Angelus Temple became widely known for the evangelist's illustrated and dramatized Sunday night sermons. Was this not a resort to sensationalism? Some made such accusations. But Mrs. McPherson believed that the life-giving message of the Gospel would be made more understandable with a more durable impact if it was rendered visible as well as audible. Her reasoning was sound, for many people still remember clearly her illustrated sermons.
To understand the spirit and focus of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, it would help to read her sermon:
A sermon by Aimee Semple McPherson
Given at Angelus Temple, in Los Angeles, California
March 12, 1939
This morning, our subject: "This is my task." The song is familiar to most of us:
To love someone more dearly every day To help a wandering child to find his way To ponder o'er a noble thought and pray And smile when evening falls This is my task To follow truth as blind men long for light To do my best from dawn of day till night To keep my heart fixed in His holy sight To answer when He calls This is my task And then my Savior, by and by, to meet When faith hath made her task on earth complete And lay my homage at the Master's feet Within the jasper walls This crowns my task
The song has become one of those dear, familiar ones to our heart. But I would like to call your attention to several Scriptures this morning and "stir up your pure mind by way of remembrance" that you may serve and glorify the Lord.
Luke, the second chapter, 49th verse: "And Jesus said unto them, How is it that you sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" Bless the Lord.
Also, John the 4th chapter, 34th verse: "Jesus said unto them, my meat, the thing I live on - my meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work. Say not ye, there are four months and then cometh harvest. Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal," - you'll be paid! - "that both he and the sower, and the sower, and he that reapeth may rejoice together...I sent you to reap whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored and you will enter into their labors. 'My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish My work.'" This morning by no means do I feel that my work is finished. I feel it's just started. Never in my life have I felt stronger or clearer mind, keener vision, or filled with inspiration, with ten thousand and one things to do, than I am now!
In the world, you know, they use slang once and a while, and they say, "The world is my oyster." Well, I wouldn't put it that way. But the world is my little problem. "It just seems so big!" Some people say, "The world's a big place!" I never think of it that way - it sits in my hand, there - you could hold a ball. And my task, as I see it, is to interest you folks to help me, to help them, to join the line right around the whole world! Not only to help the heathen abroad, but to help the heathen in Los Angeles. In America, too. By God's grace, if we can see our task and join hands and get together, we can spread the gospel around the world.
It's for your good! You have no business being sick - everyone of you should get well and get up and go to work, huh? Get up and go to work and earn some money and help send the gospel out! Amen! If these dear students, bless their hearts, are called to struggle and strive and pinch pennies and make their way through school and go out and lay down their lives for Christ, then certainly it's no harder to ask us to get a good job and work at it, and not give a tenth, but give the whole business, except just what we need to keep ourselves alive. That's what they'll be doing out there - what's the difference? Am I right or wrong? I believe that I am! "Wist ye not I must be about my Father's business?!" THIS IS MY TASK!!
What is my task? To get the gospel around the world in the shortest possible time to every man and woman and boy and girl!
You say, "Well, Sister, you won't make much headway in Tibet, I'm afraid - that's kind of a closed country yet." Well, I don't know ...by God's grace we're gonna back a short-wave radio station right up against their border and shoot her over - and get the men there to pick it up and to amplify it. I never saw any one of those people in those countries who didn't like to hear a phonograph, to play over and over and over and over and over, or like to hear a radio. You say, "Well, maybe the government won't let you!" Well, how 'bout letting the government broadcast the weather report and the things they want to do certain hours and then we have certain hours. I think there's a way that anything can be done. Oh - I just feel my task this morning!
Remember that funny little ol' song?
If you've any mountains to be clumb If you've any oceans to be swum Uh, count on me!
I feel that way this morning! With God, I can do all things! But with God and you, and the people who you can interest, by the grace of God, we're gonna cover the world!
