And He Dwelt Among Us: Book Critique

and-he-dwelt-among-us

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963) is considered by many to be one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. Tozer was a minister in the Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Toronto and Chicago, from 1919 up until his passing. However, it was not until 1950, when he became the editor of Alliance Witness that he began to put word to paper. Much like John Wesley, he was, “a man of one Book, but a student of many.”[1]

The Gospel of John captivated Tozer’s imagination, as he would preach weekly Spirit-filled and anointed sermons, which had profound impacts on the congregation, to the point following the conclusion of the service, many were paralyzed in silence by the intensity of the message and the truth Tozer had clarified. Tozer believed, “any doctrine that did not rise to the height of identification with the Lord Jesus Christ was either misunderstood or not properly rooted in Scripture.”[2] On this assumption, Tozer sought to show doctrine must always establish truth, while also acting as a pathway to an intimate knowledge of God. Tozer understood in order to preach from John, a sound doctrinal foundation was imperative, especially since John was such a mystical thinker. James Snyder goes as far to describe Tozer being a “mystic with his feet on solid doctrinal ground.”[3] Another core reason, which compelled Tozer’s writing and preaching was the “spiritual boredom” that had overtaken the evangelical church. Tozer recognized the familiarity and complacency, which was taking root, especially in America and he sought to cast light on the darkness, which had attempted to eclipse the truth of the Word. “The heavens declare the glory of God,”[4] was a profound truth that resonated in Tozer’s soul as he saw John’s Gospel as a bright lens to view the love and nature of Jesus through. He recognized, “We are resting in the truth of the Word and are forgetting that there is a Spirit of the Word without which the truth of the Word means nothing to the human spirit at last.”[5]

Analysis

Tozer saw John’s way of presenting Christ in a mystical setting insightful, while other scholars viewed mysticism as something to avoid. Gnosticism was partly to blame for this and mid-nineteenth century literary criticism sought to discredit Johannine authorship as well. Instead, Tozer sought to highlight how John used sound theology in a way to truly define Christ’s nature. Right from the start of John, “In the beginning,” Tozer shows how mankind has been elevated into the realm of everlasting. This is an interesting point and something many fail to realize. Everyone has everlasting life, the only thing that determines where it will be spent is if one has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “From everlasting to everlasting, God is God” is profound, and the thought of an eternal separation from the Father should compel every follower of Christ to seek to help the lost and hurting comprehend the everlasting nature and love of God. Tozer demonstrates, “To ascend into the heart of God in this fashion is to begin to experience the Old Testament encouragement, ‘the eternal God is thy refuge.”[6] [7]

There is a God-shaped hole inside every man and woman and the reality of this statement means, “everywhere you go you see people who manifest a deep-seated restlessness, [which] shows there is something deep within the soul, put there by God, that yearns for the everlastingness that is only found in God.” Being created in the image of God and understanding He has put eternity into the mind of man, demonstrates why He puts the “everlasting beginningless” into the hearts of His children. God’s design was for mankind to always have freewill, however, hardwired into every mind, there has always been a longing for the everlastingness of God. Some call this quest for immortality a conditioned human response, but Tozer demonstrates, “God made man in His own image, and though man fell, He keeps the longing after eternity there and the appreciation of everlastingness there.”[8] There are many human responses God has placed inside men and women, but as Tozer highlights, “the most natural thing for a person who has been redeemed is for that person to lift his or her heart in prayer and praise to God. God put that response there, and redemption unleashes its capacity… [However,] when man fell in the Garden, it brought a dark cloud over the soul of all mankind.” This dark cloud is evidenced in the moral decline seen all across the world, as it attempts to suffocate the dreams, aspirations, and longings for a relationship with the Creator. Satan cannot stand anything God loves, so he attempts to counterfeit, destroy, or pervert anything that would create unity and oneness with God. This is evidenced by his early actions in the Garden of Eden.

Since mankind was cast out of Eden, everything has been tainted and Tozer argues everything is wrong until Jesus sets it right stating, “the kiss of death rests upon everything in our world [and] nothing in this world will help anybody toward God.”[9] Tozer rightly identifies the war being raged between the desires of the mind and the longings of the heart. He also demonstrates how the brain wants improvement and advancement, while the heart longs for everlastingness. The battlefield of the mind is a treacherous place where the greatest enemy is you. This is so true because the heart will never be satisfied with the desires of the depraved mind. An important concept here is the transient and finite nature of this world. Everything in it attempts to captivate one’s time, talents, and treasures, yet true meaning and happiness is only found in God. Toys, conveniences, games, hobbies, careers, will never satisfy because each of them is fleeting, here one moment, but gone the next. Only God is eternal and our souls will only be satisfied found in the divine everlastingness of the Word made flesh.

