​Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude (A.W.TOZER 1960)

November 8, 2017


​Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude (A.W.TOZER 1960)
Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude
We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasures on earth and in eternity. Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible. It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude, where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again. “The thoughtful soul to solitude retires,” said the poet of other and quieter times; but where is the solitude to which we can retire today? Science, which has provided men with certain material comforts, has robbed them of their souls by surrounding them with a world hostile to their existence. “Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still” is a wise and healing counsel, but how can it be followed in this day of the newspaper, the telephone, the radio and the television? These modern playthings, like pet tiger cubs, have grown so large and dangerous that they threaten to devour us all. What was intended to be a blessing has become a positive curse.

No spot is now safe from the world’s intrusion. One way the civilized world destroys men is by preventing them from thinking their own thoughts. Our “vastly improved methods of communication” of which the shortsighted boast so loudly now enable a few men in strategic centers to feed into millions of minds alien thought-stuff, ready-made and predigested.

A little effortless assimilation of these borrowed ideas and the average man has done all the thinking he will or can do. This subtle brainwashing goes on day after day and year after year to the eternal injury of the populace a populace, incidentally, which is willing to pay big money to have the job done, the reason being, I suppose, that it relieves them of the arduous and often frightening task of reaching independent decisions for which they must take responsibility. There was a time, not too long ago, when a man’s home was his castle, a sure retreat to which he might return for quietness and solitude. There “the rains of heaven may blow in, but the king himself cannot enter without permission,” said the proud British, and made good on their boast. That was home indeed.

It was of such a sacred place the poet sang:

0, when I am safe in my sylvan home, I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome; And when I am stretched beneath the pines, Where the evening star so holy shines, I laugh at the lore and the pride of man, At the sophist schools, and the learned clan; For what are they all, in their high conceit, When man in the bush with God may meet? -Ralph Waldo Emerson in Good-bye

While it is scarcely within the scope of the present piece, I cannot refrain from remarking that the most ominous sign of the coming destruction of our country is the passing of the American home. Americans live no longer in homes, but in theaters. The members of many families hardly know each other, and the face of some popular TV star is to many wives as familiar as that of their husbands. Let no one smile. Rather should we weep at the portent. It will do no good to wrap ourselves in the Stars and Stripes for protection. No nation can long endure whose people have sold themselves for bread and circuses. Our fathers sleep soundly, and the harsh bedlam of commercialized noise that engulfs us like something from Dante’s Inferno cannot disturb their slumber. They left us a goodly heritage. To preserve that heritage we must have a national character as strong as theirs.

And this can be developed only in the Christian home. The need for solitude and quietness was never greater than it is today. What the world will do about it is their problem. Apparently the masses want it the way it is and the majority of Christians are so completely conformed to this present age that they, too, want things the way they are. They may be annoyed a bit by the clamor and by the goldfish bowl existence they live, but apparently they are not annoyed enough to do anything about it. However, there are a few of God’s children who have had enough. They want to relearn the ways of solitude and simplicity and gain the infinite riches of the interior life. They want to discover the blessedness of what Dr. Max Reich called “spiritual aloneness.” To such I offer a brief paragraph of counsel.

Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind-short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings.

Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your minds remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. All the above is contingent upon a right relation to God through Christ and daily meditation on the Scriptures. Lacking these, nothing will help us; granted these, the discipline recommended will go far to neutralize the evil effects of externalism and to make us acquainted with God and our own souls. #AWTOZER

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The Old Cross and the New

September 26, 2017
The Old Cross and the New
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 old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. 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. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually. The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He 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. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better. The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner anal 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-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. 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 with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. 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 of 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. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him. 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 Saviour, 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. To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval. 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. #AWTOZER

Voting ourselves to Death!!

