Wednesday, May 11, 2011
A.W. Tozer playlist: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=66987CD6E419E258
If you have read or heard classic "deeper life" Christian authors and/or preachers, i.e. Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, A.B. Simpson, Leonard Ravenhill, then you will quite likely find this sermon by A.W. Tozer very edifying. May you be blessed.
Because A.W. Tozer (April 21, 1897 - May 12, 1963) lived in the presence of God he saw clearly and he spoke as a prophet to the church. He sought for God's honor with the zeal of Elijah and mourned with Jeremiah at the apostasy of God's people. But he was not a prophet of despair. His writings are messages of concern. They expose the weaknesses of the church and denounce compromise. They warn and exhort. But they are messages of hope as well, for God is always there, ever faithful to restore and to fulfill His Word to those who hear and obey.
Shortly before his death, Tozer wrote: "Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne." I am convinced that Aiden Wilson Tozer himself was such a man.
In his 1948 classic The Pursuit of God, Tozer challenged the stiff and wooden quality of many Christian lives. He noted: "Complacency is the deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people." Indeed, Tozer believed that thirst for God was the sign of coming revival.
Tozer's passion for a deeper knowledge of God led him to study the great devotional writers of the past. "These people know God, and I want to know what they know about God and how they came to know it," he observed. Prayer and worship were the hallmarks of his life. One biographer states that his preaching as well as his writings were simply an extension of his prayer life. Another noted that Tozer spent more time on his knees than at his desk.
He called for a return to astonishment and wonder at the majesty of God. Then he added: "The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution;very well-behaved, very denominational and very much one of us."
In modern evangelicalism, contended Tozer, we work, we have our agendas--in fact, we have almost everything except the spirit of true worship. He defined worship as a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe, astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of the unspeakable Majesty. He reminded the pastors, "We're here to be worshippers first and workers only second; Out of enraptured, admiring, adoring souls God does His work. The work done by a worshipper will have eternity in it."
Tozer believed that worship rises and falls with our concept of God and that if there was one terrible disease in the modern church, it was that we do not see God as great as He is: "We're too familiar with God. ...that is why I do not believe in these half-converted cowboys who call God `the Man Upstairs'."
In the Preface to The Knowledge of the Holy, his last book, Tozer stated how important our view of God is: "The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping men. .. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error."
Tozer addressed the state of the evangelical church even more bluntly in Keys to the Deeper Life. In a chapter entitled "No Revival Without Reformation", he stated: "A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years." The imperative need of the day, he affirmed, was not simply revival but a radical reformation that went to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies: "Prayer for revival will prevail when it is accompanied by radical amendment of life; not before."
With revival, said Tozer, would come a renewed spirit of worship which was not the result of engineering or manipulation. It would come out of a high and holy view of God as portrayed in Scripture, not the God who has been "abridged, reduced, modified, edited, changed and amended until He is no longer the God whom Isaiah saw, high and lifted up".
Tozer called the doctrine of the Holy Spirit "buried dynamite". Yet he always insisted that the Spirit and the Word operate in harmony. He exhorted the overzealous to a warm heart and a cool head: "The history of revivals in the Church reveals how harmful the hot head can be....These are days of great religious turmoil. Let love burn on with increasing fervour, but bring every act to the quiet test of wisdom. Keep the fire in the furnace where it belongs. An overheated chimney will create more excitement than a well-controlled furnace, but it is likely to burn the house down. Let the rule be: a hot furnace but a cool chimney." -Walter Unger