Tozer skillfully illustrates how God has no beginning and no end, making Him completely self-sufficient and self-existent. He needs nothing outside of Himself and that includes His creation. Tozer uses this truth to show, “We are likely to forget that God once lived without help and without creation… [and] when we give God anything, we are only giving God what He gave us in the first place.”[10] As humans, it can be remarkably easy to forget one’s place in the metanarrative of God’s story and how everything is dependent on everything, except God. Created things only lead to other created things, but each of them can be traced back to God, Who had no beginning and will have no end. The governing laws of the universe attempt to place restraints on God, essentially trying to put Him a box, so He can be defined or quantified. This is impossible, as Tozer shows, “God Himself established all the laws of creation and He created life and spirit, in order that there might be creatures conscious of Him. Christ has every claim over His creation and He has prepared a hell for those who do not respond to His call. This is heartbreaking to contemplate, but as Tozer highlights, “We should never come to God as a gesture of pity, thinking that God desperately wants us; we should give ourselves to God because He is worthy.”[11] This section of the book would have considerable impact to any freethinkers or individuals wrestling with intelligent design or science versus God dilemmas.

Tozer’s unpacking of, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not”[12] is enlightening. He shows the cause and effect relationship as the world is always an effect and the Word is always a cause. God created the world with order, beauty, harmony, and purpose. Tozer then explains, “Everything He created brought pleasure to Him in some way: ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’”[13] [14] The world was filled with the presence of God, first in the form of the Shekinah of the Word, and then in the incarnate form of Jesus Christ, becoming the light into the world.[15] John’s use of light and darkness is not accidental as light reveals was darkness attempts to hide. Pleasure, comfort, and luxury are dangerous in this sense, especially when there is no want or desire, as God can easily be forgotten. This writer believes Satan learned a valuable lesson when he persecuted Job. The worst things became and the more loss Job suffered, the closer he drew to God. The same thing is evident today as the church is being persecuted in many areas of the world, causing them to go underground, for fear of torture or death. The harder things become and the darker things get, the more people turn to God, but when man has no burdens and instead has all the comforts, desires, and pleasures one could hope for, God can quickly be forgotten. This is a profound truth!

This writer believes one of Jesus’s favorite miracles was the healing of the blind, so it is tragic how the very people He came to save were blind to Him being the prophesied Messiah. Tozer cites five insightful reasons why people continue to reject Him, even today, but each of them comes back to the blatant fact, humanity simply loves sin more than God:

(1) Change in priorities, meaning placing Christ first in life and no compromise in life; (2) Change in habit, allowing the patterns of life to be disturbed; (3) Personal Cleansing, requiring a pure heart; (4) Change in Direction, asking followers to “take up his [or her] cross and follow Me;”[16] and (5) Risking Wholehearted Trust, by showing faith in the unseen.[17]

The finite thinking of humanity denies the mystery of Christ’s incarnation and sacrifice partly because they themselves would never be willing to do the same thing. Tozer demonstrates, “The most profound mystery of human flaw is how the Creator could join Himself to the creature… [making] the incarnation of Christ shrouded in an impenetrable mystery that we could never uncover with our finite thinking.”[18] Christ was no less deity when He became flesh and this would mark the first time since creation God was dwelt with man again. While God would sometimes appear in the form of a theophany, He never dwelt with man in quite the same way He did in the Garden, with Adam and Eve. Being in the physical presence of Christ must have been a fascinating experience, especially to those who believed during the time of Jesus. This was an area Tozer could have gone a little deeper in, as John’s Gospel is packed with Old Testament references. He mentions Moses briefly, but this work would have been even better if it included more references to Isaiah or some other encounters with prophets, priests, and kings.

