GEORGE HENRY LANG - A TRIBUTE
By DOUGLAS W. BREALEY
Having known Mr. Lang for nearly sixty years I am glad to be given the opportunity of paying a tribute to his memory; in doing so I desire only to 'magnify the grace of God' in him.
First, I would say, that over the years I have been growing conscious of his deep spirituality; he was one of those rare souls who really lived in heaven; he found himself truly to be a 'stranger and pilgrim on the earth'. His 'city home' was in heaven from which he saw himself to be sent to this world as an ambassador for Christ. He was completely devoid of any earthly nationalism - it mattered little to him where he was down here, except that he should be in the place of Christ's choosing for the moment; so from time to time he was found in many countries on the service of his Lord, now enduring the scorching heat of Arabian deserts, now the freezing cold of Russian steppes; he was equally content to be posted by his Sovereign in some primitive village of 'the pensive East', or in some great city of the West with all its modern amenities. Thus he roamed the world, Christ's 'ambassador at large', beseeching sinners to be reconciled to God.
He was essentially a man of faith, never looking to man for the means of his subsistence, but only to his heavenly Father, and faith grew with its exercise. In this school, like his great predecessor, he learned in whatsoever state he was therewith to be content; he learned the secret of how to run low and how to run over. And he was such a man of faith because he was such a man of prayer; his prayers were always unusual and as inspiring as they were unique; he spoke with an intimacy to his heavenly Father as one who knew God, but whose intimacy was the very soul of reverence.
I think I may truthfully say that he was the most apostolic man I have ever met; perhaps for that very reason he was a very controversial figure; a correspondent suggested to me that he was the most controversial figure in brethren circles since J. N. Darby; yet it would be true to say that he himself was not a controversialist. A very close student of the Word, and an independent thinker, he was not prepared to take traditional interpretations unless he was personally convinced that they were right. Though completely convinced of the eternal security of the believer, many of his views on prophecy led him into avenues of thought and teaching where a great number of us felt unable to follow. Unfortunately this closed doors to his otherwise extremely valuable ministry. Perhaps one of the greatest teachers of his time, multitudes could testify to the great help they have received from him, either from his public utterances or from his numerous writings.
It was only to be in his presence to realise that one was in the presence of a true saint of God whose holy life gave weight and authority to all he taught.
From our midst has gone 'a prince and a great man'; he has been an ensample to the flock. If we cannot follow all he taught, we may well follow his faith, and like him, come the Scriptures with an open mind and teachable heart, ever keeping before us that day, quickly coming, when differences of judgement will have disappeared for ever and when 'we shall know even as we are known'.
F. F. Bruce,
... Having reached this position, he made it the centre around which his interpretation was organised. While he fully accepted the doctrine of the believer's eternal security, he held that there were great and precious privileges which might be forfeited by unfaithfulness, and this served in his eyes as an added incentive to personal holiness - a leading theme in his ministry. ...”
Referring to Mr. Lang's literary work, F. F. Bruce continues: "By all these writings, his spoken ministry and private correspondence and conversation, he has proved to be for many of us 'an interpreter, one among a thousand'. But we think of him even more as a humble and warm-hearted man of God, whose personal holiness and 'cheerful godliness' were an inspiration to us. Harold St. John, who had a great affection for him, said to me once with a twinkle in his eye, 'I agree with him completely so far as the past is concerned'; but added with sober emphasis : 'He is a man whose prayer-life I envy!' Such an appraisal from a man of Mr. St. John's spiritual calibre speaks volumes. And if anyone wishes to learn the secret of Mr. Lang's spiritual power and personal influence, he may find it in three pamphlets from his pen - Praying is Working, Prayer Focussed and Fighting, and Divine Guidance."
G.H. Lang - A modern Caleb
‘He hath followed me fully’ Numbers 14 v.24.
Two courageous men were born in 1874; Churchill and G.H. Lang. November 20th will mark the Centenary of that lucid and powerful Bible teacher - G.H. Lang. He was never called before kings or judges, but he was that rarity - a man who taught what he really believed, and lived by what he taught regardless of consequences. This simple courage was to him but simple common sense. God was his father, and father’s wisdom is always good. I commend the idea to us all. It saves a lot of heartaches if you refuse to look at the hazards, and look simply to God.
childhood was spent in a christian
1899 he was an insurance assessor’s clerk with very good prospects but one day he
was given an assignment which touched his conscience. He set out to ask a friend’s advice, when a
voice said ‘I will instruct thee.’ (Psa. 32. 8) He
returned home and waited some days; on 27th. May the Voice said
‘Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’ (Col. 3. 7).
He saw at once he could not do the business called for. On 1st June he wrote his resignation, without
having any other job to go to. I
remember him telling me. ‘The ink wasn’t dry on that letter, when a deep peace filled
my soul.’ He promised the Lord to take whatever job he was led to; ‘until then’ he told me ‘I
said I would devote all my time to his service.’ His eyes twinkled as he continued ‘I am still waiting for that job.’ So for 54 years he served God in many lands:
Almost his last journey was to the wedding of our friend George Patterson in 1953. In 1954, at 80 years of age, he told me that the Lord had said to him that his journeys were ended, but he began to publish a new magazine, ‘The Disciple’ given free to all who would read it prayerfully, each edition published only when the Lord had sent the money for it. I have a full set, 22 numbers, more that 950 pages; close on half a million words, more than half as long as the Bible, mostly from the pen of an ailing man in his 80’s.
George Lang wrote 14 major books, and innumerable booklets, 3 of which were published by the Enfield Christian Bookshop! I recall him saying ‘No man should write a book until lie is 40. He needs to prove his theories in practice before publishing.’ All but 9 of his many writings were published after he was 50.
His views on prophecy and the hereafter did not win universal acceptance: his views on the Church, the most lucid and scriptural expositions I have ever come across, are unacceptable to denominational Christians and most clergy. He trusted his reputation to God, and when doors were closed he found others opened by the Lord! He very strictly maintained silence before men on the subject of financial needs. He truly lived by faith.
his most influential books were his biography of
Lang’s quiet, gracious, determined spirituality stemmed from a love for Christ which valued more than anything else the great gift which the risen Saviour had given him, the personal anointing of the Holy Spirit, which he said took place in the 30th year of his life.
The titles of some of his best pamphlets are evidence of this great preoccupation; ‘The Rights of the Holy Spirit in the House of God.’ (1938) ‘God at work on his own lines.’ (1952) ‘The personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit.’ (1954) ‘Praying is working.’ (1918). The same theme runs through his biographies ‘A.N. Groves’, ‘Aroolappen’, ‘E.H.Broadbent’ and his autobiography ‘Pages from an ordered life.’
F.F. Bruce concludes his Epilogue to the posthumous edition of Lang’s Biography thus:- ‘He takes his secure place in the ranks of those whom we are bidden to bear in mind: Remember your guides, who spoke to you the Word of God, consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.’ (Heb. 13. 7).
I have been lucky to have known several people utterly devoted to Christ. G.H. Lang was one of them. I thank God for his memory.
By kind permission.