Faithlife
Faithlife

Rediggin the Wells of AB Simpson

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 24 views
Notes & Transcripts

Redigging The Wells Of A. B. Simpson; Genesis 26: 1-6, 12-22

God Wants To Flood The World With Blessing Through The Christian And Missionary Alliance, And We Will Best Do That By Redigging The Wells Of Our Heritage. 

A.    Verse 1: There Was A Famine In The Land

  1. Verses 2, 3: Blessing Comes With Covenant Faithfulness
    1. A B Simpson Was Motivated By A Total Love For Jesus Christ
    2. A B Simpson Believed In The Total Sufficiency Of Christ For Every

Believer To Fulfill All God's Expectations (Fourfold Gospel)

    1. A B Simpson Valued Interdenominational Ministry

C.    Verses 4, 5: All The Nations Of The Earth Will Be Blessed As You Obey

      4. A B Simpson Centered His Ministry On Matthew 24:14: Total Commitment

To World Evangelization To Hasten Christ's Return

5.  A B Simpson Taught And Trained An "Army Of Irregulars" For Missions

6. A V Simpson Tried To Minimize Local Expenses To Fund The Work

                                                                

D.    Verses 12-14: We Sow And Reap Abundantly In The Land Of Our Spiritual Father

7.      A B Simpson Espoused A Holistic Gospel And Started Many Social Ministries

8.      A B Simpson Practiced Sacrificial Giving To Support The Missionaries

E.     Verse 15: People Of A Different Spiritual Heritage Have Stopped Up The Wells Of Our Father

9.      A B Simpson Wanted Minimal Organizational Centralization

10.  A B Simpson Encouraged A Loosely Organized Group Of Autonomous Churches

11.  A B Simpson Did Not Bar Women From Prominent Ministry Roles

F.     Verses 16, 17: Some People Are Afraid Of The Spiritual Power That Comes With Covenant Anointing

12.  A B Simpson Was Not Pneumaphobic. Cease Not; Compel Not

 

G.    Verses 18, 19: We Are Blessed As We Redig The Wells Of Our Father, For There We Find Living Water

13.  A B Simpson Believed In Holy Spirit Filling For Empowerment For Holiness And Ministry Effectiveness

14.  A B Simpson Motivated People About Missions Through State-Of-The-Art Media And Through Passionate Preaching About Missions.

H.    Verse 20-22: God Will Help Us Dig New Wells In Our Father's Land, Wells Of The City

15.  A B Simpson Wanted To Reach The Neglected Masses Of This Country


Redigging the Wells of A. B. Simpson; Genesis 26: 1-6, 12-22

God wants to flood the world with blessing through the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and we will best do that by redigging the wells of our heritage.

What does it mean to be a denomination with movement-like qualities?

Similarities to the days of Isaac:

1.      VERSE 1: THERE WAS A FAMINE IN THE LAND

Little question that there is a great famine in our land, a famine for hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11); People thirst for living water.  Not by any stretch of imagination can we be considered a Christian nation any longer. 

We have banished God from our public life. /wor days after 9/11Jane Clayton interviewed Ann Graham Lotz on the CBS Early Show : “If God is good, how could God let this happen?”  In other words, “Where was God on 9/11?” Ann: “Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, ‘God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business; we want you out of our marketplace.’ And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, removing His hand of blessing and protection.  We need to turn to God first of all and say, ‘God, we’re sorry we have treated you this way, and we invite you now to come into our national life.  We put our trust in you’.  We have our trust in God on our coins; we need to practice it.”

            There is a famine in the Alliance for the wells of AB Simpson.  Many of his values, beliefs, experiences and practices have been abandoned, and we are parched for the blessing the C&MA experienced under his leadership.  Maybe you think the wells of AB Simpson are out-moded and we should ignore them.  I disagree.  I believe the further we drift from our heritage, the further we drift from the Lord’s blessing.

