Major Ian Thomas – The Crucial Self-Discovery


From The Saving Life of Christ:

The only ultimate source of divine activity in all spiritual life is God Himself – “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). The Church is so slow to learn. It admires and seeks to emulate the example of the mighty but so seldom takes the trouble “to turn aside and see” the reason why. You read the lives of men like Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Dwight L. Moody, A.B. Simpson – men whose lives have made spiritual history. You would like to be like them and do the things they did, and yet maybe you have never taken the trouble to find out why it was they were what they were, nor how it was they did what they did! Instead, you mobilize your own resources and seek to emulate the example they set, and are constantly buffeted by a sense of frustration because of your hopeless failure in the endeavor.

As some have sought to introduce you to the principles that
made these men what they were, and enabled them to do what they did, you have been impatient, and said, “Don’t interfere! I’m too busy trying to be like them, and I don’t have time to listen to you!” Now is that not stupid? Why was Hudson Taylor what he was, and how could he do what he did? Why was A.B. Simpson what he was, and how could he do what he did? Were they God’s favorites? Of course they were not! They were simply men who had qualified in the school of failure and despair. They were men who came to the end of themselves and discovered that what they were apart from God was nothing!

Moses began by being a failure! That was the school from which he qualified! Abraham began by being a failure! That was the school from which he qualified! Jacob was a hopeless failure! David was a hopeless failure! Elijah was a hopeless failure! Isaiah was a hopeless failure and “a man of unclean lips,” but it is in the school of destitution – the bitter school of self-discovery – that finally you graduate into usefulness, when at last you finally discover the total bankruptcy of what you are apart from what God is! These men made this discovery, and were blessed.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


  1. Mike

    I think it was Tozier who said something to the effect that “God has yet to use a man greatly , that he has not first wounded greatly.” (paraphrase) We want to be like these men without the wounds.
    The deal is that we can’t be like them at all because we can’t experience their wounds in the same way that they did. We can only deal with our own, and “become” as Christ is forming Himself in us.

    Thanks Ron for introducing me to Major Ian Thomas. I’ve listened to a couple of his sermons. I especially like his take on faith.


  2. Mark

    What a great reminder today. Ron this reminds me of Francis Schaeffer’s series of sermons entitled “no little people” about our commonality and yet our individuality as creatures before the Creator. kind of like C.S. lewis’ whole “you never interact with a mere mortal”.

    So often i’ve idealized my heroes of the faith instead of seeing them as merely arrows pointing to God. In a day and age when we tend to worship famous Christians, whether they be famous pastors or popular writers, this serves as a great reminder that we all must build our foundation on Christ or else we will fall prey to the temptation on either side of this problem: either we will become despondent and hopeless, or we will bask in our own glory. With Christ as our foundation, we are able to stand firm between these two extremes.

    thanks for posting this ron

  3. Kal Larmi

    Hello; I was just visiting your clutch hutch and Wow there are people that when “A Saint has to walk alone?” they can identify with. It is lonely out here in Pendleton Oregon but youse guys have brought Day Light into my life. Yiou will see by Mmy choice of domain names that I have been for 20 some years now, from 51 years of age to 71 years of age a student of the Way. I have been in the School of Christ which Paul instituted in the person of the mystery of God Christ as His Way. The major and I, along with T. Austin-Sparks “The Stewardship of the Mystery” and Chip Brogden “The School of Christ”, James Fowler “Not the stages guy” but “The Way to avoid the ditches” one, Oswald Chambers “The Servant as His Master” and of course my “Steward of the mystic secret of God, Christ the Way” Aiden Tozer. I would take up the whole blasted “the half has not been told, but only Christ is my all sufficient One in Whom I am in as my all in all. It is as simple “the simplicity and purity that is in Christ” as that. in Christ Kal Larmi, opps and for Lanyap I’ll add one of my all time “beside C. S. Lewis” over the waters person is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones especially his “Union with Christ” opus his “Ephesians” series that takes us into the heavenlies where we are currently seated already perfect but not yet perfection or as holy as He is holy but we are getting there as in Phillipians to II Timothy.

  4. Kevin Beasley

    Have you ever read this quote from the forward of Classic Christianity by Bob George. It is by Major Ian Thomas. It’s one of my all-time favorite quotes and I’m thankful you recognized his book here!

    There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!

    Kevin Beasley

  5. Ron Block



    Bob George’s book was a great help to me in the early nineties.

