The Inadequacy of “Instant Christianity” – A.W. Tozer

July 7, 2016

It is hardly a matter of wonder that the country that gave the world instant tea and instant coffee should be the one to give it instant Christianity. If these two beverages were not actually invented in the United States it was certainly here that they received the advertising force that has made them known to most of the civilized world. And it cannot be denied that it was American Fundamentalism that brought instant Christianity to the gospel churches.

Ignoring for the moment Romanism and Liberalism in its various disguises, and focusing our attention upon the great body of evangelical believers, we see at once how deeply the religion of Christ has suffered in the house of its friends. The American genius for getting things done quickly and easily with little concern for quality or permanence has bred a virus that has infected the whole evangelical church in the United States and through our literature, our evangelists and our missionaries, has spread it all over the world.

Instant Christianity came in with the machine age. Men invented machines for two purposes. They wanted to get important work done more quickly and easily than they could do it by hand, and they wanted to get the work over with so they could give their time to pursuits more to their liking, such as or enjoying the pleasures of the world. Instant Christianity now serves the same purpose in religion. It disposes of the past, guarantees the future, and sets the Christian free to follow the more refined lusts of the flesh in all good conscience and with a minimum of restraint.

By “instant Christianity” I mean the kind found almost everywhere in gospel circles and which is born of the notion that we may discharge our total obligation to our own souls by one single act of faith, or at the most by two, and be relieved thereafter of all the anxiety about our eternal spiritual condition. We are saints by calling, our teachers keep telling us, and we are permitted to infer from this that there is no reason to seek to be saints by character. An automatic, once-for-all quality is present here that is completely out of mode with the faith of the New Testament.

In this error, as in most others, there lies a certain amount of truth imperfectly understood. It is true that conversion to Christ may be and often is sudden. Where the burden of sin has been heavy, the sense of forgiveness is usually clear and joyful. The delight experienced in forgiveness is equal to the degree of moral repugnance felt in repentance. The true Christian has met God. He knows he has eternal life and he is likely to know where and when he received it. And those also who have been filled with the Holy Spirit subsequent to their regeneration have a clear-cut experience of being filled. The Spirit is self-announcing, and the renewed heart has no difficulty identifying His presence as He floods in over the soul.

But the trouble is that we tend to put our trust in our experiences and as a consequence misread the entire New Testament. We are constantly being exhorted to make the decision, to settle the matter now, to get the whole thing taken care of at once—and those who exhort us are right in doing so. There are decisions that can and should be made once and for all. There are personal matters that can be settled instantaneously by a determined act of the will in response to Bible-grounded faith. No one would want to deny this; certainly not I. The question before us is, “Just how much can be accomplished in that one act of faith? How much yet remains to be done and how far can a single decision take us?”

Instant Christianity tends to make the faith act deadly and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance. It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding. It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth. It does not consider the act of faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them. By trying to pack all of salvation into one experience, or two, the advocates of instant Christianity flaunt the law of development which runs through all nature. They ignore the sanctifying effects of suffering, and practical obedience. They pass by the need for spiritual training, the necessity of forming right spiritual habits and the need to grapple against the world, the devil, and the flesh.

An undue preoccupation with the initial act of believing has created in some a psychology of contentment, or at least non-expectation. To many it has imparted a mood of disappointment with the Christian faith. God seems too far away, the world is too near, and the flesh is too powerful to resist. Others are glad to accept the assurance of automatic blessedness of eternal security. It relieves them of the need to watch and fight and pray, and sets them free to enjoy this world while waiting for the next.

Instant Christianity is twentieth century orthodoxy. I wonder whether the Apostle who wrote Philippians 3:7-16 would recognize it as the faith for which he finally died for. I am afraid today that he would not.


