Stirring Mission Through the Deeper Life
A.B. Simpson envisioned engaging an “alliance” of people from all denominational backgrounds united around the common desire to reap a harvest of souls and the fourfold gospel of Jesus Christ as Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. The unique vision of the Alliance has been to marry mission and the deeper life.
The Alliance frequently uses the term “deeper life”, but Simpson’s preferred term was “the higher life”. For him, the deeper life is the first step of the highest Christian life:
Depth—The Consecrated Life of crucifixion, dying to self—“Not mine, but Thine.” We surrender all to live for Him, not ourselves.
Height—The Supernatural Life of holy, overcoming, resurrection power—“Not I, but Christ.” Once we surrender, Jesus raises us up again through the baptism with the Spirit to a supernatural life of love, joy, and peace, and to overcome sin, self, Satan, and the world. We rise to the heights, what Jesus calls the abundant life (John 10:10).
Breadth—The Overflowing Life of loving, sacrificial service— “Not myself, but my brother.” Hunger and thirst for God bubble over with God’s heart—compassion for the weak and hurting and passion for lost souls. We “launch out into the deep”, as Simpson puts it, rescuing others from the pits and bondage of their lives, lifting them up to a higher life of freedom, healing, hope, victory, and restoration in Christ.
Stirring Mission Through the Deeper Life
Emphasis on the deeper life did not cause the early Alliance to become so inwardly focused on holiness that they neglected mission. Rather, it stirred them to mission, as it should for us in the Alliance today.
Deeper Life Stirs Passionate Prayer. The early Alliance became an active “Prayer Alliance”, praying in the harvest. Early Alliance meetings, including Annual Councils, sometimes featured “praying through”, all night prayer meetings for seeking God, passionately praying for revival, and reaching the lost.
Deeper Life Stirs Holy Spirit Power for Mission. Historically, the Alliance has been an Acts 1:8 movement, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the remotest parts of the earth.” The sanctifying baptism with the Spirit stirred Alliance people to share their faith with supernatural signs following.
During the founding of the Alliance in 1887 at Old Orchard, Maine, a disabled woman on crutches was dramatically and instantly healed. Her two sisters confessed faith in Christ as a result, confirming to Simpson the deeper life message and calling of the Alliance.
Deeper Life Stirs Revival. In the wake of the Welsh Revival of 1904, the Alliance anticipated that the end times were approaching, and prayed with the expectancy that God was going to pour out His Spirit increasingly in “The Latter Rain Revival.” The revival was poured out beginning in 1906 with signs and wonders following. We are in the latter of those latter days now. Let us pray again, let it rain, Lord!
Deeper Life Stirs Passionate Mission Focus. Emphasis on holiness did not lead Alliance people to retreat from the world, but rather to engage the world in relevant ways to reach the culture of the time. As Elton Trueblood writes, “The Church is never true to itself when it is living for itself, for if it is chiefly concerned with saving its own life, it will lose it.” Simpson added on declaring, “the present generation must reach the present generation,” by bringing the church to the people, through street preaching, holding services in theatres and dance halls, and using popular, contemporary music styles of his time.
Deeper Life Stirs Compassionate Love for All. The Alliance reached out to the unreached and unchurched by every possible means. Simpson felt a burden to reach out to those who “felt themselves alienated from the formal church, but not from the Lord. . . . I left my church to form a church for the people of all classes based on absolute freedom.” Less than a decade after the Civil War, he broke down racial barriers, welcoming African Americans in his meetings. The early Alliance took ministry to the streets, ministering to prostitutes and the poor, and providing weekly healing services and healing homes for the sick and depressed.
Deeper Life Stirs Self-Sacrificial Generosity. Dying to ourselves and being filled with the Spirit stirs us to give generously and sacrificially. Without extravagant appeals for money, Alliance people gave their all spontaneously and voluntarily. It was not uncommon in early Alliance mission meetings to see watches and jewelry in the offering plates.
Catch the Vision!
People all around us today still need to experience “full salvation”—the deeper life in Christ—Jesus as Healer of their broken bodies, souls, minds, and hearts. Our message of Jesus as Sanctifier is needed more than ever in our self-centered generation for power to live victoriously over sin, Satan, and temptation. A fresh vision of Jesus as our Coming King stirs us to reach the world for Christ.
Let us, as a deeper life Alliance, be an oasis in the desert for the refreshing, thirst-quenching living water of Jesus, providing shade, shelter, and fruit to weary, hungry, and thirsty travelers. Of hope, help, and healing to the hurting.
This story is taken from the Fall 2018 Alliance Connection magazine. You can get a free copy of the Alliance Connection at Alliance churches across Canada or view the digital copy online. We hope you will be encouraged and inspired to go deeper in Jesus and as a result, further on mission.
Paul King is pastor of Arise Christian Fellowship in Lafayette, Indiana. He has a doctor of ministry degree as well as a doctor of theology degree. Paul is also an Alliance historian and theologian, conference speaker, and consultant. He is author of 11 books, including Come Up Higher, God’s Healing Arsenal, Genuine Gold, Creating a Healing Community, and more.