At the second SVM conference held in 1894 in Detroit 1082 attended. Great missionaries such as the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor of the Chinese Inland Mission delivered addresses. During the meeting a cable from Robert Wilder was delivered and read aloud, saying simply, “India needs now one thousand Spirit-filled volunteers.” The challenge to obey the world mission command was certainly present. At the next conference in 1898, 1598 student delegates, visiting missionaries, various other delegates, and Wilder himself attended for a total of 2221. Wilder had been urged to come back to America and encourage the students. At the conference, Wilder gave a message entitled “Our Equipment of Power,” where he discussed the necessity of spiritual power to do the work of God. Wilder urged students to prove Christ is risen and living today by being Spirit-filled. He said, “The early Christians turned the world upside down because they themselves were first turned upside down by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Below is the transcript from that challenging message:
Four years ago at the time of the Detroit convention I was in India and God only knows how longingly we looked to that convention and how eagerly we prayed for more workers for India. A generation in India is not as long as a generation in this country for the average duration of life in India is only 24 years. But fellow students there was something that we longed for more than men and that was Spirit filled men. You do not know how eagerly the workers in India are praying that the power from on High may fall upon this convention.
My message to night is embraced in one word power. The Master had finished His work. The world was waiting for laborers but just before the disciples went forth to evangelize it. He said “Tarry ye, tarry ye” God wanted the intensive before the extensive. He wished to have the world within the hearts of His followers filled with the Holy Spirit before they should attempt to fill the world outside with the news of salvation. After one of our conventions on the Himalaya Mountains one of my friends said to me “I have heard much from man I long now to withdraw apart and meet my Master and get my bearings.” Fellow students we must now get our bearings! What has this convention meant to us? Have we received the power from on High? Are we going out to witness for Christ without this power? I remember what one of the volunteers in India said, “If a man is ill and I run for a physician and reach the doctor too late I am not to blame. But when I started to run if I knew there was a horse ready to take me faster than my feet could carry me and I deliberately ignored the horse and went on foot and came too late then I am to blame!” And he said to us missionaries I fear that much of my work in India has been on foot instead of on horseback has been in the energy of the flesh instead of in the power of the Holy Spirit! “Ye shall receive power”, said Christ “when the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be my witnesses.” Whenever men have tried to separate these two things they have failed. God says. First of all power then witness bearing! Whether we remain here or go to other countries God does not wish powerless witnesses. Oh that we might open our hearts before Him to night so that we may get a fresh enduement of power from on High God is no respecter of persons and every Christian is capable of leading a Spirit filled life. When I was in college I used to think that being born of the Spirit was required and being filled with the Spirit was optional But as we study God’s word we find that both are required and God expects us to be Spirit filled men and women.
David Brainerd the great missionary in speaking to his friends said, “Whatever else you fail of do not fail of the influences of the Holy Spirit that is the only way you can handle the consciences of men.” How eager He is to night to fill us to overflowing that rivers of living water may go forth from us to others. If we are thinking of the foreign field nothing less than rivers of living water will do. Have we the rivers or is it hard pumping? Is it difficult for us to speak for Christ or have we these rivers of living water in us so that it is impossible for us to keep still? This spake He of the Spirit which they that believed on Him were to receive for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. Thank God we are living to day in the dispensation of the Holy Ghost and it is possible for you and for me simply to reach out and take this gift of all gifts by faith. The methods of irrigation in India are very primitive two men and two bullocks work hard from early morn until late at night and accomplish very little. Now the British government is introducing irrigation canals and the great streams of water are flowing through those regions. There is no more occasion in those parts for the two men and the two bullocks. Possibly our lives in the past have been lives of self effort God grant that from henceforth we may be dead and that Christ’s life abundant may flow into us and through us as we work for Him.
What are the conditions? I wish to bring two before you. The first condition is letting go. How difficult it is to let go? Or as one of my friends says, “It is much easier to surrender, than to keep surrendered, to keep letting go!” One of my classmates in the theological seminary rose one day to speak to us. He appealed to the eye gate by drawing on the blackboard the picture of a man in a rowboat pulling vigorously at the oars. The boat was headed in the right direction but he made no progress for there was a rope binding the stern of the boat to the shore. Turning to us he said, “Fellows is there any rope binding us to the shore?” If so may God help us to cut it That man is now in Siam. May God help us to let go of everything and surrender our lives to Him.
The next thing is to take hold by faith I want to call your attention to the last clause of that verse to which Mr Meyer referred that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Just as we received the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation so we are to receive by simple faith the Spirit for sanctification and service. While passing through the Bed Sea a few months ago my cabin was very close I longed for the air to enter. The wind was pressing against every beam and eager to enter. What was the difficulty? The port hole was closed. When I opened the port in came the wind and all was sweet and pure. Tonight the Spirit of the living God is pressing against every heart. Shall we not throw our hearts open wide through faith and through faith shall we not take hold or rather let Him take hold? Power belongeth unto God “Ye shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”
Now one word about to morrow. A friend in the city of Calcutta said to me, “Since I have received an infilling of the Spirit of God I have been tempted more than ever before.” I replied Praise God for that is an evidence that you have received more of the Spirit for there is no man in this world that Satan is more eager to overthrow than a Spirit filled man. Every gun in his battery is brought to bear upon that man. After the Holy Spirit came upon our Lord in the river Jordan. He was led down into the wilderness to be tempted. It is always so. And if we have received more of the infilling of the Holy Spirit at this convention it means that Satan will tempt us as never before. But thanks be unto God He can keep us if we will keep looking up to Him constantly
The early Christians turned the world upside down because they themselves were first turned upside down by the power of the Holy Spirit! Are we turned upside down? Have our plans been yielded to God? Have our hearts been given up to Him? God grant that before we leave Cleveland we may be filled with the Holy Ghost and then we will see such results as we have never thought of before.
In closing, I want to call your attention to a verse in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles which I wish you would carry with you as a parting message. Acts ii 33 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost. He hath poured forth this which ye see and hear. What proof can we give to the world that Christ is living to day? They cannot see Him in heaven? What proof could Peter give that Christ was at the right hand of the Father? The proof found in the words. He hath poured forth this which ye see and hear. The strongest evidence that Jesus is risen and reigning is a Spirit filled Church! For His sake let us be filled with the Spirit so that those who look into our faces and read our lives may see that our Lord is living to day. When the cable was carried across the Atlantic the people on one side knew that it had reached the other because a message was flashed across the wire and when the Lord Jesus Christ was exalted the world knew that He had reached the Father’s right hand because He poured down the Holy Ghost! In Bengal an educated Hindu said of a Christian worker, “He has got something we see it in his face.”God grant that we may be so filled with Him that those who see us and live with us will realize that we have got something or rather that God has full possession of us.