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My Favorite Heroes of the Faith

Young men and women are looking for heroes.

The same is true for Christian young men and women.

We need heroes to admire and look up to. We need heroes who can inspired us . . . people who have gone ahead of us.

We need men and women of God upon whose shoulders we can stand. And in God’s mercy, perhaps see further than they did.

If you were to ask the average 20- or 30-something Christian today who their heroes are, many would rattle off a few celebrity-pop-mega-church pastors. None of whom they know personally.

Some will mention Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards or Spurgeon.

Well, I’d like to introduce you to five people who served as my heroes when I was in my 20s and they still are today.

With the exception of one of them, these servants of God are unfamiliar to most Christians today.

This is a travesty in my opinion because in my humble (but accurate) opinion. . . each of them had more insight into Jesus Christ, the Scriptures, and God’s Ultimate Purpose than Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and Spurgeon combined.

And then some.

So much so that they are still heroes in my eyes.

If some of you who read this article will pick up some of the books I mention written by these choice vessels of the Lord, I’m confident that you will agree.

T. Austin-Sparks

This man’s book, The School of Christ, turned the late David Wilkerson’s life upside down.

Sparks was the man whom God used to recover the revelation of God’s Eternal Purpose to the body of Christ.

In all of church history, no one had ever talked about it in as much depth before Sparks.

His books The School of Christ, The Stewardship of the Mystery, God’s Spiritual House, and Prophetic Ministry are classics.

Watchman Nee

Nee was a contemporary of Sparks. In fact, Nee saw Sparks as his spiritual mentor. (Sparks was Scottish and Nee was a Chinaman.)

Some people have wrongly confused Watchman Nee with Witness Lee, but the two were very different and so were their views.

Nee was the Chinese version of Bonhoeffer, although his writings are much easier to read and less academic.

Nee’s ministry gave me a rock solid foundation in Christ and the Church.

Ruth Paxson

This missionary to China in the early 20th century had keen insight into the Scriptures.

Her books Life on the Highest Plane and The Wealth, Walk, and Warfare of the Christian are classics that few contemporary Christians know about.

DeVern Fromke

Unlike the rest of the people on my list, Fromke is still alive. He used to minister with T. Austin-Sparks in the 1960s.

I have spent time with Fromke in his home and have had numerous conversations with him via phone and email.

In many ways, he’s been a mentor to me.

Because I want contemporary Christians to profit from his ministry, I’ve created a Box Set of his three best books: Ultimate Intention, Unto Full Stature, and Life’s Ultimate Privilege.

A.W. Tozer

Tozer is the most well-known among the spiritual giants I’ve listed.

Tozer drew from some of the names I’ve mentioned above. His ministry was prophetic, challenging, and incisive.

My ministry is known as The Deeper Journey. That title owes much to the aforementioned people.

It’s dedicated to digging below the surface and moving beyond the shallows in today’s Christianity.

Let us stand on the shoulders of giants, and by God’s mercy and grace, may we see further than they saw.

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FRANK VIOLA has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply, gain fresh perspectives on old or ignored subjects, and make the Bible come alive. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, Beyond Evangelical, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today.