Tozer, insightfully illustrates, “What God thinks about a man is more important than what a man thinks about himself, [because] as far as God is concerned, what a man is always is more important to God than what that man does.”[19] Christ came into the world to show how much God values His creation and it is only through Christ God chooses to dispense His blessings on creation. God’s grace is ultimately the all-in-all and Tozer does a good job showing how God’s grace precedes everything from creation to the incarnation, even the mystery of the sacrificial atonement. For many, this is the part of the story where one cannot fathom why this had to happen and “why the eternal Father turned His back upon the Son – the Son of man, the sacrificial Lamb to be slain – and in blind terror and pain of it all, the sacrifice, the Lamb, temporarily became sin for us and knew Himself forsaken.”[20] Due to the requirements of the Law, atonement and the shedding of blood was needed for the remission of sins and Jesus allowed us to be redeemed, by taking upon Himself every sin and curse of the world. Through His crucifixion, He revealed God’s grace and mercy and made a way for humanity to have restored communion with the Father.

Tozer does demonstrate John’s strategic use of some Old Testament Scripture to confirm the Messianic prophecy had been fulfilled. John the Baptist rightly speaks of Jesus as the Lamb of God Who had come to take away the sins of the world[21] and he points out Jesus was the only hope for salvation. Christ is often referred to as the second Adam and Tozer explains, “God began the redemption of the human race within the race so that there are now two races running parallel to each other. The unregenerate race that goes back to the loins of Adam and the regenerate race that goes back to the start of Jesus.”[22] The world, ruled by the unregenerate had a choice to make, as every sinner belongs to the old race, but every Christian becomes redeemed and part of the new race. Every person matters to God, yet Satan wants everyone to believe they have no worth or purpose, and many fall prey to this pernicious lie.

Understanding why Jesus came into the world is a crucial point many discount or simply do not comprehend. He did not come to pronounce judgment; instead, He came that the world might be saved. When mankind becomes aware of sin, there is a natural feeling of judgment because sin separates mankind from God and the “wages of sin is death.”[23] Fortunately, the last part of this verse is, “but the gift of God is eternal life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Contemplating how Jesus came into this world, as a baby born to a virgin, is even more complex. Tozer further explains Jesus had a fondness for babies, regularly performing miracles on them, so it makes one ponder the early life of Christ, especially since there is very little evidence found in Scripture. This, perhaps, is another area Tozer could have added some additional insight in, pertaining to the relationship Jesus as a child had with the Father. If Christ had come in the form of a grown man or a theophany, John 3:16 would probably be needed to assure people destruction and judgment were not imminent. Instead, Jesus came as a baby to a lowly family to begin His mission of saving the world. At Christmas time, Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior, but Easter represents a much different occasion. Tozer demonstrates, “Without the cross on which the Savior died, there could be no Scripture, no revelation, and no redemption, but [even in John 3:16] there is no mention of the cross.”[24] God simply reveals He sent and gave His Son, which has deep meaning when used in conjunction with the story of the prodigal son.[25] Mankind, living a life apart from God is like the prodigal son, as everything is only about him or her. This mindset leads one further and further away, until he or she hopefully has the realization how much better things were back at home. For many, this takes humility and courage to face what awaits one’s return, but this story represents the true heart of the heavenly Father as the earthly father runs out to meet his son when he sees him on the horizon. He runs to his son, to protect him from shame and because what was lost was now found, and he embraces his son with grace and mercy by putting a ring on his finger, by placing the best robe around him, and throwing a feast in his honor. This is the celebration God must experience every time one of His children come to his or her senses and comes back to His loving embrace. With over twenty-five million children in America growing up in a fatherless home, this section of the book will help anyone struggling with how a heavenly Father could love them when his or her earthly father abandoned or abused them.

As one comes to faith in Christ, he or she is being invited into the Godhead, which exists in perfect harmony. Tozer beautifully explains, “Whatever the Father does, the Son sees Him do and works in harmony. And the Holy Ghost is the perfect bond between the Father and the Son, energizing the eternal Son with the energies of the Father and so working harmoniously to a preordained end.”[26] The holy trinity has been a topic of debate in some scholarly circles, as Jesus possessed the nature of man and the nature of God, but Tozer rightly shows how even these seemingly contradictory states harmonized into one perfect personality.[27] The mystery of the three-in-one and the unbroken fellowship, which exists, is hard to fathom with finite minds and it is even harder to picture given mankind’s fallen and sinful nature. Despite this, even when Jesus walked the earth, He maintained perfect visibility with God and He remained in perfect love within the Godhead. Tozer offers great insight into the inadequate concepts of judgment, as “mankind did whatever was right in his [or her] own eyes.”[28] During this time period, God equipped the Israelites with Judges, but today’s moral decay only demonstrates the depravity and misunderstanding, which exists, as Tozer shows:

(1) the law of compensation only serves to counterbalance any action; (2) we are accountable only to our society has partial truth, [however,] when we do something against God, we are accountable to Him for our actions; (3) we are accountable to human law, which demonstrates an outlaw is never a happy man because he is accountable to the law even while he is breaking it, and he is miserable even while he is flaunting the law; and (4) man’s accountability is to himself alone, which seeks to show man is a law unto himself and is the worst concept of judgment in all of society.[29]

Ultimately, every human being is accountable to God and Scripture is quite clear on this point.[30] Fortunately, God is all knowing, impartial, and empathetic, acting as both Savior and judge. Tozer says, “Those of you who do not want Jesus as a judge, had better think seriously now about Him as a Savior and stand like a penitent or kneel like one and confess your sin.”[31]

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He passed on His mission to the church. During His earthly ministry, “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”[32] Even though Jesus had left earth, He had not abandoned humanity. The omnipresence of God assures He is infinitely everywhere at all times. This concept can be hard to fathom, especially given mankind’s coexistence in two worlds: we are in this world, but not of it.[33] The dualistic physical and spiritual worlds are at odds with each other, but Tozer explains, “When I say there are two worlds, I do not mean to out the material world. God made it also, but not to last. He only made it temporarily…”[34]

There is no denying religion has improved morality and culture, but at the same time, the legalism found in many denominations has caused immense heartache and pain. America, while founded on biblical principles and responsible for much of the early evangelism and missions around the world, is now a nation where Christianity is no longer the fastest growing religion. Tozer further explains, “No religion ever rose higher than its concept of God and a nation can go below its religion.”[35] As a result, America is no longer one nation under God, America is far from being one church under God, and very few people can truly attest to being one people under God. The only hope is, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”[36]

Conclusion

John could not be clearer about the mission of Jesus. He became flesh, so everyone could know Him and thus know God. Previously, The Pursuit of God was this writer’s favorite Tozer work, but And He Dwelt Among Us is now a close second. Tozer masterfully tackles the mystery of the incarnation. He then shows how God is calling His children to come home to Him, just as the father of the prodigal son awaited his son’s return, God is waiting for us to call upon His name. He calls out to the weary and the broken and wants to give them the bread of life and living water, so he or she will no longer hunger or thirst anymore. He wants to give them rest by taking on Himself all the burdens and worries of life. That is why God sent His Son to save the world, so if anyone would simply believe in Him, God would grant forgiveness of sins and give the gift of eternal life. This promise releases the believer from judgment and condemnation, but one will only find Jesus Christ through faith, confession, and humility. Tozer closes saying, “Humility is a beautiful thing, but not very many people have it.”[37] This is tragic because when one seeks Christ in humility, He will reveal Himself to us and as we know Christ, we will know God. This masterpiece would be well suited for anyone wanting to know the true nature of God, regardless of where one is on his or her spiritual journey. It also would be beneficial to anyone taught since John was not considered part of the Synoptic Gospels, it did not deserve as much attention.

Tozer, A.W. And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings From the Gospel of John, Edited by James L. Snyder. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishing Group, 2009, 218 pp. $14.99 (Paperback).

 Bibliography

Tozer, A.W. And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings From the Gospel of John, Edited by James L. Snyder. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishing Group, 2009.


[1] A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, (Redding, CA), “Who is Tozer?” http://tozer.simpsonu.edu/Pages/About/Tozer-AWTozer.htm (accessed September 16, 2016).

[2] A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings From the Gospel of John, Ed. by James L. Snyder, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishing Group, 2009), 8.

[3] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 9.

[4] Psalm 19:1

[5] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 11.

[6] Ibid., 17.

[7] Deuteronomy 33:27

[8] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 20.

[9] Ibid., 23.

[10] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 32-33.

[11] Ibid., 41.

[12] John 1:10

[13] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 48.

[14] Revelation 4:11

[15] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 53.

[16] Matthew 16:24

[17] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 70-73.

[18] Ibid., 78-79.

[19] Ibid., 83.

[20] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 91.

[21] John 1:29

[22] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 103.

[23] Romans 6:23

[24] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 134.

[25] Luke 15:11-32

[26] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 140.

[27] Ibid., 141.

