HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
The following are a series of articles from the February 1, 1897 issue of Tongues of Fire introducing us to and written by a Rev. F. Kiefer, a relatively new student at the Holy Ghost and Us Bible School.
Dr. Kiefer of Texas
who arrived at the Bible School, Jan. 8th, expects to remain with us for several months. He is a man sixty-three years of age, who for over forty years has been preaching the gospel as an evangelist throughout Texas, also Germany, Poland, Russia, etc. Many thousands of precious souls have been given him by the Master. A man of marked influence and power among the Baptists of the south, as their own paper states, and as full of natural vigor and strength as he was forty years ago, it is very remarkable that he should be irresistibly drawn to identify himself with this movement, with the expectation 'ere long of embarking on another missionary tour to Germany. Mr. Sandford has already named him in the Holy Ghost, "Caleb," and believes that in his old age, he, like that ancient hero, is to take the very strongholds of the children of Anak.
The following article will introduce him historically. we wish our readers to know him well, as we believe he is to be among the first missionaries to go out from this work, to take the strongholds of Satan in Germany. Will not each reader pray especially for God's direct leadings concerning his future. Already a check for $10.50 has been received for foreign missions and it may be this is the beginning of God's preparation for his journey. Our Director knows.
Dr. Kiefer on The
"We hope the doctor will do us, his friends, and himself, the kindness, to fully define in the columns of the West Texas Baptist the nature and extent of the new blessing he is said to have experienced. Owing to the large and good work of Dr. Kiefer has done in Texas (especially among the Germans) and in Germany and Russia, few men have held a warmer place in the hearts of Texas Baptists than he. And now that he claims to have found a new and fuller blessing in Christ, his many friends will be anxious to know just what it is. Is it modern "sinless perfection" which has so far proven such a force in Texas and brought so much odium upon itself, and those who profess it, by the ridiculous extremes in which they run?
Or is it the "Rest of the Faith," so long preached by the Baptist evangelist, A. B. Earle? and which was regarded by Baptists everywhere as a Baptist doctrine and Bible blessing, which all Christians desire. Or is it the "Endowment of the Spirit," so recently and so ably taught by Dr. A. J. Gordon in his "Ministry of the Spirit?" We are sure that many of our brethren feel that there is a better and happier life for the child of God in this world, than the average Christian now enjoys. But they want the genuine coin, and no counterfeit. So we hope Bro. Kiefer will take pains to explain himself, and his words will have great weight among Baptists.
Dr. Kiefer's Reply
"Dear Brother Smith:- Your kind inquiry headed 'Dr. Kiefer's recent blessing - What is it,' demands a prompt and candid answer, and I cheerfully respond as concisely as the subject admits. My manner of life, ever since my conversion in 1854, all the brethren know, who, if they would testify, would say that it required a great amount of charity on their part to overlook my many shortcomings and evident inconsistencies. Professedly called to the ministry, and blessed of God, to the salvation of hundreds of souls, yet at the close of the war relapsing so far, as to conclude I could not support my family by preaching alone, which led me to the study and practice of medicine. While fully intending to continue in the work of the ministry, I soon had my heart and mind engaged on my patients, and but little time and thought left for my higher calling. When in after years of experience I found that this was wrong and I gave up all secular employment, the Lord wonderfully blessed me both in English and in German work. Again relapsing and again returning, the Lord still more graciously gave me the presence of His Spirit, so that thousands of souls were converted in my meetings in the United States and Europe, until it would seem I would never again grow cold in the service of the blessed Master. Yet such has been the case, for which I have no apology to offer, excepting that I by nature had a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, such as I sincerely hope no other brother has to contend with. My life since my conversion, 41 years ago, has been a struggle that is unknown to all but God and myself - and a struggle against sin and unbelief. In my heart of hearts desiring to honor my blessed Saviour, whom I loved and adored in the darkest of these long years, ever conscious that he had saved me and would at last take me to heaven. Yet how sad my relapses, how grievous my sins, and how severe the lashings of my conscience. But glory and praise to my blessed Redeemer who patiently bore with me during these years of an unfruitful Christian life.
