Monthly Archives: April 2016

A. W. Tozer Faith Is A Disturbing Thing

“Faith,” said the early Lutherans, “is a disturbing thing.”

To Martin Luther goes the credit under God for having rediscovered the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith. Though one wonders how anyone could have missed it if he had read the Bible even a little bit, and why so obvious a truth needed to be “rediscovered.”) Luther’s emphasis upon faith as the only way into peace of heart and deliverance from sin gave a new impulse of life to the decadent Church and brought about the Reformation. That much is history. It is not a matter of opinion but of simple fact. Anyone can check it.

But something has happened to the doctrine of justification by faith as Luther taught it (and Paul before him). What has happened is not so easily discovered. It is not a matter of simple fact, a plain yes or no, an obvious black or white. It is more elusive than that and very much more difficult to come at; but what has happened is so serious and so vital that it has changed or is in the process of changing the whole evangelical outlook. If it continues it may well turn Christianity inside out and put for the faith of our fathers something else entirely. And the whole spiritual revolution will be so gradual and so innocent appearing that it will hardly be noticed. Anyone who fights it will be accused of jousting against windmills like Don Quixote.

The faith of Paul and Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends as certainly as Elijah when he stepped into the fiery chariot and went away in the whirlwind. It had a finality about it. It snapped shut on a man’s heart like a trap; it captured the man and made him from that moment forward a happy love-servant of his lord. It turned earth into a desert and drew heaven within sight of the believing soul. It realigned all life’s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God. It set its possessor on a pinnacle of truth from which spiritual vantage point he viewed everything that came into his field of experience. It made him little and God big and Christ unspeakably dear. All this and more happened to a man when he received the faith that justifies.

Came the revolution, quietly, certainly, and put another construction upon the word “faith.” little by little the whole meaning of the word shifted from what it had been to what it is now. And so insidious was the change that hardly a voice has been raised to warn against it. But the tragic consequences are all around us.

Faith now means no more than passive moral acquiescence in the Word of Cod and the cross of Jesus. To exercise it we have only to rest on one knee and nod our heads in agreement with the instructions of a personal worker intent upon saving our soul. The general effect is much the same as that which men feel after a visit to a good and wise doctor. They come back from such a visit feeling extra good, withal smiling just a little sheepishly to think how many fears they had entertained about their health when actually there was nothing wrong with them. They just needed a rest.

Such a faith as this does not perturb people. It comforts them. It does not put their hip out of joint so that they halt upon their thigh; rather it teaches them deep breathing exercises and improves their posture. The face of their ego is washed and their self-confidence is rescued from discouragement. All this they gain, but they do not get a new name as Jacob did, nor do they limp into the eternal sunlight. “As he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him.” That was Jacob – rather, that was Israel, for the sun did not shine much upon Jacob. It was ashamed to. But it loved to rest upon the head of the man whom God had transformed.

This generation of Christians must hear again the doctrine of the perturbing quality of faith. People must be told that the Christian religion is not something they can trifle with. The faith of Christ will command or it will have nothing to do with a man. It will not yield to experimentation. Its power cannot reach any man who is secretly keeping an escape route open in case things get too tough for him. The only man who can be sure he has true Bible faith is the one who has put himself in a position where he cannot go back. His faith has resulted in an everlasting and irrevocable committal, and however strongly he may be tempted he always replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

A. W. Tozer Faith Is A Disturbing Thing is from Alliance Weekly 27 June 1951

A. W. Tozer God’s Work Can Stand Inspection

When God had created the heavens and the earth He looked them over and pronounced them very good. They stood inspection. Paul said of his religious activities, “This thing was not done in a corner.” His ministry stood inspection.

The Lord through the ministry of Peter healed a man who had been lame from birth. The authorities later brought Peter before them and charged him with heresy, but their whole case collapsed because the healed man was there in plain sight. “And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14). Peter’s ministry stood inspection.

We have never gone along with the tender-minded saints who fear to examine religious things lest God be displeased. On the contrary, we believe that God’s handiwork is so perfect that it invites inspection. If God performs the work, no matter how closely we look into it we may be sure that we will be forced to stand back in wonder and exclaim, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall for ever” (Eccl. 3:14).