A. W. Tozer Sermon: Forgiveness for the Past and Provision for the Present

June 29, 2016

To offer a sinner the gift of salvation based upon the work of Christ, while at the same time allowing him to retain the idea that the gift carries with it no moral implications, is to do him untold injury where it hurts him worst. Many evangelical teachers insist so strongly upon free, unconditional grace as to create the impression that sin is not a serious matter and that God cares very little about it. He is concerned only with our escaping the consequences. The gospel then in practical application means little more than a way to escape the fruits of our past. The heart that has felt the weight of its own sin and along with this has seen the dread whiteness of the Most High God will never believe that a message of forgiveness without transformation is a message of good news. To remit a man’s past without transforming his present is to violate the moral sincerity of his own heart. To that kind of thing God will be no party. We must have courage to preach the whole message. By so doing we shall undoubtedly lose a few friends and make a number of enemies. But the true Christian will not grieve too much about that. He has enough to do to please his Lord and Savior and to be true to the souls of all men. That may well occupy him too completely to leave much time for regrets over the displeasure of misguided men.
A. W. Tozer Sermon: Forgiveness for the Past and Provision for the Present


Time Cannot Help Us #AWTOZER

June 9, 2016
Time Cannot Help Us #AWTOZER
SIN HAS DONE FRIGHTFUL THINGS to us and its effect upon us is all the more deadly because we were born in it and are scarcely aware of what is happening to us. One thing sin has done is to confuse our values so that we can only with difficulty distinguish a friend from a foe or tell for certain what is and what is not good for us. We walk in a world of shadows where real things appear unreal and things of no consequence are sought after as eagerly as if they were made of the very gold that paves the streets of the City of God. Our ideas rarely accord with things as they are, but are distorted by a kind of moral astigmatism that throws everything out of focus. Through a multitude of errors our total philosophy is out of line, somewhat as our mathematics would be had we learned the multiplication table wrongly and not been aware of our mistake. One false concept to which we cling tenaciously is time. We think of it as being a sort of viscid substance flowing onward like a sluggish river, bearing upon its bosom nations and empires and civilizations and men. We visualize this sticky stream as an entity and ourselves as helplessly stuck in it for as long as our earthly lives endure. Or again, by a simple shift in our thinking we picture time as a revealer of the shape of things to come, as when we say “Time will tell.” Or we imagine it a benign physician and comfort ourselves with the thought that “time is a great healer.” All this is so much a part of us that it would be too much to expect that the habit of referring everything to time could ever be broken. Yet we may guard against the harm that such thinking carries with it. The most harmful mistake we make concerning time is that it has somehow a mysterious power to perfect human nature. We say of a foolish young man “Time will make him wiser,” or we see a new Christian acting like anything but a Christian and hope that time will someday turn him into a saint. The truth is that time has no more power to sanctify a man than space has. Indeed, time is only a fiction by which we account for change. It is change, not time, that turns fools into wise men and sinners into saints. Or more accurately, it is Christ who does the whole thing by means of the changes He works in the heart. Saul the Persecutor became Paul the servant of God, but time did not make the change. Christ wrought the miracle, the same Christ who once changed water into wine. One spiritual experience followed another in fairly rapid succession until the violent Saul became a gentle, God-enamored soul ready to lay down his life for the faith he once hated. It should be obvious that time had no part in the making of the man of God. My purpose in writing this little piece is not to engage in an exercise in semantics but to alert my readers to the injury they may suffer from an unfounded confidence in time. Because a Moses and a Jacob lost the impulsive, headstrong sins of their youth and in their old age became gentle, mellow saints we tend to take it for granted that time wrought the transformation. But it is not so. God, not time, makes saints. Human nature is not fixed, and for this we should thank God day and night. We are still capable of change. We can become something other than what we are. By the power of the gospel the covetous man may become generous, the egotist lowly in his own eyes. The thief may learn to steal no more, the blasphemer to fill his mouth with praises unto God. But it is Christ who does it all. Time has nothing to do with it. Many a lost man is putting off the day of salvation, vaguely hoping that time is on his side, when actually the likelihood of his ever becoming a Christian grows less day by day. And why? Because the changes taking place in him are hardening his will and making it more and more difficult for him to repent. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” See the change-words in this text: “seek… call… forsake… return.” These all denote specific changes the returning sinner must make in himself, acts that he must perform. But this is not enough. “Have mercy… pardon”; these are the changes God makes in and for the man. To be saved the man must change and be changed. To enter the kingdom of God, our Lord explained, a man must be born again (John 3:3-7). That is, he must undergo a spiritual change. This accords completely with the preaching of John the Baptist who called upon his hearers to prepare the way of the Lord by bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, and with the apostle Peter who reminded the early Christians that they had been made partakers of the divine nature and had escaped the corruption the world had suffered by lust. The initial change, however, is not the only one the redeemed man will know. His whole Christian life will consist of a succession of changes, moving always toward spiritual perfection. To achieve these changes the Holy Spirit uses various means, probably the most effective being the writings of the New Testament. Time can help us only if we know that it cannot help us at all. It is change we need, and only God can change us from worse to better.

