Changed Lives Through Christ - Blog
This Week... PURSUING GOD'S PRESENCE 12/8/2019 A. W. Tozer
Tozer was from a tiny farming community in Pennsylvania and later moved to the state of Ohio. He became a born-again Christian when he was seventeen years old. He was on his way home from work at a tire company when he overheard a street preacher say, "If you don't know how to be saved ... just call on God, saying, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.'" Upon returning home, he climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher's advice.
The young man grew up in poverty. Yet without formal training or education, the self-taught Tozer accepted an invitation to pastor a church in West Virginia where he began his 44-year ministry. He pastored in Chicago for 30 of those years and then moved to Toronto, Canada to serve out the last few years of his life.
Additionally, in May 1950, Tozer was elected the editor of Alliance Weekly magazine (now Alliance Life), a position he filled until his death in 1963. Alliance Life is the official publication of the Christian and Missionary Alliance; a protestant denomination.
What most concerned Tozer was the “condition of the modern church”. Tozer said, "Among the gospel churches Christ is in fact little more than a beloved symbol ... The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten, but it has been mostly relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion."
One of his most influential and now classic books Tozer ever wrote was The Pursuit Of God. In his introduction he writes the following: “There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ but too many of these [teachers] seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, [emphasis added] . . . They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.
“I wonder if there 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” . . . which now passes for worship among us.”
Tozer later explains that we have been created for God’s pleasure, but we have all fled from His presence due to sin. Such is the cause for our unceasing restlessness, but God wants us to push on into His presence and live out our entire lives there. Unfortunately, “[This] type of Christianity” he states, “. . . knows this Presence only in theory . . . According to its teachings we are in the Presence of God
positionally, and nothing is said about the need to experience that Presence actually [emphasis added].”
“As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God,”
(Psalm 42:1; KJV). This thirst for an intimate relationship with God, claims A.W. Tozer,
is not for a select few, but should be the experience of every follower of Christ.
But, he asserts, it is all too rare when believers have become conditioned by tradition
to accept standards of mediocrity, and the church struggles with formality
and worldliness. Using examples from Scripture and from the lives of saints
who lived with this thirst for God, Tozer sheds light
on the path to a closer walk with God.
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Yes, God is real and the Bible says we can know Him, but our “self-life” holds us back. We pretend that we are following Christ when we ask Him to bless our plans, but we should be yielding to God’s plans and following His lead rather than God following ours. Surrender is our calling, by way of the cross. When we have faced our “flesh” and given it over to be crucified, only then can God do a work in us. “Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world,” (James 4:8b; NLT).
Tozer’s biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer, commented: "He[Tozer] had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them." Oh, we need more men like A.W. Tozer today! Our churches would be so much more attended and its members so much closer to the Lord. Do you want to know Him in a deep and personal way? You can. Remember James 4:8a, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you . . .” (NLT).
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