The Cure for a Fretting Spirit

July 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer

The Holy Spirit in Psalm 37 admonishes us to beware of irritation in our religious lives: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.”

The word “fret” comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon and carries with it such a variety of meanings as bring a rather pained smile to our faces. Notice how they expose us and locate us behind our disguises. The primary meaning of the word is to eat, and from there it has been extended with rare honesty to cover most of the manifestations of an irritable disposition. “To eat away; to gnaw; to chafe; to gall; to vex; to worry; to agitate; to wear away;” so says Webster, and all who have felt the exhausting, corrosive effects of fretfulness know how accurately the description fits the facts.

Now, the grace of God in the human heart works to calm the agitation that normally accompanies life in such a world as ours. The Holy Spirit acts as a lubricant to reduce the friction to a minimum and to stop the fretting and chafing in their grosser phases. But for most of us the problem is not as simple as that……….

Of one thing we may be sure, we can never escape the external stimuli that cause vexation. The world is full of them and though we were to retreat to a cave and live the remainder of our days alone we still could not lose them. The rough floor of our cave would chafe us, the weather would irritate us and the very silence would cause us to fret…………

The prayerless Christian will surely misread the signs and fret against the circumstances. That is what the Spirit warns us against.

Let us look out calmly upon the world; or better yet, let us look down upon it from above where Christ is seated and we are seated in Him. Though the wicked spread himself like “a green bay tree” it is only for a moment. Soon he passes away is not. “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble.” This knowledge should cure the fretting spirit. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 67-69.

On Taking Too Much for Granted

July 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer – On Taking Too Much for Granted

There is a danger that we take Christ for granted. We “suppose” that because we hold New Testament beliefs we are therefore New Testament Christians; but it does not follow. The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still.

We may assume that salvation is possible without repentance…………

We are also in danger of assuming the value of religion without righteousness…….

We may also erroneously assume that we can experience justification without transformation. Justification and regeneration are not the same; they may be thought apart in theology but they can never be experienced apart in fact…….

Again, we may go astray by assuming that we can do spiritual work without spiritual power…..

David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor…… The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians……. The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds.

Without exhausting the list of things wrongly taken for granted I would mention on more: Millions take for granted that it is possible to live for Christ without first having died with Christ. This is a serious error and we dare not leave it unchallenged.

The victorious Christian has known two lives. The first was his life in Adam which was motivated by the carnal mind and can never please God in any way. It can never be converted; it can only die (Romans 8:5-8).

The second life of the Christian is his new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-14). To live a Christian life with the life of Adam is wholly impossible. Yet multitudes take for granted that it can be done and go on year after year in defeat. And worst of all they accept this half-dead condition as normal.

For our own soul’s sake, let’s not take too much for granted. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 63-66.

Tozer gives us something to think about doesn’t he?

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer),

Romans 15:13; Isaiah 66:2

True Faith Is Active, Not Passive

June 30, 2010 at 10:41 am | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight From A. W. Tozer – True Faith Is Active, Not Passive

 A Christian is one who believes on Jesus Christ as Lord. With this statement every evangelical agrees. Indeed there would appear to be nothing else to do, since the New Testament is crystal clear about the matter.

This first acknowledgement of Christ as Lord and Saviour is usually followed by baptism and membership in a Protestant church….A few Christians shy away from organized religion, but the vast majority, while they recognize the imperfections of the churches, nevertheless feel that they can serve their Lord better in the church than out of it.

There is, however, one serious flaw in all this: it is that many – would I overstate the case if I said the majority? – of those who confess their faith in Christ and enter into association with the community of believers have little joy in their hearts, no peace in their minds, and from all external appearances are no better morally than the ordinary educated citizen who take no interest whatever in religion and, of course, who makes no profession of Christianity. Why is this?

I believe it is the result of an inadequate concept of Christianity and an imperfect understanding of the revolutionary character of Christian discipleship.

……….True faith brings a spiritual and moral transformation and an inward witness that cannot be mistaken. These come when we stop believing in belief and start believing in the Lord Jesus Christ indeed.