While I could not cease from preaching altogether, yet for the last several years it has been more of a burden than a pleasure, and gradually my efforts became less successful in the salvation of souls.
All this time I was fully persuaded that the Word of God had something better in store for His dear children, and was personally acquainted with many who professed to have entered a higher life; a rest of faith, a baptism of the Spirit, or a sanctified state in which they enjoyed a peace, a rest, enduement for service to which I was a stranger. After a more intimate acquaintance with many of these people I saw their daily life sweetly corresponded to the profession of rest in Jesus. I had again and again made the effort of consecrating myself wholly to the Master, asking Him to take full possession of my heart, but all such efforts brought only a momentary rest.
Two months ago I became fully convinced that God had something better than I had ever enjoyed, for his children, but had also about concluded that for me the blessing was unattainable. In this condition I went to Denton to attend the German Baptist convention, and while there I passed a house of worship surrounded by horses and buggies, leading me to conclude that a protracted meeting was going on in that house.
Upon entering I found a speaker exhorting Christians in my condition to come forward for prayer and accept of a perfect Saviour, who not only would save from wrath, but make us pure. My case was clearly diagnosed, though I had never seen the preacher and he had never known or ever heard of Brother Kiefer.
I was in the right condition, for I had nothing to lose, and hence ready for anything to be gained, especially when the requirements held up for me were the following: A full surrender of soul and body and all I possessed into the hands of my blessed Saviour, whom I loved, in spite of my sinfulness, and that I should accept Him by faith as dwelling in my heart, turning the keys over to Him and putting Him in possession of my inmost soul, and His will be my will, forevermore. By the help of the Holy Spirit I made the surrender, and by faith accepted Jesus as living in my soul, for Him hereafter to rule, guide, direct and manage, and for me sweetly to obey every desire of His as soon as understood by me.
Now, what have been the results so far of this transaction? First a consciousness of having the fruits of the Spirit, as given in Galatians v.22, constantly in my soul, which are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. A joy and delight in preaching such as I have never realized in the best months of my former life, a burning desire to lead everybody to the Saviour and all Christians into the full realization of what a perfect Saviour is willing and able to do for us even in this sin-cursed world. Fourth, a deep humiliation at the thought that I should have spent forty-one years so unprofitably in the Master's vineyard and a fixed determination to give up anything and everything that might in anywise hinder me in being wholly given to the work of the ministry.
Now to the question, "What is it?" I am in full accord with Paul when he says, Romans vii, 18: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing," I also say with him, Phil. iii, 12: "Not as though I had already and attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, id that I may apprehend that for which I am also apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto these things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," and concluding can say with Paul Gal. ii, 20: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."
Now, I have given you a frank and concise statement of my condition, and am perfectly willing to answer any question or make any other explanation to any one who may ask it for edification, but not for controversy.
As to the difference of my present religious life and the one I lived prior to July 24, 1895, I must humbly but firmly avow that if today the alternative was presented to me of death on the one hand and a going back to my former life, with all the consciousness that I then possessed that I would reach heaven, I would not hesitate for one moment, but know that my decision would be "give me death," yea, ten times rather than to go out into my wilderness experience again.
Praise the Lord for this wonderful salvation."
History of My Life
I was born in Milheim on the Moselle, Germany, August 13, 1833. My parents were Roman Catholics, and my raising and all my early education was in the doctrines and teachings of that church. At the age of ten I remember reading the book, "Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis, which brought me to shed many tears, and with proper instruction could I have easily been led to know Jesus as my Saviour. But I did not have any other teaching than that in infant baptism I was a regenerated, and that by Confession and going to Communion I must work out my salvation as best I could.