To Be Understood, Truth Must Be Lived #AWTOZER

June 6, 2016

To Be Understood, Truth Must Be Lived #AWTOZER
FOR A LONG TIME I HAVE BELIEVED that truth, to be understood, must be lived; that Bible doctrine is wholly ineffective until it has been digested and assimilated by the total life. I have held this to be an important element in the preaching of the Old Testament prophets, and I have felt it to be near to the heart of the moral teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. I admit that this belief has made me a little lonely, for not many of my Christian brethren share it with me. While I have not heard anyone deny the truth outright, few have seen fit to teach it with anything approaching emphasis. And by silence a man will reveal his beliefs as surely as by argument. This is one of those truths which at first may appear dull and colorless, but far from being tame or weak, this truth is of tremendous importance to all of us. While not to my knowledge formulated as a tenet in the creed of any church or school of religious thought, it nevertheless stands as a great divide to separate those who think rightly about the faith of Christ from those who think carelessly about it. The essence of my belief is that there is a difference, a vast difference, between fact and truth. Truth in the Scriptures is more than a fact. A fact may be detached, impersonal, cold and totally disassociated from life. Truth on the other hand, is warm, living and spiritual. A theological fact may be held in the mind for a lifetime without its having any positive effect upon the moral character; but truth is creative, saving, transforming, and it always changes the one who receives it into a humbler and holier man. At what point, then, does a theological fact become for the one who holds it a life-giving truth? At the point where obedience begins. When faith gains the consent of the will to make an irrevocable committal to Christ as Lord, truth begins its saving, illuminating work; and not one moment before. In His conflict with the religious textualists of His day our Lord often uttered short statements that serve as keys to unlock vast and precious storehouses of truth. In the Gospel according to John these may be found in something amounting to profusion. One such is found in John 7: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (verse 17). A. T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, explains “he shall know” as being “experimental knowledge from willingness to do God’s will.” Then he quotes Westcott: “if there be no sympathy there can be no understanding.” Obviously these words of Christ were understood by the great British Biblical scholar Westcott and the brilliant American expositor Robertson as teaching that truth can be understood only by the mind that has surrendered to it. The average evangelical Bible teacher today finds such a radical interpretation too revolutionary to be comfortable and so just ignores it. We must be willing to obey if we would know the true inner meaning of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. I believe this view prevailed in every revival that ever came to the church during her long history. Indeed a revived church may be distinguished from a dead one by the attitude or its members toward the truth. The dead church holds to the shell of truth without surrendering the will to it, while the church that wills to do God’s will is immediately blessed with a visitation of spiritual powers. Theological facts are like the altar of Elijah on Carmel before the fire came, correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold. When the heart makes the ultimate surrender, the fire falls and true facts are transmuted into spiritual truth that transforms, enlightens, sanctifies. The church or the individual that is Bible taught without being Spirit taught (and there are many of them) has simply failed to see that truth lies deeper than the theological statement of it. Truth cannot aid us until we become participators in it. We only possess what we experience. St. Gregory of Sinai, who lived in the fourteenth century, taught that understanding and participation were inseparable in the spiritual life. “He who seeks to understand commandments without fulfilling commandments, and to acquire such understanding through learning and reading, is like a man who takes a shadow for truth. For the understanding of truth is given to those who have become participants in truth (who have tasted it through living). Those who are not participants in truth and are not initiated therein, when they seek this understanding, draw it from a distorted wisdom. Of such men the apostle says ‘the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit,’ even though they boast of their knowledge of truth.” Here is a simple but neglected doctrine that should be restored to its rightful place in the thinking and teaching of the church. It would work wonders.


