You Need to Read Some A.W. Tozer…

If you have never read anything by A.W. Tozer, you really need to read some A.W. Tozer. In fact, just go out and read everything that Tozer wrote. Because, Tozer saw what was beginning to happen in the American church and everything that Tozer warned us against almost a century ago has now come to fruition.
 
In And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John, Tozer wrote:
 
“If we had more courage, we would preach more on the image of God in man. That does not mean that unconverted man is saved. He specifically is lost, and except he repent and be born again, he will never see the kingdom of God. If he dies unshriven and unforgiven, he will certainly go to hell. All that I believe, and the only reason a man can be saved is that God has put eternity in his heart.
 
“God made man in His own image, and though man fell, he keeps the longing after eternity there and the appreciation of everlastingness there. He has a desire after everlasting life within his heart, and that upsets him. Man goes wild and calls it one thing, but deep down in him it is another thing that is bothering him.

 

“When man fell in the Garden, it brought a dark cloud over the soul of mankind, suffocating him from the reality of immortality. This suffocation is a terrible thing in the human race. The effects of this are seen in every jail, every hospital and every mental asylum in our country. People, created in the image of God, with the aspiration for immortality, are struggling under this suffocating cloud that hinders them in their pursuit of God. The reality of this suffocation should tell us that something is wrong.

 

“We are made to breathe the air of righteousness and everlastingness. In man’s revolt against God, he brought upon himself this suffocating cloud that keeps him from being what God wants him to be and possessing what God desires him to possess.

 

“My proposition is simply this: Everything is wrong until Jesus sets it right.”[1]

 

Tozer also wrote in The Purpose of Man:

 

“Man’s supreme function through all eternity is to reflect God’s highest glory, and that God might look into the mirror called man and see His own glory shining there. Through man, God could reflect His glory to all creation.

 

“All the holy prophets and apostles teach that man fell from his first estate and destroyed the glory of God, and the mirror was broken. God could no longer look at sinful man and see His glory reflected. Man failed to fulfill the created purpose of worship to his Creator in the beauty of holiness.

 

“For worship to be acceptable to God, you must be renewed after the image of Him that created you. That ‘image’ must be restored. Only the renewed man can worship God in a way worthy of and acceptable to Him.

 

“In the temptation in the Garden, man fell apart and lost the artistry, beauty, the holiness of God. But he did not lose the potential to become godlike again if he got into the hands of the Divine Artist.

 

“This is the purpose of redemption: taking on the material of fallen man and by the mystery of regeneration and sanctification, restoring it again so that he is like God and like Christ. This is why we preach redemption. That is what redemption is; it is not saving us from hell, although it does save us from hell; but more importantly, it is making it so that we can be like God again.”[2]

 

A.W. Tozer wrote in The Crucified Life:

 

“What a bunch of unworthy people we evangelicals have become, daring to stand up on our feet and preach to an intelligent audience that the essence, the final purpose and the cause of Christ is to save us from hell. How stupid can we get and still claim to be followers of Christ.

 

“The purpose of God is not to save us from hell; the purpose of God is to save us and make us like Christ and to make us like God. God will never be done with us until the day we see His face, when His name is on our foreheads; and we shall be like Him because we shall see Him as He is.

 

“What a cheap, across-the-counter commercial kind of Christianity that says, ‘I was in debt, and Christ came and paid that debt.’ Sure, He did, but why emphasize that? ‘I was on my way to hell and Jesus stopped me and saved me.’ Sure, He did, but that is not the thing to emphasize. What we need to emphasize is that God has saved us to make us like His Son. His purpose is to catch us on our wild race to hell, turn us around because He knows us, bring judgement on the old self and then create a new self within us, which is Jesus Christ.”[3]

 

A.W. Tozer wasn’t the only one to argue this point about the restoration of the image of God. The church father Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in On the Incarnation:

 

“For as, when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must needs come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood, for the sake of his picture, even the mere wood on which it is painted is not thrown away, but the outline renewed upon it; in the same way also the most holy Son of the Father, being the image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in his likeness, and find him, as one lost, by the remission of sins.”[4]

 

John Wesley (founder of the Methodist church) preached:

 

“Man knows not that he is a fallen spirit, whose only business in the present world, is to recover from his fall, to regain that image of God wherein he was created.”[5]

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer devoted the entire 13th chapter of Discipleship to the restoration of the image of God within believers:

 

“The image of God should be restored in us once again. This task encompasses our whole existence. The aim and objective is not to renew human thoughts about God so that they are correct, or that we would subject our individual deeds to the word of God again, but that we, with our whole existence and as living creatures, are the image of God. Body, soul, and spirit, that is, the form of being human in its totality, is to bear the image of God on earth. God is well pleased with nothing less than God’s own perfect image.”[6]

 

Mark the Evangelist wrote in the Gospel that bears his name:

 

“The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders […] sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’
 
“But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
 
“‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
 
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’” (Mark 12:12-16).

 

(If that which bears the image of Caesar should be returned unto him, what then is that which should be returned unto God?)

 

Paul the Apostle wrote:

 

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

 

And:

 

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Tozer went on to write in And He Dwelt Among Us:

 

“It is not what a church believes that matters so much as what that church believes enough to emphasize. It is not what a preacher will admit theologically when you pin him down and make him talk; it is what he believes with sufficient urgency to make it a living, constant part of his message.

 

“The problem with much that passes for orthodoxy in this day is not what people believe or even what they do not believe. It is what they believe enough to emphasize. I do not suppose that there is any gospel church but what would say, “We believe that, and we hold that as part of our creed too!” All well and good, but do they believe it enough to lay the emphasis there, to strike it and detonate it and set it off until it explodes into Christian faith and Christian living? That is what matters.”[7]

 

This is why at His Words His Ways Fellowship, our Four Principles of Discipleship begin with an emphasis one the restoration of men into the image of God they were originally created to be through imitating Jesus as His disciple. You can begin reading about them here:

 

 

Or, you can visit us on Sundays. Here is our location.

 

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
 
 
[1] A. W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder. ed. James L. Snyder, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2009), pp. 20-23.
 

[2] A. W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man, ed. James L. Snyder, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2013), pp. 21-175.

 

[3] A. W. Tozer, The Crucified Life, ed. James L. Snyder, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2013), pp. 130-210.

 

[4] St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, (London: David Nutt, 1891), p. 24.

 

[5] John Wesley, The Works, (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1830), p. 24.

 

[6] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 281-288.

 

[7] A. W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John, compiled and edited by James L. Snyder. ed. James L. Snyder, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2009), p. 187.