Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Knowing, Trusting, Entering

In the third chapter of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, Tozer highlights a serious danger to our churches that is as true today as it was when it was first written in 1948: “The world is perishing for
lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence.” (pg 27) There is a lot to digest here with respect to what keeps us from entering into the presence of God, but that will have to wait until next week. Instead I want to suggest that one of the things that causes the latter (want of his Presence) is a consequence of the former (lack of the knowledge of God). How much do
we take for granted evangelical language like when we “came to know Christ” or sing songs like “I’ve got a friend in Jesus”? A relationship requires more than meeting someone a single time, and
deep relationships require knowing someone intimately.

And so I believe one of the biggest obstacles to authentic Christianity in our churches is this lack of intimate knowledge of who God is. Books have been written on this very issue with respect to the Son (The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancy for example), the Holy Spirit (Forgotten God by Francis Chan as one), or the Father (Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler to round out the list from my personal bookshelf). But how many address the Triune God as not of singular characteristics of one of the three, but the perfection that comes from the whole? (And I believe Tozer recognized this when he later wrote The Knowledge of the Holy.) Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard a sermon on the very nature of God, or his majesty, or even of his infinite love and justice?

A couple paragraphs in this chapter stood out to me that I think need to be shared in their entirety:

Who is this within the veil who dwells in fiery manifestations? It is none other than God Himself, “One God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible,” and “One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God; begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God; begotten not made; being of one substance with the Father,” and “the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.” Yet this holy Trinity is One God, for “we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal and the majesty co-eternal.” So in part run the ancient creeds, and so the inspired Word declares. (pg 27)

What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal, which means that he antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change. He is immutable, which means that He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. To change He would need to go from better to worse or from worse to better. He cannot do either, for being perfect He cannot become more perfect, and if He were to become less perfect He would be less than God. He is omniscient, which means that He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him. Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it. Only fire can give even a remote conception of it. In fire He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey. The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the “shekinah,” the Presence, through the years of Israel’s glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple. (pg 28)

Is this the God you came to know when you accepted Jesus? Is this the God you know now this very moment? If so, are you living like you believe this? A couple things stand out- since God is eternal, time exists in Him not the other way around. And because of this, he has no past and no future and knows the result of all things.

I was just reading in Sheila Walsh’s God Loves Broken People about trusting in this aspect of God to carry us through our trials. We can plaster Romans 8 on a bumper sticker, but do we actually live as if it is true? Do we honestly, I mean honestly, believe that God works all things out for the good? As I type, New Orleans is flooding under yet another hurricane. That same hurricane, then as a tropical storm, pummeled Haiti with rain, ruining the makeshift tent cities and undoing much of the relief efforts there. Meanwhile political talking-heads jockey for position as voters concern themselves with
the economy, finding a job, and wondering how they are going to pay their bills. On whom is our faith based? We are surrounded by sickness, addiction and trauma that have ruined peoples’ very lives. Or has it?

Because we don’t really know God, it is hard to put our trust and faith in him. And because we struggle to trust him we allow all the circumstances above, and even inconsequential things like a tough day at the office or the kids fighting over a toy, to stand in our way of entering into His divine presence.

This blog is part of a book club reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Please join the discussion here and at our hosts, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. Need a copy of the book? You can get it for free on Kindle.

1 comment:

Jason Stasyszen said...

I love those paragraphs as well. Such richness and beauty in that truth. It's heartwrenching (and may it be more so, Lord) to see so many going through the motions without experiencing the warmth and reality of living in Him and He in us. I want it for myself and I want it for everyone I come in contact with. May it be a burning passion. Thank you, Frank.