November 8, 2016

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“A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan!!!” (Dr Martin Luther King Jr)

October 28, 2016
Adolf Hitler holding a speech
The tough mind is sharp and penetrating, breaking through the crust of Legends and myths and sifting the true from the false. The tough minded individual is astute and discerning. He has a strong, austere quality that makes for firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment. Who doubts that this toughness of Mind is one of man’s greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in Hard, Solid thinking. There is an almost Universal quest for easy answers and half-baked Solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
This prevalent tendency towards soft mindedness is found in man’s unbelievable gullibility. Take our attitude toward advertisements. We are so easily led to purchase a product because a television or radio advertisement pronounces it better than any other. Advertisers have long since learned that most people are soft minded, and they capitalize on this susceptibility with skillful and effective slogans.
This undo gullibility is also seen in the tendency of many readers to accept the printed word of the press as final truth. Few people realize that even our authentic channels of information the press, the platform, and in many instances the pulpit do not give a objective and unbiased truth. Few people have the toughness of mind to judge critically and to discern the true from the false, the fact from the fiction. Our minds are constantly being invaded by Legions of half-truths, prejudices, and false facts. One of the great needs of mankind is to be lifted above the morass of false propaganda. Soft minded individuals are prone to embrace all kinds of superstitions. Their minds are constantly invaded by irrational fears, such fears lead the Soft minded haggard by day and haunted by night. The soft minded man always fears change. He feels Security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea. The soft minded person always wants to freeze the moment and hold life in the gripping yoke of sameness. We do not need to look far to detect the dangers of soft mindedness. Dictators, capitalizing on soft mindedness, have led men to acts of barbarity and Terror that are Unthinkable in civilized society. Adolf Hitler realized that soft mindedness was so prevalent among his followers that he said, “I use emotion for the many and Reserve reason for the few.” In Mein Kampf he asserted: ” By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that Heaven Is Hell- and Hell, heaven the greater the LIE, the more readily will it be believed.” The tough minded person always examines the facts before he reaches conclusions; in short, he post judges.
“There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorant. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft mindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan!!!” (Dr Martin Luther King Jr)

“PATRIOTISM”

October 11, 2016

1ZdIB4L

“Patriotism” can be valuable servant of men who seek to make their nation as righteous as possible in the service of God, but it may also become a pseudo –    religion in which God is considered the servant of a particular nation and culture.

We are always faced with the temptation to equate Christianity and Americanism, and to feel that almost anything is Christian if it is in the best interests of America. At its worst, this danger may cause us to revise the elements of our faith in order to make them blend harmoniously with the “American way of life.” Perhaps this is why many Americans feel that there is nothing distinctive about the Christian Faith. What they think is Christianity is really Americanism-patriotism raised to an improper position of supreme over the Creator Himself.

Example: a pastor reported that a member of his church refused to continue attending worship services because the congregation voted to give the place of honor in the SANCTUARY to the Christian flag rather than the American flag. He added that on the Fourth of July he had a near rebellion on his hands when he failed to ask the congregation to stand for the singing of the hymn “America the Beautiful,” while no one objected to remaining seated to sing “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

Our discomfort – and perhaps rebellion – at what such illustrations imply is itself indicative of the situation. We are accustomed to denouncing communism as atheistic, devilish, and totally false, while hailing the United States as so nearly perfect that we will unquestioningly lay down our lives for it when called upon to do so. Certainly communism is a grave menace to the free world – probably as grave as any that has yet threatened the peace. Certainly the United States of America is a great nation and in many ways a “good” nation. But are we ready to give our nation our supreme allegiance, and to depend upon it for all our needs?

To do so is to attribute to it the power of perfection that only GOD possesses. God stands in judgment upon both Russia and the United States. My fundamental standard of judgment is not the aspiration of the United States, but the obligation of my FAITHFULNESS IN GOD!

When I look at it in this way I soon see that, frightening as is the threat from communism (or any other country or idea), even more awesome is the danger of idolizing my nation as to put it above the guidance even of ALMIGHTY GOD.

