Monthly Archives: July 2016

A. W. Tozer It Will Not Go Away

A droll bit of advice sometimes given to persons who are being bothered by some disagreeable problem is, “Let it alone and it will go away by itself.” While the words are usually intended to be humorous, they express, better than many more serious words would do, an unfortunate habit which is altogether too prevalent among us. It is the habit of neglecting spiritual questions in the vague hope that they will stop bothering us and go away of themselves.

We all come into the world with one tremendous question facing us, the question of our relation to the God from whose hand we came. None of the heavy problems propounded by philosophy can equal this one in vital significance and solemn meaning for the individual man. So important is it that it may properly be said that no other question really exists at all till this one has been settled. And it will not settle itself; it must be settled by each one of us personally and individually. lf we ignore it, it will not go away. It will be there to haunt us in the last day we spend on earth, and it will be there to face us in the day of judgment when it is too late to do anything about it.

The question is not a philosophical one merely; it is not even a theological one. It is strictly personal. The deceitful human heart would like only too well to involve it in the fog of doctrinal argument and thus rob it of its real meaning. That is a common way to deal with it, but it is never a satisfactory way. The question will come back again out of the fog to demand a true answer, that is, a moral answer.

Two questions are embraced within the one problem: What shall I do with my sin? and what shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ? In spite of every effort of the pseudo-learned world to dispose of the sin question, it remains still, a perennial heartache to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. It is one of those persistent pains that lies deep in the soul and never quite stops hurting. It just won’t go away. The devil and the busy sons of men have sought throughout the centuries for something to make this problem go away. They have invented how many thousands of amusements, they have created innumerable pleasures to take the mind off its central woe; but nothing works. Sin is still the world’s first problem.

The second question, What shall I do with Jesus? is the answer to the first one, for Jesus came to save men from their sins. Let us answer the second one rightly and the first one will be solved automatically. If we but come to Jesus with our sin upon us and without any hope except His mercy, we shall surely be delivered from the ancient curse. But remember, sin demands an answer. It won’t just go away. It must be carried away by redeeming blood, and redeeming blood was never shed by any other lamb except the Lamb of God.

A. W. Tozer It Will Not Go Away is from Alliance Weekly 3 October 1951

A. W. Tozer Convention Or Crusade?

Such a fast hold does inertia have upon almost everything religious that it takes a powerful and sudden attack by determined forces to move anything. It takes something like a crusade to get anything done these days. The principle of laissez faire is so firmly implanted in all of us that something in the nature of an earthquake is needed to jar us loose and start us on the right way.

It is an illuminating experience to read the history of the great spiritual movements that have blessed the world over the last 2,000 years. Scarely any of these began quietly; almost always they struck the earth with the suddenness of a cyclone. We have only to mention a few to prove our point: the ministry of John the Baptist, the appearance of Jesus Christ with His miracles, Pentecost, the Reformation, the Wesleyan revivals, the Great Awakening, revivals in Wales, in Korea, the strange and wonderful work under the Prophet Harris in Africa–the list is long.

These movements struck with the unexpectedness of lightning and found people without a defense against them. Methodism, for instance moved with the speed of a forest fire and took on the character of a crusade. The Christian and Missionary Alliance, though on a much smaller scale, had something of the crusader spirit about it. The spiritual certainty within the hearts of a select few became so white-hot that it set others on fire around it and started an unplanned movement toward a return to New Testament standards and the deeper things of the Spirit.

History shows another fact also: When the first heat of the originators of great movements had spent itself after their death, immediately another spirit entered and took over – it was the spirit of conventionalism. It retained the outward form of the orginal movement but lost all the inward heat. The movement ceased to move; its adherents gained popularity and lost power; the apocalyptic quality of its message disappeared; its new teachers set about to make its teaching acceptable to Christendom – and their success became at last their greatest tragedy.

It is a lamentable fact that the crusading spirit is almost wholly lost to the Deeper Life branches of the church. Modern crusaders are for the most part no more than high octane proselyters operating down on a level far below New Testament plateaus. They make all the noise and get all the notice, while hungry-hearted saints shake their heads in discouragement and wait for-what?

A. W. Tozer Convention Or Crusade?” is from Alliance Weekly 3 October 1951

A. W. Tozer God, The First And The Last

God is always first , and will surely be last.