Of all work done under the sun religious work should be the most open to examination. There is positively no place in the Church for sleight of hand or double talk. Everything done by the churches should be completely above suspicion. The true church will have nothing to hide. Her books will be available to anyone for inspection at any time. The true church officer will insist upon an audit by someone from the outside. A look at the habits of Ezra of the Old Testament and Paul of the New will show that these men would not allow themselves to be put in a position where some enemy might charge them with dishonesty. They insisted upon a fair count and a check by at least two responsible men to see that everything was done honestly and that no one could have reason to believe otherwise.

This principle of complete candor holds good also in the prayer life. When we are praying for something we have every right to look for the answer. Never should we fear to face the facts. Either God answered or He did not, and there is no point in shutting our eyes and refusing to admit it when it is plain that no answer has beef forthcoming. It may be that we shall need to trust Him without an answer and hold on quietly in prayer when our case looks hopeless. But we cannot help things by claiming He has answered when He has not.

A spirit of candor would do much to remove the widespread suspicion that Christian people are preoccupied with unrealities. Complete frankness with God, with our own souls and with our critics would take away many a sword from the hands of our enemies. It is hard to accuse a man of wrongdoing whose life is open to the gaze of the very persons who are trying to destroy him.

Many interpretations have been offered for our Lord’s saying that we must become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Just what quality does a child possess that Christians must have to please our Father who is in heaven? Could it be candor? The little child is frank and open that he is often embarrassing to his elders. But maybe he has found the secret. And maybe we would do well to imitate him.

A. W. Tozer God’s Work Can Stand Inspection is from Alliance Weekly 20 June 1951

A. W. Tozer We Must Think Like Christians

This is a critical moment in American affairs of state. Our country is seriously divided. Political and military giants are squaring off in a battle of words that may have consequences not only at home but throughout the whole world for years to come.

The issues that divide our leaders are so important that few Americans can remain neutral. Almost everyone has a pronounced opinion, and is sure he is right. That men equally wise and good take the opposite side does not seem to occur to any of us. Feeling is running high, and most of our thinking is being done with our emotions.

“Our American way of life” is a phrase constantly heard these days. It is a good phrase, and to many sincere and honest persons it means liberty of conscience, freedom of individual enterprise and the right to worship God after the dictates of our own conscience; it means the rule of law rather than the rule of tyrants; it means a minimum of interference from the state and a maximum of liberty for the individual citizen.

To millions of others, however, it means little more than the right to sin to their heart’s content without molestation by the civil authorities. The Constitution may be, as Gladstone said it was, the noblest document ever struck off by the mind of man. But we must remember that there are countless thousands of Americans who use it merely as a place to hide when they are caught in some act of iniquity.

Liberty as used by the American founding fathers meant freedom to do good; many today conceive it to do evil, and they work it for all the traffic will bear.

For this reason we must not identify the gospel with any political system, nor make Christianity to be synonymous with any form of government, however noble. Christ stands alone, above and outside every ideology devised by man. He does not join any of our parties nor take sides with any of our great men except as they may come over on His side and try to follow Him in righteousness and true holiness. Then He is for them, but only as individuals, never as leaders of some political faction.

The true Christian will be loyal to his country and obedient to those in authority, but he will never fall into the error of confusing his own national culture with Christianity. Christianity is bigger than any country, loftier than any civilization, broader than any human ideology.

It may shock some people to be told that Christ was not an American. Nor was He a Jew merely. He was born of the seed of Abraham of the line of David, and His mother was a Jewess of the tribe of Judah. Still Christ is vastly more than a Jew. His dearest name for himself was “the Son of man.” He came through the Jewish race, but He came to the human race. He is Everyman’s countryman and Everyman’s contemporary. He is building a nation out of all nations and tribes and tongues and peoples. He has no favorites, “but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Let us remember that the gospel is a divine thing. It receives no virtue from any of man’s religions or philosophies. It came down to us out of heaven, a separate thing, like Peter’s sheet, wholly on its own. It is something given of God. It operates in the individual heart wherever that heart may be found. It did not wait for Columbus to discover America nor for the Federalists to conceive the beautiful form of government our country has enjoyed for so long. It saved men under Nero, and is saving them now under Stalin and Franco. Even from the interior of poor oppressed China news is leaking out of the working of the grace of God in the lives of believing men and women.

