Jesus Christ is perfect theology. (Bill Johnson, youtube video, “Bringing Heaven to Earth”)
What is wrong with a Christian who possesses no spirit of prayer? No power with God? He is an infidel. (Charles Finney, “Power from on High” Chapter, the Spirit of Prayer)
The training of the disciples was the presence of Christ. (Andrew Murray, “The Secret of Christianity”)
The Gospel always gives life to the receiver and death to the giver. (Jackie Pulinger, youtube video “Go”)
It is our privilege and duty to live above innocent amusements. (Charles Finney, “Power from on High” chapter Innocent Amusements)
Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy. The less joy you have the more entertainment you need. (Leonard Ravenhill, audio messages)
The more man reaches for material things on the outside the more he points to his bankruptcy on the inside. (Leonard Ravenhill, audio messages)
I would rather feel contrition of heart then be able to define it. (Thomas A. Kempis, “The Imitation of Christ”)
If a commission from an earthly king is considered and honor. How can a commission from a heavenly King be considered a sacrifice? (David Livingston)
The only thing that pleases God is what He does Himself. (Robert Gladstone, audio message “In the Light of Eternity”)
Anti-Christ is not only that which is opposed to Christ, but that which is seeking to be something like Him, yet not Him. (Art Katz, audio message “And they Crucified Him”)
Nothing is more likely to lead to error or heresy than the focus on part rather than the whole. (David Ravenhill, audio message “Worship”)
The idolatrous religions are those that give you a small measure of religious satisfaction yet allow you to retain the Lordship of your own life. (Art Katz, audio message “And They Crucified Him”)
Beloved, for the sake of a lost and dying world, pay any price, get God’s power and set the prisoners free. (John G. Lake, Dr. Michael L. Brown told me that was his favorite quote)
There are a thousand parts of our hearts that need softening a thousand times a day. (Smith Wigglesworth, “The Wigglesworth standard”)
We will get to doctrinal differences once we have exhausted the riches of Jesus Christ. (Frank Viola, audio message “Essential Ingredients”)
Now is the time where we either seize the moment or look back with ever lasting shame that we missed it. (Dr. Michael L. Brown, audio message, “Holy Desperation”)
Can you sit and watch t.v. while your family goes to hell? (David Wilkerson, audio message “A Call to Anguish”)
If God removed His Spirit from the Church today 90 percent of church activities would continue on. (Leonard Ravenhill, audio messages)
Why do you call me Lord but do not do what I say? (Jesus Christ, Luke 6.46)
One of these days we will get sick and tired of the spiritual bankruptcy that we live in and the joke that our lives often are and we will get serious with God. (Dr. Michael L. Brown, audio message “John G. Lake” Giants of the Faith series)
Never let the means of worship eclipse the object of worship. (David Ravenhill, audio message “Worship”)
You want to know how to know Christ? Put everything else away and go after Him. (Robert Gladstone, audio message “Crucified with Christ”)
As the earthly tabernacle was the copy of the heavenly so the Christian is to be the copy of the Christ. (David Popovici, text message 11.06.09)
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is determined by one principle alone; total loss of self. (Watchman Nee)
You can go to hell with the “gifts of the Spirit” but not the fruit of the Spirit. (David Popovici, phone conversation 11.10.09)
Never assume someone is right with God. (Stephen L. Hill, Revival 1999)
Christ’s cross is Christ’s way to Christ’s crown. (William Penn, No Cross No Crown)
Anyone who is not bowed down beneath the cross has yet to see it. (Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Eveneing Devotional)
We have substituted organizing for agonizing and equipment for endowment. (Leonard Ravenhill, audio messages)
…we should represent religion as it really is-as living above the world, as consisting in a heavenly mind, as that which gives an enjoyment so spiritual and heavenly as to render the low pursuits and joys of worldly men disagreeable and repulsive. (Charles Finney, Power from on High, chapter Innocent Amusements)
It is so hard to see when my eyes are on me. (Keith Green, song “I Pledge My Head to Heaven)
Humility is the blossom of which death to self is the perfect fruit. (Andrew Murray, Humility chapter Humility and Death to Self)
It is a sad stumbling block to the unsaved to see professing Christians seeking pleasure or happiness from this world. (Charles Finney, Power from on High, chapter Innocent Amusements)
Give therefore place for Christ and deny entrance to all others. (Thomas A. Kempis, Imitation of Christ)
We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
The problem with Christians is not that they don’t love Jesus, it is that they don’t love only Jesus. “Solomon, loved the Lord but…”(Eric Gilmour)
Every seemingly small compromise serves to remove us that much further from the Spirit of Truth until the holy dove departs, and we go on, not even realizing that He has left. (Art Katz, The Spirit of Truth)
The lack of obedience in our lives breaks down our praying…Disobedient living produces extremely poor praying. Disobedience shuts the door of the prayer closet. It bars the way to the Holy of Holies. No man can pray-really pray-who does not obey. (E. M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer, Prayer and Full Surrender)
