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Who Am I?

Who Am I

God made me.

God made me to love and serve Him, to do all the good I can while I am in this world, and to live with Him in Heaven after I die.

I was made in the image and likeness of God chiefly in respect to my soul. My soul is like God because it is an immortal spirit that can know and love Him, and can choose between good and evil.

My soul can never die. It is of much greater value than my body, and I must give the greater care to it, for Jesus Christ said: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

It is possible for me to lose my soul. If I live a wicked life, and die in my sins, I shall be a lost soul in Hell. I can save my soul by accepting the salvation offered me by Jesus Christ, and by living a truly religious life. True Religion is loving and serving God, and doing all I can to make others good and happy. A truly religious life is the best and happiest life.

Directory – 1902

This is a synthesis of the introduction to the first part of the 1902 Directory, a Salvation Army discipleship manual aimed at children ages ten to fourteen. During these critical years of moral and theological formation, the early Salvation Army believed in the importance of forming the identity of these budding Salvationists.

I have always found that the exploration of materials designed for children are an ingenious access point for distilling the essence of Salvationism. In writings such as this Directory, we see the complexity of Salvationist engineering reduced down to the simplicity of its most essential description.

This is a wonderful starting point to our understanding of Salvationism, for from these seed thoughts will grow roots which will ground a person in deep relationship and truth which will nurture the growth of a mighty trunk, branches and leaves designed to bear the fruit of revival in our world.

It is worth taking note of these lessons – not merely to study our extremely profound theology of childhood and our belief in how children are to be treated as true saints and soldiers – but also to determine the blueprints of what was identified as an essential framework of belief, value and practice for Salvationists across space and time.

In this description we see the following:

A. We are all created by God. Therefore none of us are an accident, a mistake, nor created without a purpose.

B. The threefold purpose we were designed for is:
(1.) to love and serve our Creator
(2.) to do all the good we can in this world in our lifetime
(3.) to live for eternity with our Creator in Heaven

This threefold purpose is profoundly wholistic. It highlights that we were designed for relationship with God, and that the relationship includes both worship and mission. It emphasizes our engagement in both the temporal and eternal worlds. It defines our purpose on earth as “doing all the good I can” while on this earth. It also clarifies that there is a clearly demarcated destination that transcends this life.

C. It is essential that our self-perception clearly realizes the ‘imago dei’ – that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and that this likeness is reflected in our souls.

D. Salvationists therefore prioritize the ‘soul’ for three reasons:
(1.) the soul is immortal (it can never die)
(2.) the soul can both know and love God
(3.) The soul is the source of moral choice between good and evil.

These three reasons for prioritization meant that early Salvationists believed that the soul was more important than the body. Does this mean Salvationists did not care for the body? By no means, but we believe this meant that while the body might be subject to persecution, hardships, sickness, etc., that the surrender of self-preservation and the embrace of self-sacrifice was where true, eternal profit was to be found.

The publication of books such as the “Red Flowers of Martyrdom” (a collection of stories of child martyrs from the early church) are a wonderful illustration of how Salvationists even in childhood were taught that the greatest value and care must be given to the soul, and that the sacrifice of the body was a means by which to bear witness to the world (‘Martyr’ coming from the Greek world meaning, ‘to bear witness.’).

E. Salvationists defined ‘losing your soul’ as a soul that is eternally separated from God, kept out of Heaven in a state of everlasting punishment. The roadway to this loss is the moral choice of the soul to live a ‘wicked life’ and dying in a state of sinfulness.

F. Just as a soul can be ‘lost’, so too can a soul be ‘saved’. This is accomplished through:
(1.) intentionally choosing to accept the salvation offered by Jesus Christ’s atonement
(2.) living a ‘truly religious’ life.

G. The term ‘true religion’ is an essential phrase to early Salvationists. It is defined as:
(1.) loving and serving God
(2.) doing all I can to make others good and happy.

The definition of ‘true religion’ directly relates to the definition of the threefold purpose for why we were created (see B). This is not coincidental. True religion therefore equates to true purpose. Therefore if a person has lost their soul and is trapped in sin, they are not living a purposeful life. Because they are neither loving God nor loving others, they are inherently miserable and purposeless.

H. Therefore a truly religious life can be defined as the BEST and HAPPIEST life, and it is in this life that one finds their TRUE IDENTITY.

This is one of the reasons why early Salvationists would sing songs like, “God wants everybody to be happy, happy, happy and He doesn’t want anyone sad.”

Our mission on earth is to help to align those who have lost their purpose to what they were designed by the Creator to do and be. When we embrace this form of Salvationism, we discovery who we truly are.

I. The experience of ‘true religion’ is equally accessible to both adults AND children.

While it is wonderful to see adults saved, a soul saved in childhood is to graft that individual as early as possible into the optimal life! Therefore it is not only desirable, but VERY DESIRABLE as this will not only be useful in childhood, but in an ENTIRELY RECLAIMED LIFE!

If the salvation of souls is our mission and true religion is our goal, if the scope of this mission is the whole world and every generation; then the purpose of this Directory is to reveal this to everyone from the youngest to the oldest and to teach, train, equip and mobilize every person to embrace “SALVATIONISM” – a worldview centered upon the alignment of the world to its’ intended purpose!

To see this as the first seed planted in the mind, heart and soul of the youngest of Salvationists is to see the genius of the early Salvationists. What would happen today if we were to instill such an identity, purpose and mission?
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I add the full outline from the Directory below:

PART 1 REVELATION
What God has Made known to man that he may believe

INTRODUCTION

1. What is your name?
My name is A (Christian name) and B (Surname)

2. Who made you?
God made me.

3. Why did He make you?
God made me to love and serve Him, to do all the good I can while I am in this world, and to live with Him in Heaven after I die.

4. Were you made in the image and likeness of God?
I was made in the image and likeness of God.

5. In what way were you made in the image and likeness of God?
I was made in the image and likeness of God chiefly in respect to my soul.

6. How can your soul be said to be like God?
My soul is like God because it is an immortal spirit that can know and love Him, and can choose between good and evil.

7. When you say your soul is immortal, what do you mean?
When I say that my soul is immortal, I mean that it can never die.

8. Is your soul of more value than your body?
My soul is of much greater value than my body, and I must give the greater care to it, for Jesus Christ said: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

9. Is it possible for you to lose your soul?
Yes, it is possible for me to lose my soul.

10. What do you mean by losing your soul?
By losing my soul I mean that if I live a wicked life, and die in my sins, I shall be a lost soul in Hell.

11. How can you save your soul?
I can save my soul by accepting the salvation offered me by Jesus Christ, and by living a truly religious life.

12. What is true Religion?
True Religion is loving and serving God, and doing all I can to make others good and happy.

13. Is a truly religious life the best?
A truly religious life is the best and happiest.

14. Can children be truly religious?
Children can be truly religious, for Jesus Christ said, “Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

15. Is it desirable for you to understand Religion while you are young?
It is very desirable that I should understand Religion while I am young. It will be useful to me now, and in the future years more useful still.

16. What is the object of this Directory?
The object of this Directory is to teach the way of Salvation.

17. Does The Army require you to learn this Directory?
The Army requires me to understand, believe, and act according to this Directory

18. Is it your duty to be thankful to your Teachers?
I ought to be thankful to my Teachers for their kindness in teaching me, and I ought to pray God to bless them.

 

About Steve Bussey

Steve Bussey
Steve is the Co-Director of Salvation Factory. He is passionate about understanding the beliefs, values and behaviors of Salvationism and translating these with innovation and creativity into new expressions in the life and ministry of The Salvation Army.