On Making Saints

by James L. Snyder

Something has nearly disappeared from public view in our society and few seem to have noticed the passing. I refer to old-fashioned saints. They were more visible in a former generation. (They can't be entirely gone, for the church would no longer genuinely be the Lord's church without them.)

Many people thought them a bit peculiar, but they were visible spiritual pillars of the Lord's work in their day. They were the "God-intoxicated souls," to use the language of that generation. They walked with God and had such rapport with Him that they needed nothing exterior for support.

With the fading from view of these saints, other things have disappeared. An obvious thing, at least for the person who reads Christian biographies, is the absence of spiritual power in the church today. Saints of a bygone generation evidenced power in their daily lives and carried an aura of God's presence wherever they went. They unleashed spiritual energy through prayer. God's ear seemed bent in their direction.

Contemporary church leaders have exchanged this power for slick strategy, modern technology, and polished promotion. Today's emphasis is on hatching programs instead of breeding saints.

Few activities depend heavily on the Holy Spirit these days. We have become so sophisticated that He is not necessary in our ministries. Instead, the emphasis is on education, strategy, and marketing. As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:5, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." The saints of a former generation relied on the Holy Spirit. This was their most distinctive characteristic.

Today, much of church leadership relies on the power of human personality and persuasion to do what only the Holy Spirit can truly do. Power, zeal, and ambition have replaced the gentle afflatus of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the grieved Holy Spirit has slowly veiled Himself. Few have noticed, and fewer still seem to care.

A sure sign of the neglect of the Holy Spirit among today's Christians is in contemporary evangelism methods. When any one method is slavishly duplicated you can be certain God is not in it. The Spirit-led saint of the past initiated things; he never imitated.

In one of his books, E. M. Bounds makes this comment: "The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men: men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer."

If we learn anything from the public ministry of our Lord, it is that He was not a slave to strategy but relied on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in everything. Our Lord never relied solely on methods to do the work of the ministry.

Our crowds are bigger and the offerings larger. However, the spiritual influence of our generation is almost nothing compared with the influence saints of the past had in their generation. It is about time that a few concerned Christians became interested in making saints—saints like George Mueller, who fed and clothed thousands of orphans daily through prayer; J. Hudson Taylor, who penetrated the interior of China with the gospel; and D. L. Moody, who motivated the church to evangelism not only in this country but England as well. Their power in prayer and evangelism is desperately needed to rescue today's church.

James L. Snyder is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals. His book, In Pursuit of God: the Life of A. W. Tozer, won Christianity Today's Reader's Choice Award in 1992. Through thirty years of ministry, he and his wife, Martha, have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. You can visit his Website at www.godspenman.com.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad