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