Reading 16.1

We Are Specialists*

Louis L. King

"This is an age of specialists," observed Dr. Simpson.

"Modern science and all our secular and industrial lines of activity are running more and more into particular departments and men are becoming experts not in some general branch of knowledge or industry, but in some particular detail....

"And so in Christian work the Lord gives 'to every man his work' and each of us has some divine calling if we have but the discernment of the Spirit to recognize it and the faithfulness to fulfill it."

Dr. Simpson then identified two imperative reasons for the formation of a new religious movement: "The Alliance has its place and calling to lead the people of God farther on into all the heights and depths of the life of Christ and farther out into all the aggressive work which the children of God have so long neglected....

"And so we learn to recognize Christ in all His members and see the good in all the movements of His providence and grace without becoming bigoted or narrow in our exclusive attachment to any single one.

"At the same time along with this larger charity," admonished the Alliance founder, "we need to know the standard under which we fight. recognize 'our own company,' and be true to the spiritual trust which God has assigned us."

Alliance history illustrates in detail the nature of "the special trust" cited above by our founder. The Alliance is a unique missionary denomination-a maverick movement into whose soul the Head of the Church breathed "Go!" from the very start.

The passage of a century has served to prove that the Alliance sense of being sent was not a mere stage of development or an enthusiasm that peaked early and faded fast. That century has been characterized among denominations in general by religious inertness, spiritual coldness, ever-widening rationalism and secular humanism. Yet the spirit of "Go!" remains at the center of Alliance thought and conduct.

It all began with a man and a few followers. A century later, their numbers have grown to over two million adherents. In 1985 alone, inclusive membership increased by nearly a quarter-million. Even larger numbers will follow, because the Alliance believes that no province or region or country should be exempted from the opportunity to hear the Gospel -- witnessing that intends to convert.

This is our special trust, and we will specialize in it.

However, limiting our reason for existence to missionary endeavor would not only distort Alliance history, it would threaten the dynamic of Alliance missions at the very source.

The record makes clear that Dr. Simpson and his associates first organized the Evangelical Christian Alliance. This fellowship of Christians united in their devotion to Jesus Christ and to the truths of Scripture that pointed to Him as the all-sufficient Lord. Afterward, they formed the Evangelical Missionary Alliance as the missions arm of that fellowship in faith.

They followed this sequence not because the Great Commission was of secondary importance, but because its fulfillment depended on Holy Spirit-filled individuals who supremely loved Jesus.

Our special trust to evangelize at home and abroad therefore finds its source and strength in a very personal imperative: to experience the truth we proclaim, truth that finds its complete expression and fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Dr. Simpson himself set for us that standard: "I felt I dare not hold any truth in God's Word as a mere theory or to teach others what I had not personally proved."

God has graciously given the Alliance a century marked by growth as a movement and by usefulness in extending His Kingdom.

We cannot take for granted that further increase and blessing will characterize the Alliance in its second century. These distinctions are earned, not inherited.

Let us therefore:

In sum, as we in The Christian and Missionary Alliance advance into our second century of service, let us purpose, by His grace, to be all for Jesus.

* "Epilogue," Robert L. Niklaus, John S. Sawin, Samuel J. Stoesz, All for Jesus, (Camp Hill [PA]: Christian Publications, 1986), pp251-253.