Under the ministry of Billy Graham in April, 1955, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Two years later I received my call to the ministry. During the months that followed my “born again” experience, the Lord nurtured me through Bible Studies, youth prayer meetings, Youth for Christ meetings, and other special events, e.g. the Keswick Convention, Torchbearers, and the Evangelization Society meetings. I had the privilege of hearing such preachers as Stephen Olford, Alan Redpath, J. Edwin Orr, just to name a few. During those days the terms “abundant life,” and the “deeper life” were commonly used.
God continued to impact my life through Moorlands Bible College and later, four years at Spurgeon’s Theological College, London, England, prepared me for the ministry that God had called me to. During the past 41 years there have been several times when one has had to lay everything on the altar and say, “Lord, I want to be where you want me to be and not where I wish to be. I want your will to be done, not mine.” Repeatedly I had to walk by faith. There have been situations, personal and ministry related, where all I could do was to yield myself totally to the Lord. I believe it was Graham Scroggie who said: “In some peoples lives Jesus is present; in other lives He is prominent, but still in other lives, He is preeminent.” We all must allow Jesus to be preeminent in our lives!
What it comes down to is, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” As the saying goes, “I can’t, He never said I could; He can, He always said He would.” The abundant life, the victorious life, the exchanged life, is the Spirit-filled life. It is a life that is consumed with Jesus! We have a plaque in our home which reads: “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” How very true!
In the last church I served as Senior Pastor for sixteen years, I recall having some burnout around the twelfth year. I was preaching at both morning services, teaching a Pastor’s Class in between and preaching again in the evening. However, there were other pressures in my life that compounded the challenges. Trying to deal with personnel issues added to my discomfort. I was getting worn down and this was becoming noticeable to others so much so that one day a brother in the Lord asked me to visit him at his office. We went into a conference room and he said, “Write this down: ‘Roy Fisher is a person of worth.'” I wept! He understood what was happening to me. I had to come to a fresh realization as to who I was in Christ, my identity with Him, and that He was my life, sufficiency. In Him I had acceptance, security and significance. It was His ministry through me that mattered. He had called me in the first place! The importance of spending time in His presence and being renewed in every way possible was the key. One important truth, among others, is that what I allowed to happen to me was no one else’s responsibility. It was my own.
After sixteen years, God led me to conclude my ministry there and I had to rest in His sufficiency. God confirmed that decision, one of the hardest of my life, and proved His faithfulness as I surrendered to the cross and His will for my life. Dr. Charles Solomon’s book, Handbook to Happiness and the conference my wife and I attended in the mid 70s, really helped me to piece things together, more clearly, through the exchanged life. In John 3:36, Jesus said: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The Spirit-controlled life always reflects the Spirit. It means that our character, conduct, and conversation will be affected because of our surrendered relationship to Christ. Christ becomes our all in all, our very life! It is His life that we are to appropriate by faith. His victory becomes our victory … by faith.
As we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, He will enable us to walk in victory. The Holy Spirit is wanting to make effective in our lives what God has done for us through Christ. This was often put to the test over the years in the different churches where I served as Senior Pastor. Beloved, it is His ministry! We are but channels of His love, grace, and peace. And sometimes all we can do is to “encourage ourselves in the Lord.” It is a daily walk of faith.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:31, said, “I die daily.” If we “abide” in Christ, we will “abound” in Him! Paul writes in Romans 6:11: “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” It is “at the cross” that we lay our burdens down. It is “at the cross” that we experience the reality of our Lord’s cleansing and renewal. It is “at the cross” where our burdens roll away. It is “at the cross” where we begin to walk in Christ’s victory over the world, the flesh, the devil.
I love this question from the leaflet, Living to Die or Dying to Live: “Are you willing to die to all that you are so that you can live in all that He is?” That’s it! It was Jim Elliott who said: “Are you prepared to give up all that you are so that you may receive all that He is?” As you may recall, Jim and four other missionaries were martyred for their faith in Christ in the mid fifties in Ecuador.
Experiencing the victory that is ours in Christ enables us to smile at the storm. No matter what you are facing or going through, make that total commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, by faith, and leave the results up to God. As one dear pastor said many years ago–a statement I have never forgotten– “True success is pleasing God.” That’s it!
Dr. W. Roy Fisher
Associate Pastor/Pastoral Care
First Baptist Church of Naples
3000 Orange Blossom Drive
Naples, FL 34109