Do not we rest in our day too much on the arm of the flesh? Cannot the same wonders be done now as of old? Do not the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth still to show Himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in Him? Oh, that God would give me more practical faith in Him! Where is the Lord God of Elijah? He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him. (James Gilmour)
Be sure to look to your secret duty; keep that up whatever you do. The soul cannot prosper in the neglect of it…It is secret trading that enriches the Christian. Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt at night. The best way to fight against sin is to fight it on our knees. (Philip Henry)
the unalterable basis of an open heaven is a grave, and a crisis at which you come to an end of your own self-life. It is the crisis of real experimental identification with Christ in His death, not now for your sins, but as you. Your open heaven depends on that. (T. Austin Sparks, “The School of Christ”)
God can depend on consecrated men. God can afford to commit Himself to those who have fully committed themselves to Him in prayer. He who gives all to God will get all from God. Having given all to God, he can claim all that God has for him…The prayer life and the consecrated life are intimate companions. They are Siamese twins, inseparable. Prayer enters into every phase of a consecrated life. A prayerless life that claims consecration is a misnomer, false, counterfeit. Consecration is really the setting apart of oneself to a life of prayer. It means not only to pray, but to pray habitually, and to pray more effectively.
It is the consecrated man who accomplishes most by his praying. God must hear the an wholly given up to Him. God cannot deny the requests of the man who has renounced all claims to himself and who has wholly dedicated himself to God and His service. This act of the consecrated man puts him on praying ground and pleading terms with God. It puts him in reach of God in prayer. It places him where he can get a hold of God, and where he can influence God to do things that He would not otherwise do. (E.M. Bounds, “Essentials of Prayer” chapter Prayer and consecration)
Christianity is not a change of life but an exchange of life.(Eric Gilmour)
Christian, what have you to do with sin? Has it not cost you enough already? Burnt child, will you continue to play with fire? When you have already been between the jaws of the lion, will you step into his den a second time? Have you not had enough of the old serpent? He poisoned you once. Will you play near the hole of the viper and put your hand upon the cobra’s den a second time? Oh do not be so foolish! Did sin ever give you any real pleasure? Did you find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to your old drudgery and wear the chain again. But sin never did give you what it promised to bestow. Rather, it deluded you with lies. Do not be snared again. Be free and let the remembrance of your ancient bondage forbid you to enter the net again. Sin is contrary to the designs of eternal love. God desires your purity and holiness. Do not oppose the purpose of your Lord. Christians can never sin cheaply. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer and brings darkness over the soul. Therefore, do not be the slave of sin. (Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)
“We know one thing about a man heading down the road with a cross. He is
not coming back.”
(A.W. Tozer, The Best of Tozer)
“Sensuality is the greatest hindrance in the world to Martyrdom. To face
martyrdom, a Christian must first have crucified lesser affections. He who
is overcome by little degrees of pain will hardly consent to lose his life.”
(Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living)
“God will forgive you but time will never forgive you.”
“We say, “Just confess the Lord and you are in!”
He says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom.”
We say, “Just pray this prayer and it’s done.”
He says, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his
cross and follow me.”
We say, “Just come to the alter it will only take a minute!”
He says “make every effort to enter through the narrow door.”
Who do you think is right?”
(Doctor Michael Brown, “How Saved Are We?”)
Any “revelation” from Scripture that doesn’t lead me to an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, only makes me more religious and equips me to argue with those who disagree. (Bill Johnson, audio messages)
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, bill johnson, Charles Finney, Charles Spurgeon, John G. Lake, Keith Green, smith wigglesworth, Watchman Nee
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Gal. 2.20
The real fruit of the Gospel in a man’s life has nothing to do with what title he bears religiously, what reputation he has maintained among colleagues, or how successful he has been ministerially speaking. A man may receive accolades from saint and sinner, he may have a great following, and he may be recognized as a great spiritual leader, but this is not the sure evidence of grace on his life.
The only proof of the validity of a man’s faith is that great foundational declaration of Paul:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me….”
Have I really been crucified with Christ? Can I say with Paul that I no longer live? Can I walk through the slopes and valleys and storms of this life with a burning consciousness that Christ lives in me?