You say, "Well, Sister dear, we're looking for Jesus to come." I know we are. "But how long is this going to take?" It shouldn't take long. These are days when you can go around the world in less than a week in an aeroplane. These are days when we listen by radio. Did you happen to be awake last night? I just couldn't sleep - I had to listen to, at least, an hour or so of that broadcast from Rome. I thought it was so interesting, when the new Pope was being put in office. That was this morning. It was certainly impressive. I have never been brought up a Catholic - I mean, a Roman Catholic - we're all Catholics, aren't we? We're Protestant Catholics, whether we're from Methodist or Baptist or what. But I couldn't help being impressed with that ceremony. Especially the part where they set him aside and put oil on his hands and anointed him. They gave him the communion. I said, "Well, my, from now on when I ordain my young people, I'd love to see their elders anoint their hands with oil, that they may go out and lay hands on others. I believe that many of the early Catholic traditions are handed down from apostolic days, don't you, before the days of Martin Luther. Take the Lord's Supper that they may go - give it to others. We do not agree that there's just one mediator between God and man, and that's the Pope. We don't agree with that at all. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Mediator of all. But we cannot help but admire, the respect that is paid to the Lord Jesus. Certainly in this day we're out to preach Christ. But to hear that coming over, and I thought, "My.......!" They described how the people cheered, and they said the nuns even took their handkerchiefs and waved and cheered and clapped as the cardinals went by, leading the Pope.
I thought, "My, won't it be wonderful when our High Priest, Jesus Christ, comes back again." Oh, if we do our task! I'll tell you, even you stiff-folks might bend and wave our handkerchiefs that day, when the Lord comes back. Amen?! Glory be to God!
I was so interested (in this radio program). I awakened the young lady at our house and I said, "Listen to this!" When Joanne came, it came to the part about the nuns even waving their hands and the people all cheering, I told of an experience of mine in Illinois where we were in a Foursquare church that had just been opened and the power was falling. Right next door to us was a convent. The sisters became so interested in the shouting and people praising the Lord, that they came over to see what it was all about. They had such sweet faces - in these black and white headgear. People had been falling under the power of God! Just going down under God's power all around. Do you know, that God's power struck them and they went down just the same way! Under the power of God! By and by, the Mother Superior came in to see what had happened to their daughters, and the power of God struck her. Why, we're all the same! I mean, we all have a heart, we all have tears, we all have sins, we all need a Savior, we all need the blood, and every one of us can work for Jesus. Whether we go across the ocean or whether we stay at home, this is our task. Lord, make us soul-winners, every one of us.
Yes! Glory to God! Rise - do the will of Him that sent you. Sleep no longer. Quench not the Spirit, but let the love of God be spread abroad upon all the face of the earth. For the days are short and the work is so great. Let the Word of God be preached in simplicity and power and Christ be exalted. Everyone say Amen! Let's all lift our hands. All over the building - everybody - say, "Lord, send the Word around the world! Lord, send the Word around the world! That is the desire of our heart!"
What is my task? First of all, my task is to be pleasing to Christ. To be empty of self and be filled with Himself. To be filled with the Holy Spirit; to be led by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, students, you could put into words for me, could you, "I'll be somewhere working, for my Lord." Will you do it? Will you sing it right now? For the radio audience and the recording.
(The congregation sang and clapped to the following song)
I'll be somewhere working, I'll be somewhere working, I'll be somewhere working for my Lord! (repeat) When He calls me, I will answer, When He calls me, I will answer, When He calls me, I will answer, I'll be somewhere working for my Lord....everybody singing: I'll be somewhere working, I'll be somewhere working, I'll be somewhere working for my Lord! (repeat)
Oh, to be filled with the Spirit means to be filled with a burning desire to see other men and women saved, and to carry the gospel around the whole world. There are so many people who could - but they won't.
