My Heart, My Life, My All

A Tribute To The Life Of William MacDonald
William MacDonald tells the story in his Believers Bible Commentary of how, as a five year old boy, he lay dying of diphtheria. A godly uncle told the family that the Lord had distinctly spoken to him through the last three verses of Psalm 91. Bill writes “God delivered me from death that night; He saved my soul thirteen years later, and He has satisfied me with long life.”

Bill was raised in a godly home where his mother taught him to love the Bible, to memorize Scripture and the great hymns of the faith. That’s why wherever he preached he quoted lines of poetry from the hymns he knew so well.

When he turned 18 the Lord began to trouble his heart. The gospel was familiar to him, but he was a pretty good kid with no overt sins in his life. Yet he still did not know the joy of sins forgiven and he knew he was not in a right relationship with God. As he considered his soul’s dilemma he realized that what he was in himself was far worse than anything he had ever done. He finally took sides with God against himself and trusted the sinner’s Savior. He would later quote, “love so amazing, so divine demands my heart.” And he gave his heart to the Lord and never lost the wonder of God’s amazing love for him.

After graduating from Tuft’s College and Harvard Business School, Bill became an investment analyst for the First National Bank of Boston. Bill’s experience in the world’s investments never satisfied him. The Lord was beginning to touch his life. Bill ultimately became one of the greatest investment analysts in history – not for earthly treasure, but for heavenly treasure. He had a clear vision for the eternal, not the temporal; for treasures in heaven, not treasures on earth.

During his four years in the US Navy, Bill spent some time in Hawaii. One day he picked up a book to read. It was the biography of C.T. Studd. He read it through in one sitting and the Lord began to barbeque him as he read Charles Thomas Studd’s life motto, “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” In his room that night Bill bowed before the Lord dedicating his life for service to the Master. Bill faithfully served Him for more than six decades. Love so amazing, so divine demands my life.

After his release from the Navy, Bill was invited to “come starve” as one of the instructors at Emmaus Bible School in Oak Park, Illinois. He made it his home for 18 years, six of which he served as president. A meeting with a young student from Moody, named George Verwer, impacted him and changed the course of his life. Bill enjoyed meeting with students who were on fire for the Lord and he often prayed with them through the night concerning world missions. His involvement with this zealous group of students, who abandoned all to follow Jesus, influenced him to live like them and write about them in his book True Discipleship. Bill was beginning to see the implications of giving all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bill left his post at Emmaus and traveled the world for seven years teaching, training, and living all out for the Lord. In the midst of the travels Bill recognized a need for leadership training in the assemblies and began to formulate a plan to implement such training. When he returned to the USA he approached Jean Gibson and asked Jean to step out of secular employment and into the work of the Lord. Together they established the Discipleship Intern Training Program to train a handful of young men each year in all aspects of ministry with which an elder might be confronted as well as a study of the entire Bible, condensed into a nine month training. Bill taught and trained men for 23 years. During this time Bill continuously wrote many of his 84 Christian books and completed his Believers Bible Commentary.

He lived in the same one bedroom apartment for 35 years, refused personal gain from royalties but poured everything over and above his basic necessities into the work of the Lord giving widely to missions, evangelistic ministries, assembly-planting efforts, and hundreds of individual workers. He established a translation fund (administered by CMML) for the work of translating and printing his Believers Bible Commentary into foreign languages so the church could benefit from the decades of his study of the Word of God.

Bill never ceased to wonder at the love of the Lord Jesus for him. Love so amazing, so divine demands my all.

Don Robertson
Castro Valley

Don Robertson attended the Discipleship Intern Training Program in 1979-80. Bill MacDonald asked him to work with him on the staff of the DITP. Don taught with Bill MacDonald and Jean Gibson for 11 years and has been a publisher & distributor of Christian literature for the past 16 years.