There is an awful lot of boasting in the Church, but it is all too rare for us to find fellowship with those who “no longer live,” and in whom the Life of Christ Himself is being demonstrated. There is too much preaching that is devoid of the resonance of Christ’s life, too much ministry being carried out with mere machinery and sweat, too much religious performance by saints who know how to smile in a meeting, but who lack the kindness and purity and humility of God in the realm of day-to-day life.
Could it be that we are seeing the ill-formed fruit of too many years of un-apostolic preaching? Philip the evangelist preached Christ Himself. Paul preached Christ, and him crucified. There is no higher form of preaching than preaching Jesus Himself. True preaching calls us to lay down our own lives, and to receive the Life of the Lamb Who was slain. If we are not hearing of the glory of this Man from our preachers, our foundations are themselves faulty and dubious. Years ago, in a letter to a friend, Leonard Ravenhill wrote:
I find many evangelists are getting concerned about the lack of permanence in the so-called conversions of people they minister to in their meetings. The fact is that most preachers preach only a half gospel. All they preach is forgiveness, but a man needs more than forgiveness. He needs regeneration and his conscience purged by the blood of Christ from dead works to serve the living God. A man is not a Christian until God takes up residence in him.
A miracle must take place. We should quit asking people if they are saved. Everyone thinks somehow they are saved. Why not look them in the eye and say, “Does Christ live in you?” If Christ is not in a person, they are not born again.
(In Light of Eternity: The Life of Leonard Ravenhill, Free Grace Press; 2010, p. 356)
May the Lord raise up a host of men with the fire of God in their souls, and a revelation of Christ in their hearts, to set forth the glory of Jesus Christ, to call men back to the cross, and to preach again the everlasting Gospel as a piercing Light in the darkest places. That the Lamb Who was slain would receive the reward of His suffering ….
You know one thing about a man carrying a cross outside the city…. He’s not coming back. -A.W. Tozer
Bryan Purtle is an author that carries a jealousy for historical revival, the salvation of Israel, and the recovery of apostolic proclamation and living through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Visit his website at thoughtsuponrising.com.
Posted in Featured Articles, The Kingdom of God Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, apostolic preaching, Bryan Purtle, conversion, evangelist, Jesus Christ, Leonard Ravenhill, religious performance, the Gospel
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”
The word “preserve” here has to do with “keeping something in its original state.” The fact that David is reaching out for another to preserve him implies that he recognizes that he cannot preserve himself. Our original state in God is purity, holy and undefiled from this world. God has taken us out of the mud and washed us as squeaky clean as His very own Son by the blood of His very own Son. David is acknowledging his inability and helplessness to stay clean, remain undefiled or be preserved in purity. The Psalmist often cried, “save me” (Psalm 3.7;6.4;7.1;22.21;31.2). But this cry is different. It is not a cry to be rescued; it is a cry to remain in the rescued state. Not to be made pure, but to remain pure.
I extend to you the God revealed route to a sustained purity and preserving in God, “…for in thee do I put my trust.” All victory begins with this heart, “I can’t do it!” When man reaches the end of himself, there and nowhere else, does he find the beginning of God. Our hearts must cry, “I cannot preserve myself, so I look to you.” A.W. Tozer in the famous book, “The Pursuit of God” said, “faith is the inward gaze of the soul unto God.” Jesus, talking of the salvation that is impossible with men and only possible with God (Matt.19.26), made a parallel with the serpent lifted up in Old Testament (John 3.14). The only path of salvation from the snake poison in the body of the Israelites was to lift their eyes to the golden serpent to be healed. So, when a man simply looks in surrender to Jesus, not only once to be saved, but consistently to be preserved, he finds his glorious rescue and union with God (John 15.5).
None of us did anything to attain our salvation (Eph. 2.8,9). We simply recognized that we could not save ourselves and we cried from a dark pit, the helpless cry of a condemned sinner, “God save me!” God in His mercy reached down and saved us from such a state and doom (John 3.16-17; Romans 8.1; Ephesians 2.1-2). God is not waiting for you to reach a certain point of desperation before He rushes in to preserve or save, He is waiting for you to empty your inward poison by looking away from yourself and unto Him. It is not that He refuses to come to man until, but that man will not respond to His having come to us. Jesus simply summed up all of Christianity in one phrase, “Come to me…(Matt. 11.28).” That isn’t when He saves you, that coming to Him IS your saving.
I submit to you today, that the same utter dependency, total reliance and absolute surrender to God that your soul reached to God with to be born again, is the same cry that must be lived in for the sustained victorious spiritual life. David Ravenhill said, “we never graduate from dependency.” That is the secret. That is the most mature perspective in God that there is. I CANNOT DO IT! I need you, oh, I need you, every hour, I need you.
