This Week in AG History — June 20, 1942
By Ruthie Edgerly Oberg
Originally published on AG News, 20 June 2019
Thomas J. Jones (1896-1970) was a dynamic British preacher and Bible teacher, much in demand by American congregations. Jones taught at North Central Bible Institute (now North Central University) in Minneapolis for 21 years and was known as a man who could make the Old Testament come to life.
Accepting Christ as Savior in Birmingham, England, in 1914, Jones had an insatiable desire to understand God’s Word. Along with that desire came the desire to teach the Bible to anyone who would listen. He was a pastor in England when he married one of his congregants, Doris Lancaster. He found her attractive partly because she was as dedicated to the importance of teaching the Word of God as he was. Despite their great love for each other, that dedication to ministry would cost them separation, often during difficult times.
In 1937, a letter arrived at the Jones’ home with an invitation to preach in the United States. Jones told his wife, “I’ve always had an inkling to go.” Doris released him for ministry and travel while she stayed in England with their five boys. This invitation led to others in 1938 and, again, in 1939. It was while Jones was in America that Britain declared war on Germany on Sept. 3, 1939. Jones could not return home, so Doris and the children evacuated from London to a cottage 20 miles away. The bombs came within a quarter mile of their home and the doors were blown open. She and the children stood at their window and watched the sky turn orange with the burning of London during the Blitz.
Jones was able to return to his wife and children after the war, bringing with him an invitation to teach at North Central Bible Institute (NCBI), the Assemblies of God Bible school in Minneapolis. Arranging passports for the family took time; it was December 1947 before all seven members of the family were finally together, the boys arriving in English schoolboy short pants during a blizzard.
Doris would later say of Jones, “My husband studied the Bible as few did. People would quote him Scripture, and if he couldn’t pin down the chapter or verse, he could tell them the book. And he did not want to stop preaching.” She described their 40-year marriage as “wonderful” because she shared his vision for providing solid biblical teaching to anyone who wanted to hear it.
Jones was considered a “preacher’s preacher” by the students at NCBI and those who gathered around the country to hear him speak at camp meetings and ministry schools. He began each of his classes with the prayer, “Open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” and then opened the Scriptures and lovingly trained thousands of young students for the ministry.
He was also concerned with ensuring that students managed the practicalities of life, often saying that young men studying for the ministry should obtain “books first, a Buick second, and then a bride.”
The Pentecostal Evangel published more than 60 articles and sermons by T.J. Jones between 1938 and 1969. The June 20, 1942, issue contained a sermon preached by Jones at the Glad Tidings Bible Institute in San Francisco called “The Blessedness of Salvation.” In the sermon he used the first two verses of Psalm 32 to give a well-thought-out doctrine of the remissions of sins. He masterfully used the words of the Psalmist to explain the different ways each person is a sinner and the ways that God perfectly provides a remedy for “transgression, sin, and iniquity” through “forgiveness, covering, and imputation.”
Jones displayed in his written sermons a principle he quoted in this particular sermon: “You can take every word (of the Scripture) and the more minutely you examine it the more wonderful it seems. Why? Because it is the Word of God.”
Jones developed heart problems in 1963 but, despite his illness, he accepted speaking assignments whenever and wherever he could. In 1967 his health forced him to retire. Although sad at stepping out of the classroom, he turned over some of his notes to students and colleagues who would take his place, receiving comfort from II Timothy 2:2, “…entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
Jones died in Prior Lake, Minnesota, on July 17, 1970, at the age of 74. At his funeral, the president of North Central Bible College, Cyril Homer, quoted a favorite text of Jones from Genesis 49:33, “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered to his people.” In 1974, the college named its library, the T.J. Jones Memorial Library, in his honor.
Read Jones’ sermon, “The Blessedness of Salvation,” on page 2 of the June 20, 1942 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “Life A Trust” by E.S. Williams
• “Wanted: Men Who Can Pray” by Joseph Kemp
• “Prayer Brings in the Souls” by E. Hartmann
And many more!
Click here to read this issue now.
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.
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