Sunday, April 02, 2006

Forget That They Told You to Shut Up!

"Why do we not capture the divine illumination of Jesus Christ in our souls? Because there is a cloud of concealment between us and the smiling face of God!"

I CANNOT HELP BUT BELIEVE that in our generation there is a great, concealing cloud over much of the fundamental, gospel church which has practically shut off our consciousness of the smiling face of God.

Textualism, a system of rigid adherence to words, has largely captured the church, with the language of the New Testament still being used but with the Spirit of the New Testament grieved.

The doctrine of verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, for instance, is still held, but in such a way that its illumination and life are gone and rigor mortis has set in. As a result religious yearning is choked down, religious imagination has been stultified and religious aspiration smothered.

The "hierarchy" and the "scribes" of this school of thought have told us and would teach us that we ought to shut up and quit talking about spiritual longing and desire in the Christian church.
We have already seen the reaction to this among the masses of evangelical Christians. There has been a revolt in two directions, a rather unconscious revolt, like the gasping of fish in a bowl where there is no oxygen. A great company of evangelicals has already gone over into the area of religious entertainment so that many gospel churches are tramping on the doorstep of the theater. Over against that, some serious segments of fundamental and evangelical thought have revolted into the position of evangelical rationalism which finds it a practical thing to make its peace with liberalism.

This is why the message of spiritual perfection and longing after God sounds so strange to our generation. On one side the masses proclaim, "I have accepted Jesus—whoop de doo! Let’s go and have fun!" On the other, serious and reverent men are thinking their way perilously near to the borders of liberalism. Meanwhile, the New Testament message, objectives and methods are allowed to lie dormant, spurned and forgotten. I have read for many years in the old devotional classics of the desire of the saints of God to keep the candles of their souls burning brightly, day by day. They sought to feel the divine fire in their hearts, to experience the blessedness of reconciliation with God. They are on record as always willing to renounce everything worldly in order to possess the treasure buried in the field of their hearts.

This is not new doctrine and it ought not to sound so different and strange to us. Has not Christ made full atonement for us, and should we not renounce everything that would keep us from the conscious experience of knowing and receiving the Kingdom of God within us?

God’s face is turned toward us. The famed Lady Julian wrote long ago, "The precious amends our Lord hath made for man’s sin have turned all our blame into endless honor!" Paul said it in this way, "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20b).

It is glorious knowledge indeed that the smiling face of God is turned toward us. Why, then, do we not capture the wondrous, divine illumination of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Why do we not know the divine fire in our own souls? Why do we not strive to sense and experience the knowledge of exhilaration of reconciliation with God? (A. W. Tozer)

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