As we continue to build larger and larger “barns” for our surpluses and piles of armaments, are we willing to face the fact that God may be speaking to our country with the shocking words of The Lord Jesus Christ: “Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:20) or “What does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”(Mark 8:36)

This does not mean that I cannot be both an American and a Christian. The question is one of priority. Am I a Christian first, and then an American? Or am I an American first, and then a Christian? Do I give SUPREME devotion to my nation’s interest, shaping my religion to conform to it? Or do I acknowledge GOD as supreme, constantly striving to help to make my nation more GODLY – to make it conform more nearly to the WILL AND WAY OF GOD?

(By Willard W. Wetzel, Copyright 1963)


( Why the Holy Spirit Is Given ) #AWTOZER #THEHUMANRIGHT

September 7, 2016

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A GENERATION AGO THE WORK of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer was neatly reduced by certain Bible teachers to one thing: to impart power for service. In the first quarter of the present century the phrase “power for service” occurred everywhere in the literature of evangelical Christianity, and one gets the distinct impression that it was meant to serve as a Biblical reason for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church other than that advanced by the charismatic sects which about that time were going big in various parts of the world, especially in the United States. These claimed that they had returned to basic New Testament Christianity and offered as proof the presence of the Spirit’s gifts among them, with particular, one might say exclusive, emphasis on the gift of tongues. This teaching was accompanied by a great outburst of emotionalism. Those who had the experience enjoyed it immensely and the onlookers could not but be deeply affected by this demonstration of joy. The more staid members of the evangelical community could not go along with the emotionalism of the Pentecostalists nor with the obvious lack of balance in their theology and lack of responsibility in their general conduct. But the matter of the Spirit had to be dealt with. The popular Bible teachers came up with the “power for service” doctrine and a lot of good people were greatly relieved. According to this counter-doctrine, the infilling of the Spirit is necessary and altogether to be desired, but for reasons other than those advanced by the Pentecostalists. The one great work of the Spirit in the life of the believer, they said, is to impart “power for service.” Thus it is not emotional or charismatic but practical. The Christian is weak and the Spirit is given to make him strong so that he can serve effectively. This view was supported by Acts 1:8: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Now I have often tried to make the point that truths that are compelled to stand alone never stand straight and are not likely to stand long. Truth is one but truths are many. Scriptural truths are interlocking and interdependent. A trust is rarely valid in isolation. A statement may be true in its relation to other truths and less than true when separated from them. “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is good not only for a court of law but for the pulpit, the classroom and the prayer chamber as well. To teach that the filling with the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian to provide “power for service” is to teach truth, but not the whole truth. Power for service is but one effect of the experience, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the least of several effects. It is least for the very reason that it touches service, presumably service to mankind; and contrary to the popular belief, “to serve this present age” is not the Christian’s first duty nor the chief end of man. As I have stated elsewhere, the two great verbs that dominate the life of man are be and do. What a man is comes first in the sight of God. What he does is determined by what he is, so is is of first importance always. The modern notion that we are “saved to serve,” while true, is true only in a wider context, and as understood by busy Christians today it is not true at all. Redemption became necessary not because of what men were doing only, but because of what they were. Not human conduct alone had gone wrong but human nature as well; apart from the moral defect in human nature no evil conduct would have occurred. Fallen men acted in accord with what they were. Their hearts dictated their deeds. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” That much any moral being could have seen. But God saw more; He saw the cause of man’s wicked ways, and that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The stream of human conduct flows out of a fountain polluted by evil thoughts and imaginations. To purge the stream it was necessary to purify the fountain; and to reform human conduct it is necessary to regenerate human nature. The fundamental be must be sanctified if we would have a righteous do, for being and doing are related as cause and effect, as father and son. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration. To accomplish this He first reveals Christ to the penitent heart (1 Cor. 12:9). He then goes on to illumine the newborn soul with brighter rays from the face of Christ (John 14:26; 16:13-15) and leads the willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion. Remember, we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us and we have only as much of Him as the Holy Spirit imparts. God wants worshipers before workers; indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the lost art of worship. It is inconceivable that a sovereign and holy God should be so hard up for workers that He would press into service anyone who had been empowered regardless of his moral qualifications. The very stones would praise Him if the need arose and a thousand legions of angels would leap to do His will. Gifts and power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart; but holiness and spiritual worship come first.