True faith is not passive but active. It requires that we meet certain conditions, that we allow the teachings of Christ to dominate our total lives from the moment we believe. The man of saving faith must be willing to be different from others. The effort to enjoy the benefits of redemption while enmeshed in the world is futile. We must choose one or the other; and faith quickly makes its choice, one from which there is no retreat.

………The regenerated soul feels no more at home in the world than Abraham felt when he left Ur of the Chaldees and set out for the land of promise.

……..Suddenly, or slowly but surely, he will develop a new pattern of life. Old things will pass away and behold, all things will become new, first inwardly and then outwardly; for the change within him will soon begin to express itself by corresponding changes in his manner of living.

The transformation will show itself in many ways and his former friends will begin to worry about him…………….

 The genuinely renewed man will have a new life center………Things he once held to be of value may suddenly lose all their attraction for him and he may even hate some things he formerly loved.

The man who recoils from this revolutionary kind of Christianity is retreating before the cross. But thousands do so retreat, and they try to make things right by seeking baptism and church membership. No wonder they are dissatisfied. – Take from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 60-63, Christian Publications: Harrisburg, PA 1966.

This was published three years after Tozer’s death. Does it make you think about the way we disciple new believers in our churches today? I would suggest that you compare Tozer’s thoughts about discipleship and living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ with Jonathan Edwards and his “Resolutions.” How do we live as growing, sanctified believers who are in the world, but not of the world?

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Insight from A. W. Tozer – God Must Be Loved for Himself

June 23, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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“God being Who He is must always be sought for Himself, never as a means toward something else.

Whoever seeks other objects and not God is on his own; he may obtain those objects if he is able, but he will never have God. God is never found accidently. ‘Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:13).

Whoever seeds God as a means toward desired ends will not find God. The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures. He will be all in all or He will be nothing. God will not be used. His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid men in their selfish striving after personal gain. He will not help men to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in their interest and affection.

Yet popular Christianity has as one of its most effective talking points the idea that God exists to help people to get ahead in this world. The God of the poor has become the God of an affluent society. Christ no longer refuses to be a judge or a divider between money hungry brothers. He can now be persuaded to assist the brother that has accepted Him to get the better of the brother who has not…………..

The teaching of the Bible is that God is Himself the end for which man was created. ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee?’ cried the psalmist, ‘and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee’ (Psalm 73:25). The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists there can be no place for a second object. If we love God as much as we should surely we cannot dream of a loved object beyond Him which He might help us to obtain.

Bernard of Clairvaux begins his radiant little treatise on the love of God with a question and an answer. The question, Why should we love God? The answer, Because He is God. He develops the idea further, but for the enlightened heart little more need be said. We should love God because He is God. Beyond this the angels cannot think.

Being who He is, God is to be loved for His own sake. He is the reason for our loving Him, just as He is the reason for His loving us and for every other act He has performed, is performing and will perform world without end. God’s primary reason for everything is His own good pleasure. The search for secondary reasons is gratuitous and mostly futile.” – Taken from Man: the Dwelling Place of God, pages 56-59.

There is much more in this short chapter. Hopefully this excerpt will lead us to some deep thinking about God and our relationship with Him and to some practical servant living.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-servant)

Romans 15:13; Isaiah 66:1-2

Insight from A. W. Tozer – There Is No Wisdom in Sin

June 16, 2010 at 11:03 am | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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…Sin is never a thing to be proud of. No act is wise that ignores remote consequences, and sin always does. Sin sees only today, or at most tomorrow; never the day after tomorrow, next month or next year. Death and judgment are pushed aside as if they did not exist and the sinner becomes for the time a practical atheist who by his act denies not only the existence of God but the concept of life after death…..

It is time the young people of this generation learned that there is nothing smart about wrongdoing and nothing stupid about righteousness. We must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices heard, exposing sin for the enemy of the human race which it surely is, and setting forth righteousness and true holiness as the only worthy pursuits for moral beings……

I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it. (Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 46-49)

Do we excuse sin too easily today? Do we think of sin today? Do we give in to sin too easily today? Do we understand the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding sin and righteousness today? Simply some questions to ask ourselves in light of what Tozer has written and more importantly in light of Scripture.

