W. Tozer - What Is God Like?
Excerpt from The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, Commentary and questions by Fred Bittner
What is God Like? Hebrews 13:8, reminds us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But has our view of God changed throughout the generations? A.W. Tozer offers a challenging and thought provoking challenge to the modern church. The following article is from the book Knowledge of The Holy published in 1961.
Knowledge of the Holy
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church.
Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.
Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.
Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God, and the weightiest word in any language is its word for God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately associated with Him and impossible apart from Him. It is highly significant that the first word was the Word: “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We may speak because God spoke. In Him word and idea are indivisible.
That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.
Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.
A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.
It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.
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It’s Never Too Late
Monday, July 21, 2014 by Sheila Walsh
I smiled when I read the poster in the window of the mall beauty salon: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” It was surrounded by pictures of the latest hairstyles and colors. I guess that was supposed to be the message: It’s never too late to be a blonde if that’s what you know you are deep inside! …
I think it’s a wonderful statement and a spiritual truth. In God it’s never too late to be what you might have been. So many people walk through life with regret. That seems like such a wasted, draining emotion to me. We are not powerless in our lives to make a change, to start over again, to learn to do better next time.
There is so much in life that is wonderful, and it’s not too late to grab hold of it.
One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:13-14
Hope for the Searching Soul
by Billy Graham from The Reason for My Hope
Pop culture is searching, perhaps today more than ever, for truth. But truth has become to many whatever they want it to be, bound up in lies from Satan that cause them to look in futility to others and, sometimes, to themselves.
Rock star Jewel sings about being God’s eyes, God’s hands, God’s mind, God’s heart. While those who follow Christ may perform good deeds in His name, humanity will never be God’s eyes or God’s mind. Only His eyes can peer into our weary souls. He says,
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. - Isaiah 55:8
God longs to fill our minds with His truth and heal our sick hearts. God’s heart’s desire is to love us and change us.
I was moved when I heard the story that at age sixteen Jewel was traveling through Mexico and observed that everyone seemed to be looking “for someone to save them.” Her evaluation was true. She later wrote lyrics to what would become a major hit, “Who Will Save Your Soul?” in which she reveals people’s worry about who will save their souls. I wish I could tell this talented young entertainer who is searching for God that humanity is not God and never will be. And aren’t we glad?
No one cares for us as God does, and no one but God loves us with an everlasting love.
The world would have us believe that we do not have souls or that we are our own gods. The Huffington Post’s article on “25 Ways to Feed Your Soul” was really all about pampering self. Yet the world applauds the poets who have written about searching the soul and artists who have attempted to depict the depth of the soul.
Canadian writer Douglas Coupland tapped in to our cultural soul confusion in a poignant line by a character in his novel The Gum Thief: “I don’t deserve a soul, yet I still have one. I know because it hurts.”
So many men, women, and children in our society know that ache. How I hope they hear the message that can bring comfort to their aching souls. The apostle Paul wrote,
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely… your whole spirit, soul, and body. - 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Tormented poet Sylvia Plath famously wrote that she was terrified by a “dark thing” inside her. When the soul is separated from the God who made it, the soul is indeed dark. Edgar Allan Poe said when he was dying, “Lord help my poor soul.” It is said that this brilliant poet lived in a great neurotic darkness.
But Jesus said, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. - John 8:12
Matchmaking has become a booming business from Africa to Asia, from Australia to Europe, in our culture’s restless search for a “soul mate.” Online services promise to bring light into your life by matching you up with someone just right for you. “Relationship experts” teach clients to practice “self-love” in order to attract a potential partner. One such expert wrote, “We… have the power to create our own personal movie-like narratives, love stories based on our own desires and hopes.”
Since the subject of the soul has a prominent place in our thinking, may I ask: Have you found the sole source of the real kind of love that can bring light into your life? Salvation in Jesus Christ is the only hope for your soul. Only He can illumine the dark corners of your life and give you soul satisfaction.
You can continue searching for some religion that fits your particular lifestyle, but your search will never come to a satisfying end. Or you can commit your life completely to the Lord, who brings true and lasting fulfillment to the human soul who sincerely seeks Him in truth.
You can belong to the Giver of life who saves souls from the weariness of manmade religion. You can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s what it means to be a Christian. Have you humbled yourself before Him?
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Have you witnessed the soul-searching for truth, hope, and love in the community around you? There is hope for the searching soul and His Name is Jesus!