To say this is not to draw God downward into the stream of time and involve Him in the flux and flow of the world. He stands above His own creation and outside of time, but for the convenience of His creatures (who are children of time) He makes free use of time words when referring to Himself. So He says that He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and last.

Man in the plan of God has been granted considerable say; but never is he permitted to utter the first word nor the last. That is the prerogative of the Deity, and one which He will never surrender to His creatures.

Man has no say about the time or the place of his birth; God determines that without consulting the man himself. One day the little man finds himself in consciousness and accepts the fact that he is. There his volitional life begins. Before that he had nothing to say about anything. After that he struts and boasts and utters his defiant proclamations of individuals freedom, and encouraged by the sound of his own vice he may declare his independence of God and call himself an “atheist” or an “agnostic.” Have your fun , little man; you are only chattering in the interim between first and last. You had no voice at the first and you will have none at the last. God reserves the right to take up at the last where He began at the first, and you are in the hands of God whether you will or not.

This knowledge should humble us and encourage us, too. It should humble us when we remember how frail we are, how utterly dependent upon God; and it should encourage us to know that when everything else has passed we may still have God no less surely than before.

Adam became a living soul but that becoming was not of his own volition. It was God who willed it and who executed His will in making Adam a living man. God was there first! And when Adam sinned and wrecked his whole life, God was there still. Adam did not know it perhaps, but his whole future peace lay in this-that God was still there after he had sinned. The God who was there at Adam’s beginning remained there at his ending. God was there last.

It would be great wisdom for us to begin to live in the light of this wonderful and terrible truth: God is the first and the last! The remembrance of this could save nations from many tragic and bloody decisions. Were notes written by statesmen against the background of such knowledge they might be less inflammatory, less arrogant; and were kings and dictators to think soberly of this great truth they might walk more softly and speak less like gods. For after all they are not really important and the sphere of their freedom is constricted more than they dream.

Shelly tells of the traveler who saw in the desert two vast and trunkless legs of stone, and near them half-buried in the sand lay a shattered face with a “wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command.” On the pedestal where once a proud image had stood were engraven these words: “My name is Oxymandias, King of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.” And says the poet, “Nothing else remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Shelly was right except for one thing: Something else did remain. It was God. He had been there first to look in gentle pity upon the mad king who could boast so shamelessly in the shadow of the tomb; and He was there when the winds of heaven blew down the satue and by the swirling sands covered with the mantle of pity the evidence of human decay. God was there last.

A. W. Tozer God, The First And The Last from Alliance Weekly 19 September 1951

A. W. Tozer Free, But Not Independent

It is a difficult thing to do, yet very necessary that we find a place of complete spiritual freedom and loving dependence upon one another.

Here in the wide valley between two high and dangerous peaks is the broad dwelling of God’s true and wise children.

The spirit of complete inward freedom is a precious heritage from the cross and should be treasured as one of life’s most wonderful possessions. It is our privilege to be wholly free from evil habits, from superstition, from the fear of men, from the slavery of popular customs, from the necesssity of pleasing the self-elected dictators of society. Such freedom is wondrously delightful, near to the joy of heaven itself.
Our Lord said, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free…If the Son therefore shall make ou free, ye shall be free indeed.” The on whom the Son has set free from others living in the world. He would walk with God in quiet inward liberty if no one else on earth were to go along with him.

Yet such a happy soul has no feeling of independence; he is deeply conscious that he is a member of a larger body of which Christ is the head, and he willingly acknowledges his indebtedness to all other Christians. He thanks God for every one of His children and is eager to learn from all of them. He is grateful for “holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” for translators, expositors, teachers, intercessors, hymnists, and he thankfully acknowledges the part they all had in ministering to his own life the liberating things of the free Spirit.

It is most important that this truth be grasped firmly and taught faithfully, for as long as we are in this mortal body there will always be danger from one or the other of these two extremes, slavish dependence or arrogant independence. Some Christians (by far the majority) will accept a place of timid conformity and surrender themselves to the bondage of authority and custom. In all things religious they will become meek followers of popular trends within their own circle. Such as these have no vision of their own, no true convictions, no inward freedom. They are slaves of the religious machine; they know nothing of the liberty with which Christ has made us free.