Jesus said, “the son can do nothing of Himself; I do nothing on my own initiative (John 5.19;8.28).” Oh struggling brother, tired Christian and weak-willed complacent distant follower of Christ, you cannot maintain yourself. As long as you try to maintain yourself, you are already in failure. For no amount of Adamic resolve could ever enter a man into the Spiritual power released only by dependency. Resolve will always dissolve. But by surrender we will never cease to enter. Why is it this way? It is because God Himself is our Salvation (Psalm 38.22). He saved us from a life that doesn’t look to Him. Have you a sensitivity to see that our own life is something so evil, no matter how “good” it seems, that we must be saved from it? A life without the Lordship of Christ requires saving! Leonard Ravenhill said, “the greatest sin in the world…is ‘I can manage my life without God.'” A life still in our own hands is dead. Paul talked about people being, “dead even while they live.”
Jesus told us that only the children enter the Kingdom (Mark 10.14), the poor posses the Kingdom (Matt. 5.3) and the infants have revelation of the Kingdom (Matt. 11.25). Everything in God must hinge upon God. This is why Paul said so boldly, that to lean on any addition to dependency severs you from Christ (Galatians 5.4). There is no other way to have the rule of God truly ruling our lives than for us to declare “my soul says, ‘You are my Lord.'” If He is to be Lord, He can only ascend to the throne in your life by the bankrupt recognition and surrender of total reliance… utter dependency and absolute surrender is required.
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism.
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, children, david ravenhill, dependency, Kingdom, Leonard Ravenhill, lord, poison, prayer, Psalmist, purity, pursuit of god, reliance, Revival, self, snake, spiritual
The Sense of God’s Holiness
‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ -Lev. 10.3
The nations are perishing and the Church is languishing for want of the knowledge of God. This generation of American souls is largely ignorant of the God of the Scriptures, and we have been too preoccupied and distracted by this world to come into that knowledge ourselves. We have preached a hollow message that bears little resemblance to the revelation of God set forth by the apostles and prophets, and the condition of our nation testifies to it.
We have made light of sin, made the faith into a mere subculture, and the cities of America remain mostly unconvinced of the reality of God. We have not demonstrated His love and purity, for we have been functioning along the lines of the world, catering to self and living under the intoxicating influences of a consumeristic society.
This story of Aaron’s sons rattles our presumptuous definitions of God, and while it may seem unsavory or distasteful to consider, it is a vital portion of Scripture that needs to be reflected on. We need to reckon with passages like this until we break into a fuller understanding of who the Lord is, for if we pick and choose passages only of our own liking, we end up forming distorted views of God. Indeed, we all see in part, but to willfully neglect an aspect of who He is according to the Scriptures is to open the gate to deception.
I believe the message of His great love must increase and be shouted from the rooftops, but if He has also shown Himself as holy, and we fail to see Him as He has revealed Himself, what foundation do we have? His attributes are not categories that we can pick based on personal preference, as if the Bible was a menu at a restaurant. His traits are intertwined and tied up with His Person, and every revelation of God given in the Scriptures is a glimpse into His great heart. We cannot discard the portions that seem less appealing. If we do that, we have created our own view instead of receiving His. At best, our revelation of God will be a partial foundation, and that is not sufficient for a life of discipleship, nor will it hold in days of great trial and upheaval. We need to be rooted and grounded in His great love and purity, walking in the joy of communion and the fear of the Lord, for this alone will fit us to glorify Him in the day of His power.
He has revealed both His “kindness” and His “severity” for a reason (Rom. 11.22). It is not merely so that our systematic theology will be accurate. He has revealed Himself in this way because this is who He is, and to know Him and love Him as He is, that alone is eternal life.
Decades ago, A.W. Tozer wrote:
I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. 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, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge, and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.
…. The world is evil, the times are waxing late, and the glory of God has departed from the church as the fiery cloud once lifted from the door of the Temple in the sight of Ezekiel the prophet.
The God of Abraham has withdrawn His conscious Presence from us, and another God whom our fathers knew not is making himself at home among us.
(A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy; Harper & Brothers, 1961; pp. 6, 49)
I am convinced that Tozer’s words are profoundly true of the Church in our times, and one of the chief reasons for this loss of majesty is that we have diminished- perhaps unconsciously- the sense of God’s holiness. We need a recovery of reverence, hatred for sin, and a baptism of fire to purge us of the arrogance and strutting that still marks too many of our lives and ministries.
There are wonderful teachings on the love of God in circulation, and I pray they continue to increase as our hearts enlarge in the experience of His kindness and compassion. But we are radically lacking a sense of His holiness, and since He is both loving beyond comprehension, and holy beyond description, the whole counsel of Scripture is essential for a true knowledge of God. Passages like this from Leviticus 10 provide a crucial vantage point for our understanding of Who God is.
