George Mueller is the one man outside of Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets, who has given me daily inspiration in walking along the narrow way. His nearly unparalleled trust in God for daily provision led him to amazing works of sacrificial love, charity, and gospel ministry to many thousands of orphans (and to thousands of other people as well) during his lifetime of ministry.
So it may surprise some (though not I) that Mueller’s walk with Christ was profoundly buoyed by a distinct alteration in his theology, brought upon by simple study of the Scriptures themselves. If anything speaks to the “eminent practicality of right theology” (as my pastor says), it’s this quote from Mueller’s autobiography:
“Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption and final persevering grace. But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the Word of God. Being made willing to have no glory of my own in the conversion of sinners, but to consider myself merely an instrument; and being made willing to receive what the Scriptures said, I went to the Word, reading the New Testament from the beginning, with a particular reference to these truths.
“To my great astonishment I found that the passages which speak decidedly for election and persevering grace were about four times as many as those which speak apparently against these truths; and even those few, shortly after, when I had examined and understood them, served to confirm me in the above doctrines.
“As to the effect which my belief in these doctrines had on me, I am constrained to state for God’s glory, that though I am still exceedingly weak, and by no means so dead to the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as I might be, and as I ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have walked more closely with Him since that period. My life has not been so variable, and I may say that I have lived much more for God than before.”
George Mueller, Autobiography of George Mueller, (London: J. Nisbet and Co., 1906), 33-34, as quoted in John Piper, The Pleasures of God, (Multnomah Books, 2000), 122-123.
What is shocking to me, but not at all surprising, is that the current, popular, abridged version of this autobiography has nothing of this information about Mueller, such that an entire generation of American Baptists (in a general sense, not a denominational sense) who revere Mueller, have no idea
1. that he believed the doctrines of grace;
2. that he came to his conclusions (and was even driven to the study itself) simply and finally from the Word of God; and
3. that it had a tremendous impact for the good on his walk with Christ and his ministry for the rest of his life.