A Trumpet Call
Dr. John G. Lake
March 22, 1905
The 13th Chapter of Acts tells us the story of the ordination and sending forth of the apostle Paul, his ordination to the apostleship. Paul never writes of himself as an apostle until after the 13th chapter of Acts. He had been an evangelist and teacher for thirteen years when the 13th of Acts was written, and the ordination took place that is recorded there. Men who have a real call are not afraid of apprenticeships.
There is a growing up in experience in the ministry. When Paul started out in the ministry he was definitely called of God and was assured of God through Ananias that it would not be an easy service but a terrific one: for God said to Ananias:
“Arise and go into the street which is called Straight,
and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul
of Tarnum for, behold, he prayeth; He is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my Name before the Gentiles,
and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show
him how great things he must suffer for my Name's sake.”
That is what Jesus Christ, the crucified and glorified Son of God told Ananias to say to the Apostle Paul. He was not going to live in a holy ecstasy and wear a beautiful halo, and have a heavenly time and ride in a limousine. He was going to have a drastic tine, a desperate struggle, a terrific experience. And no' man in Biblical history ever had more dreadful things to endure than the Apostle Paul. He gives a list in his letter to the Corinthians of the things he had endured.
“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save
one. Thrice I was beaten with rods. Once was he
stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day
have I been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils
of waters, in perils of robbers, in. perils by mine own
countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the
city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in
perils among false brethren. In weariness and painfulness,
in watchings often, in hunger and thirst in fastings often,
in cold and nakedness.”
They stripped him of his clothing, and the executioner lashed him with an awful scourge, until bleeding, lacerated, and broken, he fell helpless, and unconscious and insensible; then they doused him with a bucket of salt water to keep the maggots off, and threw him into a cell to recover.
That was the price of apostleship. That was the price of the call of God and His service. But God said, "bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). He qualified as God's messenger.
Beloved, we have lost the character of consecration here manifested. God is trying to restore it in our day. He has not been able to make much progress with the average preacher on that line.
Do you want to know why God poured out His Spirit in South Africa like He did nowhere else in the world? There was a reason. This example will illustrate.
We had 125 men out on the field at one time. We were a very young institution; were not known in the world. South Africa is 7,000 miles from any European country. It is 10,000 miles by way of England to the United States.
Our finances got so low under the awful assault we were compelled to endure, that there came a time I could not even mail to those workers at the end of the month a $10 bill. It got so I could not send them $2.
The situation was desperate. What was I to do? Under these circumstances I did not want to take the responsibility of leaving men and their families on the frontier without real knowledge of what the conditions were.
Some of us at headquarters sold our clothes in some cases, sold certain pieces of furniture out of the house, sold anything we could sell, to bring those 125 workers off the field for a conference.
One night in the progress of the conference I was invited by a committee to leave the room for a minute or two. The conference wanted to have a word by themselves.
When I came back in I found that they had rearranged the chairs in an oval, with a little table at one end, and on the table was the bread and the wine.
Old Father Van de Wall, speaking for the company said, "Brother Lake, during your absence we have come to a conclusion; we have made our decision. We want you to serve the Lord's Supper. We are going back to our fields. We are going back if we have to walk back. We are going back if we have to starve. We are going back if our wives die. We are going back if our children die. We are going back if we die ourselves. We have but one request. If we die, we want you to come and bury us."
The next year I buried twelve men, sixteen wives and nine children. In my judgment not one of the twelve, if they had had a few of things a white man needs to eat but what might have lived. Friends, when you want to find out why the power of God came down from heaven in South Africa like it never came down before since the times of the apostles, there is your answer.
Jesus Christ put the spirit of martyrdom in the ministry. Jesus instituted his ministry with a pledge unto death. When He was with the disciples on the last night He took the cup, “when He drank, saying.” Beloved, the SAYING was the significant thing. It was Jesus Christ's pledge to the twelve who stood with Him, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Then He said, “Drink ye all of it.”
Friends, those who were there and drank to that pledge, of Jesus Christ, entered into the same covenant and purpose that He did. That is what all pledges mean. Men have pledged themselves in the wine cup from time immemorial. Generals have pledged their armies unto death. It has been a custom in the race. Jesus Christ sanctified it to the church forever, bless God.
