Dr. Arnold Cook



Cookie Crumbs

I attended a VIP breakfast Monday. Over 100 men enjoyed a full course breakfast with all the trimmings. Then they heard a Christian testimony and a gospel message. So what’s special about that? This was the 144th consecutive VIP breakfast—held on the last Monday of every month for 12 years. Who makes this happen? The Lions club—the Kiwanis or some other service club? When we became residents of Eastern Gate, I soon met the man behind this breakfast. Stu’s a short quiet man. I call him “the chaplain.” But with big heart to reach people for Christ. I see him walking about speaking quietly with the many neighbors he knows. He’s the man behind the 144 men’s breakfasts. Making his MIFG! Over the years in my travels, I’ve been profoundly impacted by ordinary Christians quietly “making their MIFG” in this world.

I found myself at a Family Ranch Camp in Manitoba as the Missions speaker. So what’s your problem? Culture shock! I just returned to Canada from 10 years in Latin America. I felt like a fish out of water. How can I communicate with these people? What can say that would connect with them? Upstairs in the old ranch house I was struggling with my messages. Then God gave me this thought: “What’s the real bottom line of Christian living? Answer? Discovering how you can best serve God with your whole heart for His glory.

I reported on how God was working in Colombia, South America. Every message was sprinkled liberally with the question: “Are you making your ‘MIFG?’” So the contest was on. “What does MIFG mean?” They got off to a bad start with the “M”. It had to mean “missions” after all Cook’s fanatic about Missions. The “I” –influence, involvement?? All too weak. Some got the “F” and the “G”—‘for God.” Finally a teenage girl nailed it: We must make our “Maximum Impact for God.” That week my “signature sermon” for the rest of life was born—MIFG.

Paul frequently explodes with expressions of his passions. Philippians 3:12 is one of these outbursts: “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Some suggest he’s using wrestling terms. Jesus has put a “full nelson” on me for this ministry, so I’m putting a “full nelson” on this ministry for Him. Jesus greatly encouraged a woman who poured expensive oil on His head. His disciples criticized her for such waste. But Jesus said: “She did what she could. . . . I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:4-9). This Gospel of Mark is often the first book translated in new language areas. Think of how many people know about this “unnamed women” around the world? Her MIFG outlived her by centuries in almost every country of the world.

Where were you on September 20, 1981? I was in Lima, Peru. On the front page of the Lima Times I read about a Canadian young man who had just finished his MIFG. For the first time in our history our flag flew at half mast for a non political citizen. Terry Fox had died. But not before he raised millions for cancer, running across Canada on one leg. But the impact of this young man from a Christian home continues to this day as the “Terry Fox Run” is done annually across the land.

I was knocking on doors in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Inviting people to evangelistic services in their community. An elderly man answered the door. When he heard the invitation he invited me in. Told me his story. As a young boy, he attended a school for poor children founded by a Mr. Morris, an Englishman. He brought me a little chorus book that Mr. Morris used to share the Gospel with the children. He had received Christ, but had wandered away. He came that evening and came back to Christ. Today there’s a stature of Mr. Morris, “the man who loved the poor children,” in a Buenos Aires plaza. He made his MIFG.

Miss Ruby Johnston was a secretary at our Bible College in Regina. Chinese students from Hong Kong began arriving in the city to study. She befriended these young men. Some of us were recruited to teach them English. Within a few years, girls started to arrive. Then came marriages. Miss Johnston helped them with their weddings. Mary-Lou my wife sang solos at some of the weddings. Arthur Lui became the first Christian. Trained for ministry and pastored in Kitchener. In 1960 a Hong Kong Pastor came to pastor the first Canadian Chinese Alliance church in Regina. Today there are over 65 such churches. Miss Johnston finished up her MIFG in the early 1980s. The Chinese people insisted that she be buried in the Chinese cemetery in Regina, because “She is our mother!”

She was the mother of five children—grounded! What could she do to serve God? Her New Jersey home was across from a large high school. Someone told her about a 17year old fellow who was an “unholy terror” in the high school. She began to pray for this fellow George. Later she heard that he had given his life to Christ.

He became the George Verwer, founder and long term leader of Operation Mobilization. OM have two large ships that sail the world, visiting ports of “limited access countries selling books and sharing the gospel.” God continues to use this dynamic missionary movement. A “grounded mother” did what she could—prayed and made her MIFG.

I’ve preached this message many times. (In Spanish it is making your IMPD—“impacto maximo para Dios.”) I visited a missionary colleague in Buffalo, N.Y. Spoke in the local Alliance church on a Sunday morning. Unbeknown to me, a young banker was there that morning. He was struggling with a major career change. He had been invited to leave his lucrative bank position and work as the treasurer for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Nyack, N.Y. God’s used the MIFG message to make a major career change. He has served for 20 years with distinction. He heard I had MIFG on my license plate. He asked if he could have one, when I changed my plates or passed on to glory. I sent a plate to Dwayne Wheeland last fall.

