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A Farewell Message

A Farewell Message poster

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.” —Acts 13:2

I come this morning, I am sure, with a surprise, in a sense, to this audience.

For some little time before I left on my trip around the world, there was a discussion as to what my future relationship to The Moody Church should be. At that time I handed in my resignation and then left for the trip.

Since I have returned, I have been much in prayer, as has the Committee, about my relationship to the church, and I come, after fasting and prayer and after, I am sure, being filled with the Holy Ghost, to preach to you this morning my farewell sermon as Pastor of The Moody Church.

This second verse of the thirteenth chapter of the Acts is my text: “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”

When I came to the city of Chicago, I came led of the Holy Ghost. I had been with the Lord and been filled with the Holy Spirit for about two years. Ten years ago in the city of New York after a day or a morning and a part of the afternoon spent with a business organization in a directors’ meeting, I walked out on the streets of New York hungry in my spirit, not in my body; poor, not in my purse, but in my spirit, walking in rationalism and materialism that had fastened upon me by the terrible, awful stuff that is being dished out in the colleges of our day.

Not knowing where to turn, not knowing even how to take hold of the rudder of faith and steer in the way of truth, the Holy Ghost, that afternoon, spoke to me as He had spoken to me as a young man, as a boy preacher, and after all those years of backsliding, after all those years of hypocrisy, after all those years of darkness and delusion, God, by the Holy Ghost, led me into my little room in New York City, and for three days and nights definitely and wonderfully dealt with my heart.

At that time I was not known to anybody; I did not care to be known to anybody, I only cared to be filled with His Spirit and to know God. At 4:30 the third morning, thank God, the heavens opened and God filled me with the Holy Ghost, and O the joy and the splendor and the glory that it has been to be filled with the Holy Ghost, to have the warm, sweet, tender presence of the Comforter abiding in my heart.

I am sure it was one of the surprises of their life when my family, my wife and children and relatives, found out that God had come upon me, and that I had forsaken all and cut every shore line and stepped out on the streets of New York to preach. I went up and down the streets preaching. Then I started West.

In the city of Harrisburg I met a man who was connected with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. At that time I knew nothing of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, nor did I know a man on Earth, who believed in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, nor had I ever read a book by any one on that subject; but in that little upper room God plainly showed it to me.

Of course, I was foolish, but I walked out thinking I was the only one who had this doctrine. I started out to preach it not knowing whether it was acceptable in the church or not.

When I came to Harrisburg, I was invited to speak at the Y.M.C.A. The Secretary said, “Do you know Dr. Scofield?” “No.” “Do you know Dr. Simpson?” “No.” “Don’t you know any premillennialists?” I replied, “I never dubbed men by that name. That is a new one to me, but I believe in the return of the Lord.” He said, “So do I.” I said, “Actually?” He said, “Sure.”

I preached that afternoon on the return of the Lord and found a great company of people who believed it. I was something like the old prophet, I had to have the veil pulled back, and I found there were thousands who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

When they found out that I was going on to Pittsburgh, the Alliance Superintendent said, I want you to meet a friend of mine, Mr. Whiteside. I said, “Does he live in Pittsburgh? If he does, I do not want to meet him, for I never intend to stay in Pittsburgh. There is not money enough to keep me there. I am just going through and then wash the dirt off my face when I get on the other side.”

He said, “Well, take this letter anyhow. You might get your leg broke and have to stay, then you would like to know somebody in the city.” I said, “Very well.”

(Mr. Rader went to Pittsburgh and met Mr. Whiteside and for two years labored under his direction. When Mr. Rader went into Mr. Whiteside’s church, Mr. Whiteside was in the Sunday school room, so he sat down in the back seat to wait for him.)

Mr. Rader went on to say:

I sat in the back seat as Mr. Whiteside came from the Sunday School room, and the Holy Ghost witnessed that that was my place right there. I put my head on the back of the seat, and the tears ran down my eyes, and I said: “O God, you could not ask me to do anything harder in the world than to ask me to stay in Pittsburg. You know the condition of my wife.” (She had tuberculosis trouble.)

I got steady a bit, and before long I lifted my head and the tears dried and the Holy Ghost was singing in my bosom, ‘Prisons will palaces prove, if Jesus will dwell with me there.

I walked up at the close of the service and handed the letter to Mr. Whiteside. He said, “Come over to the house.” I went over, and we had a little talk in the parlor.

He said, “Don’t you want to preach tonight in my pulpit?”

I replied, “I don’t want to bother anybody in a pulpit. I believe some peculiar things, and I don’t want to bother your pulpit.”

“What do you believe?” he asked. “Do you believe in salvation?” “Yes,” and I passed that examination.

“Do you believe in sanctification and the fullness of the Holy Spirit?” “Yes,” and I passed that examination.