The Christian Life Is Not Easy #AWTOZER

May 12, 2016
The Christian Life Is Not Easy #AWTOZER
AS WE MOVE FARTHER ON and mount higher up in the Christian life we may expect to encounter greater difficulties in the way and meet increased hostility from the enemy of our souls. Though this is seldom presented to Christians as a fact of life it is a very solid fact indeed as every experienced Christian knows, and one we shall learn how to handle or stumble over to our own undoing. Satan hates the true Christian for several reasons. One is that God loves him, and whatever is loved by God is sure to be hated by the devil. Another is that the Christian, being a child of God, bears a family resemblance to the Father and to the household of faith. Satan’s ancient jealousy has not abated nor his hatred for God diminished in the slightest. Whatever reminds him of God is without other reason the object of his malignant hate. A third reason is that a true Christian is a former slave who has escaped from the galley, and Satan cannot forgive him for this affront. A fourth reason is that a praying Christian is a constant threat to the stability of Satan’s government. The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come. Who knows when another Elijah will arise, or another Daniel? or a Luther or a Booth? Who knows when an Edwards or a Finney may go in and liberate a whole town or countryside by the preaching of the Word and prayer? Such a danger is too great to tolerate, so Satan gets to the new convert as early as possible to prevent his becoming too formidable a foe. The new believer thus becomes at once a principal target for the fiery darts of the devil. Satan knows that the best way to be rid of a soldier is to destroy him before he becomes a man. The young Moses must not be allowed to grow into a liberator to set a nation free. The Baby Jesus dare not be permitted to become a man to die for the sins of the world. The new Christian must be destroyed early, or at least he must have his growth stunted so that he will be no real problem later. Now I do not think that Satan much cares to destroy us Christians physically. The soldier dead in battle who died performing some deed of heroism is not a great loss to the army but may rather be an object of pride to his country. On the other hand the soldier who cannot or will not fight but runs away at the sound of the first enemy gun is a shame to his family and a disgrace to his nation. So a Christian who dies in the faith represents no irreparable loss to the forces of righteousness on earth and certainly no victory for the devil. But when whole regiments of professed believers are too timid to fight and too smug to be ashamed, surely it must bring an astringent smile to the face of the enemy; and it should bring a blush to the cheeks of the whole Church of Christ. The devil’s master strategy for us Christians then is not to kill us physically (though there may be some special situations where physical death fits into his plan better), but to destroy our power to wage spiritual warfare. And how well he has succeeded. The average Christian these days is a harmless enough thing. God knows. He is a child wearing with considerable self-consciousness the harness of the warrior; he is a sick eaglet that can never mount up with wings; he is a spent pilgrim who has given up the journey and sits with a waxy smile trying to get what pleasure he can from sniffing the wilted flowers he has plucked by the way. Such as these have been reached. Satan has gotten to them early. By means of false teaching or inadequate teaching, or the huge discouragement that comes from the example of a decadent church, he has succeeded in weakening their resolution, neutralizing their convictions and taming their original urge to do exploits; now they are little more than statistics that contribute financially to the upkeep of the religious institution. And how many a pastor is content to act as a patient, smiling curator of a church full (or a quarter full) of such blessed spiritual museum pieces. If Satan opposes the new convert he opposes still more bitterly the Christian who is pressing on toward a higher life in Christ. The Spirit-filled life is not, as many suppose, a life of peace and quiet pleasure. It is likely to be something quite the opposite. Viewed one way it is a pilgrimage through a robber-infested forest; viewed another, it is a grim warfare with the devil. Always there is struggle, and sometimes there is a pitched battle with our own nature where the lines are so confused that it is all but impossible to locate the enemy or to tell which impulse is of the Spirit and which of the flesh. There is complete victory for us if we will but take the way of the triumphant Christ, but that is not what we are considering now. My point here is that if we want to escape the struggle we have but to draw back and accept the currently accepted low-keyed Christian life as the normal one. That is all Satan wants. That will ground our power, stunt our growth and render us harmless to the kingdom of darkness. Compromise will take the pressure off. Satan will not bother a man who has quit fighting. But the cost of quitting will be a life of peaceful stagnation. We sons of eternity just cannot afford such a thing. #PERSEVERANCE #ACTS2024 #FAITHFULTILLTHEEND #FINISHTHERACE #SHIELDOFFAITHFULNESS

