Worth Another Look: A.W. Tozer on the Holy Spirit

Here are a few beautiful portions from one of Tozer’s best-known works:

“A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the Benediction. Further than that He might well as not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian….

“…The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and light and love. In His uncreated nature He is a boundless sea of fire, flowing, moving ever, performing as He moves the eternal purposes of God. Toward nature He performs one sort of work, toward the world another and toward the Church still another. And every act of His accords with the will of the Triune God. Never does He act on impulse nor move after a quick or arbitrary decision. Since He is the Spirit of the Father He feels toward His people exactly as the Father feels, so there need be on our part no sense of strangeness in His presence. He will always act like Jesus, toward sinners in compassion, toward saints in warm affection, toward human suffering in tenderest pity and love.

“It is time for us to repent, for our transgressions against the blessed Third Person have been many and much aggravated. We have bitterly mistreated Him in the house of His friends. We have crucified Him in His own temple as they crucified the Eternal Son on the hill above Jerusalem. And the nails we used were not of iron, but of the finer and more precious stuff of which human life is made. Out of our hearts we took the refined metals of will and feeling and thought, and from them we fashioned the nails of suspicion and rebellion and neglect. By unworthy thoughts about Him and unfriendly attitudes toward Him days without end.”

Quotes are taken from The Divine Conquest (or, God’s Pursuit of Man), pp. 64-75

More Fruitful than Feverish Activity

We are infatuated with ourselves.

Fearfully and wonderfully made, we are filled with power to shape the lives we lead, along with the world in which we live. Bearing the divine image, we are endowed with the potential for significant influence and impact. Indeed, we are weighty beings.

It is this “batting stance” that struggles to process a quote like the following:

“Coming before God in quietness and waiting upon Him in silence can accomplish more than days of feverish activity.”

wilderness2Tied into this realization, from A.W. Tozer, is a key strand of wilderness teaching. Ancient Israel was enrolled in a forty-year course toward grasping that their taking of the Promised Land would actually have nearly nothing to do with their ability to take Promised Land. This was to be deeply humbling and highly empowering at the same bizarre time!

So much of our lives are spent stressing over the challenges we must overcome or the standards we must meet. God wants His people clear that the works truly need undertaking within our surroundings and selves will require larger hands and finer craftsmanship. In these ventures, worshipful seeking holds more power than wild striving.

In a related theme, Barbara Brown Taylor describes the Sabbath rhythm as “a practice in death”. This is equally a theme of the Lenten season as well as a central strand to the Christian Gospel.

To be sure, God offers new life in His Son and fresh breath by His Spirit. It just requires a dead soul and a panting spirit to press us into a posture ready for such gifts.

That is why God loves the wilderness, because His people need it so.