People know this pictured spiritual leader as A.B. Simpson, especially those who associate themselves with a Christian denomination called the Christian & Missionary Alliance. But, before that he was simply a young man named Albert. And Albert was one who exemplified The Empowered Life.
Albert was born in Canada in 1843. He was raised in a strict religious tradition, and was converted to Christ under the ministry of a visiting evangelist from Ireland when he was a teenager. Physically frail as a child, he wasn’t exactly the ideal picture of someone who would be thrive in ministry. But he was determined as he prepared for the ministry. He had his first pastoral appointment in Ontario, and by age 30 he had settled in the United States as the pastor of the largest Presbyterian church at the time.
As a Canadian, he played a major role in healing the divisions in the church that resulted from the U.S. Civil War.
But despite his success, Albert grew frustrated by the lack of commitment from his congregation for worldwide ministry. The cry of unreached sheep deeply burdened him. The more he attempted to urge the congregation, the more they resisted. He grew very weary and discouraged.
Power of Christ
During this time, Albert began to realize how little of the power of Christ was exhibited in his life and service. One night, not long after the close of revival meetings where he was preaching, he had a thorough dealing with the Lord in prayer. That night he experienced the Lord’s work on the cross. He also saw a revelation of the all-sufficiency of Christ. The One who had justified him was also willing to sanctify him through the Holy Spirit. Now he had the motivation to live, as he described it, “a consecrated, crucified, and Christ-devoted life.”
A few years later he would move to New York City where he immediately began reaching out to the world with the gospel. However, because he continued to struggle with the wealthy people of his congregation when he tried to open their hearts to the needs of the masses, he also continued to labor intensely.
This laboring took its toll, so much so that one physician told him frankly that his days were numbered. Naturally, he became depressed as a result of this news. While away for a period of rest, he visited a service where he listened to a simple Negro spiritual and his heart was “strangely lifted up.” He felt some partial restoration, but he was still not well and walked around as a tired old man, though he was only 37.
He came to the point that he knew he could not continue his life on his own strength. He had come to an end of himself. Faced with his own fraility, Albert began searching through the Scriptures and became convinced that healing was indeed part of the accomplished work of Christ on the cross and that it should be part of the gospel for a sinful and suffering world. But he was not satisfied with the doctrine alone; he wanted the experience. After some time of prayer, the Lord visited Albert in his sick condition, healed his body, and saved him from an early grave. His healing changed the direction of his entire ministry. For the rest of his life he preached divine healing, but always preached healing in the context of the greater truths of salvation and fullness of the Holy Spirit.
When he was only 38 years old when he began an independent gospel ministry to the many new immigrants and neglected masses of New York City. This ministry would eventually become The Christian and Missionary Alliance, a society fully devoted to experiencing the “deeper life” in Christ and completing the Great Commission. Albert Benjamin Simpson and the C&MA became known for the Fourfold Gospel: Christ our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.
A.B. Simpson promoted the empowered life. He believed that Jesus, through the empowering, sanctifying Spirit, is able to do for us what we are not able to do for ourselves. Simpson believed that the unsuccessful struggle against sin and the lack of power in life and ministry occurred because people asked Jesus to be their Savior, but not their Sanctifier. The sanctifying work of Christ and the Holy Spirit is necessary in a believer’s life. For those who neither understand nor allow for the Spirit’s control in their lives, tends to results in an increased struggle with sin, a lack of power in life and ministry, and a lack of joy in the walk with Christ.
He believed that because many Christians have been badly taught, or because they have chosen to disregard the teachings of the New Testament regarding sanctification, they are missing much of what God has made available to every believer in Christ. The believer who forsakes the flesh and allows the Spirit’s infilling will experience deliverance from the power of sin and will enjoy an abundant, empowered life.
When you hear Albert’s story, how do you see him demonstrating the Empowered Life?