Aaron’s sons, along with the people of Israel, had witnessed the majesty of God at the end of chapter 9. “The glory of the Lord appeared to all the people,” “fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering,” “and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” (9.23-24)
Without a doubt, the scene was exhilarating, and the sense of God’s mercy and holiness was overwhelming for all who were present. Reverence and joy mingled within them, and the people fell prostrate with shouts of praise and awe issuing forth. What happened next is both devastating and sobering.
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (10.1-2)
We don’t know exactly what prompted Nadab and Abihu to perform what is recorded in chapter 10. Were they trying to reproduce the elation of the previous event? Were they wanting their names to be recognized before the people, rather than being jealous for the glory of God’s name? We don’t have the answer to every question here, but we do know that the fire they offered was not authorized by the Lord. It was offered in their “respective firepans,” and its source was of men rather than of God. It was “strange” and unholy, something “which He had not commanded them.”
It was so offensive to the Lord that “fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”
At this point it is easy for our hearts to short-circuit. We lose touch with the raw reality of the Biblical passage. We cannot fathom the thought that the very fire of God Himself actually came out from the holy place and devoured the sons of Aaron. Our view of the Lord is casual and light, and the idea of judgment is foreign to most modern believers. If the idea of God’s wrath is agreed to in a credal way, it often bears a feeling of unreality, and the idea of judgment actually touching men on the earth seems fictitious or mythical.
But that does not discount the truth of the passage, and we need to realize that this is an actual historical event. It is not allegorical or symbolic, but a true piece of our heritage in the faith. It is meant to bring to us what it brought to Moses, Aaron, and the people of God; namely, a sense of His holiness, and an awareness that He does not tolerate sin, nor any activity that is carried out in His name that misrepresents His glory.
Just when we might have blamed the event on some demonic attack, Moses gives clarity to what has occurred.
“Moses then said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:
‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’
Aaron remained silent.” (v. 3)
This event of judgment, which gripped the community of Israel with holy fear, is completely intertwined with the revelation of God in the Scriptures. It is just as much a revelation of His personality as was His washing of the disciples feet, His blessing of little children, and His raising of Lazarus from the dead. It is a revelation of God’s holiness, and it is one that we need desperately to recover. He is holy, and we cannot use Him for our purposes.
This hits home in a concentrated way in this present generation. Perhaps the fouls committed against the sense of His holiness are no more flagrant than in certain segments of the Charismatic Church, where charisma and gifting are often elevated while the Scriptures and the character of Christ are undervalued.
My heart aches in this hour of often flippant faith, when silliness and frivolity are equated with “liberty in the Spirit,” and when anyone with jealousy for truth and reality is accused of having a religious spirit.
When I see men placing a low value on the Scriptures, or labeling anyone with passion for the Word a “pharisee,” I tremble on the inside.
When I see men acting as if they are inhaling the Holy Spirit through imaginary marijuana joints, calling it “Jehovajuana” and claiming that they are “toking the Ghost,” I am mortified at the total loss of reverence for God. There is absolutely nothing holy about such activity! It is a deplorable and scandalous example of strange and unauthorized fire.
When I see men boasting of great power and bragging about the international influence of their ministries while the sense of His holiness is absent, it makes me apprehensive.
When a so-called “revivalist” can shed his wife and marry another woman with no Scriptural grounds, only to re-enter public ministry with the blessing of well-known leaders, I am filled with concern. This has happened many times over the years, and I am wondering where the standard of truth has gone!
I want to be merciful towards all men, but there has to come a point where the gullibility and lack of discernment are spoken against. I don’t think we are far from Tozer’s description, that “another God whom our fathers knew not is making himself at home among us.”
A few of my mentors have even encountered a trend among “worship-leaders,” where they will use profanity, or do other wild and crazy things in services, claiming that by this absurdity they are “shaking the religious spirit off of the crowd.” I cannot give words to how far we have fallen.
You may say that I have a religious spirit myself, but I cannot give my soul over to these expressions of spiritual activity that militate against the revelation of God that I have received over the course of my life in God. He is holy, holy, holy, and the line of revelation from Genesis to Revelation does not alter one bit. He is kinder and more loving than we can describe, but He is pure and just as well, His judgments have already touched the earth, and He is still slated to return as both Savior and Judge.
We do need to desire “earnestly” the gifts of the Spirit and the outpouring of His power. We need to be awakened more and more to the depth of His great love and compassion. And indeed, when the Spirit of God moves in power, things will happen that we cannot explain and that take us by surprise. But what has happened to the fear of the Lord?
