Harry Ironside was laid aside for dead when he was born on this day, October 14, 1876 in Toronto, Canada. His mother was in a bad state and needed of all the attention she could get if she were to pull through. But God had big plans for the “dead” baby. A nurse detected a feeble pulse in him. She popped him into a bath of hot water and he quickly exercised the vocal cords which would declare Christ to perhaps a million listeners over the course of his life.
By the time he was four, he had memorized his first scripture verse. That did not set his mind at rest with God. He became a great student of the Bible, reading it through fourteen times by the time he was fourteen years old. That brought him no peace. Terrified of eternal death, he held tent meetings and services for children but, when asked if he was born again, could only stammer. But at fourteen years of age, he asked the Lord for salvation. To his surprise, he experienced no feeling, no emotion. Nonetheless, he trusted God for forgiveness of his sins and rose from his knees determined not to call God a liar by doubting him.
Now he began to preach in earnest. At that time he was associated with the Salvation Army. For five years he preached almost nonstop. He sought the experience called “sanctification” and thought he had attained it. This brought him little peace and less purity. He finally learned to look for holiness not within himself, but outside, in Christ Jesus. Leaving the Salvation Army, he became associated with the Plymouth Brethren.
Despite only an eighth grade education, Harry Ironside became one of the world’s best-known and best-beloved Bible teachers, traveling the globe to give messages. Never ordained, he nonetheless pastored Moody Memorial Church in Chicago for eighteen years.
In writing his autobiography he would say, “…As I look back over all the way the Lord has led me, I can but praise Him for the matchless grace that gave me to see that perfect holiness and perfect love were to be found, not in me, but in Christ Jesus alone.” He was on a preaching tour in New Zealand in 1951 when he died following a heart attack. At birth he seemed dead. At death he became alive, for we know he entered eternal life.