Apart from A.W. Tozer, the great influence in my life from “Old Dead Guys” has been A.B. Simpson, the founder of The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). I have read everything I can get my hands on of his writings, even scouring old Alliance magazines for his unpublished articles and editorials. Simpson has been my portal to the Higher Christian Life. Simpson founded The Alliance, not as a denomination, but as a Higher Life movement emphasizing what he called the “Fourfold Gospel”—Jesus Christ as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.
As a Presbyterian pastor, Simpson read the book The Higher Christian Life, published by another Presbyterian pastor, William Boardman in 1858, and it transformed his life, as it did mine as well. I ended up writing a book on it entitled Come Up Higher: Rediscovering Throne Life—The Highest Christian Life for the 21st Century. One of my mentors, Darlene Kipling, has dubbed me as “The Apostle of the Higher Life.”
Through Boardman’s book Simpson experienced the sanctifying baptism in the Spirit to empower and make holy, and then later the healing power of God. What is this Higher Life? Very simply, it is the message of Philippians 3:10-14, my life Scripture, that God is calling us ever higher in pursuit of Him—more of Jesus Christ, more of His resurrection power, more dying to self in order to experience resurrection life—and more! To Simpson, the baptism in the Spirit is “God’s elevator” to the Higher Christian Life.
Simpson’s writings, many of which are out of print today, are filled with messages calling us ever higher, books like The Larger Christian Life, The Supernatural, Land of Promise, The Highest Christian Life, Days of Heaven on Earth, In Heavenly Places, Danger Lines in the Deeper Life, The Self Life or the Christ Life, The Holy Spirit: Power from on High, his entire 6 volume Christ in the Bible series, and so many more.
His books The Gospel of Healing, The Lord for the Body, The Life of Prayer, and Seeing the Invisible, have mentored me in faith and experiencing God’s healing power in my personal life and family.
Of course, just as with Tozer, and for that matter, every mentor in my life, living or an old dead guy, Simpson had his weaknesses, mistakes, and things with which I would disagree. I have deep weaknesses too; many, many mistakes, and I sometimes even disagree with myself. We are all pots of clay. Yet Simpson and Tozer have had the most positive and lasting impact on my life.
Nearly a year ago, I was having lunch with two of my mentors, Bob Petty, now Alliance Midwest District Superintendent, and his wife MaryK, and I was sharing with them about the richness and depth of Simpson’s writings that most people don’t know because so many of his works are out of print. They challenged me, even commissioned me as it were, to devote this next season of my life to mentoring others in the writings of Simpson and that higher and deeper life message. That is my calling.
Christ is calling us all to that ever Higher Life in Him. That is what Christmas is all about—That we might know Jesus more and more and all of the heights and depths to which Jesus would take us in His Presence. That is my prayer for you this Christmas. Let your prayer be, “More, Lord!”