[28] Judges 17:6

[29] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 156-158.

[30] John 5:22, Romans 14:10 & Philippians 2:10-11

[31] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 168.

[32] Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

[33] John 17:16

[34] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 194.

[35] Ibid., 204.

[36] 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

[37] Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us, 217.

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The Crucified Life by A.W. Tozer Book Review

the crucified life

The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience. By A. W. Tozer. Bethany House Publishing, 2011, 220 pp. $14.99 (Paperback).

Part I

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963) is considered by many to be one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. Tozer was a pastor of Christian and Missionary Alliance churches in Toronto and Chicago. However, it was not until 1950, when he became the editor of Alliance Witness that he began to put word to paper. Much like John Wesley, he was, “a man of one Book, but a student of many.”[1] Tozer, in an effort to demonstrate how to live out a deeper Christian experience says, “The crucified life is a blessed but lonely life that no man can walk for someone else.”[2] This statement is profound as it demonstrates Tozer’s understanding that every believer must experience a paradigm shift in their own personal life and it provides a glimpse of why Tozer sought to illuminate this truth to all of his readers. This work can be unpackaged into four key areas: the foundation of the crucified life, the dynamics of the crucified life, the perils of the crucified life, and the blessings of the crucified life.

The foundation of the crucified life is formulated by defining what a true Christian is and to Tozer this meant, “One who sustains a right relationship with Jesus Christ [and] enjoys a union with [Him] that supersedes all other relationships.”[3] Having a strong foundation is key and by answering the important question of what Jesus Christ means in the believer’s life, it becomes the baseline to what is most important to the believer. Tozer explains the cost of the crucified life was paid for by Jesus, but he then shows that does not mean once one becomes a Christian they get a free ride. Instead, he challenges everyone who believes Christ is alive to do something about it.[4] Tozer then illustrates, “Our goal is to see Christ face to face, [but] too many Christians are satisfied with the status quo and being just satisfied causes many not to go on doing. While our objective is to finish the race, many begin, but few ever cross the finish line.” The final part of the foundation is to know God and this comes only through grace and is, “The longing for God without any other motive than simply reaching God Himself.”[5]

The Dynamics of a Crucified life deals with the natural man, the spiritual man, and the carnal man. Tozer demonstrates areas of all these stages within the Israelites as they wandered the desert for forty years. Tozer then reveals, “God was with them [despite their fear of death and doubts, but] He did not destroy them. [Instead,] He let them die one at a time.” This illustration is powerful to symbolize the perpetual circles many spend their entire life walking in. Despite God’s extraordinary deliverance of the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage and providing multiple divine encounters and miracles, they still grumbled and even worshipped idols.

The perils of the crucified life deal with, “When God calls a man to follow Him, He calls that man to follow Him regardless of the cost.”[6] The church has a long history of martyrs, leading to Tertullian’s famous quote: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Tozer explains, “A crucified life is an expensive proposition, one in which the believer is willing to forsake safety, convenience, fun, popularity, and worldly success. Christ paid the price for salvation, so now we must pay the price for our full identification with Him and our walk towards spiritual perfection.”[7]

The blessings of the crucified life demonstrate that Christ came to do two primary things: to help mankind and to put an end to self.[8] Tozer explains, “The purpose of God is not to save us from hell; the purpose of God is to save us to make us like Christ and to make us like God.”[9] This divine exchange takes off the old-self and puts on the new. When this happens, Tozer demonstrates, “God will give us His beauty, His joy, and His Son.”[10] The ultimate goal of this exchange should lead to revival, which Tozer breaks into three levels: personal, church, and community. The last level is the where the work of the Lord extends out of the church and impacts the whole community. There is nothing wrong with the personal or church revival, because until God acts in those two areas, it is impossible for the Spirit to overflow into the community.

Part II

            In The Crucified Life, “This book was strong medicine for what Tozer considered a serious malady. The more serious the condition, the more radical the remedy; and for this reason, Tozer was willing to uncompromisingly confront people with the message of the crucified life.”[11] While Tozer recognized the importance of living crucified life, he also knew the immense challenges it would present to anyone who tried. For Tozer, a crucified life is, “A life wholly given over to the Lord in absolute humility and obedience: a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord.”[12] This is the foundation component, which illustrates every believer must put God first in his or her life. When this happens on the individual level, it is only natural to see it take place in a corporate setting as each member of the body finds their giftings and talents and submits them to God in order to bring proclaim the gospel and ultimately bring glory to Lord.