“My blood in the New Testament.” “Drink ye all of it.” Let us become one. Let us become one in our purpose to die for the world. Your blood and Mine, together. “My blood in the New Testament.” It is my demand from you. It is your high privilege.
Dear friends, there is not an authentic history that can tell us whether any one of them died, a natural death. We know that at least nine of them were martyrs, possibly all. Peter died on a cross, James was beheaded, for Thomas they did not even wait to make a cross - they nailed him to an olive tree. John was sentenced to be executed at Ephesus by putting him in a cauldron of boiling oil. God delivered him, and his executioners refused to repeat the operation, and he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. John thought so little about it that he never even tells of the incident. He says, “I was in the Isle called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” That was explanation enough. He had committed himself to Jesus Christ for life or death.
Friends, the group of missionaries that followed me went without food, and went without clothes, and once when one of my preachers was sunstruck, and had wandered away, I tracked him by the blood marks of his feet. Another time I was hunting for one of my missionaries, a young Englishman, 22 years of age. He had come from a line of Church of England preachers for five hundred years. When I arrived at the native village the old native chief said, “He is not here. He went over the mountains, and you know him, he is a white man and he has not learned to walk barefooted.”
That is the kind of consecration that established Pentecost in South Africa. That is the reason we have a hundred thousand native Christians in South Africa. That is the reason we have 1250 native preachers. That is the reason we have 350 white churches in South Africa. That is the reason that today we are the most rapid growing church in South Africa.
I am not persuading you, dear friends, by holding out a hope that the way is going to be easy. I am calling you in the Name of. Jesus Christ, you dear ones who expect to be ordained to the Gospel of Jesus Christ tonight, take the route that Jesus took, the route the apostles took, the route that the early church took, the victory route, whether by life or death. Historians declare, “The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.” Beloved, that is what the difficulty is in our day - we have so little seed. The church needs more martyr blood.
If I were pledging men and women to the Gospel of the Son of God, as I am endeavouring to do tonight, it would not be to have a nice church and harmonious surroundings, and a sweet do nothing time. I would invite them to be ready to die. That was the spirit of early Methodism. John Wesley established a heroic call. He demanded every preacher to be “ready to pray, ready to preach, ready to die.” That is always the spirit of Christianity. When there is any other spirit that comes into the church, it is not the spirit of Christianity. It is a foreign spirit. It is a sissified substitute.
I lived on corn meal mush many a period with my family, and we did not growl, and I preached to thousands of people, not coloured people, but white people. My missionaries were on the field existing on corn meal mush, I could not eat pie. My heart was joined to them. That is the reason we never had splits in our work in South Africa. One country where Pentecost never split. The split business began to develop years afterward, when pumpkin pie eating Pentecostal missionaries began infesting the country. Men who are ready to die for the Son of God do not split. They do not holler the first time they get the stomach ache. Bud Robinson tells a story of himself. He went to preach in the southern mountains. It was the first time in his life that no one invited him to go home and eat with them. So he slept on the floor, and the next night, and the next night. After five days and five nights had passed, and his stomach began to growl for food terribly, every once in a while he would stop and say, “Lay down, you brute” and he went on with his sermon. That is what won. That is what will win every time. That is what we need today. We need men who are willing to get off the highway. When I started to preach the gospel I walked twenty miles on Sunday morning to my service and walked home twenty miles in the night when I got through. I did it for years for Jesus and souls.
In early Methodism an old local preacher would start Saturday and walk all night, and then walk all night Sunday night to get back to his work. It was the common custom. Peter Cartwright preached for sixty dollars per year and baptized ten thousand converts.
Friends, we talk about consecration, and we preach about consecration, but that is the kind of consecration that my heart is asking for tonight. That is the kind of consecration that will get answers from heaven. That is the kind God will honour. That is the consecration to which I would pledge Pentecost. I would strip Pentecost of its frills and follies. Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost, calls us tonight not to an earthly mansion and a ten thousand dollar motor car, but to put our lives, body and soul and spirit, on the altar of service, All hail! Ye who are ready to die for Christ and this glorious Pentecostal Gospel. We salute you. You are brothers with us and with your Lord.