“But,” I said, “that is not enough. I believe Jesus is just the same today as before He went away. I believe He heals people just like He used to. I have seen it in the Scriptures, and I do not want to go into your pulpit and make a mess. Only yesterday or the day before, back here in a town on the railroad, a woman was wonderfully healed as I prayed. I am nothing in myself, but I have a miraculous Christ, and I want to be free to preach Him, therefore, I do not want to bother in your pulpit.”

He said, “Brother, we believe it, and beside that we practice it the whole time.”

There is a great difference between teaching and preaching and practicing. It is one thing to go to a service where they are praying for the sick and another thing to take Jesus as your healer.

“Yes,” he says, “we believe it and practice it.”

Then I felt at home on that ground. “But,” I said, “I have another strange idea. I believe that Jesus is going to return in bodily shape as King of the Jews; as King of kings and Lord of lords, that He is coming back to Earth to reign.”

“Hallelujah,” he said, “you have passed a perfect examination. We believe that, too. Where did you get this fourfold Gospel?”

“I found it in my little room as the Holy Spirit opened the Bible to me.”

“Do you know anything about the Christian and Missionary Alliance?”

“I never heard about it. Is that what you are?”

“Yes, that is our message, and you have our message.”

I went on a trip to Toronto, and, as I came back, I stopped at the falls. During the night the ceaseless roar of the falls caused me to dream the most terrible dream. When I awoke I was broken out with perspiration. The falls seemed to be running and roaring, and I shall never forget the awfulness of that dream. Instead of water drops and tons of water, it was millions upon millions of dying men and women going over those falls.

After an awful night of prayer and agony my spirit was not relieved the least bit from this awful agonizing picture of millions of men and women who had never had a chance to hear the Gospel of Jesus, over in China and India and Africa, who were going down into a Christless grave, and I lifted my hands to heaven and said, “Lord, I do not know how. Lead me out and use my poor life in whatever I can do to get the Gospel to the uttermost part of the earth. Oh, do it by Thy grace.”

With the missionary vision He gave me in that hour, I went back to Pittsburgh with a resolution in my heart, and a go in my heart and in my feet, and with the blessing of God upon me I began to move out.

Finally I came to Chicago under a committee of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and we rented a church on the West Side, and I preached there.

While there on the West Side I came to The Moody Church to meet Dr. Simpson, who had written me at St. Paul, and who was here at the Moody Bible Institute and the church for ten days. He had written, saying he wanted to see me. On Sunday morning I went over to The Moody Church where I was introduced to Mr. Woolley.

During the opening part of the service, Mr. Woolley spoke to Dr. Simpson and said, “Is your friend a layman or a preacher?”

Dr. Simpson replied, “He is a preacher.” So Mr. Woolley asked me to lead in prayer.

I arose and led in prayer, and as soon as I stepped down, Mr. Woolley stepped over and said, “Will you preach for us next Sunday morning?”

“I have no engagement for next Sunday morning,” I said, “and I will preach for you in The Moody Church.” I can remember the sermon I preached. It was on the first chapter of Ephesians,—“The Two Inheritances,” the one we have in Him and the one He has in us. Then I went back to the revival services on the West Side.

I said one day, “I must go over to The Moody Church and pay my respects because of the letter they sent me and the check.” So I came over on Wednesday. I went in and sat in the back part of the lecture room, and pretty soon Mr. Brailey, one of the young elders, who has since passed into glory, came and sat down and said, “What are you doing here?”

I said, “Is it any offense?”

“No, only I was just surprised.”

Then somebody else slapped me on the shoulder and said, “What are you doing here?”

Finally, four men had lined up on the back seats though it was a women’s meeting. We sat there until the end, when I went into the office and met Mr. Nicholson and the Committee, and the Committee told me why they were surprised. They had just come from a committee meeting where they had decided to ask me to take a ten days’ meeting over Christmas and the week of prayer at the close of the Nicholson meetings. That was why they were surprised to see me in the seat. I prayed about it, and God made His wonderful provision for us to come to The Moody Church.

We could not stop at the end of ten days, but the meetings kept on going and going until on the 6th day of February, 1914, I was called to be pastor of The Moody Church. Three months before that time, not a single member of The Moody Church knew me or had ever heard of me or known anybody who knew me. I came here a stranger. God took me by the nape of the neck and set me down here.

As I came, I came with the message of the Alliance that God had give me independent of them. I came as their worker and representative, and Dr. Simpson introduced me to The Moody Church, and these years have passed on in lovely, glorious salvation and the blessing of God, for which we praise Him, has been upon us.