I am convinced that our unwillingness to come into the knowledge of God, as the Scriptures have revealed Him, has produced the seedbed for our sub-apostolic Christianity. Before the cities of the earth will be “turned upside down,” we need to regain the majesty of the revelation of God Himself. We need to turn from sin and return to the God of glory, to the Scriptures, to prayer and fasting, to worship and obedience.
We have lost the sense of His holiness, and I fear the consequences are much worse than the immediate judgment of two priestly sons. The Lord has permitted many to veer off into their own ideas of Himself, even while chasing supernatural activity, and their stupor grows heavier the more and more men make light of sin and neglect the Scriptures. A widespread famine of the true knowledge of God is even more tragic than the death of Aaron’s sons. Entire movements are chugging along without a sense of His holiness, quite at home with sin, and so intermingled with the world that there is no “distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean.” (Lev. 10.10)
We cannot rightly value the kindness and mercy of the Lord if we have diminished the bright light of His holiness and the radical nature of His hatred for sin.
We are more like the 1st-century Church at Corinth than we realize, and the word of the apostle Paul is the same to us as it was to them. He did not doubt the validity of their gifts, nor did he consider them unbelievers. But he had serious correction to give as well, for they were veering off in the wrong direction:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” -1 Cor. 15.33-34
Oh, for the true knowledge of God! For the joy of communion and the trembling of reverence! The salvation of Israel and the nations, and the raising of our sons and daughters depends entirely upon the measure to which we have come into the knowledge of God, as He truly is. He kindly invites us into the purity and joy of union with Himself, for which reason we have been saved. We need to be enlarged in His love. We need the sense of His holiness. May we hear from God Himself in this hour.
Lord, our lips are unclean, and we live amongst a people of unclean lips. We have failed to see You as You are, but You have been so gracious to give us the Scriptures. You have been so gracious to send Your Son. You are merciful enough to send us Your Spirit and to lead us into all truth. You have been so patient with us. Would you wake us up to the reality of Your holiness? We want to turn from silliness and deception, and to come into the apostolic faith of the Scriptures. Make us a people of humility, holiness, love, and power. Let us come into the sense of Your holiness, that a line of distinction may be drawn in the earth again. Let us know You as you are, and let Your name be honored and glorified above all.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, Abraham, Christ, demons, Genesis, holiness, Moses, prayer, Revival, worship
“For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants.” -Is. 44.3
Of this verse, the “good pastor” Robert Murray McCheyne once remarked:
There are no other words in the whole Bible that have been oftener in my heart and oftener on my tongue than these.
The passage applies directly to Israel, but the principle of the promise can be applied to all contexts where the Creator is active amongst men. Where the land thirsts for righteousness and mercy, and where men thirst for God in recognition of the dryness of their own hearts, the word stands true that He will “pour out water” from heaven, and His own interpretation of the image is that He will pour out His Spirit on our offspring, and His blessing on our descendants.
I would rather be found in the tension of spiritual thirst, without having yet seen the water to come, than to be drunk and satisfied with the wine of this age. I would rather be as a cracked desert ground, and aware of my dryness, than to be full of the delusion of self-satisfied living. To be able to thirst after God is a great gift from heaven. To yearn for Him in the barren wastelands is better than to be satisfied without Him in the man-made reservoirs of the city.
To be at ease and full without the outpouring of His Spirit is to live in a delusion. I may whittle away a lifetime without really thirsting, taking sips from fashion, swigs from sport, gulps from Hollywood, and guzzles from religion, and my life will end in deception. My children will have been robbed of a glory and knowledge of God that could have been theirs, had I been a man of thirst.
But I may live a life of thirst, and in my weakness, yearn for Him in the quiet places of the desert, and the promise will one day be answered. I know not when. I know not the hour of visitation. But the certitude cannot be shaken, for He Himself has declared it. He will “pour out water upon the thirsty land,” and my children will see something of His glory that they would have missed if I had settled for something less than God Himself.
If only the world knew of the glory of thirsting for Him! If only the Church weren’t so distracted and filled from the “buffet” that the world offers us and the busy mentality that modern “ministry” puts before us.
Though I have heard of His great love, and experienced it on many glorious occasions, it still staggers me that He longs to pour out His own Spirit upon us, and our children. It matters not that I’m a dry and cracked soul. In fact, that is the ground upon which He copiously pours out His holy rain. Oh, to live a life of anticipatory thirst. To ache for God Himself, until He comes and makes all things new. This is blessedness indeed.
Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of his marvellous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace.
Yes pine for thy God, fainting soul! ever pine;
Oh languish mid all that life brings thee of mirth;
Famished, thirsty, and restless, -let such life be thine,-
For what sight is to heaven, desire is to earth.