At the VIP breakfast Monday, I sat beside a retired gentleman who was barely mobile. He shared how he was finding his evangelistic ministry was greatly curtailed. “But the two avenues I’m still working are visits to Tim Horton’s donut shop where I talk to people about the Lord. Then the second opportunity is with the “tele-marketers. I ask them if I can have equal time after they give me their sales pitch. Many are very responsive to my sharing Christ with them. But a few slam down the phone.” Here was a man barely able to move around, still making his MIFG. Today I shared with my first telemarketer. Some are new Canadians still struggling with the language. We can encourage them and share Jesus.

What’s needed to make our MIFG? Just two maps: One to get us back to the cross on a regular basis, to die to self and sin and be filled again with the Holy Spirit, the greatest evangelist who must have our tongues and feet to do His work (John 16:8-11). The second is a map of world need. Where are the greatest needs that I could meet? Some may be across the world, but most will be right in our daily routine. “Our mission field is often our pathway.”

“If we are not living our lives on the wave length of the Great Commission, our lives are irrelevant to the destiny of history” (Robert Coleman).

Arnold Cook, August 24, 2005


“Alliance” is the postmodern label for “being a card- carrying Christian and Missionary Alliance” person. Historically to be “really Alliance” you needed to come to this eclectic group from some place else. Since my childhood and teens were in two other denominations, I qualify.

At age 20, hungry, confused and spiritually defeated, I heard my first Alliance preacher. His theme? “The Four Fold Gospel: Christ our Saviour.” Since I had received Christ at age 11, I knew what he was talking about. But “Christ our Sanctifier”—the person and work of the Holy Spirit was new. So was “Christ our Healer” (I had already heard about “Christ our Coming King.)

So what does it means to be Alliance?

I could recommend a good brochure titled: “Who Is the Christian and Missionary Alliance?” Or I could tour you through the 11 points of our doctrinal statement. But I prefer to focus on the “ethos of the Alliance.”

“Ethos” is a hard word to define, but easily recognized.You can spot an Alliance person by their “affinity for deeper life and missions”—that intangible blending of the “fullness of Jesus” into a dynamic passion for the lost.

We’re a small movement in Canada--about 450 churches. The US Alliance numbers about 2000 churches. Many or my readers don’t realize that there are 43 more autonomous Alliance national churches in 43 other nations. Where did they come from? Answer? They are the result of 118 years of sending missionaries to evangelize people and start churches.

Every four years, these 45 churches come together. Why, since they are independent and autonomous, would they do that?

Answer? “Ethos”—defined as a sense of oneness. It is fascinating to watch 45 distinct and diverse cultures and languages worshipping together. The theme song never changes. I heard it just last year in Holland: ”Jesus only, Jesus ever, Jesus all in all we sing--Saviour, Sanctifier, and Healer, glorious Lord and coming King.” These multicultural Alliance people cluster around that Fourfold Gospel motif like nails to a magnet.

What holds us together in a voluntary international movement called “The Alliance World Fellowship”? Until recently we thought that the glue was our unified Statement of Faith. What we believe is very important. But we discovered recently that our doctrinal statements vary greatly in format: e.g. some have 20 points, many have 11, and one has only six. However, they all contain the essentials of sound doctrine and the centrality of Christ as expressed in the Fourfold Gospel. One church in Asia, after a very brief statement of the essentials, then states: “We hold to the Fourfold Gospel.”

What or who is the origin of this pithy doctrinal statement? The short answer is “A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA)." He became profoundly impacted by the scriptural idea of the indwelling life of Christ. Scriptures from the book of Colossians were central to his life and message: e.g. the supremacy of Christ (Col. 1:11-23) and the fullness of Christ (Col. 3:10). But Simpson's favorite message was Paul’s testimony in Colossians 1:24-26 where he speaks of his suffering as a servant of the Church, then refers to the “mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints” which is: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (vs. 27). Yes, Christ was central to Simpson's experience and message.

A longterm usher in Simpson’s church, the Gospel Tabernacle in New York, stated: “Wherever Simpson began his message, he always ended in the same way--with the Four Fold Gospel.”

This simple Alliance society grew into a movement and eventfully into a full-orbed denomination. In later years, well-meaning leaders have wanted to revisit this simple motto. “We need to flesh out theologically each of the four points,” and, “What do we really believe regarding each of these four doctrinal aspects?”

Thankfully, to this point this has never been done. Let’s look at the doctrinal potential for clarification and theological definitions.