I heard a story this week of a man who wanted a gardener. He advertised and his friend sent a beautiful recommendation concerning a certain man and he said, "He's just a wonderful gardener!" He said, "He's capable of planting a kitchen garden. He's capable of nursing bulbs and bringing them up to fruition. He has the infinite patience of a gardener. He's able to put in a formal garden, and old-fashioned garden." The man began to say, "My that's just the man I want!" He came to the end of the page, turned it over and there were just three words there: "But he won't."
This man could do it, but he wouldn't. My, how many people are here that could pray in that Prayer Tower, but they won't? They could fill the last row in the choir, but they won't! They'd rather sit out there and see. They could be in the illustrated sermons, but they won't. They could be an usher, but they won't. They could fill-up the orchestra, but they won't. They could join the new club I'm talking about, "I Am Sending," but they won't. You say, "What is that club?" It's to pay $35.00 every six months or even one semester; to pay the tuition of a student through school, but they won't. They could draw from the bank if they had to - a good many people could do that - and buy one short-wave radio station, and say, "Sister, go to it! If you have this, this desire in your heart, God bless you and, more power behind you and prayers." But they won't.
He's a wonderful gardener. He can plant a kitchen garden, he can plant a formal garden, he can plant an old-fashioned garden, but he won't. Let us be the different kind and say, "He will!" Maybe we can't do it as grand as that man would do, but we will, hallelujah! Maybe we're not as oratorical as some, but we will. Maybe we haven't as strong a body to out to the foreign land with gospel, but we will. Friends, it means a great deal to be willing, doesn't it? Glory to God!
You all remember, perhaps, the story of a little girl who some time ago discovered a broken rail on a certain railroad track. She had wits enough about her to run to a telephone and call the superintendent, or rather I should say, the man at the depot. And he said, "Little girl, the train's already passed the station ... stop it some way!" She never thought to argue. She said, "I'm little, but I'll do my best." She ran so fast and she waved her apron so hard, that the train stopped, and every life was saved.
This is my task.
It isn't how important you are and what great knowledge you have - it's a willingness to do it. To let God fill your life. Amen!
In the old-fashioned day of the stagecoach, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, a man was very much amused when the cabby asked him whether he wished to ride 1st class, 2nd class, or 3rd class. And he said, "Well, I'll ride 1st class." He paid the money. And when he got in, he was rather interested. He looked around and he discovered that they all sat in the same place. He wondered, "Why the difference of a few pennies?" But he noticed when they came to the stiff climb that the cabby put on the brakes. He said: "All 1st class passengers, keep your seats. Second class passengers, get out and walk! Third class passengers, get out and push!"
Praise the Lord! We may not be all 1st class bankers and lawyers and millionaires; but we certainly can get out and push! Amen! Let's encourage each one that is here for the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is my task. Let us be workers, not shirkers. I must finish my task.
A certain judge sitting on the bench of the eastern states some time ago had brought before him a man who had been arrested for gambling. As most culprits, the man denied vociferously his guilt. He put up quite a good story. He said, "I'll have you know I'm a silkweaver from Patterson. And I've a good job, I'm a silkweaver." The judge simply said, "Show me your hands." The man showed his hands and the judge said, thumping his gavel, "Thirty days!"
Show me your hands. My brother, my sister, we sing: "If you live right, heaven belongs to you." But, I believe that if we're living right; that entails working for Jesus Christ. Either going with the gospel, or paying the way for someone else to go! Either preaching, or making it possible for someone else to preach! But we mustn't muzzle the ox, you know, that treadeth out the corn.
Jesus is coming soon! Jesus is so exquisitely glorious! Salvation is so real and so to be desired. It must be had. The whole success or failure of these last few days depends on you, and God help me, upon me.
Adam had a task; to dress a garden and keep it. I'm sorry to tell you, he failed. And the whole world has always heard a man who failed. It doesn't matter very much how rich one dies, or how poor. The big thing is what you did when you were here. Did you do your task?