Any form of human government, however lofty, deals with the citizen only as long as he lives. At the graveside it bids him adieu. It has made his journey a little easier, and all lovers of the human race will thank God for that. But in the cool earth slaves and free men lie down together. Then what matter the talk and the turmoil? Who was right and who was wrong in this or that political squabble doesn’t matter to the dead. Judgement and sin and heaven and hell are all that mater then.
So, let’s keep cool and let’s think like Christians. Christ will be standing upright, tall and immortal, after the tumult and the shouting dies and the captains and the kings lie stretched side by side, the “cause” that made them famous forgotten and their whole significance reduced to a page in a history book.

A. W. Tozer We Must Think Like Christians from The Alliance Weekly, 13 Jun 1951.

A. W. Tozer We Believe In A Holy Life

But the caption we announce opens the way to the subtle snare. For whenever a truth (any truth) is rediscovered and re-emphasized. Satan immediately sees to it that fanatics and irresponsible persons seize the rediscovered truth and push it to unwarranted extremes. That is heresy: the giving to any truth an importance out of proportion to its relation to the whole.

Here Satan gets in a master stroke. He does this by persuading the great body of conservative believers to shy away from the truth that irresponsible shave made to appear ridiculous. Hence the truth was calculated to stimulate and strengthen is all but smothered by the hot breath of well-meaning zealots who have heat but no light.

Thus we have holiness and dress, or holiness and diet, or holiness and something else. And often the dress, the diet, or the “something else” becomes the major, and holiness the minor. The weak become discouraged and the uninformed become prejudiced, with the result that the truth intended to make the Christian life radiant becomes a stone of stumbling and the lame are turned out of the way.

But we are not to be deluded by those having a zeal without knowledge, or discouraged by those who sly from a truth that is vital. We believe in a holy life.

The secret of a holy life is a holy heart. Believing the Word of truth and trusting the Redeemer’s blood to cleanse from all unrighteousness, the seeking heart yields himself a living sacrifice, which is acceptable to God, and the Spirit’s fullness is bestowed. Constant communion with the Saviour and consistent victory over sin mark the holy life. Because the garment of the soul is white the anointing for victorious living is not wanting. Christ’s life lived by His Spirit in us is in turn lived by us. The power requisite to live a holy life is never acquired; it is always bestowed, and is ever dependent upon the merits of the Saviour’s sacrifice.

The life of God within the soul is never a cover for anything, but always a manifestation of something. Here is no human putting-on, but a divine putting-forth. We do not adorn it from without; we avow it from within. It is a “natural life so completely Christian that the Christian life is completely natural.”

The holy life is vertical. It reaches up to God and lives in the heavenlies. The pivot has been changed from self to God and there is a continuous adjustment to the divine will. This life would rather have God minus everything than everything minus God. He who abides here no longer lives by his wits but by the wisdom of the Eternal. He breathes the air of another land and has meat to eat that the world knows not. The life that is holy draws its inspiration from the Throne and is sustained by that which is unearthly and other-worldly.

Again: The holy life is horizontal; it reaches out to men. Living in the heavenlies, its sphere of operations is the present evil world. Because it loves God with the totality of its ransomed powers, it loves its neighbor as itself. Desiring for all men everywhere God’s highest and best, it finds expression in sacrificial service. As the new and risen life of the ascended Lord is now occupies with redemptive rescue, so the holy heart gives itself to the same sacred task. Fulfilling the Master’s word that “where I am, there shall also my servant be,” it is to “have and become a quickening spirit that builds the kingdom; storms the strongholds of sin and Satan; gathers the outcasts; reclaims the wanserer, rebukes the careless; arouses the formalist; arrests the presumptuous; strengthens the righteous; cheers the disheartened, and stirs to diligence the labors abundant the godly.”

The proclamation of Scripture, the purpose of God, the prayers of Christ and the power of the Spirit are all to the end that we may be holy. The holy life is the glorious contagion of sould and health and a perpetual motion in grace. Here is the cure for spasms of earnestness in things spiritual, and the spell of holy zeal that never ceases until the heart stops its beating.

If we are to accomplish our God-given task and thus actuate the grand purposes of a glorious redemption, nothing less than a holy life will suffice. Let us never forget that a holy ministry plus a holy membership equals an omnipotent Church. “Heal us at the heart and let the world come on.” We believe in a holy life. H.J.S.