(At the Home of Martha and Mary) LUKE 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


The Freedom of the Will #AWTOZER

August 25, 2016
The Freedom of the Will #AWTOZER
 
Romans 6:16 (NIV)
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
 
IT IS INHERENT IN THE NATURE OF MAN that his will must be free. Made in the image of God who is completely free, man must enjoy a measure of freedom. This enables him to select his companions for this world and the next; it enables him to yield his soul to whom he will, to give allegiance to God or the devil, to remain a sinner or become a saint. And God respects this freedom. God once saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. To find fault with the smallest thing God has made is to find fault with its Maker. It is a false humility that would lament that God wrought but imperfectly when He made man in His own image. Sin excepted, there is nothing in human nature to apologize for. This was confirmed forever when the Eternal Son became permanently incarnated in human flesh. So highly does God regard His handiwork that He will not for any reason violate it. For God to override man’s freedom and force him to act contrary to his own will would be to make a mockery of the image of God in man. This God will never do. Our Lord Jesus looked after the rich young ruler as he walked away, but He did not follow him or attempt to coerce him. The dignity of the young man’s humanity forbade that his choices should be made for him by another. To remain a man he must make his own moral choices; and Christ knew this and permitted him to go his own chosen way. If his human choice took him at last to hell, at least he went there a man; and it is better for the moral universe that he should do so than that he should be jockeyed to a heaven he did not choose, a soulless, willess automaton. God will take nine steps toward us, but He will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but He cannot do our repenting for us. It is of the essence of repentance that it can only be done by the one who committed the act to be repented of. God can wait on the sinning man; He can withhold judgment; He can exercise long-suffering to the point where He appears “lax” in His judicial administration; but He cannot force a man to repent. To do this would be to violate the man’s freedom and void the gift God originally bestowed upon him. Where there is no freedom of choice there can be neither sin nor righteousness, because it is of the nature of both that they be voluntary. However good an act may be, it is not good if it is imposed from without. The act of imposition destroys the moral content of the act and renders it null and void. For an act to be sinful the quality of voluntariness must also be present. Sin is the voluntary commission of an act known to be contrary to the will of God. Where there is no moral knowledge or where there is no voluntary choice, the act is not sinful; it cannot be, for sin is the transgression of the law and transgression must be voluntary. Lucifer became Satan when he made his fateful choice: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Clearly here was a choice made against light. Both knowledge and will were present in the act. Conversely, Christ revealed His holiness when He cried in His agony, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Here was a deliberate choice made with the full knowledge of the consequences. Here two wills were in temporary conflict, the lower will of the Man who was God and the higher will of the God who was Man, and the higher will prevailed. Here also was seen in glaring contrast the enormous difference between Christ and Satan; and that difference divides saint from sinner and heaven from hell. But someone may ask, “When we pray ‘Not my will, but Thine be done,’ are we not voiding our will and refusing to exercise the very power of choice which is part of the image of God in us?” The answer to that question is a flat No, but the whole thing deserves further explanation. No act that is done voluntarily is an abrogation of the freedom of will. If a man chooses the will of God he is not denying but exercising his right of choice. What he is doing is admitting that he is not good enough to desire the highest choice nor is he wise enough to make it, and he is for that reason asking Another who is both wise and good to make his choice for him. And for fallen man this is the ultimate use he should make of his freedom of will. Tennyson saw this and wrote of Christ, Thou seemest human and divine, The highest, holiest manhood, Thou; Our wills are ours, we know not how; Our wills are ours, to make them Thine. There is a lot of sound doctrine in these words—”Our wills are ours, to make them Thine.” The secret of saintliness is not the destruction of the will but the submergence of it in the will of God. The true saint is one who acknowledges that he possesses from God the gift of freedom. He knows that he will never be cudgled into obedience nor wheedled like a petulant child into doing the will of God; he knows that these methods are unworthy both of God and of his own soul. He knows he is free to make any choice he will, and with that knowledge he chooses forever the blessed will of God.

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