2.      VERSES 2, 3: STAY IN THE LAND I COVENANTED WITH YOUR FATHER (BLESSING COMES WITH COVENANT FAITHFULNESS)

God gave Israel a mission to be a light to the nations, and he gave them a promised land from which to be the light.  Similarly, he gave A. B. Simpson a global vision, and had him center it in NYC.   Now don’t worry; I am not going to regale us for leaving NYC, but I do want to suggest that God wants us to stay connected with our heritage.  Perhaps there’s a spiritual principle at work here.  God owns the whole earth and has given it as a bridal gift to his son, an inheritance.  It has fallen into enemy hands and he is recovering it one people group at a time as we effectively achieve our Great Commission.  But he wants us to walk in the covenant blessing of our forefathers.

            We were a city-born, minority-focused, multi-denominational holiness movement.  Does that characterize us today?  Not long ago I spoke with an elderly man who has relatives in the Alliance and who has watched us for decades.  Without meaning to be nasty, he said to me, “The Alliance is becoming more like a cult now, isn’t it?”  I challenged him about this, and he clarified that he wasn’t referring to our doctrine, but to our rabid separatism and feverish denominationalism.  We may disagree with this diagnosis, but the fact that a sympathetic and thoughtful onlooker would observe this ought to cause us to wonder.

            What were some of the key components of our heritage that looked like a movement?

    1. A B Simpson Was Motivated By A Total Love For Jesus Christ #. A B Simpson Believed In The Total Sufficiency Of Christ For Every

Believer To Fulfill All God's Expectations (Fourfold Gospel)

    1. A B Simpson Valued Interdenominational Ministry  

3.      VERSES 4, 5: ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH WILL BE BLESSED AS YOU OBEY

            Certainly, we have followed both Christ’s commission and Simpson’s vision.  We have taken Simpson’s evangelistic  passion and circled the globe with a very effective missionary movement..  Since 1887, a movement has spread which Donald McGavran described as "without doubt the leading missionary society of the 20th century."[i]  Will it be that in the 21st century?  We could take hours to recount exciting, up-to-date tales of God’s work through the Alliance overseas and in this country.  I will let others lead the celebration.  I am looking down the road.  Today, though our USA church is quantitatively stronger than ever, we struggle to support a declining missionary force.  Our missionary candidate pool is the lowest it has been in decades, and financially, we are budget, and sometimes crisis driven, rather than being vision driven.  Have we as a movement lost our passion for the overseas work?   Certainly not the leaders, but what about the membership? 

4. A B Simpson Centered His Ministry On Matthew 24:14: Total Commitment

To World Evangelization To Hasten Christ's Return

5.  A B Simpson Taught And Trained An "Army Of Irregulars" For Missions

6. A B Simpson Tried To Minimize Local Expenses To Fund The Work Overseas

  1. VERSES 12-14: WE SOW AND REAP ABUNDANTLY IN THE LAND OF OUR SPIRITUAL FATHER             The year was 1879. "A young Presbyterian clergyman, well aware of the world he lived in, realized that his future lay not in Louisville, Kentucky, despite his impact on that gracious city of southern refinement.  Only one place answered to the dimensions of the vision growing clearer to him: abrasive, explosive and progressive New York City."[ii]   That vision was to reach the world from what was already becoming the cultural capital of the world.  He stirred the hearts of thousands to be impassioned about global evangelism, and we are his children.  But we need to recall an oft-neglected fact about our spiritual father.

            While Simpson's arms reached around the world, his heart continued to beat in the city. Orphanages, soup kitchens, healing homes, hospices for unwed mothers, missions for the homeless, ethnic language services, and havens for women of the streets were as important to AB Simpson as the tabernacle ministry and overseas missions.  His alliance of ministries occupied such venues as the South Street Mission, the Berachah Orphanage, the Twenty Third Street Armory, the Caledonian Club, the Academy of Music Hall, the Steinway Hall, the Abbey Park Theater, the Grand Opera Hall, the Hippodrome, as well as the Gospel Tabernacle.          