    That’s where most of us live for years; some never escape it; not living in the Power. The church for so long has focused on “We’re such sinners” that she is missing out on the real Facts – that we are saints, holy, one spirit with the Lord, kings, priests, overcomers, all because Christ within us is our Overcomer. We speak of “the not yet.” But the Bible says we are complete in Him, holy, having everything we need for life and godliness. Many of God’s people haven’t even gotten over beating themselves up for their past sins, and that self-condemnation, independence, and self-effort keep them in a sub-Christian state. C.S. Lewis said, “Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as he does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has – by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

    But there many of us sit. “We’re such sinners. Awful. Lord, I did it again. Forgive me.” And we think going forward and “rededicating our lives to Christ” is going to do the job. The only thing that will do the job is to move into faith, which sees the promises, grabs hold of them, relies on them as the only Reality, and takes action in that reliance.

  6. Kal Larmi

    Hello; How many ways to be __________ [Please an estimate now before doing a Google search] answers do you think are posited for the Irreligious and Religious among us today by “us as Pogo” would count? Approx. 10 million. With most of them saying that the skys the limit on the poosibilities. Having been tracking these and having sibligs such as that have some radical alternatives available “some one” shoulda coulda woulda oughta to stand up and really do something rather than “along with, in conjuntion with” blog. You cluthch hutchers have the answer to all of the ways to be searchers with “the Way to be-guide”. Do it now while you all have the visabilty and stage. in Christ, From a voice crying from out of the wilderness “Make His Way straight “Paul I appoint you as my ambassador to tell everyone about Me in you” to Aquila Priscilla Apollos and the Timothy’s among us”. Genesis 18:19 to Acts 18:25 OT to more accuratly explained in 18:26 as God’s mystic mystery Christ in yoyu your hope of glory. See you around in the spirit of oneness and unity the “Ephesian Moment” hutch.

  7. Kal Larmi

    How challenging is a force of mental exertion. The angel of light and elusive evidence stumbles, so the infected theologian makes amends for the right hand. Then, ultimately, the mother defined by Jesus surges forth unsurely, tilting against matriarchal kinunity like Mary the Virgin competing with a perennial pollutant. If Mary the Virgin rants and raves, then some ponderous blatherer conquers. An hefty confession inexorably condemns them. The reason is that a prayer buys an expensive unction for you, that the Lord help you in the bewilderment of your thoughts. Thee and thy Lord trade metaphorical blows with a treacherous prophet of sin, for who else would punish in your ouvertly sinful world? Why would anyone imagine you cry in shame knowingly? Yet still thou wilt cry!

    No more, I beg you.

    So you see “eido” know from Ephesians 1:18 and my calling riches and power that have by faith (the receptivity if all of His activity for me ECT.)
    My own Personal union with Christ motto is: FIAT WIBU
    I am busy being about my Fathers bussiness elsewhere” responding to the Dr M D McGee’s Saviour Shirley’s Wayne Dyers AND MY SISTER REVEREND KAREN A. BOWEN AND THREE OTHERS [fellow and I do say this reservedly] tHE ABOVE POP Psycholgist and my sister shared the stage re cently and were pictured with each other on a flyer of the powers of this world. dr m d mcgee is the most vocal with his comments such as his last above. He has publicaly called Brother Author Matt Perman a liar ans such.

  8. Kal Larmi

    “Praise the glory of his grace.” Yes I was rebirthed [as I was birthed as a perfect specimen in Adam] as a perfect specimen in Christ Ron already as in Christ chosen “from before the foundation of the world” and already have gone on God’s straight Way [a straight line drawn for eternity past to eternity future] to being with Him to being raised and now seated with Him and now reigning with Him while hidden in Christ in God waiting [of all of the “from the foundation of the world things to be rebirthed (as we all in the hutch were] anew by Him who is making all things new and summing them up now as we speak in Christ Eph.1:10] the not yet manifestation of Him and me. Being baptized at eight days then confirmed at 13 I in effect have never been down in the irruption declension (but like Eve and Adam I have been lied to by you know who into believing that parties line into thinking that and acting as if it were true until the baptism of the Holy Spirit into Christ occured and I was able to reckon it as true of me in Christ) but always already eternally heavenly in union with Christ by God’s Eternal Ultimate Intention which is my life connection with
    “The Way in New Testament”, Anglican Edition NRSV.
    My anacoluthic explications of my left stroked brain.

  9. Ben Haley

    Thanks for introducing me to Major Ian Thomas. I just got ‘The Indwelling Life of Christ’ and I am enjoying it. These are lessons I’ve heard before and I know God is pounding them in my head- that He is God and that I cannot do anything without Him.

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