Aaron Jacob Smith (1887-1960) was brought up in a Christian home and professed to have been converted in 1907. Five years later he attended college at University Park, Iowa and professed to be sanctified.
He went to China as a missionary under the Church of the Nazarene. While in China he read John Wesley’s Plain Account of Christian Perfection and realized he had never been born again. He wrote, “I had come to teach the Chinese the way of Life and how to live holy lives, and found that I was not converted nor sanctified myself.” After he experienced the new birth in March of 1927, both Chinese and American church leaders began confessing sin and revival broke out in China.
Smith gave his testimony in Twenty Years in the Dungeon of Doubt and How I Got Out stating, “I am convinced of the fact that there are millions of church members who are living merely on an intellectual presumption. . . . I believe there are tens of thousands of church members in the Holiness churches who either have never been truly born of God, or have lost out, and are today living merely on past experiences.”
However, Smith said when he confessed to his denomination that he was born again in China, “my ecclesiastical head was cut off.” He suffered no persecution until he was truly born again, but after his conversion he was a “speckled bird” among the holiness people.
Smith returned to the states and became president of Central Florida Bible Institute in Intercession City. Later he was dean of the People’s Bible School and College, now John Wesley College, at Greensboro, NC. Around 1948 he collaborated with Elmer Long to compile a twelve page tract entitled The Holy Spirit and the Born Again Man, which went against the status quo within the holiness movement.
In 1951 Dr. Smith promised before a panel meeting “to refrain from making any further statements about the matter of the Disciples and their spiritual state before and after Pentecost.” However, after studying the Scriptures and the writings of Wesley, Clarke, and Fletcher he retracted that promise and wrote Bible Holiness and the Modern, Popular, Spurious in 1953. Although he died in 1960, the Fundamental Wesleyan Society, to a large extent, is a continuation of his ministry and emphasis.
Just as John Wesley came to America to convert the Indians, only to discover he was not born again, so A. J. Smith went to China only to discover the same need. Here is part of his testimony:
I have had people ask me how I knew that I was not a regenerated man previous to March, 1927. There are a number of facts that witness against me while in my deceived state. All of these, or any one of them for that matter, are proof against me that I was not “born again.” I will give these points here.
(1) In the first place, undoubtedly the strongest point against me was that I had never had the “Witness of the Spirit” that I was a child of God.
(2) I did not hate sin, nor did I forsake all sins and all sinful habits.
(3) I had not confessed all those sins that the Holy Spirit showed me.
(4) I had not made restitution for all the sins and things that the Lord showed me.
(5) There was the absence of godly sorrow, consequently no true repentance (“godly sorrow worketh repentance” 2 Corinthians 7:10).
(6) “The fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25) was lacking in my life; on the other hand many of the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21) were in evidence.
(7) I did not separate myself from the world, especially worldly companions. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”
(8) Lack of “love for the brethren.” I did not especially care for the fellowship of the saints of God.
(9) There was not the love for God’s Word and prayer that I know we have after we are born again.
(10) There was outbroken anger. I would get mad at horses and cows if they offended me or refused to obey me, and would punish them mercilessly. I would get angry at people, and my temper would get the best of me. This was sin, say what you will. “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not.” Oh, I know that some folks try to twist these Scripture passages so as to make them mean, “He that committeth habitual sin, or the unpardonable sin, is of the devil.” The original text does not bear this out. How may years have I tried to shield myself behind these crooked interpretations!
(11) There was a spirit of unforgiveness in my heart. I held things against others; neither did I ask their forgiveness when I had offended them, or go to those whom I knew held things against me, even though I was not at fault. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).
(12) My conduct in the home was not right. I was also given to joking and laughing, loved to tell stories that would make people laugh, instead of telling something that would cause them to repent or think about God. How many preachers there are who think it is a trait of cleverness to be able to make the audience laugh! This kind of preaching will never create conviction, but on the contrary will prevent conviction; and if there is any, will smother it [Jesus Lifting Chinese or Marvelous Spiritual Awakenings in China. Cincinnati: God’s Bible School and Revivalist, 1929, pp. 100-101].
From: Smith, A.J. “Delivered From Doubt.” The Arminian: A Publication of the Fundamental Wesleyan Society, vol. 13, no. 2, 1995. http://wesley.nnu.edu/arminianism/the-arminian-magazine/the-arminian-magazine-fall-1995/. Web.