This revelation—holy, just, and true--
Though oft I read, it seems forever new;
While light from heaven upon its pages rest,
I feel its power, and with it I am blessed.
Henceforth, I take thee as my future guide,
Let naught from thee my youthful heart divide.
And then, if late or early death be mine,
All will be well, since I, O Lord, am Thine!
This insightful poem was penned by Phoebe Worrall, age eleven, on the inner page of her bible. Phoebe, born in 1807 to a devout Methodist family, experienced a problem faced by many Christians today. She was under the false belief that an intense emotional experience was required for or accompanied the act of salvation. The belief in an emotional connection to one's salvation has led many unbelievers to falsely assume they were saved simply because they had felt guilty and shed tears over their sins, without truly embracing the Savior. Emotion has also led many Christians to be unsure of their salvation for lack of "feeling" saved. Even the great evangelist Billy Graham knew not to trust emotion as the sign of genuine salvation, which he learned from watching many people come forward in his crusades, only to discover later they emotion was not connected to genuine repentance or faith in Christ.
Phoebe never felt like a Christian as a child, although she grew up in a Christian environment and had known and believed in the Lord since birth. She later married Walter Palmer, and two of their children died only months after birth. Phoebe wrongly concluded God was somehow punishing for her lack of faith and devotion to Him, because she could never "feel" the way other Christians described feeling salvation. As you can imagine, this led her into a very dark spiritual time.
Thankfully, Phoebe's spiritual crisis ended when she had the realization that she didn't need "joyous emotion" to believe. She discovered the biblical truth that the simple act of believing was the foundation for salvation. The verse that changed Phoebe's mind was Matthew 23:19, "Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?" While many overlook the implications in this verse, Phoebe received rhema from it. She realized the Bible taught whatever was placed on the altar was sanctified not by the act placing it there, or anything a person did. It was the work of God, upon whose altar the item was placed, to sanctify the item on the alter. This spiritual revelation helped Phoebe realize that her life committed to Jesus was sanctified not by her doing (keeping a list of do's and don'ts to follow) but by her surrender to the Lord, who was and is perfectly able to sanctify her by His power. As a result, she no longer needed a sign to validate her faith in Jesus.
Phoebe Palmer understood other believers were struggling in their faith in a similar way she once had. So she took her biblical revelation and applied it to John Wesley's Methodist perfectionist's movement, dividing it into a three step process.
1. Consecrate your life to God.
2. Believe God will sanctify what was consecrated to Him.
3. Tell others about it.
As a result of her three step process, Phoebe began holding prayer meetings, which eventually grew beyond measure. She was an active supporter of many Christian causes, including the first inner-city mission in America, located in New York City. Phoebe also inspired many other women of faith to trust God and step out in faith, like Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army. Phoebe went on to author the book, The Way of Holiness, which was a foundation in the Holiness Movement. The Holiness Christian movement believed upon salvation believers were cleansed from the power of sin and through sanctification could lead a life without committing willful sin. Whether the movement was entirely right or wrong, it impacted the way many believers thought and inspired new denominations like the Salvation Army, the Nazarene Church, the Church of God, and many Pentecostals.
More importantly, Phoebe's teaching that neither salvation nor sanctification are validated by emotion is relevant for believers today. While it is powerful to experience emotion, the Word of the Lord is not changed by it. Phoebe often said, "Earnest prayers, long fasting, and burning tears may seem befitting, but cannot move the heart of infinite love to a greater willingness to save."
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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