Monthly Archives: May 2016

A. W. Tozer The Christian’s Obligation To Be Joyful

Faith is at the foundation of all Christian living, and because faith has to do with the character of God, it is safe from all vacillations of mood. A man may be believing soundly and effectively even when his mood is low, so low that he is hardly aware that he is alive emotionally at all.

That is one thing, and it is good to know and still better to put in practice. But like every other truth, it has two sides. Our trouble today is that we tend to forget the other side, that is, that elevated spiritual mood is a tremendous aid to victorious Christian living.

The relation of faith to mood may be stated by means of a number of metaphors: if faith is the tree, mood is the blossom; if faith is the flower, mood is the fragrance; if faith is the instrument, mood is the melody. And who will deny the vital place of the blossom, the fragrance and the music in human life?

Mood is a kind of mental weather. There is weather in which nothing will grow. The farmer knows the damage done by prolonged periods of cold, wet weather in the spring after the seed has been planted. Sometimes the seed will rot in the ground, requiring a new planting with all the loss and extra work this entails. Weather may be too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet to favor good crops, and the Christian’s moods, in like manner, may be unfavorable to spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Christian service carried on during prolonged heaviness of heart may be as good as wasted.

George Mueller would not preach until his heart was happy in the grace of God; Jan Ruysbroeck would not write while his feelings were low, but would retire to a quiet place and wait on God till he felt the spirit of inspiration. It is well known that the elevated spirits of a group of Moravians convinced John Wesley of the reality of their religion, and helped to bring him a short time later to a state of true conversion.

The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful. In this day of universal apprehension when men’s hearts are failing them for fear of those things that are coming upon the earth, we Christians are strategically placed to display a happiness that is not of this world and to exhibit a tranquillity that will be a little bit of heaven here below.

All this takes for granted that sin has been dealt with by sincere repentance and thorough amendment of life. It assumes that we are walking in the light of truth, for true joy cannot be artificially induced. The “keep smiling” school of applied psychology is not even remotely related to the true faith of Christ. The chief fun of the comedian and the good humor of the wit who is the life of the party are like flowers growing on old graves, briefly interesting, but evanescent and always touched with sadness. But the fountain of Christian joy flows out from the throne of God, pure, refreshing and sweet everlastingly.

A. W. Tozer The Christian’s Obligation To Be Joyful is from Alliance Weekly 01 August 1951

A.W.Tozer The Uses Of Suffering

A.W.Tozer The Uses Of Suffering

The Bible has a great deal to say about suffering and most of it is encouraging.

The prevailing religious mood is not favorable to the doctrine, but anything that gets as much space as the doctrine of suffering gets in the Scriptures should certainly receive careful and reverent attention from the sons of the new creation. We cannot afford to neglect it, for whether we understand it or not we are going to experience some suffering. As human beings we cannot escape it.

From the first cold shock that brings a howl of protest from the newborn infant down to the last anguished gasp of the aged man, pain and suffering dog our footsteps as we journey here below. It will pay us to learn what God says about it so that we may know how to act and what to expect when it comes.

Christianity embraces everything that touches the life of man, and deals with it all effectively. Because suffering is a real part of human life, Christ Himself took part in the same and learned obedience by the things He suffered. It is not possible that the afflicted saint should feel a stab of pain to which Christ is a stranger. Our Lord not only suffered once on earth, He suffers now along with His people. “Behold,” cried the old saint as he watched a youthful martyr die, “Behold how our Lord suffers in the body of His handmaid.”

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy Maker is not near.

There is a kind of suffering which profits no one: it is the bitter and defiant suffering of the lost. The man out of Christ may endure any degree of affliction without being any the wiser or better for it. It is for him all a part of the tragic heritage of sin, a kind of earnest of the pains of hell. To such there is not much that we can say and for such there is little that we can do except to try in the name of Christ and our common humanity to reduce the suffering as much as we can. That much we owe to all the children of misfortune, whether their color or race or creed.

As long as we remain in the body we shall be subject to a certain amount of that common suffering which we must share with all the sons of men – loss, bereavement, nameless heartaches, disappointments, partings, betrayals, and griefs of a thousand sorts. This is the less profitable kind of suffering, but even this can be made to serve the followers of Christ. There is such a thing as consecrated griefs, sorrows that may be common to everyone but which take on a special character for the Christian when accepted intelligently and offered to God in loving submission. We should be watchful lest we lose any blessing, which such suffering might bring.

But there is another kind of suffering, known only to the Christian: it is voluntary suffering deliberately and knowingly incurred for the sake of Christ. Such is a luxury, a treasure of fabulous value, a source of riches beyond the power of the mind to conceive. And it is rare as well as precious, for there are few in this decadent age who will of their own choice go down into this dark mine looking for jewels. But of our own choice it must be, for there is no other way to get down. God will not force us into this kind of suffering; He will not lay this cross upon us nor embarrass us with riches we do not want. Such riches are reserved for those who apply to serve in the legion of the expendables, who love not their lives unto death, who volunteer to suffer for Christ’s sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell. Such as these have said good-bye to the world’s toys; they have chosen to suffer affliction with the people of God; they have accepted toil and suffering as their earthly portion. The marks of the cross are upon them and they are known in heaven and hell.