1. Christ our Saviour: How do we see salvation? Are we eternally secure? Or could a believer lose his salvation? What are we, Calvinists or Armenians? Well, we welcome believers from both camps. We have never had time to indulge in that age-old debate. Instead, we received both those of reformed and holiness roots.

2. Christ our Sanctifier: This raises the controversial issue of the role of the Holy Spirit in the work of sanctification. Focusing on Christ as our Sanctifier deflects the question away from the Holy Spirit to Christ Who is the basis. But the question is asked: “Where do we stand on the person and work of the Holy Spirit? Are we charismatics or dispensationalists?" Well, we’re neither. We believe that all the gifts are for today, but we’re not charismatics and/or dispensationalists. Yes, we believe in the gift of tongues but we do not embrace the evidence doctrine of the Pentecostals. Simply put, we’re out in “the middle.”

3. Christ our Healer: This too is a controversial issue. Yes, we believe that physical healing is in the atonement and is available today. But we don’t believe that everyone will be healed in this life. Do we believe in “faith healers?” No. But we believe in “divine healing.” Again, we have not taken the time to further define this point.

4. Christ our Coming King: The doctrine of “last things.” There are lots of options on this topic. We could discuss the chronology of Christ’s return as related to the great tribulation and the millennium. We have people who hold all three positions related to His coming and the tribulation. Historically, we have held to believing that He would return before the millennium and usher in His righteous kingdom on earth. In the coming of Christ we hold a unique missionary position. In Matthew Jesus stated: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to all nations, and then the end will come” (Mt. 14:14). We link eschatology to missiology. We believe we can “hasten the return of Christ by reaching the last unreached peoples.”


I have been excusing the Alliance for not taking the time to articulate more precisely our doctrinal positions. Thankfully, the “keepers of the gates” over our history have kept us focused on the “lost world.” In the spirit of Simpson, we have continued to focus on our all-sufficient Christ who died for the whole world. His love compels us to keep focused on world evangelization. It would be immoral to sit around debating the finer points of when Christ will return the second time, when a third of this world has never heard that He came the first time!!

To be “Alliance” means to hold to the “radical middle.” Don’t misconstrue our commitment to this middle position as refusing to take a firm stand on cardinal theological issues. Rather, as a conscious choice, we refuse to spend time and resources on secondary issues which would distract us from finishing world evangelization and thus hastening the return of Christ.

Why is this position the "radical middle?”

Because historically, not many movements hold to the middle ground. Most polarize to the extremes.

To be Alliance is to hold to the radical middle and to commit ourselves unreservedly to making “Christ’s last command our first concern."

Arnold L. Cook


Evangelical church leaders can’t seem to agree on what is non-negotiable in Christ’s church today. A poll of churches asked pastors to prioritize their top ten church activities. Consistently, they placed Missions seventh or below. Some argue that Christ left hundreds of commands which are all important. I would be so bold as to declare that we can know His five top priorities! Really! Read Luke’s intro to his second book in Acts 1:1-3:

“After his suffering, he showed himself to these men [apostles] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, and spoke about the kingdom of God” (vs. 3).

Some years ago I was pastoring a small, fragile national church in Colombia, South America. I knew that when I departed for home I would be replaced by a national pastor. Thus my final months were critical. I wanted desperately for this church not only to survive but to thrive. I hand-picked the pastor and sought to instruct him in everything I believed was most important. Then I left.

In this passage, Jesus was leaving His disciples within only 40 days. Yes, He knew the Holy Spirit would come. However, He knew His time was brief to finish preparing the Apostles for the launching of His church. So what did He emphasize?

There are five chapters which answer this key question: Mathew 28, Luke 24, Mark 16, John 20-21 and Acts 1:1-8. Let’s discover what He underlined.

1. The Resurrection: “Know that I am alive—there must be no room for doubt.”

Eleven times Jesus appeared to different groups and individuals during His final 40 days. Once He appeared to the ten disciples—but Thomas was missing (Jn. 20:19-20). Absent Thomas let it be known his criteria for believing: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (Jn. 20:24-25). A week later Jesus appeared to the eleven. He went straight to doubting Thomas and urged him: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (Jn. 26-28).

2. The Great Commission: Five versions of the disciples' prime task are found, one in each of the five passages.

Next to emphasizing the resurrection, the missionary mandate was not seventh in priority but the seventh. Matthew’s focus was on “making of disciples.” Mark adds the “accompanying signs” of those who believe the proclaimed Gospel. Luke shows the Great Commission as flowing out of the Scriptures: (Luke 24:27-45, 47). John records the incarnational version: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21), and Acts outlines the pattern and the power to fulfill the Great Commission (Acts 1:8).