A.W. Tozer We Believe In A Holy Life is from Alliance Weekly 6 June 1951

A. W. Tozer Salvation Walks The Earth

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24

It is like the Lord to fasten a world upon nothing, and make it stay in place. Here He takes that wonderful, mysterious microcosm we call the human soul and makes its future weal or woe to rest upon a single word – “if.” If any man, He says, and teaches at once the universal inclusiveness of His invitation, and the freedom of the human will. Everyone may come; no one need come, and whoever does come, comes because he chooses to.

Every man holds his future in his hand. Not the dominant world leader only, but the inarticulate man lost in anonymity is a “man of destiny.” He decides which way his soul shall go. He chooses, and destiny waits on the nod of his head. He decides, and hell enlarges herself, or heaven prepares another mansion. So much of Himself has God given to men.

There is a strange beauty in the ways of God with men. He sends salvation to the world in the person of a Man and sends that Man to walk the busy ways saying, “If any man will come after me.” No drama, no fanfare, no tramp of marching feet or tumult of shouting. A kindly Stranger walks through the earth, and so quiet is His voice that it is sometimes lost in the hurly-burly; but it is the last voice of God, and until we become quiet to hear it we have no authentic message. He bears good tidings from afar but He compels no man to listen. If any man will, He says, and passes on. Friendly, courteous, unobtrusive, He yet bears the signet of the King. His word is divine authority, His eyes a tribunal, His face a last judgment.

If any man will . . . let him follow me,” He says, and some will rise and go after Him, but others give no heed to His voice. So the gulf opens between man and man, between those who will and those who will not. Silently, terribly the work goes on, as each one decides whether he will hear or ignore the voice of invitation. Unknown to the world, perhaps unknown even to the individual, the work of separation takes place. Each hearer of the Voice must decide for himself, and he must decide on the basis of the evidence the message affords. There will be no thunder sound, no heavenly sign or light from heaven. The Man is His own proof. The marks in His hands and feet are the insignia of His rank and office. He will not put Himself again on trial; He will not argue, but the morning of the judgment will confirm what men in the twilight have decided.

And those who would follow Him must accept His conditions. “Let him,” He says, and there is no appeal from His words. He will use no coercion, but neither will He compromise. Men cannot make the terms; they merely agree to them. Thousands turn from Him because they will not meet His conditions. He watches them as they go, for He loves them, but He will make no concessions. Admit one soul into the Kingdom by compromise and that Kingdom is no longer secure. Christ will be Lord, or He will be Judge. Every man must decide whether he will take Him as Lord now or face Him as Judge then.

What are the terms of discipleship? Only one with a perfect knowledge of mankind could have dared to make them. Only the Lord of men could have risked the effect of such rigorous demands: “Let him deny himself.” We hear these words and shake our heads in astonishment. Can we have heard aright? Can the Lord lay down such severe rules at the door of the Kingdom? He can and He does. If He is to save the man, He must save him from himself. It is the himself which has enslaved and corrupted the man. Deliverance comes only by denial of that self. No man in his own strength can shed the chains with which self has bound him, but in the next breath the Lord reveals the source of the power which is to set the soul free: “Let him take up his cross.” The cross has gathered in the course of the years much of beauty and symbolism, but the cross of which Jesus spoke had nothing of beauty in it. It was an instrument of death. Slaying men was its only function. Men did not wear that cross; but that cross wore men. It stood naked until a man was pinned on it, a living man fastened like some grotesque stickpin on its breast to writhe and groan till death stilled and silenced him. That is the cross. Nothing less. And when it is robbed of its tears and blood and pain it is the cross no longer. “Let him take . . . his cross,” said Jesus, and in death he will know deliverance from himself.

A strange thing under the sun is crossless Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a no-cross, an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of Christ is a place of death. Let each one be careful which cross he carries.

“And follow me.” Now the glory begins to break in upon the soul that has just returned from Calvary. “Follow me” is an invitation, and a challenge, and a promise. The cross has been the end of a life and the beginning of a life. The life that ended there was a life of sin and slavery; the life that began there is a life of holiness and spiritual freedom. “And follow me,” He says, and faith runs on tiptoe to keep pace with the advancing light. Until we know the program of our risen Lord for all the years to come we can never know everything He meant when He invited us to follow Him. Each heart can have its own dream of fair worlds and new revelations, of the odyssey of the ransomed soul in the ages to come, but whoever follows Jesus will find at last that He has made the reality to outrun the dream.

A. W. Tozer Salvation Walks The Earth is taken from Alliance Weekly 23 May 1951