things do not fit easily into the gauges, standards, and tests of the world. Things may move along with seeming smoothness, and yet be without the oil of the Holy Spirit (they often do in competently organ­ized secular concerns) ; funds may roll in (but so they do in efficiently man­aged commercial organizations). We should consider well the tests of suc­cess or divine favor we employ in our ratings.

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By A.G. Daniells

February 1931

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