Think Biblically, yield to God completely and live joyfully as an ambassador of Jesus Christ.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 12:1-2

Insight from A. W. Tozer – The Old Cross and the New

June 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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“All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique – a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

…….The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment…….

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist…. preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level……

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, ‘Come and assert yourself for Christ.’ To the egotist it says, ‘Come and do your boasting in the Lord.’ To the thrill seeker it says, ‘Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.’ The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-bye to his friends. He was not coming back…… The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more……..

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think or ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross…….

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Savior, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ……….

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.” Taken from, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 42-45.

This excerpt was long, but the chapter itself is longer. What I found interesting was the note that this was originally written in 1946 and published as an article in the Alliance Witness. What do you think Tozer would have to say now about preaching and services in churches today? Me personally, I think Tozer was prophetic at times. God help us to get back to preaching the cross and the crucified life. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:1-5

Insight from Tozer – Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine

June 2, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in A. W. Tozer | 1 Comment
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This chapter can be found in Man: The Dwelling Place of God, pages 29-33. It speaks to the importance of Christians both understanding and applying faith in their lives. Tozer starts by saying, “In the Divine scheme of salvation the doctrine of faith is central. God addresses His words to faith, and where no faith is no true revelation is possible. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please Him.’

Every benefit flowing from the atonement of Christ comes to the individual through the gateway of faith. Forgiveness, cleansing, regeneration, the Holy Spirit, all answers to prayer, are given to faith and received by faith. There is no other way. This is common evangelical doctrine and is accepted wherever the cross of Christ is understood.”

If we accept the words of Tozer and think about the doctrine of faith, then what do we do? If we accept the witness of the Words of Scripture as more important than the words of Tozer and we do, then what do we do?

First I think we accept the Word of God that says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). We accept God at His Word and since we enter the relationship with Him by faith, we understand that we will grow in that relationship with Him by faith.

Second, we ask ourselves how do we grow in faith? We find part of the answer in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We have to get into the Word of God. I would even suggest reading it out loud at times. Literally hear the Word and let it sink into your mind and heart. If you don’t know the Word, how can you really know God who has revealed Himself through His Word?

Tozer goes on to say, “True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God said it, and if the statement should contradict every one of the five senses and all the conclusions of logic as well, still the believer continues to believe. ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar,’ is the language of true faith. Heaven approves such faith because it rises above mere proofs and rests in the bosom of God.”

To use an old cliché, “God said, I believe it, that settles it!” Is that enough evidence for today’s Christian? Almighty God has spoken and I believe His written revelation is enough to build my faith and for my faith to help me live. Do today’s Christians want to be known for simple faith or for having answers to other’s objections to faith?

There are many well meaning Christians who seek to be able to answer critics of the Bible with good enough answers. Maybe we Christians don’t want to look stupid or out of touch with culture or society. But Tozer says there is only one real answer.

“What these brethren do not see is that the very fact that they feel a necessity to seek proof for the truths of the Scriptures proves something else altogether, namely, their own basic unbelief. When God speaks unbelief asks, ‘How shall I know that this is true?’ I AM THAT I AM is the only grounds for faith………Faith as the Bible knows it is confidence in God and His Son Jesus Christ; it is the response of the soul to the divine character as revealed in the Scriptures; and even this response is impossible apart from the prior inworking of the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift of God to a penitent soul and has nothing whatsoever to do with the sense or the data they afford. Faith is a miracle; it is the ability God gives to trust His Son, and anything that does not result in action in accord with the will of God is not faith but something else short of it…….The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is not true faith present.”

There certainly is a lot to think about from the selection I’ve chosen from this chapter. My hope is that we will think about our faith in God and His Word and how it is lived out in our thoughts, words and behaviors. May we who say we believe that God’s Word is inspired and without error live lives in faith and obedience to His Word.