When speaking on the dynamics of a crucified life, Tozer contrasts the Israelites desert wandering with the condition of today’s church and how God wants to pour out His Spirit, but man is content and satisfied with mere words.[13] Tozer explains, “As great and wonderful as these moves of God are, it does not take long to drift back into externalism, [meaning] institutionalism begins to take over.”[14] There is a divine necessity to completely forsake the world, in order to overcome the great obstacle to living a crucified life, which is self-trust. Only by trusting in God alone did Tozer find, “The more my trust rests in God, the less I trust myself.” This is the fundamental difference between following Christ versus asking Christ to follow the believer. Daily, every believer must make time to spend in God’s Word and His presence. When God becomes the focal point of the believer’s life, a daily reliance upon His mercy and grace is formed. As believers come together with this attitude of faith, God is able to do mighty things in a corporate setting. It is the difference between wandering in the desert for forty years and getting to go into the promise land.

Tozer brilliantly displays the cross as an instrument to accomplish God’s purpose, but he also uses the imagery of the refining fire to burn away all the bondage imposed by the world, thus accomplishing the Lord’s purpose in the lives of Christians. The hotter the fire, the purer the outcome will be and this is often the case with trials Christians face. God gives them just enough of what they need to make it through that day. He does this to ensure His followers keep their daily reliance upon Him. This same principle was demonstrated with the Israelites as they wandered the desert for forty years and the Lord provided manna from heaven. While relying on God is an important lesson for the individual, these seasons of trials also present opportunities in the corporate setting to come alongside others and share one another’s burdens. The perils of a crucified life in today’s western Christians is vastly different from other areas in the world where people are being persecuted with fear of death based on their religious beliefs. The sad reality is, “A great many Christians are not going to have a thing to show God [because] they are simply not willing to pay the price.”[15] When someone accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, they must be willing to sacrifice their all, just as Jesus did. This can be a tough principle to teach as it is often one learned over time, but it is interesting to witness the church thrive in areas under greater persecution while in areas of tolerance more churches are closing than opening. God will sustain, equip, and empower each believer for anything He calls him or her to do. This must be the ethos of every believer from the moment of salvation until they are present with the Father.

Lastly, Tozer illustrates, “Christians are infamous for trying to put God in a box, [but] the God who fits in the box is the God who can be controlled by man.” This is so true in today’s culture where people look to everything but God to find their purpose, value, and meaning in life. If God were something that could be held or quantified, it would contradict His divine and infinite nature. The revelation Tozer highlights is by submitting in obedience to the Lord, the believer lives a crucified life in which God can do His work.[16] This area truly shows the believer how to live a life with a much deeper experiential relationship with God. From this intimate relationship, the believer is then able to pour into the lives of others, as long as they continually go back to the source to be filled up again. The crucified life is one in which the believer recognizes Christ died on the cross, so they could become more like Him and to embody the life of Christ means to share His love, acceptance, and forgiveness with a lost and hurting world.

Bibliography

A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, (Redding, CA). “Who is Tozer?” (accessed July 19, 2016).

Tozer, A.W. The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience. Minneapolis: MN, 2011.

 


[1] A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, (Redding, CA), “Who is Tozer?” http://tozer.simpsonu.edu/Pages/About/Tozer-AWTozer.htm (accessed July 19, 2016).

[2] A. W. Tozer, The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2011), 57.

[3] Tozer, The Crucified Life, 24.

[4] Tozer, The Crucified Life, 30-31.

[5] Ibid., 49.

[6] Ibid., 115.

[7] Ibid., 122-125.

[8]  Tozer, The Crucified Life, 158 & 160.

[9] Ibid., 164.

[10] Ibid., 165.

[11] Ibid., 10.

[12] Ibid., 15.

[13] Tozer, The Crucified Life, 76.

[14] Ibid., 77.

[15] Tozer, The Crucified Life, 121.

[16] Ibid., 206.

