I am currently studying The Pursuit of God by A.W.Tozer. Two of my sister-in-laws are teaching the study and I’ve been auditing the class. It is exactly what I needed for this particular time in my life. I have always been a follower of his work, because I know when I read his books it will be deep and straight to the point. There are times in our lives when we need that more than we need a story wrapped around the point and, for me, this is one of those times. Right now I want “just the facts,” as the old detective show Dragnet Sgt. Joe Friday’s character frequently implored female informants to provide “Just the facts, ma’am.”
If you have read my blogs, you may find that ironic because I do, indeed, call myself a storyteller. I love our life stories. I love to laugh at the funny things that happen to us all as we travel down this remarkable road of life. I love to learn from the incidents that have caused sorrow and pain but eventually led to growth. I love word pictures woven into bright colors, creating a tapestry that reflects this incredible world created by God. Even now, I find it extremely hard to stick to just the facts and not embellish the journey surrounding them. I will, however, push through to my point…
In the chapter called ‘Apprehending God,’ I was so struck with his explanation of the problem most people have, even those who call themselves Christians, in being able to truly know God.
“It was Canon Holmes, of India, who more than twenty five years ago called attention to the inferential character of the average man’s faith in God. To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but He remains personally unknown to the individual. “He must be,” they say, “therefore we believe He is.” Others do not go even so far as this; they know of Him only by hearsay. They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with the various odds and ends that make up their total creed. To many others
God is but an ideal, another name for goodness, or beauty, or truth; or He is law, or life, or the creative impulse back of the phenomena of existence.
These notions about God are many and varied, but they who hold them have one thing in common: they do not know God in personal experience. The possibility of intimate acquaintance with Him has not entered their minds. While admitting His existence they do not think of Him as knowable in the sense that we know things or people.
Christians, to be sure, go further than this, at least in theory. Their creed requires them to believe in the personality of God, and they have been taught to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Now personality and fatherhood carry with them the idea of the possibility of personal acquaintance. This is admitted, I say, in theory, but for millions of Christians, nevertheless, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian. They go through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a mere principle.
Over against all this cloudy vagueness stands the clear scriptural doctrine that God can be known in personal experience. A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting Himself whenever and wherever His people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.
The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience. The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.” “My sheep hear my voice.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” These are but four of countless such passages from the Word of God. And more important than any proof text is the fact that the whole import of the Scripture is toward this belief.
What can all this mean except that we have in our hearts organs by means of which we can know God as certainly as we know material things through our familiar five senses? We apprehend the physical world by exercising the faculties given us for the purpose, and we possess spiritual faculties by means of which we can know God and the spiritual world if we will obey the Spirit’s urge and begin to use them.
That a saving work must first be done in the heart is taken for granted here. The spiritual faculties of the unregenerate man lie asleep in his nature, unused and for every purpose dead; that is the stroke which has fallen upon us by sin. They may be quickened to active life again by the operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration; that is one of the immeasurable benefits which come to us through Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
But the very ransomed children of God themselves: why do they know so little of that habitual conscious communion with God which the Scriptures seem to offer? The answer is our chronic unbelief. Faith enables our spiritual sense to function. Where faith is defective the result will be inward insensibility and numbness toward spiritual things. This is the condition of vast numbers of Christians today. No proof is necessary to support that statement. We have but to converse with the first Christian we meet or enter the first church we find open to acquire all the proof we need.
A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.”
So there you have it, “Just the facts” to understand the why and how of ‘Apprehending God.’ If you found this excerpt enlightening I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Tozer’s classic book, “The Pursuit of God.” Every page is packed with biblical truths we desperately need to learn and experience.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8