Monthly Archives: September 2016

A. W. Tozer The Spiritual Man

Almost every Christian wants to be spiritual, but few know what the experience means. A lot of unfounded comfort would be swept away and much true consolation would be received if we could get straightened out.

It is difficult for us to shake off the notion that a man is as spiritual as he feels. Our basic spirituality seldom accords with our feelings. There are many carnal persons whose religious emotions are sensitive to every impression and who manage to keep themselves on a very high plane of inward enjoyment but who have no marks of godliness upon them. They have a low boiling point and can get heated up over almost anything religious at a moment’s notice. Their tears are close to the surface and their voices carry a world of emotion content. Such have a reputation of being spiritual and they themselves may easily believe they are. But not necessarily.

The spiritual man is indifferent to his feelings; he lives by faith in God with little care about his own emotions; he thinks God’s thoughts and sees things as God sees them. he rejoices in Christ and has no confidence in himself and is more concerned with obedience than with happiness. This is less romantic maybe but stands the test of time.

A. W. Tozer The Spiritual Man is from Alliance Weekly 5 December 1951

A.W. Tozer Men, Our Most Critical Need

The most critical need of the Church at this moment is men, the right kind of men, bold men.

The talk is that we need revival, that we need a new baptism of the Holy Spirit – and God knows we must have both–but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already died to the allurements of this world.

Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above.

This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church – even the evangelical church -is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe (or fear) the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Her leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it and their people followed them – sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution – and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to bring others under their feet. They have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety. But the free man – never; he has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him, well and good. If not, he loses nothing that he holds dear. But whether he is accepted or rejected, he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them.

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive under the twin threats of Catholicism and Communism, she must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way among men.

And when the deliverers come – reformers, revivalists, prophets – they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Ghost. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.

A.W. Tozer Men, Our Most Critical Need from Alliance Weekly 05 December 1951

A. W. Tozer We Must Die If We Would Live

“Let me die… lest I die… only let me see Thy face.” That was the prayer of St. Augustine.

“Hide not Thy face from me,” he cried in an agony of desire. “Oh! that I might repose on Thee. Oh! that Thou wouldst enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good.”

This longing to die, to get our opaque form out of the way so that it might not hide from us the lovely face of God, is one that is instantly understood by the hungry-hearted believer. To die that we might not die! There is no contradiction here, for there are before us two kinds of dying, a dying to be sought and a dying to be avoided at any cost.

To Augustine the sight of God inwardly enjoyed was life itself and anything less than that was death. To exist in total eclipse under the shadow of nature without the realized Presence was a condition not to be tolerated. Whatever hid God’s face from him must be taken out of the way, even his own self-love, his dearest ego, his most cherished treasures. So he prayed, “Let me die.”

The great saints daring prayer was heard and, as might he expected, was answered with a fullness of generosity characteristic of God. He died the kind of death to which Paul testified: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” His life and ministry continued and his presence is always there, in his books, in the church, in history; but wondrous as it may be, he is strangely transparent; his own personality is scarcely seen, while the light of Christ shines through with a kind of healing splendor.

There have been those who have thought that to get themselves out of the way it was necessary to withdraw from society; so they denied all natural human relationships and went into the desert or the mountain or the hermit’s cell to fast and labor and struggle to mortify their flesh. While their motive was good it is impossible to commend their method. For it is not scriptural to believe that the old Adam nature can be conquered in that manner. It is altogether too tough to be killed by abusing the body or starving the affections. It yields to nothing less than the cross.

In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.

If we will not die then we must die, and that death will mean the forfeiture of many of those everlasting treasures which the saints have cherished. Our uncrucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christ-likeness of character, spiritual insight, fruitfulness; and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God’s face, that vision which has been the light of earth and will be the completeness of heaven.

A. W. Tozer We Must Die If We Would Live is from Alliance Weekly 28 November 1951

A. W. Tozer The Use And Abuse Of Humor

Few things are as useful in the Christian life as a gentle sense of humor and few things are as deadly as a sense of humor out of control.

Many lose the race of life through frivolity. Paul is careful to warn us. He says plainly that the Christian’s characteristic mood should not be one of jesting and foolish talking but rather one of thanksgiving (Eph. 5:1-5). It is significant that in this passage the apostle classifies levity along with uncleanness, covetousness and idolatry.

Now obviously an appreciation of the humorous is not an evil in itself. When God made us He included a sense of humor as a built-in feature, and the normal human being will possess this gift in some degree at least. The source of humor is ability to perceive the incongruous. Things out of focus appear funny to us and may stir within us a feeling of amusement that will break into laughter.

Dictators and fanatics have no sense of humor. Hitler never knew how funny he looked, nor did Mussolini know how ridiculous he sounded as he solemnly mouthed his bombastic phrases. The religious fanatic will look upon situations so comical as to excite uncontrollable mirth in normal persons and see nothing amusing in them. This blind spot in his make-up prevents him from seeing how badly his own life and beliefs are out of focus. And just so far as he is blind to the incongruous he is abnormal; he is not quite as God meant him to be.

Humor is one thing, but frivolity is quite another. Cultivation of a spirit that can take nothing seriously is one of the great curses of society, and within the church it has worked to prevent much spiritual blessing that otherwise would have descended upon us. We have all met those people who will not be serious. They meet everything with a laugh and a funny remark. This is bad enough in the world, but positively intolerable among Christians.

Let us not allow a perverted sense of humor to ruin us. Some things are funny, and we may well laugh sometimes. But sin isn’t funny; death isn’t funny. There is nothing funny about a world tottering upon the brink of destruction; nothing funny about war and the sight of boys dying in blood upon the field of battle; nothing funny about the millions who perish each year without ever having heard the gospel of love.

It is time that we draw a line between the false and the true, between the things that are incidental and the things that are vital. Lots of things we can afford to let pass with a smile. But when humor takes religion as the object of its fun it is no longer natural—it is sinful and should be denounced for what it is and avoided by everyone who desires to walk with God.

Innumerable lectures have been delivered, songs sung and books written exhorting us to meet life with a grin and to laugh so the world can laugh with us; but let us remember that however jolly we Christians may become, the devil is not fooling. He is cold-faced and serious, and we shall find at last that he was playing for keeps. If we who claim to be followers of the Lamb will not take things seriously, Satan will, and he is wise enough to use our levity to destroy us.

We might add here that we are not arguing for unnatural solemnity; I see no value in gloom and no harm in a good laugh. My plea is for a great seriousness which will put us in mood with the Son of Man and with the prophets and apostles of the Scriptures. The joy of the Lord can become the music of our hearts and the cheerfulness of the Holy Spirit will tune the harps within us. Then we may attain that moral happiness which is one of the marks of true spirituality, and also escape the evil effects of unseemly humor.

A. W. Tozer The Use And Abuse Of Humor is from Alliance Weekly 14 November 1951