3. The Indispensable Fullness of the Holy Spirit: “Don’t leave Jerusalem without Him” (Lk.24:49).

Note the climatic promise of Matthew’s Great Commission (28:16-20): “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (vs. 20). At Pentecost, ten days later, they discovered how the promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit would be kept, the promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit, “The Lord of the Harvest.” The signs of Mark 16 is another manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles and all “who believe." John records Jesus’ puzzling statement about the Holy Spirit: “And he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’" then links it to the power of forgiveness of sins (Jn. 20:21-23). This period of the Apostles is unique. The Apostles lived before Christ and before the Holy Spirit came. They also walked with Him before and after His resurrection and ascension. Someone has wisely stated that we should not base our experiences only on the Apostles, but rather on the teaching of the first-century church. Christ left no doubt about the role of the Holy Spirit in His final words just before ascending: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

4. The Central Mission of the Scriptures: “These are the Scriptures that testify of me” (Jn. 5:39).

“A church that is not missionary is not a church!” How could that be? Every church begins with missions. But over time they tend to lose two truths: the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the missionary mandate of Christ, i.e. worldwide evangelization. Christ underlined both of these just before His ascension—the missionary mandate and the Holy Spirit’s power. How do most churches understand the Great Commission today? It goes something like this: As Christ was preparing to leave his disciples, and just before his final ‘adios,’ He throws this last minute thought over His shoulder: 'Oh yes, and by the way fellows, pass this message on to everyone you bump into, at your convenience!”

Luke’s narration of the Great Commission ties Missions to the eternal purposes of God. On two different appearances Christ took His disciples to the Scriptures. With His two fellow travelers He started with Moses and all the prophets, ”explaining to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (24:27). Later, at the seashore, He reminds them: “This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (the same three sections the Muslims emphasize). How I would have loved to be present when Christ opened the Scriptures to them: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” He emphasized, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (24:44-48). Wow! Christ, of whom the Scriptures have spoken, sitting with His disciples and exegeting the Old Testament, explaining what it really means! “Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be preached in his name to all nations?” How dare any church call themselves Christ’s church and continually spend 80% of its time, finances, ministry and personnel on themselves!

5. Motivation is everything: “The Love of Christ Compels Us.”

He defined our task clearly—five times. How then do we respond? Answer: obedience—“Here am I, send me.” The Holy Spirit came to empower and motivate us to obey this incredible mandate. But in Christ’s final “one on one” with Peter, He reminds him that divine love, agape love is the central motivation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus then checks out Peter’s “love quotient:” “Simon son of John, do you truly love me (with agape love) more than these? "Yes, Lord,” he said,”you know that I love you (with fileo—friendly love).” Jesus repeated the question. Simon replied with the same answer. Then came the third question, with one change: Jesus asked if Simon loved Him (with fileo--friendly love). Peter was hurt. Christ had come down to Peter's human love level. Christ knew that Simon was still “Simon”—still not filled with the Holy Spirit. But He made His point: only agape love, that kind that gives without thinking of receiving, would be sufficient in the kingdom of God to feed His sheep and His lambs.

In one follow-up session with Peter, Christ again revisits the matter of motivation. Peter was discouraged by Christ’s forecast of how He would die (vs.18). Tradition tells us that He was crucified upside down. Peter’s still earthly mindedness wonders if John, the one “Jesus loved,” might fare better. So he asks: “Lord, what about him (John)?" Will he get a better deal? The curt reply: “What is that to you? You must follow me” (vs. 22). Paul, the first great missionary, had it right: “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (II Cor. 5:14). Only single-minded obedience to Jesus’ missionary mandate, motivated by His divine love, and empowered through the fullness of the Holy Spirit, will glorify God through finishing the task Christ gave us to do (Jn.17:4).

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:30).

They also show us what Christ the Head of the Church believed to be top priority.

Arnold L. Cook

Well son Charles finally did it. He successfully defended his thesis a week ago today in Chicago, Dec. 10th. Then he celebrated his birthday on the 11th—47 years. Ironically he got his doctorate at the same age I did; I was 47 in 1989.

Paul Hiebert was a great mentor and friend to Charlie. Charles stayed with him when he went to Chicago. Paul's wife passed away some years ago, so he takes in students. About a month ago, Paul came down in the morning and couldn’t figure out what day it was. Charlie discovered he had a minor stroke. So contrary to Paul's desires, Charlie took him to emergency. In the hospital he had another mini stroke. But they got him in time and he’s been back giving papers, and more recently, left for 3 months to India, the day after Charlie’s defence. Charlie was showing me that you (Neill) dedicated one of your books to Dr. Hiebert. He’s got a great line re writing-- There’s no such thing as ‘good writing,’ just ‘good re-writing.’


Arnold L. Cook

Feliz navidad y un Prospero Ano Nuevo.