Friday, March 25, 2011

The Gospel Wakefulness of Major Ian Thomas

The pastor who retired before I came to Middletown Springs is an ordinary, amazing guy. Welsh by birth, Pastor Roland began his work doing coffee shop ministry with young adults and beach evangelism to surfers in Australia. As a student in England, his mentor was Major Ian Thomas. I was not familiar with Thomas before Roland hipped me to him, but I've come to enjoy the writings I've found, and I particularly like his story of what I would call gospel wakefulness. Here is a taste from an online bio:
At the university Ian became a leader in the Inter-Varsity Fellowship group. If ever there was any evangelistic activity going on, this youthful zealot was "buzzing around the place, every holiday, every spare moment"! He started a slum club down in the East End of London "out of a sheer desire to win souls, to go out and get them. I was a windmill of activity until, at the age of nineteen, every moment of my day was packed tight with doing things. Thus by the age of nineteen, I had been reduced to a state of complete exhaustion spiritually, until I felt that there was no point going on."

Then, one night in November, that year, just at midnight, I got down on my knees before God, and I just wept in sheer despair. I said, "Oh, God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart I have wanted to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure." That night things happened.

I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of men the message that came to me then but God, that night simply focused upon me the Bible message of Christ Who Is Our Life. The Lord seemed to make plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: 'You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you.'" That night, all in the space of an hour, Ian Thomas discovered the secret of the adventurous life. He said: "I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years!"
It is important to stress that gospel wakefulness is not necessarily simultaneous with conversion -- although it can be -- but is more often than not a new and enduring astonishment over the gospel previously believed.


Estelle des Chevaliers said...

I think I would get much further if I wasn't required to believe that Genesis is historical truth, when it is clearly mythology. I could never tell my kids that the planet's biodiversity was snapped into existance on a single day only 6000 years ago. That is why I am erring towards Unitarianism, which is more tolerant of individual spirituality.

Jared said...

Estelle, did you know there is a variety of viewpoints on the Creation account within orthodox Christianity? There is a view called "old earth creationism" that agrees with you that the earth was not created 6,000 years ago. Those who hold to this view would say that Genesis is historical truth; they just would say we need to know how to read the language. Some see a gap of considerable length between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, some see that each "day" of creation is more likely an "age," others that God created the earth 6-10,000 years ago with the appearance of age, the same way he created Adam as an adult male.

What you are rejecting, perhaps rightly so, is not the official stance of all Christianity. Just fyi.

Also: Do you think you could contain your questions/comments to one post? Will make it easier for me to keep up. One of those "love" ones would be best, I think, as this subject is off-topic for this post on Ian Thomas.

Dane Ortlund said...

Thanks for this J. I remember the major coming to Wheaton in like 1999 when I was an undergrad and speaking to us with power one Sunday night in Pierce Chapel. Interesting to hear of your connection with him through your church.

Nick R said...

If God could not create the world and all that's in it in six days then he would be a God not worth giving your life too. God is the God and its only unbelief that's says what he can and can't do. The only thing people can compare God to is knowledge man has gained independently from God. Science, is not religion, science will only prove God eventually. All the experiments and tools used to show evidence against the bible have and are flawed. If you follow the teachings of the Holy Spirit (if the Holy Spirit is in you) which is the same teachings as the Major, and the same as Christ, you will experience the truth about all things, not by battling with the knowledge in your mind, trying to convince yourself that the bible is true, but by the experience of God himself telling you its true.

Unless you can except that everything Jesus said and says is absolute truth you will not be empowered to live his truths. unless you except all of what Jesus days as truth and you only take part of what he says to be true, then you don't have Christ, nor his life in you. Thereby, there is no change in character so no change in destination. There may be a change in your act, but that's it.