But year after year, God had been using me in the Alliance conventions, and you who have been at our Missionary rallies, know where my heart has been. Since Dr. Simpson began to weaken, I have had to carry much of the burden of this great missionary program for the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and I dare to take this humble people and go with them, with this people whose leader has fallen, this blessed man with a vision and a message.

I would be less than a man; I would not be worthy of the name of a man, if I allowed those 350 missionaries on sixteen great mission fields of Earth, whom God has thrust out, to be brought back. These fields reach from the roof of the world up to the borders of Afghanistan; into the Sudan and the Congo; Guatemala, Central and South America and China. I would be less than a man if I did not rush to the rescue.

It has not been an easy task to take up that leadership, but God has laid the burden on me.

Friends, I can say with all lowliness of heart, I love every one of you, and I love this church like I love my life, but there is nothing I love so much as I do the men and women in heathen lands who have never had the chance to hear the Gospel, and I must give myself without reserve, with all there is in me, with all the power I have to the movement of which God has made me President, that the ends of the earth may hear of Jesus Christ.

God has sent me around the world, and I thank this church for the part they had in my trip. Because of the money which you gave, I was enabled to open up two Bible schools which had been closed and help in other ways. But I have come back like a man from a funeral. My heart has been broken and sad because of the pictures which I have seen of the dying millions and an empty world without Jesus Christ. There is a hunger and a Holy Ghost throb in my heart this morning to do all that is in my power to organize and get behind this organization, and, by the power of the Holy Ghost, do all I can to get thousands of young men missionaries to go and thousands of dollars to send them out. To this I must give myself.

As they ministered to the Lord, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.

I have been fasting and waiting and laying the case before God, and saying, “Speak, Lord, like you spoke when you spoke to Barnabas and Saul, like Thou hast always spoken”; and I feel that I cannot do otherwise than give myself to this work which the Lord has laid on my heart.

I love this place. I have given my life’s blood here; I have preached here night after night, and, as I look into your faces, there are a multitude here that I have led to Christ. It is like saying “good-bye” to my own family. I would love so to keep on with the work; but, for the sake of others, for the sake of those who have not heard, I dare to leave; I dare to step out, not knowing anything about the future, not caring about it, for He who has led thus far will still lead on in His power, and I dare step out and throw myself with all there is in me into this movement that the Gospel might be carried speedily to the ends of the earth to bring Jesus back. I want HIM back.

Oh, the squalor, and the vice and the awful conditions of nations in the war zones of Earth, where Bolshevism and anarchy, wickedness and wrath reign! And there is only one cure, and that is to get HIM back. And there is nothing that will get Him back like getting the Gospel out to every last man and woman.

I must be true to the vision God has given me; I must give myself to it. I thank God that He has spoken this week. After seeking Him in prayer and fasting, after putting in every problem, every decision, every promise and need for future days; every problem and every promise for you and the work here, God has called me forth, and I am sure it is the Holy Spirit who says, “Go.” I must go. It is a missionary call.

Now, friends, God will be with you and lead you as you go on with this work that He has given you—this great Sunday school with these large organized classes with the missionary spirit, the young people’s society, the glorious Mission on the corner, this great lot and Tabernacle where men of God have learned to come, where Dr. Evans is more at home than in any other pulpit in America, where Dr. Torrey and other men like him have come,—Dr. Riley and Griffith-Thomas, and men like these. Speakers with a message have filled this pulpit. It has not been dominated by one pastor. It has been open to the truth of God as these men of God see it.

With this great objective, with this great vision before you, with the history that is back of this church, there is no way for you to go but forward,—forward into salvation, forward into the work that God has called you to and shall keep calling you to. God Himself will raise up a man, and you need not fear whether it be months or days—God Himself will get a man for this place. This old ship has had storms and has rocked from side to side, but, thank God, the old compass has always worked and has always pointed true, always toward the poor, always toward salvation for the men and women of Earth, thank God. He may put another pilot on. While you are waiting, you pray. God has some man. He picked me out of the gutter and washed me off and put me in, and He has another rat like that that He can pick up and put in. God knows what to do—wait in prayer until the Holy Ghost shall speak.

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me, Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them.

Although I am going away, in all probability I shall preach as much as ever in this pulpit. This pulpit is open, and I thank God for it.

I thank God for these years. The only reason for going back over the past is to show you that I have not wabbled in my course, that I have not varied.

One thing I know, and that is that I have wanted from this pulpit, through these years to lift up Christ before you as the One who is sufficient for every last need you have. I have tried to do that by the power of  the Holy Ghost. You may forget me, but remember Christ, who is able to save to the uttermost and to sanctify and fill the heart of the believer with the Holy Ghost and heal men and women like He did in the days gone by, and that He is coming again. Oh, what a place for a church with such a message. May God help you and keep you true to the message that you have espoused through these years.

(Abridged from stenographic notes—not revised by Mr. Rader).