7.  A B Simpson Espoused A Holistic Gospel And Started Many Social Ministries

8.  A B Simpson Practiced Sacrificial Giving To Support The Missionaries

5.      VERSE 15: PEOPLE OF A DIFFERENT SPIRITUAL HERITAGE HAVE STOPPED UP THE WELLS OF OUR FATHER

Many of Dr. Simpson’s spiritual children have chosen a different vision than the one that drew him into covenant with God.  Some have moved away from his view of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the life of the church.  Some have sacrificed the mysteries of the four-fold gospel for a more respectable, denominationalized creed.  Some have denigrated his appreciation for women and minorities in ministry.  Some have accepted a dumbed-down version of higher education.

While the Alliance should always, in the spirit of A. B. Simpson, welcome people from other spiritual traditions, we should not be persuaded to conform to the doctrinal baggage they bring with them.  Some of them, frankly, have stopped up the wells of missionary passion and Spirit-filled living that are important parts of our heritage.  We must redig these wells and insist that to be Alliance means drinking from these wells, not plugging them up.

9.      A B Simpson Wanted Minimal Organizational Centralization

10.  A B Simpson Encouraged A Loosely Organized Group Of Autonomous Churches

11.  A B Simpson Did Not Bar Women From Prominent Ministry Roles

6.      VERSES 16, 17: SOME PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF THE SPIRITUAL POWER THAT COMES WITH COVENANT ANOINTING

The reason some of the wells of A. B. Simpson have been stopped up is that many people, even in the Alliance, have become pneuma-phobic.  Because we have seen excesses of spiritual gifts and manifestations in some communities we have urged our people toward an unholy caution in their pursuit of God.  One of the chapter titles in Nienkirken’s book, The Influence of S. B. Simpson on the Pentecostal Church, says a lot: “A Seeking Founder in a Seek Not Denomination.”  A. B. Simpson was a spiritual Caleb until the day he died.  He always wanted more of God.  He would not settle for a lukewarm, respectable spirituality.  The “seek not, better not” mentality that rules in much of our church was clearly not his theology.  The C&MA with its holiness tradition was a Spirit church; after Simpson died in 1919 we became a Word church.  (cf Doug Banister’s The Word and Power Church). We were the one denomination that had the opportunity to be the bridge between evangelicals and charismatics in the 60’s and 70’s, but we forsook our pneumatic heritage.  No wonder we see so little healing, hear so little authoritative word, express such anemic worship and lack apostolic, pioneering missionary power.  We have reduced the wind of the Spirit to a gentle breeze to comfort us rather than a scirocco, a raging wind that carries us into the heavenlies. 

I am very encouraged about the spiritual fervor of Generation X.  They have the radical devotion of our founder, and they will get the job done.  But will the Alliance be on the bench when they are pressing the attack in the red zone?  Can we contain their new wine?  Would we rather be respectable than radical?  Sad to say, I’m not sure the X Gen are seeing in the Alliance a movement they want to join.  Our colleges and seminary have double the enrollment they had a decade ago, but we have fewer candidates.  Why?  Blame it on the administrations, if you like, but there are deeper reasons than that.  Like Esau, we may have forsaken our inheritance, and the young people are not impressed with our pot of stew. Is there a way back?  Yes, but we need to be a Word and Spirit church.  This is no longer an evangelical / charismatic issue.  It’s about a dynamically balanced New Testament church.

12.  A B Simpson Was Not Pneumaphobic. Cease Not; Compel Not

 

7.      VERSES 18, 19: WE ARE BLESSED AS WE REDIG THE WELLS OF OUR FATHER, FOR THERE WE FIND LIVING WATER

When we redig the wells of A. B. Simpson, bringing together his heart and mind, we become re-energized in both the church and the academy.  When Jesus offered living water from Jacob’s well to a woman from Samaria, he told her, You worship what you do not know; we worship that which we know…an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4: 22, 23).  Spirit and truth must come together in authentic worship and Christian living.  Strangely, while the spirit focus of the Alliance has dwindled, we have not rigorously championed the mind.  We are in a lukewarm zone.

