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This Week in AG History -- March 2, 1940

"Christians many times fail (and their faith is harmed) because they try so hard to accomplish things that God has no idea of doing." — John Wright Follette

John Wright Follette (1883-1966) was a gifted Bible teacher and author who spoke in many conferences and retreats. His messages encouraged believers to press into God, seeking more of Him, in order to guard against sin and live a more holy or “deeper life” in the Spirit. He spoke often about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but emphasized the importance of Christian maturity. Follette wrote: “Many in Pentecost today seem to have missed the idea or purpose of the latter rain and instead of falling into line with God for a deeper life, ripening, maturing, and drying [as grain for the harvest], they are occupied with the incidentals. These incidentals [manifestations and gifts] are all very essential but only to the end—growth.”

One of Follette’s sermons on spiritual life appeared in a 1940 article in the Pentecostal Evangel. He articulated the importance of following after God’s purposes and plans on a daily basis. “Christians many times fail (and their faith is harmed),” he said, “because they try so hard to accomplish things that God has no idea of doing.” He described the Christian life not as a series of “disjointed affairs, but instead declared there is definite purpose in the Christian walk for which each of us were created. “Were we as sincere and careful in the matter of spiritual purpose as we are about materials ends,” said Follette, “I am sure we should grow in grace and save ourselves many a ‘spiritual headache.’”

In conclusion, Follette stated, “God does not thank you or reward you for doing a thousand things (good and religious) which do not relate to His will.” Instead, he emphasized, “Seek His will — do that and you cannot but glorify Him.”

To better understand Follette and his teachings, it is important to learn his background. Follette was a descendant of French Huguenots who first settled the Catskill Mountains in the early 1600s. His ancestors helped to establish the community of New Paltz, New York. He received his college and ministerial training at the New York Normal School in New Paltz, Taylor University, and Drew Theological Seminary.

Although he was raised in the Methodist Church, after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was ordained in 1911 by the Council of Pentecostal Ministers at Elim Tabernacle in Rochester, New York. Follette affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1935 and became a favorite speaker at many church conferences, camp meetings, summer Bible camps, and missionary retreats around the world. He also taught at Elim Bible Institute in Rochester and at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University).

Follette was a prolific writer. More than 100 of his articles and poetry appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals. Many of his writings were put into book form after his death. His works include Smoking Flax and Other Poems (1936); Broken Bread (1957); Arrows of Truth (1969); This Wonderful Venture Called Christian Living (1974), Fruit of the Land (1989), and several other books and tracts. Follette died in New Paltz, New York, at the age of 82.

Read the article, “The Spiritual Purpose in Life and Method of Attainment,” on pages 2, 3, and 7 of the March 2, 1940, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Holiness Unto the Lord,” by A. H. Argue

• “What God Says About Foolish Talking,” by Mrs. Cornelia Nuzum

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Glenn W. Gohr

Glenn W. Gohr is the reference archivist at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center in Springfield, Missouri.