The Knowledge of the Holy

the knowledge of the holy
A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy identifies a widening gap between God and humans due to the low view of God many Christians hold. This has resulted in a loss of reverence, majesty, and spirit of worship. Tozer argues, “The only way to recoup our spiritual losses is to go back to the cause of them and make such corrections as the truth warrants.” Tozer beautifully diagnoses the problem and skillfully provides the cure by reintroducing his readers to God by knowing and understanding all of His attributes. This book is a great tool for people looking to rejuvenate their prayer life and relationship with God. Besides the Bible, I can think of no other book which would be as fitting as The Knowledge of the Holy to begin a spiritual formation class, because our lack of fearing God and our failure in understanding the nature, attributes, and character of God is at the heart of our disconnect.

Just as our time, talents, and treasures illuminate the priorities in our life so does our view of God. Tozer claims, “No religion has ever been greater than its idea of God [and]… the most revealing thing about the church is her idea of God.” Having a clear understanding of who God is becomes the starting point to purifying our ideals and elevating God to the highest priority of our lives, so we may once again be worthy of Him. While we were made in the image of God, we also bear the mark of Adam and the sinful nature, which resulted from the fall, but because of Christ’s sacrifice, when we come to faith, we are redeemed. This provides a clear picture of the love God has for His children because He sent His only Son to die for all of mankind while we were still dead in our transgressions. Love keeps no record of wrong and when we confess our sins to God, He chooses not to remember them. One of the biggest problems among believers today is we remember the things we should forget and we forget the things we should remember.

Understanding that God exists in Himself and of Himself is key to understanding how none of God’s attributes can be divided or added up to make God who He is. God is one hundred percent immutable, divine, omnipotent, omniscient, faithful, good, just, gracious, loving, holy, and sovereign. Every attribute God possesses only serves to compliment His others. Personally, I find this one of the most comforting things about the nature of God because it means He is same yesterday, today, and forevermore and He will never act in a way, which is contradictory to His character. In many ways, God is incomprehensible, but having faith in God’s attributes equips the believer to walk through seasons, pits, and trials where without God, we would be utterly lost. One cannot learn faith by reading about it; faith can only be taught through experience: often life’s most brutal teacher. Despite this fact, it is in these seasons that many believers come to find and know a new attribute of God. For some they come to know Jehovah Jireh as God provides, others come to know Jehovah Rophe through a miraculous healing; still others may come to experience Jehovah Shalom as they experience peace, which transcends all understanding. For many, due to our disregard of God’s holiness, we are introduced to El Qanna as the zeal of God rises up when something or someone threatens our covenant relationship with Him.

God reveals Himself to us through His word and through creation, so if we want to grow closer to Him, we must stay grounded in the Word while also looking for the countless opportunities we have to spread the Gospel and advance the kingdom of God through our words and deeds. Just as God chooses not to remember our sins, we too choose not to remember many of the attributes God has already revealed to us because they occurred during times of our life we are not proud of. Out past mistakes should be nothing more than stepping stones to our future and if we are being honest, each stone could be used to erect a huge altar to God for his goodness and mercy. This was what the Israelites did as they crossed the Jordan River; a member of each tribe picked up a stone and carried it to the other side to build an altar to God so all future generations would know and remember what God delivered them through and from.

Tozer states, “We can never know who we are till we know at least something of who God is” and I could not agree more. Understanding God’s holiness and our sinful nature is at the heart of our rebellion against God. To live we must die; to save our life, we must be willing to give it up: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus was the model for us to follow and we are now called to fulfill the Great Commission by enacting the Great Commandment. Tozer illustrates how, “In His love and pity God came to us as Christ” and Jesus who knew no sin became sin to provide a way back to a new covenant relationship with God. God calls each of us to be holy, for He is holy and He also calls us to spread the Gospel. We are plan A and there is no plan B, so the sooner we can come into alignment with the plans God has for us the sooner we will find joy, happiness, meaning, and our purpose in life. God has equipped each of us with giftings and callings and as we come together as the body of Christ, we can accomplish the mission together with the help of the Holy Spirit and our awesome God. On my own, I am powerless, but through Christ I can do all things and I know God will cause all things to work together for good because I love the Lord and I am answering the call according to His purpose. God’s word is timeless and He is immutable, so I love reading a passage of scripture during a particular season and then rereading it again during another circumstance and finding even more meaning in the passage. God gives us exactly what we need when we need it, just as He did with the manna from heaven. God does not give us what we need for tomorrow; He gives us what we need in the immediate moment. This keeps our eyes fixed upon Him, it keeps our faith and trust in Him, and ultimately it secures our covenant relationship with God.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Tozer, A.W. The Knowledge of the Holy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1961.