But where are they? Has this breed of Christian died out of the earth? Have the saints of God joined the mad scramble for security? Has the cross become no more than a symbol, a bloodless and sterile relic of nobler times? Are we now afraid to suffer and unwilling to die? I hope not, but I wonder. And only God has the answer.

A.W.Tozer The Uses Of Suffering from Alliance Weekly 25 July 1951

A. W. Tozer The Great God Entertainment

A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man.

If this is true (and I believe it is) then the present inordinate attachment to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modem man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.

Schleiermacher held that the feeling of dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the spiritual life might rise it must always begin with a deep sense of a great need which only God could satisfy. If this sense of need and a feeling of dependence are at the root of natural religion it is not hard to see why the great god Entertainment is so ardently worshiped by so many. For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable; they look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as a dope addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon courage to face existence.

No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things if used with discretion may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing. The all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again.

The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of sin. The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern men. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character than any other educational influence on earth. And the ominous thing is that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal thoughts which would fill the souls of men if they were but worthy to entertain them. And the whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds its devotees with a strange fascination, and a religion, incidentally, against which it is now dangerous to speak.

For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.

The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them stories. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and serving them up in various disguises to church people. What is natural and beautiful in a child may be shocking when it persists into adulthood, and more so when it appears in the sanctuary and seeks to pass for sanctity.

Is it not a strange thing and a wonder that, with the shadow of atomic destruction hanging over the world and with the coming of Christ drawing near, the professed followers of the Lord should be giving themselves up to religious amusements? That in an hour when mature saints are so desperately needed vast numbers of believers should revert to spiritual childhood and clamor for religious toys?

“Remember, 0 Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. . . . The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned ! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim” Amen. Amen.

A. W. Tozer The Great God Entertainment from Alliance Weekly 18 July 1951

A. W. Tozer On Going To God First

It is characteristic of human nature to turn to God only after every other avenue of help has been explored and been found useless. This is one of the many evils which sin has visited upon us–the bent to look everywhere for aid but in the right place, and if we do look in the right place, to look there last.

No one likes to think that he has been a second choice, but our patient Heavenly Father lies under the shadow of always being at least second, and often third or fifth or tenth choice. For most of us will have to confess that we sought God only after all else had failed. When one friend after another had rejected our pleas, we turned in despair to the God who never rejects anyone who comes to Him in sincerity and faith.

The old country woman “‘lowed” that it was no use to pray in a crisis if you hadn’t been in the habit of praying before. “For,” said she, “God doesn’t hear skeered prayers.” There may be a certain logic about her reasoning, but her conclusion is all at variance with the facts and with the gentle ways of God with erring men. For since our fathers fell asleep, the kingdom of heaven has continued to receive “skeered” persons of all ages and conditions who found the world too much for them and who in their grief and despair sought help where help can indeed be found.

No one need feel ashamed if he has come to God as a last resort, especially if he has found the help he sought “in the bosom of his Father and his God.” God has received a great army of such persons, and if He is satisfied, we should be. Billy Sunday once testified that he had been scared into the kingdom of God. “But,” said he, “by the grace of God I’m not going to be scared out.”

But be all this as true as it may be, still it is a bad habit for us as Christians to get into-the habit of trying everything before taking our problems to God. God should come first. If in our sinful ignorance we once knew no better, there is no reason for our continuing in the same rut now that we are children of the kingdom. It cheats us out of many a victory and leaves us for long periods in a state of perplexity and distress when we might be walking in freedom without a care in the world.

Going to God first will head off many a bad situation. A young man falls in love and without as much as a word of counsel from God plunges into marriage. A few years later he finds that he has made a bad mistake. Then he goes to God to seek a way out, and learns that he is too late. God will still help him even in such circumstances, but the sacred vows have been taken, and the die is cast. It would have been better to go to God first. Our chastenings come when we look somewhere else for help and neglect the one real source of all help and comfort. It’s always best to go to God first.

A business man gets too busy to pray, and becomes involved in unsound business transactions. When things begin to go to pieces for him he turns hard to God and begs for deliverance. After a while hurt and chastened and much the poorer for his experience, he gets back on his feet again. Then he has time to ask how it all happened, and the answer is easy. He did not go to God first. He received help, all right but also he suffered losses that he never should have suffered if he had gone to God first.

These examples may serve to illustrate our point. The details will vary from one to another of us, but the principle remains always the same. Our chastenings come when we look somewhere for help and neglect the one real source of all help and comfort. It’s always best to go to God first.

A. W. Tozer On Going To God First from Alliance Weekly 11 July 1951