We believe in….#SteveTurner

May 3, 2016
We believe in Marx, Freud, and Darwin.
We believe everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.
We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin. We believe that taboos are taboo.
We believe that everything’s getting better despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence must be investigated And you can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes UFO’s and bent spoons. Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves. He was a good moral teacher though we think His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions are basically the same-at least the one that we read was. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.
We believe that after death comes the Nothing Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing. If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its compulsory heaven for all excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn.
We believe in Masters and Johnson What’s selected is average. What’s average is normal. What’s normal is good.
We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed. Americans should beat their guns into tractors. And the Russians would be sure to follow.
We believe that man is essentially good. It’s only his behavior that lets him down. This is the fault of society. Society is the fault of conditions. Conditions are the fault of society.
We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. The universe will readjust. History will alter. We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds, And the flowering of individual thought.
If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky and when you hear State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Youths go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.
#SteveTurner #MEANINGOFLIFE

The Hunger of the Wilderness by A. W. Tozer – 1955

April 27, 2016
The Hunger of the Wilderness
 
by A. W. Tozer – 1955
 
“Man was made to dwell in a garden,” says Dr. Harold C. Mason, “but through sin he has been forced to dwell in a field, a field which he has wrested from his enemies by sweat and tears, and which he preserves only at the price of constant watchfulness and endless toil. Let him but relax his efforts for a few years and the wilderness will claim his field again. The jungle and the forest will swallow his labors and all his loving care will have been in vain.”
 
Every farmer knows the hunger of the wilderness, that hunger which no modern farm machinery, no improved agricultural methods, can ever quite destroy. No matter how well prepared the soil, how well kept the fences, how carefully painted the buildings, let the owner neglect for a while his prized and valued acres and they will revert again to the wild and be swallowed up by the jungle or the wasteland. The bias of nature is toward the wilderness, never toward the fruitful field. That, we repeat, every farmer knows.
 
To the alert Christian this fact will be more than an observation of interest to farmers; it will be a parable, an object lesson setting forth a law that runs through all the regions of our fallen world, affecting things spiritual as well as things material. We cannot escape the law that would persuade all things to remain wild or to return to a wild state after a period of cultivation. What is true of the field is true also of the soul, if we are but wise enough to see it.
 
The moral bent of the fallen world is not toward godliness, but definitely away from it. “Is this vile world a friend to grace,” asks the poet rhetorically, “to help me on to God?” The sad answer is no, and it would be well for us to see that each new Christian learn this lesson as soon as possible after his conversion. We sometimes leave the impression that it is possible to find at an altar of prayer, once and for all, purity of heart and power to assure victorious living for the rest of our days. How wrong this notion is has been proved by countless numbers of Christians through the centuries.
 
The truth is that no spiritual experience, however revolutionary, can exempt us from temptation; and what is temptation but the effort of the wilderness to encroach upon our new-cleared field? The purified heart is obnoxious to the devil and to all the forces of the lost World. They will not rest until they have won back what they have lost. The jungle will creep in and seek to swallow up the tiny areas that have been made free by the power of the Holy Ghost. Only watchfulness and constant prayer can preserve those moral gains won for us though the operations of God’s grace.
 
The neglected heart will soon be a heart overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life will soon become a moral chaos; the church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray.
 
The law of the wilderness operates universally throughout our fallen world, on the mission field as well as in more sheltered lands. It is therefore an error to believe that our missionary obligation may be discharged by passing through one country after another and proclaiming the Gospel without following it up with thorough teaching and careful church organization. Yet this error is affecting large sections of the evangelical church, leading earnest persons to attempt to finish the evangelization of the world by this hit-and-skip method.
 
To make a few converts, only to leave them to their own devices without adequate care, is as foolish as to turn loose a flock of newborn lambs in the middle of a wilderness; it is as absurd as to clear and plant a field in the heart of the deep woods and to leave it to the mercies of undisciplined nature. All this would be a waste of effort and could not possibly result in any real gain.
 
So it is with any spiritual effort that does not take into account the hunger of the wilderness. The lambs must be shepherded or they will be killed; the field must be cultivated or it will be lost; spiritual gains must be conserved by watchfulness and prayer or they too will fall victim to the enemy.
#HOLYCULTIVATION #FAITHFULNESS #AWTOZER

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