“A 20th Century Prophet”

For those who don’t know, I’m an A. W. Tozer fan. Apart from scripture no book has had a bigger influence on my formation than
The Pursuit of God.

If you haven’t read it, stop whatever you’re doing (after reading this post) and go get it. If you need more than my recommendation here’s the preface. If you’ve read it before, read it again and feel that heartache, that longing again.

The Pursuit of God

A. W. Tozer

 

 

Preface

In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct `interpretations’ of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water. This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man’s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the Church of God in our day. But this hunger must be recognized by our religious leaders.

Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. [See 1 Kings 18 for the allusions.-ccp] But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the `piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals oft he faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: `The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.’

It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The truth of Wesley’s words is established before our eyes: `Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions,yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is proof of this.’

Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for the dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold `right opinions,’ probably more than ever before in the history of the Church.Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the `program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.

This book is a modest attempt to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him. Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.

A. W. Tozer Chicago, Ill. June 16, 1948.

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7 Responses to ““A 20th Century Prophet””

  1. iwka Says:

    I also like Tozer. Have you read von Balthasar? Genius.

  2. seaton garrett Says:

    I haven’t yet. I’ve got 2 of his books on my shelf and waiting to be read. Thanks for the push to pull them down and read.

  3. Jimmy D. Says:

    I love it. I read this book in college and God used it to stir my hunger and thirst for Him. It is truly a “must read”.

  4. seaton garrett Says:

    Hey man, thanks for stopping by. I keep re-reading it, and it still stirs my heart.

  5. Geneva Says:

    A friend shoved this book into my hand and said, “You have to read this.” I’d recommend it to anyone who looks for a deeper relationship with Christ.

  6. seaton garrett Says:

    Me too. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. thenonconformer Says:

    God’s Word provides us with all the purpose and direction that we could ever need. God also gives us something more to be able to live the Christian life, he also gives us the anointing of the Holy Spirit,. The bad churches deny both, the bad Anglican churches included. Bad pastors, bad elders also bad churches even professing Christian evangelical churches such as the Christian Missionary Alliance, Dispensational Brethren ones, others too, use the “BAIT AND SWITCH” approach.. the next falsely deviate from the Bible’s teaching.. (Isa 2:22 KJV) Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

    (Isa 65:2 KJV) I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; .. 5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. 6 KJV) Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,

    Evangelical Snobbery By Aiden Wilson Tozer

    WE ARE A BAD LOT, WE SONS OF ADAM. One convincing proof of our inherent badness is the way we manage to turn good into evil and make our very blessings a curse to us. Indeed I think a strong case can be made for the belief that sin is merely righteousness in reverse and evil but perverted good. Sin is at bottom the abuse of things in themselves innocent, an illegitimate use of legitimate gifts.

    We Christians are cut from the same bolt as the rest of mankind, and while we have been made partakers of a new nature we have not yet been entirely divested of the old. For this reason we are under constant temptation to lapse into the flesh and manifest the old nature rather than the new. I know the arguments against this, but they have never seemed very convincing to me, especially when those who advance them are as likely as not to reveal pretty plain evidences of the old nature before the argument is ended.

    Because we are so very human there is real danger that we may inadvertently do the human thing and turn our blessings upside down. Unless we watch and pray in dead earnest we may turn our good into evil and make the grace of God a trap instead of a benefit.

    Among the purest gifts we have received from God is truth. Another gift almost as precious, and without which the first would be meaningless, is our ability to grasp truth and appreciate it. For these priceless treasures we should be profoundly grateful; for them our thanks should rise to the Giver of all good gifts throughout the day and in the night seasons. And because these and all other blessings flow to us by grace without merit or worth on our part, we should be very humble and watch with care lest such undeserved favors, if unappreciated, be taken from us.

    Men are notoriously lacking in gratitude. Bible history reveals that Israel often took God’s gifts too casually and so turned their blessings into a curse. This human fault appears also in the New Testament, and the activities of Christians through the centuries show that as Christ was followed by Satan in the wilderness so truth is often accompanied by a strong temptation to pride. The very truth that makes men free may be and often is fashioned into chains to keep them in bondage. And never forget it: there is no pride so insidious and yet so powerful as the pride of orthodoxy.

    Snobbery is the child of pride. Pride at first may be eager and ambitious as it tries to make a place for itself or to prove that it has already attained that place. Later it loses its eager quality and becomes defensive. Finally it ceases to struggle or defend and accepts its own image of itself as something too well established for discussion and too beautiful to improve. When it reaches that stage it has produced a snob, and no snob is ever aware that he is one.

    The snob whose claim to superiority is her material possessions is a comical figure, but because she is so pathetic she may with some effort be tolerated. The snob whose glory lies in her ancestors is less easy to endure, but she may be dismissed with the remark that since all she has to be proud of is her forebears the best part of her is under ground. But what shall we say of the intellectual snob? He is unbearable, a man difficult to love and impossible to like. A new school of evangelical Christianity has come up of late which appears to me to be in grave danger of producing a prime crop of intellectual snobs. The disciples of this school are orthodox in creed, if by that we mean that they hold the fundamental tenets of the historic faith; but right there the similarity of their school to New Testament Christianity ends. Their spirit is quite other than the spirit of the early church.

    This new breed of Christian may be identified by certain field marks. One is the habit of puffing out the chest and uttering a noise that sounds suspiciously like crowing. Another is the habit of nesting so high that ordinary Christians have difficulty in locating the aerie, and when they do they are unable to climb to it. Then, the song is also quite noticeable in that it consists almost wholly of imitations. Rarely does one of them manage to give forth an original note, but each one waits to hear what Barth or Brunner or Bultmann or Tillich has to say and then imitates it as nearly as possible, only transposing it into the orthodox key. Their mating call is a shrill “Me too! Me too!” which may be heard any time between September and June ringing through the halls of various institutions of evangelical higher learning.

    What is overlooked by this new school is that truth is not mental only but moral. The Apostles’ Creed quoted in pride, though true, is not true for the one who thus quotes it; one indispensable quality is missing—humility. A theological fact becomes a spiritual truth only when it is received by a humble mind. The proud mind, however orthodox, can never know spiritual truth. Light means nothing to a blind man.

    In the Christian life we know most when we know that we do not know, and we understand best when we know that we understand little and that there is much that we will never understand. In the Scriptures knowledge is a kind of experience and wisdom has a moral content. Knowledge without humility is vanity. The religious snob is devoid of truth. Snobbery and truth are irreconcilable.

    The Alliance Witness, vol. 97, no. 24, p. 2, Nov. 28, 1962.

    http://witnessed.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/christian-missionary-alliance-2/

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