Here is a good site I recently learned about: http://awtozerquotes.wordpress.com/. If you appreciate Tozer you will like this site.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; 2 Peter 3:18

Insight from Tozer – Why People Find the Bible Difficult

May 26, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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I am having a renewed interest in the writings of Tozer. While visiting my in-laws I came across some old paperbacks and asked if I could take some home to read. A few of them were by Tozer and Andrew Murray. I started skimming through the books and decided to slowly read through Man The Dwelling Place of God. I also thought that Wednesdays on the blog would become an insight from Tozer day. Maybe I can remind people of the great insight and practical knowledge that God gave this man. At the least I would be encouraged and challenged to know God better.

My plan is to give some excerpts from different chapters and let the reader think about what Tozer has written. I will give some of my thoughts as well. Today’s chapter is Why People Find the Bible Difficult, pages 26-29.

“………..Why is the Bible hard to understand? No snap answer can be given; the pert answer is sure to be the wrong one………..In spite of this I venture to give a short answer to the question….I believe that we find the Bible difficult because we try to read it as we would any other book, and it is not the same as any other book.

The Bible is not addressed to just anybody. Its message is directed to a chosen few. Whether these few are chosen by God in a sovereign act of election or are chosen because they meet certain qualifying conditions I leave to each one to decide as he may, knowing full well that his decision will be determined by his basic beliefs about such matters as predestination, free will, the eternal decrees and other related doctrines. But whatever may have taken place in eternity, it is obvious what happens in time: Some believe and some do not; some are morally receptive and some are not; some have spiritual capacity and some have not. It is to those who do and are and have that the Bible is addressed. Those who do not and are not and have not will read it in vain.

Right here I expect some readers to enter strenuous objections, and for reasons not hard to find. Christianity today is man-centered, not God-centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Savior of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking down to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.”

These are powerful words from Tozer aren’t they? They still speak loudly to the times in which we live. Sometimes I think God was using this man to get people’s attention and to turn their hearts and minds back to Him. This chapter may have been written in the 1950’s and appeared as either an article or editorial in The Alliance Witness which was a monthly magazine of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

I think we should pay attention and think about what Tozer had to say. We should also ask ourselves if our church services are man-centered or God-centered and who really is the star of the show? Stay faithful and hopeful.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 138:1-3

Insight from A. W. Tozer

May 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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My wife and I recently visited my father in-law. I took my laptop and a phone line so I could get online. I thought I could just plug a phone line into my computer and get online. My wife explained to me that it doesn’t work that way. We didn’t take a router and my father in-law isn’t online. Funny how we get used to something and forget what we had to learn to get so used to it that we take it for granted. Do you think we Christians ever take sound doctrine for granted? Do you think we believers ever take the Holy Spirit for granted?

Years ago when I first went to seminary I had a theology professor who constantly reminded us, “If your theology is not practical it is not Biblical. Biblical theology is practical.” He told us he had a professor who taught that to his students also. As the years have gone by and fads come and go, I still believe that Biblical theology is practical theology.

In writing about the Holy Spirit, A.W. Tozer put it a different way in The Divine Conquest, on page 65. “Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed. This is not a trifling distinction. A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christianity today has almost no practical value at all. In most churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. ….Our neglect of the doctrine of the blessed Third Person has had and is having serious consequences. For doctrine is dynamite.”

The copyright on that book is 1950. Do you agree with Tozer or not? Do we have a better appreciation and understanding of sound doctrine in our churches today? In our personal lives do we spend any time studying doctrine? Do you know what you believe and can you communicate with Scripture what you believe? Then does your behavior communicate in a positive way what you believe? Is it any wonder why Christians and churches are Biblically illiterate and unhealthy?

To borrow Tozer’s idea, if doctrine is dynamite do we have enough sound doctrine to blow our noses? What do you believe about the Bible? What about the Trinity? Do you know enough about salvation to stake your eternal life on it? Do you have a plan to continually study doctrine? Reading Tozer has encouraged me to study doctrine both for myself and my listeners. I want to know God and His Word better tomorrow than I do today. I want to live in obedience to Him and His Word too. How about you?

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 138:1-3

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