Born in 1914 within the city of London, Ian Thomas dedicated his life to the service of the Lord as a child. At age 19, Ian became a “windmill of activity … every moment of [his] day was packed tight with doing things: preaching, talking, counseling” with passionate desire to win souls for Christ. But he found the more he did, the more energy he expended, the less happened.He states: “I became deeply depressed, because I really loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart; I wanted to be made a blessing to my fellow men. But I discovered that forever doubling and redoubling my efforts in order to win souls, rushing here and dashing there, taking part in this campaign, taking part in that campaign, preaching in the morning, preaching in the evening, talking to the Bible class, witnessing to this one, counseling with another, did nothing, nothing, nothing to change the utter barrenness, the emptiness, the uselessness of my activity. I tried to make up with noise what I lacked in effectiveness and power.”
In a state of spiritual exhaustion, one night about midnight, he got upon his knees and cried out God in despair. He continues the story: “I said, ‘Oh God, I know that I am saved. I love Jesus Christ. I am perfectly convinced that I am converted. With all my heart I want to serve Thee. I have tried to my uttermost and I am a hopeless failure! So far as doing anything more, I am finished…. It is useless for me to continue like this. I hate this double life!’ That night things happened.
“I can honestly say that I had never once heard from the lips of men the message that came to me then. I never had read it in print; but God, that night, simply focused upon me the Bible message of Christ Who is our Life. This was the moment He had been waiting for; seven weary years He had watched me running around and round in the wilderness! he had been waiting for the time when at last I would fall down in hopeless despair. I heard His voice: ‘To me to live is Christ … I am the way, the truth, and the life … If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life … When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with Him in glory.’ Life! New Life! To me to live is Christ!
“It just came from every area of God’s Word, and very kindly and very lovingly the Lord seemed to make it plain to me that night, through my tears of bitterness: ‘You see, for seven years, with utmost sincerity, you have been trying to live for Me, on My behalf, the life that I have been waiting for seven years to live through you. I have been there the whole time. All the things you have been pleading for, all the things for which you have been asking, have been yours since the day seven years ago, at your request and invitation, I came into your heart at that Crusader boys’ camp; but you see, although you have given mental consent to the truth that I have been in your heart, and have accepted it as a theory, you have lived totally ignoring the fact. You have been busy trying to do for Me all that only I can do through you. Now supposing I am your life, and you begin to accept it as a fact, then I am your strength! You have been pleading and begging for that for seven years. I am your victory in every area of your life, if you want it! I am the One to whom it is perfectly natural to go out and win souls; and I know precisely where to go and find them. Why don’t you begin to reckon upon Me and say ‘Thank you.’
“I simply said to the Lord Jesus Christ that night, ‘Well, it is that or nothing! If this is true, then I am going to thank You for it in sheer cold-blooded faith…. I am going to thank You that if You are my life, and this is true, then You are my victory, You are my strength, You are my power, You are my future! You are the One Who is going to go out now, clothed with me to do all that I so hopelessly have been trying to do in the past seven years!’
“I got up the next morning to an entirely different Christian life, but I want to emphasize this: I had not received one iota more than I had already had for seven years! I had had the Lord Jesus, equal to all my need and in whom I had been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly things, for the whole of those seven years; but I stepped out on my way to the university that morning with a new song in my heart. I was saying, ‘Lord Jesus I thank You for the first time in my life, this is Your day! I no longer have the burden of running my own life.’
“At the end of five weeks God made it very plain to me He had something more to say. He had just begun to whet my appetite. He said, ‘That is My life. You know perfectly well that it has nothing to do with you, because it happened overnight! It is not a new method. It is not a new technique that you have learned. It is simply My life; being what I am, doing the inevitable. This is now the thing you have got to realize; you cannot have My life for your program. You can only have My life for My program!”
Such a life, Ian Thomas would often declare, is not a life of inactivity but of Christ-activity. It is not what you can do for God but what He can do through you. “It is all in Christ, you see; and all of Christ is yours!” Would you be willing to surrender everything and pray, “I do not want any other program, any other kind of life, but the one that You Yourself are prepared to live in and through me!”?
Ian Thomas died in 2007, at age 92, after decades of being a vessel through which God had full access to live His life. In the course of those years, Ian Thomas preached around the world and wrote several books, including: Saving Life of Christ, The Mystery of Godliness, and The Indwelling Life of Christ – all highly recommended.
Ian Thomas’s mini-bio was condensed and edited from V. Raymond Edman’s book: They Found the Secret.