The other extreme is found here and there among us, and while it never has as many followers as the cult of bondage, it is nevertheless quite well represented in orthodox circles. Its followers glorify freedom to a point where they deny their proper debt to fellow Christians and scorn the interdependence of the body. They are often contemptuous of spiritual authority, and they deny the right of Spirit-gifted men to exercise their gifts within the church. This breeds a kind of religious anarchy that is altogether unscriptural and, as might be expected, extremely injurious to the cause of true spirituality. Both extremes must be avoided. We must live in the paradox of happy dependent freedom.

A. W. Tozer Free, But Not Independent from Alliance Weekly 12 September 1951

A. W. Tozer Make Room for Mystery

So finely are the lines of truth drawn, so delicately are the scales of wisdom balanced, that it is not a wonder that some tender-minded Christians become confused and adopt a discouraged attitude toward the Word of God.

The beginner in Christ will not have read long in the Scriptures till he comes upon passages that appear to contradict each other, He may check the various versions or, if he is fortunate enough to read the Scriptures in the original languages, he may consult all the lexicons and still be forced to acknowledge the contradiction. As far as he can see it is there and there is no avoiding it. Now what?

Well, he may do one of several things. He may, for instance, quit in despair and conclude that he can never understand the Bible and that there is no use to try; or he may worry over the contradictory passages until he gets himself into a dangerous state of mind; or (and this is the worst of all) he may consult some of the rationalistic-orthodox theologians who in fancied near-omniscience presume to resolve all Biblical difficulties with a wave of their type-writer. This last is sure to be fatal to true spirituality, for the whole heart attitude of these expositors is wrong and they cannot but lead their disciples astray. They belong to that class of persons mentioned by Cicero, who “fear nothing so much as to appear to be in doubt about anything.” They proceed on the false assumption that everything in heaven and earth can be explained. And nothing could be more glaringly false.

Far better than the attempt to understand is the humility that admits its ignorance and waits quietly on God for His own light to appear in His own time. We will be better able to understand when we have accepted the humbling truth that there are many things in heaven and earth that we shall never be able to understand. It will be good for us to accept the universe and take our place in the mighty web of God’s creation, so perfectly known to Him and so slightly known to even the wisest of men. “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.”

To those who have (unintentionally) degraded their conception of God to the level of their human understanding it may appear frightening to admit that there are many things in the Scriptures and more things about the Godhead that transcend the human intellect. But a few minutes on our knees looking into the face of Christ will teach us humility, a virtue whose healing qualities have been known by God’s elect from time out of mind. Coleridge gave it as his considered belief that the profoundest sentence ever uttered by human lips was the spontaneous cry of the prophet Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones when asked by the lord whether those bones could live: “And I answered, 0 Lord God, thou knowest.” Had Ezekiel answered yes or no he would have closed off his heart to the mighty mystery which confronted him and would have missed the luxury of wonder in the presence of the Majesty on high. For never forget that it is a privilege to wonder, to stand in delighted silence before the Supreme Mystery and whisper, “0 Lord God, thou knowest!”

The pitiable attempt of churchmen to explain everything for the smiling unbeliever has had an effect exactly opposite to that which was intended. It has reduced worship to the level of the intellect and introduced the rationalistic spirit into the wonders of religion.

No one should be ashamed to admit that he does not know, and no Christian should fear the effect of such a confession in the realm of things spiritual. Indeed the very power of the cross lies in the fact that it is the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of man. The day we manage to explain everything spiritual will be the day that we have (for ourselves) destroyed everything divine.

Let it be known that in this matter the Christian is definitely not on the defensive. Let the wise of this world insist that we Christians explain our faith and they put into our hand a sword with which we can put them to headlong flight. We have but to turn and ask them to explain this world and we shall see how confused they can become. Jesus said on one occasion “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” If we are compelled to explain, so are they, and we both do a poor job of it, for mystery lies all about us from the atom to the soul of man, and all any of us can do is to bow and say, “0 Lord God, thou knowest.”

Probably David lying on his back on the green meadow at night, brooding over the mystery of the moon and the stars and the littleness of man in the total scheme of things, worshiping the God who had made him only a little lower than the angels, was a truer man than the astronomer who in his high pride weighs and measures the heavenly bodies. Yet the astronomer need not despair. If he will humble himself and confess his deep inward need, the God of David will teach him how to worship, and by so doing will make him a greater man than he could ever have been before.

A. W. Tozer Make Room for Mystery is from Alliance Weekly 5 September 1951