Noah had a job. His task, do you remember? (It) was to build the ark. He built it. Men bless him to this day.
Moses had a task. Go now to Exodus 3:9 and 10. "Go therefore." He was going to bring out all these multitudes of the children of Israel. And he did it.
Nehemiah had a task. The second chapter (of the book of Nehemiah), 5th to the 18th verse. He was sent to rebuild the walls. He was just a little man. He had just a little donkey to ride on. And no one even believed him at first. But he was so in earnest about the whole business, he kept shouting, "This is my task!" People began to believe him. They pitched in and helped him.
Friends, I know - as God is my Judge, that I don't amount to anything in myself. I know I'm just a girl from the farm. But I know as sure as God ever called anyone, God's called me and God's put it on my soul, you're to see the Foursquare Gospel go around the world. Do you say, "Do you mean, you're a denomination?" Not especially. I mean: Savior, Baptizer, Healer and Coming King. The preaching of the whole Word of the Living God!
You say, "Well, I like to identify with Him, but I'm one of these free-lancers, you know. I don't believe much in church organization." Well, I never did either and I don't blame you one bit. The only thing is, when you have a hundred and eight mission stations, such as we have, you have to have some organization or someone's going to go hungry. It's a necessity. The best thing to do is to have as little organization as possible, and let the Spirit have His way. And yet, send out the gospel quickly!
I notice those who don't believe in uniting with a church or organization. I notice ya'll use electric lights - that's organized! If it wasn't, you'd be electrocuted. I know Dr. Knight's always warning me, "Don't put your hands on the microphone!" It does something or other to the people listening in, it spoils the reception. Now, just a few minutes ago I was reminded of it. I don't know whether he realized it. I took a hold of the microphone and of my electric light here at the same time. I felt a little shock! Not very strong, but a little one. And I haven't put my hands on it since. I think it's a good way to break me of it. My Lord, put our task on us so that we'll feel a shock of the Spirit of God going through us! I know God has called me to send His gospel out and He wants you to help me. And we're going to do it. Why, this world's a little bit of a place.
Nehemiah finished his task; they went all the way around that wall. Why can't I go all the way around the world? With your help, and the Foursquare Gospel?!
A very famous Salvation Army lady went to India when a loved one died. "I must go on with my task....Booth Tucker?" Mrs. Booth Tucker, who when death had come in the family and they said, "Oh, but you must take your time of mourning!" She said, "I am mourning. We all do when loved ones die, but I must go out and go on with my task."
Friends, this thing's bigger than I am! It's bigger than my family! It's bigger than you are. It's the world for God! I don't belong to anybody. I belong to Him. And because I belong to Him, I belong to everybody. You belong to me because you belong to Him, and if we Christians would ever get organized and join hands here, and stop punching each other, saying "Well, I don't like the way so-and-so does their hair, or I don't like the way they tie their shoelaces, "we'd begin to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and get out and go on with the work, Glory to God! We can win the world for the Lord Jesus!
Martin Luther and Gutenberg, the printer, had a task. To print the Bible. Hid it away in bales of tea and cotton and smuggled it into England. They did it. True, people were burned at the stake for it - that was their task. It was brought to the attention of the king - you don't matter! Foxe's Book of Martyrs is well worth reading. Oh, it always gives me the shivers though when I read it. How those men stood there and were burned at the stake. But that's why we have the Bible I'm using today, to the King James Version; this was their task.
Like the little girl with her apron on, "I'm awful little, but I'll do my best." If you'll just get out there and run fast enough and wave your apron hard enough, you can do the work. Everybody said, "Amen!"
Mark 16:15 (says), "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!" And if you're ushers, orderly, prayer tower, band, teachers, employees, members - get your uniforms on! Oh, let's all shine where we are!
This is my task! And by His grace, we'll get the gospel clear around the world!
You say, "Sister, it seems to me that you've bitten off a pretty big task there. You and who else can do all this?" God and you and I.