(Frederick Faber, as quoted in The Christian Book of Mystical Verse, compiled by A.W. Tozer; Christian Publications, 1963; pp. 56-57)
He will pour out water, dear soul. Thirst then! Thirst after Him…
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, Frederick Faber, God, longing for Jesus, spiritual thirst, thirsting for God
I am just finishing up a new biography on one of the most beloved prophet-hearted teachers in American history. It’s entitled A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer, written by Lyle Dorsett. I have long loved Tozer’s writings and messages. For over a decade I’ve relished in his insights and fed off of his knowledge of God, and the intensity of his worshipping heart. I’ve read some of the other bio’s on A.W., but this biography is a real gem, and I’m commending it to all of the pastors and laborers in our fellowship here in Kansas City.
It tells of his formation as a man of prayer and incessant worship. It tells of the trials he endured and the stretchings he experienced. It inspires us to forsake a vain pursuit of ministry-breadth, and calls us back to the pursuit of depth in the secret place. Tozer’s relentless longing for the presence and person of God grabs us by the collar of our professional or subjective ideas on ministry, and plops us down in the dust on the backside of the desert. Before long we see the glow of the bush again, and remember why and how we ever put our sandals back on and proceeded to face the people.
I am jolted again. This man labored for 4-plus decades- contending for the faith, reaching out to souls in darkness, setting aright faddish movements and faulty doctrines. Most of all, every soul that was remotely close to A.W. Tozer knew that there were at least 5 hours a day where he was intently removed from all contact with anyone other that the God of Majesty. He knew what it was to behold the uncreated One, to love Him, to listen to Him, to gaze upon Him with delightful and sometimes awe-full attentiveness. He didn’t need adrenalin, entertainment, or programmatic pick-me-ups to bear up his walk with the Lord. He had what Moses had…what David had…what the prophets had…what Paul had. He had a singleness of heart in pursuit after the God of Israel, and he was not willing for anything to stand in the way of that impassioned vision.
I wonder how far we have fallen from this kind of Davidic intensity.
Still, there is another stinging thing in the story of A.W. Tozer. Many believers who have been profoundly affected by his teachings are unaware of the manner of his life at home, and even the manner of his death. He died in a Canadian hospital room in the year of 1963. He was all by himself. He was alone in his death as he was in his life.
One of his colleagues noted that one of the last remarks he ever heard Tozer make was this:
“I have had a lonely life.”
The young revivalist may read this and unleash a heroic cry: “Yes! This is the price that every true man of God pays. You cannot follow the Lord and make friends with every one around you.”
Indeed, this is true. When we cling to the Lord in this life, there will be great opposition and trial. But mere loneliness is not a sign of prophetism, and isolation from family and friends is not necessarily a hallmark of an eternity-centered life. We were created for community.
As Gordon Fee points out, the idea of salvation in the mind of Paul was never primarily a thought toward whether an individual person would be able to make it to heaven or not. Salvation, in the hebraic mind of the early apostles, was a picture of God’s Kingdom breaking into a society and wrenching loose a group of souls from the spirit of this age, that they might be formed and fashioned together by the power of the Spirit into a Body that expresses the very nature of Christ. In other words, we need Christ (!), but we are not likely to experience Him fully if we don’t also experience Him through our experiences in family life and church life.
Life is a fragile thing. “Man is but a mere breath,” the psalmist declares (Psm. 144.4a). I wept on numerous occasions in the reading of Tozer’s biography. For the first time I saw areas of his life that I had never seen before. Gaping holes. Perhaps he was oblivious to them. Perhaps his engagement with ministry travels, reading, writing, preaching, and the remarkable amount of time he spent in “speechless adoration” of Christ filled his plate to the extent that he was incapable of figuring in other necessary Kingdom responsibilities and privileges.
The most heart-wrenching of these blind-spots was his inability, over the course of 40-plus years, to connect relationally with his wife Ada and their 7 children. He also struggled with connecting relationally to the vast majority of the saints who were under his care for all of those decades. They say that he and Ada never fought or argued (as best as we know), nor was there ever a known issue of infidelity or abuse. There was simply this radical, unexplainable inability to relate with his wife and kids to the extent that he would be a presence in their lives. He would be drawn to them as long as they were babies, but when it got past that, he struggled to father them. The story goes that his father was a hardworking farm-man who was quite non-relational himself. I would assume that this passed to his sons and daughters, and it certainly seems that way with A.W.
When Tozer died, though Ada had scarcely (if ever) complained about their distant relationship, she made several things clear. Both she and the children (all adults by the time of his death) were in agreement that they knew very little about this man whose teachings and writings have sent waves of revelation through many hungry hearts. This, to me, is a tragedy of tragedies.