Besides becoming pneumaphobic, are we not also eduphobic?  With many other evangelicals, we are very ambivalent about higher education.  There is a famine for knowledge in conservative circles.  Mark Noll – “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”  Many Christians are mistrustful of education, but God has always used learned people to advance his Kingdom.  E.g. Moses among the Egyptians, Daniel among the Babylonian, Medes and Persians, and Paul among the Greeks.  We must disciple the nations, and therefore we must impact the culture-shaping industries of our world: Arts, sciences, finance, government, communications, education, international relations, as well as religion.

            In the past century in America there has been a decline of the learned clergy in favor of the revivalist. Today in the USA, and perhaps the rest of the western world, the Church is weak and shallow and often superficial.  Is this because we lack devotional fervor?  No; it's because we lack theological depth.  We are stuck at a Sunday School faith level.  The preaching decline in our country is the scourge of the church because the pew seldom rises above the pulpit. We must learn to embrace both evangelical theology and theological evangelism.  Paul is a great example of this as he argued with people about theological convictions so that many were persuaded.  It's interesting that, although twelve men walked with Jesus for three years, for the most part, God did not choose them to be cross-cultural apostles.  Their education was deeply devotional but not culturally broad.

            God chose Paul with his cosmopolitan, multi-cultural education and experience to be the apostle to the Gentiles.  Today the world needs Christian witnesses who have a deep devotional knowledge of God and a broad knowledge of God's world and the ways of the world.  Only as we deploy Christians with both deep devotion to Christ and broad understanding of classical or technological knowledge will the church be doing its work effectively.

13.  A B Simpson believed in Holy Spirit filling for empowerment for holiness and ministry effectiveness

14.  A B Simpson motivated people about missions through state-of-the-art media and through passionate preaching about missions.

8.      VERSES 20-22: GOD WILL HELP US DIG NEW WELLS IN OUR FATHER'S LAND, WELLS OF THE CITY (Rehoboth)

Sometimes people who have not dug our father’s wells will quarrel for them. Esek = Contention; Sitna = Enmity.  Many people of the world seem to appreciate the work of our fathers more than we do.  And they may even steal them!  So many of Dr. Simpson’s social ministries that rightly should be done by the church are now in the hands of civil and government agencies.  Even the property he built and dedicated to the Lord are in commercial hands.  The former Gospel Tabernacle on Eighth Avenue and 44th Street is now John’s Pizzeria.  At least there is still an Italian flavor to that place.  But is that what God wants?  Does he want us to abandon the wells of ministry to a secular people?  Does he want us to flee the secular world to dig wells that will bless only ourselves?  Isaac, to his credit, allowed Abraham’s wells to bring blessing, even to the Philistines, and then he dug new wells close by, so the pagans could see that the blessing came from God, not the wells.

 

15. A B Simpson wanted to reach the neglected masses of this country

We all know what that means in our day.  Shall we continue to plant churches and invest our resources in the affluent suburbs of America? Or shall we go where it is dirty, scary, needy and unappreciated, the cities of our nation?  Do we want to be a respectable denomination, or a radical movement?  I know what the X Geners are going to do.  Will they do it with us or without us?  Can old wineskins be lubricated and softened with enough oil?  I remember as a boy how every spring I would get out my baseball mitt, unwrap the rope that tied it tightly together with a ball in the pocket, and then oil it up to soften it up so it would do the job.  Can these dry skins live again?  Let’s pray—no, let’s plead for a fresh oily Holy Ghost anointing on the C&MA, starting with us in this room.


----

[i]. Robert Niklaus, To All Peoples, (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1987), p. ix.

[ii].  Niklaus, Sawin, Stoesz, All For Jesus (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1987), p. 32.

RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →