April 17, 2010

Ordinary People

Dwight L. Moody was considered the most influential evangelist of the 19th century, and was founder of the Moody Bible Institue. God used him in great ways, and reached many for Christ through him. Yet he was an uneducated, ordinary person who sold shoes for a living when he was young. No one would have predicted that he would become a man greatly used by God. Here are some things that were said about him soon after he became a Christian in 1855:

"I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."

On another occasion after Moody spoke in the church he was attending, a deacon told him that he would best serve God by keeping still. Another person told him he should stop speaking publicly saying "You make too many mistakes in grammar." Moody's response was "I know I make mistakes, and I lack many things, but I'm doing the best I can with what I've got." Moody was a man who was fully surrendered to God, and whose availability far surpassed his ability.

Billy Graham is considered the greatest evangelist of all time. God has used him to reach millions for Christ. Yet he was a simple country boy raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. He accepted Christ at the age of 16, but afterwards he was turned down for membership in a local youth group because he was considered "too worldly". He started college at Bob Jones University, where he was almost expelled. Bob Jones Sr. said this to him: "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks." He finished college at Wheaton College, and although he ended up being a great evangelist he never received any formal theological or seminary education.

How could these 2 men with such humble beginnings turn out to be some of the most fruitful and successful servants of the Lord ? Only by God's grace, and only by the all-powerful hand of the Lord. God's hand was upon these men in a powerful way. God loves to use plain, ordinary people in His work. When God does great and miraculous things through plain, ordinary people everyone knows it is God who did it, and He gets all of the glory and honor and praise.


mlwj said...

I couldn't agree more with the theological point in your last paragraph. I pray that the Lord would use me and you and all believers to bring Him glory by saving a lost world.

But I might point out that 1) I believe that Bob Jones Sr story may be apocryphal (though I could be wrong!) and 2) you may want to read Iain Murray's Evangelicalism Divided—or just perhaps his little summary address published in "The Unresolved Controversy."


Kevin Bart said...

Mark, thanks for visiting our blog and for leaving your comment. I pray and hope too that God will use you and us to build His kingdom and bring glory to His name. That is and always should be our purpose and motivation and passion.

I have read Billy Graham's autobiography "Just As I Am" and believe the account of what occurred between Bob Jones Sr. and Mr. Graham is accurate. Other sources have also agreed with it's accuracy.

I have read a summary of The Unresolved Controversy and agree with some of what it is saying concerning liberalism entering into the church and some presentations of the Gospel. I do not agree with the conclusion that Mr. Graham had been presenting an erroneous version of the Gospel. Some have criticized his methods (I personally see no problem with them), but it is not accurate to say his version of the Gospel is erroneous and liberal. You can see for yourself their Gospel presentation, based in God's Word:

I may not agree with everything Mr. Graham has said or done, but he is a man that God has used greatly to reach many people for Christ.