It is not enough to say that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own town.” (Mt. 13.57) Too long have preachers been presumptuously putting themselves in the sandals of Jesus, and blaming the unhealthy condition of their families on the requirements of ministry. We are not Jesus, friends.
Most of us have spouses. Most of us have children. What shall they declare at our funerals? What will our children leave with when they move on into adulthood?
I was told that after A.W. died, Ada was asked if she missed him. She had been re-married by this time. Her reply was tragic to me. She said something like this: “A.W. was God’s man, but my new husband is my man.” Oh, that it would not be said of us! May we be wholly given to Him, and to those whom He has given us.
Ironically, a few weeks ago I had just picked up this Tozer bio, and was really getting into it. The kids were playing outside so I decided to sit on the patio in my chair. The plan was to get into the bio (I have a thing for books, in case you didn’t know) while being close enough to supervise the children. As I was reflecting on the fact that Tozer’s children barely knew him, I was looking at his face on the front of the book. Just then, my son Simeon said,
“Daddy, will you play ball with me?”
There was a trembling that went through my soul, and it was as if Tozer was bellowing from the heavens, “Bryan! Don’t look at him the way I looked at mine. Look him in the eye. He is a little boy with a soul, and with his own thoughts, and he is sensitive to you. His heart is beating for you to father him. He is awaiting you, and he will never forget your response to him in this moment. There is a vast difference between ‘supervision’ and fathering.”
I set the book down, and played catch with my son.
I do tremble, friends. I tremble at the busyness of our American ways. I tremble at the awesome responsibility and privilege of raising these boys and girls. I weep over the fact that it is so easy for us to be engaged in ourselves- even religiously– to the neglect of our spouses, or children, or congregation members, or unbelieving neighbors.
As I was praying into this some days later, I had a strong word of Fatherly caution from the Lord:
“You’ve got one shot at this, son.”
18 or 20 years is all we have with our children. What shall they take from us? Will they feel like it was a mere obligation for us to feed them and care for them? Will they feel like we really didn’t want them around? Will they feel like all of our talk about the nature of God was mere flourish or rhetoric? Will they feel that they are valued and cherished? Will they have been fathered? mothered? Or just raised? I believe that God desires to give us wisdom and love enough to be a literal representation of Himself in the home. We will certainly miss the mark here and there, but He will enable us to actively engage them with a whole heart. To hear them, for real. To speak into them, for real. To love them, for real. That’s fathering and mothering, and it’s an awesome privilege available to us all.
The great revivalist Leonard Ravenhill, who was in many ways mentored by Tozer, used to say that you can’t catch up your prayer life when you get to the judgment seat of Christ. I certainly agree, and he was a man to back up his talk with a real value for prayer and intercession.
I’d like to acknowledge another cut in this fine diamond of discipleship. We can’t catch up our parenting, or the way we treated our spouses, or the depth of our humility toward others at the judgment seat either. We have one shot, saints. It will be a journey, and we will all trip up and fall in one way or another along the way. But abandoning ship is not an option. We’ve got to face our spouses, face our children, face our congregations, knowing that we’ve got “one shot” with all of them.
Whitefield said to speak every time as if it were our last, and “compel them to cry, ‘Behold, how He loves us.'”
I want to burn with a passion for God like Tozer did. I want to know the long seasons of adoration, awe, and intercession. I want to stand as a pillar in the household of faith. I want to exalt Christ and cling to the cross, fixing my eyes on Him while the latest fads rise and fall.
I also want to love and tremble toward those who are closest and most familiar to me. We all have those who are most familiar…spouses, children, parents, neighbors, fellow believers. I want to see a generation of preachers raised up who are aware of the mercies of God, are immersed in His love, and who walk with a “one shot” consciousness. They look at each person with a radical value, a Spirit-dependent outlook. They make priority for prayer and scripture as Tozer did, while stretching out the tent of time and relationship for those whom the Lord has given them.
Every occasion is another “shot.” Every conversation with the wife…”one shot.” Every seemingly irrelevant question from a child…”one shot.” Every interaction with an unbeliever…”one shot.” Every time of secret prayer and scripture reading…”one shot.” Every opportunity to father our sons and daughters…”one shot.” The self-absorbed are distracted, double-minded and cowardly. But the true servant of the Lord sees the “one shot” and takes it, while others are passing by as the proverbial stranger in a rush-hour traffic jam. May our eyes be opened to see that every occasion is another shot at learning and dispensing the very love of Christ.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children. – Psalm 90.12, 16
Posted in Life & Family Tagged with: A.W. Tozer, Bryan Purtle, One Shot, Parenting, Revivalist