My father died when I was but twelve years old, and at the age of seventeen years I obtained my mother's consent to go to Texas where I had a brother already living. In the providence of God I was led to the village of Independence where the Baptists of Texas had just planted their educational institution, which brought many of the best and ablest men of the denomination to the place. Here I was led to attend the services of the Baptist church, and at once became so much interested that I never ceased attending till I was converted and baptized in June, 1854. In 1855 I was licensed to preach the Gospel and entered Baylor University as a student, studying and also holding meetings among the Germans, then forming large colonies in Southern and Western Texas. In 1857, I was appointed missionary to the Texas Baptist State Convention, to preach both English and German as the Lord might open the way. This same year I also had the first revival in connection with my labors in the English language. In 1858, I was ordained to the full work of the ministry, and also married to Miss Amanda Allen, who has been my loving companion ever since, bearing the burdens and privations of a frontier preacher's wife without grumbling, ever willing for me to go and come as the Lord should call me. In 1859, I had the first revival meeting among the Germans, and in 1860 I had the privilege of organizing the first German Baptist Church in Texas.
The following four years of war, during which years I preached to the women at home and to the men in camps, and helped as much as I was able those families whose fathers and sons were compelled to be in the Southern Army. The war closing left us in such a poverty stricken condition that I felt as though every one of us must go to work at something to make a living for his family. Anxious to continue preaching I concluded it would be best to attend a Medical College and obtain a diploma and thus, for part of my time, follow a profession for which I was preparing myself when called to the ministry. In 1867, I began the practice of medicine, soon obtaining a good practice and continued a few years, but found it hard to serve two masters. So I laid medicine aside and gave myself wholly to the work of preaching; and the Lord blessed wonderfully in the conversion of many sinners and in organizing many new churches both among the Germans and Americans. All this time however, I was not satisfied with my own inner life and Christian experience. In 1870 Rev. A. C. Earle the great revivalist from Newton, Mass., came to Texas and was wonderfully blessed of God in leading thousands to Jesus. From hin I learned that there was a Rest of Faith, a higher life to which I was a stranger, and for which my soul longed for many years, but did not learn to accept it by simple faith, till just two years ago.
From the time of my conversion, however, I had a deep conviction that I must some day preach the Gospel among my own people on the Moselle, Germany. But not until 1881 was I ever able to cross the Atlantic and visit the people I had left 31 years ago. I found the same formalism and prejudice and ignorance about heartfelt religion that existed when I left my native home in 1850. But I did not find a place where I might preach, not having the means to hire an expensive hall. Invitation at the same time came to me from other parts of Germany where Baptist Churches already existed. In these churches the Lord wonderfully blessed my labors so that thousands professed conversion and were baptised into the fellowship of the Baptist Church. From 1881 to 1886, I went five times across the Atlantic on such evangelistic tours, preaching not only among the Baptists of Germany, but also in very many of the German Colonies and cities of Russia, as far north as St. Petersburg.
But the work impressed upon me from the beginning, that is, to preach a full gospel in the Roman Catholic regions on the Moselle and the Kingdom of Bavaria, is still unaccomplished. It still lays upon my heart, and whenever I am at all easy about it, it is a good evidence that I am not in the Spirit as I ought to be. Today I do believe that my life's work is not ended until I have preached the Gospel and gathered a people out of some eight millions laid upon my heart; naturally good, intelligent people, but they have no saving knowledge of Jesus.
In 1895 I was led by the dear Savior to take him for my Sanctifier, Healer and coming King, as I had taken Him 42 years ago as my righteousness. My life has been altogether different, since then; my joy unspeakable, and my peace just flows like a river. Butthe brethren who bore so long with my many inconsistencies, now, that I feel that all I am and have belongs to Jesus, and that I must cheefully honor and obey every word of the Holy Scriptures, are turning against me, yea, have withdrawn fellowship from me, alleging me guilty of heresy in preaching the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and associating with people holding such heresies. Some six months ago, the Lord brought "Tongues of Fire" into my pathway, and at once I was drawn toward Lisbon Falls; for as a true Baptist I must stand for every word in the Bible - not only the letter of that word, but also for the spirit of every word and sentence. This has brought me to the Bible School in Maine, 2400 miles from my home in Abilene, Texas. I am free to say to all that I have not been disappointed. What I read about this work at the distance I find here, only ten times more real than I expected to find it. I praise the Lord for raising up such a movement; I praise Him for bringing me to it, and here I am willing to remain as long as he will want me, ready, and anxious also to go to the Moselle if He will just open the way, and also just as ready to go back to my beloved Texas and carry the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the Gospel truth from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande.