Main Summary: The Pursuit of God by A.W Tozer reveals that God must first seek a person before they can seek Him. The book delves into the relationship between God and human beings. It emphasizes the importance of personal experience and the continuous interchange of love and thought between God and the human spirit. The author also critiques modern interpretations of faith and the danger of losing God amid religious practices.
Lessons You’ll Learn From This Post
The Doctrine of Prevenient Grace
The pursuit of God is a central concept in Christian theology. The author explains that before a person can seek God, God must first have sought that person through the work of prevenient grace. This means that the impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is through your following hard after God.
The author emphasizes that the pursuit of God is a personal experience, and it is through the continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and your human spirit that true religion is experienced.
The author cites examples from the lives of Moses, David, and Paul, who all had a burning desire to know God better and sacrificed everything for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
Although the doctrine of prevalent grace, sees God as the one who makes the first move, the author points out that you must reciprocate with a pursuit of God and longing for a deeper understanding and connection with Him.
He expressed that many people have been taught that once they have accepted Christ, they do not need to continue seeking God and that this is a false logic.
The author encourages simplicity in your approach to God, stripping down to essentials and focusing on God alone. He also expresses that having God as your treasure is enough, as it brings all satisfaction, pleasure, and delight.
The Tyranny of Possessions & the Pain of Renunciation
According to the author, possessing “things” can lead to spiritual trouble and a lack of peace within your heart. He argued that this is because you may have allowed these external possessions to take over the place that God should hold in your heart.
The author quotes Jesus as saying “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” as a way to break free from this tyranny of possessions. The author believes that the key to a deeper knowledge of God is through your giving up all things and becoming “poor in spirit.”
The author uses the story of Abraham and Isaac as an example of the surrendered life. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac for God’s will ultimately led to God blessing and multiplying his seed. He gave up his most prized asset to please God.
The pursuit of God requires a willingness to give up everything you possess, including your loved ones and possessions. The author states, “there is the sweet theology of the heart, which can be learned only in the school of renunciation.” He also warns that our natural habit of clinging to possessions is harmful and hinders us from giving our treasures to God.
To overcome this habit, the author suggests being honest and open with God. You have to be specific about what you want to give up, and be willing to experience the pain of renunciation.
“The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough, old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw.” Ultimately, if you truly want to know God intimately, you must be willing to go through the process of renunciation.
Giving God His Place, ‘First Place’
The pursuit of God involves restoring the right relationship between humanity and its Creator. This relationship was disrupted by sin, but salvation offers the opportunity to restore it through a change in the sinner’s whole nature. This change which takes place in the human spirit, according to the author is made possible through the atonement of Jesus’ blood and the work of the Holy Spirit.
The pursuit of God requires accepting God as He is and submitting to His lordship. It involves bringing our total personality into conformity to God’s, and exalting Him to His proper station over us.
“The moment you make up your mind to exalt God over all, you step out of the world’s parade.” says the author. According to the author, as you progress in your holy journey, you will start to find yourself out of adjustment with the ways of the world. This he says, will form in you a new viewpoint, a new psychology and gain of new power.
Your break with the world will be due to your changed relationship with God. “The world of fallen men does not honor God.” says the author. A simple test will show how little God is honored by people who call themselves by His name. The author states that if someone were to choose between God and money, between God and men, or between God and personal ambition, God would take second place every time.
“Be thou exalted is the language of victorious spiritual experience.” says the author. By saying these words, you unlock the door to great treasures of grace and your Christian life becomes simple. The author emphasizes that in exalting God over all, you find your own highest honor upheld.
“We must of necessity be a servant to someone, either to God or to sin.” says the author. Surrendering to Christ means exchanging a cruel slave driver for a kind and gentle Master. The author says that you will not lose anything of human dignity by surrendering your all to God. rather, you will find your right place of high honor as one made in the image of your Creator.
“Sometimes the best way to see a thing is to look at its opposite,” says the author. Eli and his sons were given the priesthood, but they failed to honor God in their lives and ministrations. This resulted in a series of tragic events, including the death of Eli who was himself priest at the time.
On the other hand, the author highlights the lives of other Bible characters who honored God and were blessed with grace and blessings. Jesus being the epitome of this principle, as he humbled himself and gave all glory to his Father in heaven.
The author questions if the desire for honor from other people is the root of religious unbelief and religious self-righteousness. He believes that putting God first and making the decision to exalt him over all is essential for a person’s heart to find real satisfaction.
The Reality of The Unseen Realm
The pursuit of God is a journey of discovering the reality of God in personal experience. According to the author, many people view God as an inference, a deduction from evidence, an ideal, or just hearsay. However, the Bible clearly states that God can be known through personal experience.
The author argues that you have spiritual faculties within you that can know God and the spiritual world if you will use them. However, for many Christians, the lack of habitual conscious communion with God is due to chronic unbelief and defective faith.
The spiritual faculties of the unregenerate man are dead, but they can be quickened to life again by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. The author emphasizes the importance of faith to enable your spiritual sense to function and to experience the reality of God. Saying, “You are surrounded by a spiritual kingdom, always within reach of your inner self, waiting for you to recognize it.”
As a Christian, you believe in the reality of God and the spiritual world. The author states that this belief is not based on anything you can physically see, but rather, it’s based on faith. You have to reckon with the reality of the spiritual world just as you would with the physical world around you.
The author emphasizes that the key to a Christian life is to believe in the unseen reality and to shift your focus from the seen to the unseen. According to him the more you focus on God, the more the things of the spirit will take shape in your mind.
Your obedience to Christ’s Word will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead, leading to a new God-consciousness and a deeper understanding of the eternal. He added that you should pray for your senses to be quickened, for your eyes to be opened, and for heaven to be more real to you than any earthly thing.
How To Be Receptive To God’s Presence
God is everywhere and always present. As the Psalm 139:7 says, “Where shall I go from thy spirit? or where shall I flee from thy presence?” This is a basic truth in Christian teaching, but it is often not fully understood or appreciated by many Christians, the author says.
He emphasizes that God’s presence is not the same as pantheism, which says that God is the sum of all created things. Instead, God is transcendent above all His works, but also immanent within them. The divine immanence means that God is always here, no matter where we are, and there is no place where He is not. The author emphasizes the need to understand and meditate on these truths until they become a part of your being.
The manifestation of God’s presence requires surrender to the Spirit of God and cooperation with Him in loving obedience.
“God is always seeking to reveal himself to us. He made a verbal proclamation of his nature to Moses, revealing his very self so that Moses’ face shone with supernatural light,” says the author. “Our pursuit of God is successful because he is forever seeking to manifest himself to us.”
The author also explains that the approach of God to the soul or the soul to God is not to be thought of in terms of physical distance but rather in terms of experience. “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our soul, closer than our most secret thoughts,” the author says.
The author suggests that the reason why some people “find” God while others don’t is because of the difference in spiritual receptivity. “The difference lies not with God but with us,” says the author. “The saints were not alike, but they all walked upon a high road of spiritual living far above the common way.”
The author added on this subject that as you embark on your spiritual journey, it’s important to acknowledge God’s presence and work in your life. However, don’t get too caught up in trying to understand the mysteries of election and predestination. Simply raise your eyes to God in reverence and acknowledge that these things belong to His profound omniscience.
He emphasized that receptivity is not a one-time event, but a combination of several elements within the soul that can be increased with exercise and diminished by neglect. It’s a gift from God, but one that you must recognize and cultivate like any other gift.
Sadly, modern evangelicalism according to the author has lost sight of the importance of cultivation and exercise in the spiritual life. The fast-paced, machine-age world has created an impatience for slow and less-direct methods of reaching spiritual goals. This has resulted in shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, and a reliance on externalities.
However, he remarked that it’s not too late. You can break free from this downward trend and return to biblical ways. All you need is a determined heart and the courage to seek God in earnest. Begin to exercise yourself in godliness, trust, obedience, and humility and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover.
The Pursuit to Hear His Voice
“The pursuit of God” involves understanding that God is constantly speaking and communicating His thoughts to His creation. The Bible supports this idea and teaches that the voice of God is the most powerful force in nature and is the only force in nature, ‘the author says’.
According to the author, the Bible is the written word of God, but it is limited compared to the speaking voice of God. God’s speaking voice predates the Bible and is still sounding throughout the universe.
The author cites from the gospel of John, that the Word of God affects the hearts of all men as light in the soul and that even those who have never heard of the Bible have still been preached to. (John 1:5). The creation of the world and the things that are made clearly show the power and divinity of God, leaving no excuse for individuals.
The tragedy is that our eternal welfare depends upon hearing this voice, but we have trained our ears not to hear it. This universal voice, he says, has troubled men even when they did not understand the source of their fears.
The author believes that it has been the cause of the troubled conscience and the longing for immortality that has been confessed by millions since the dawn of recorded history.
Every one of us has had experiences that we cannot explain, and the author believes that these may arise from the presence of God in the world and His persistent effort to communicate with mankind.
The author believes that every good and beautiful thing produced by man in the world is the result of his faulty or partial response to the creative voice of God. He believe that the voice of God is friendly and that the blood of Jesus has covered not only the human race but all creation, ensuring a friendly heaven.
The author states that popular religion today has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity, and bluster make a man dear to God, but emphasizes the importance of stillness and solitude to listen to God and draw near to Him.
The author believes that much of religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception and feeling for the Scriptures of truth and encourages approaching the Bible with the idea that it is not only a book that was once spoken, but it is also a book that is now speaking. The author prays, and encourages you to also pray this prayer, “Lord, teach me to listen.”
Embracing Faith in the Pursuit of God
The pursuit of God requires faith in Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). As you read the Bible, you will observe certain spiritual principles that become the tenets of your biblical creed. Faith is of utmost importance in the pursuit of God and without it, it is impossible to please God or have any spiritual life, ‘says the author’.
The author believes that the nature of faith is not explicitly defined in the Scriptures, but is said to be the gift of God and comes through hearing the word of God. The Bible gives examples of faith in action, such as the story in the book of Numbers where the people were saved from the bite of serpents by looking at the brass serpent on a pole. Which according to the author is interpreted by Jesus as a symbol of salvation through belief in Him.
You will make an important discovery while reading this. The author states that “look” and “believe” are synonymous terms and that faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.
You will understand that while Israel looked with their physical eyes, belief is done with the heart. The author emphasizes that faith is a continuous gaze of the heart at the triune God and is directing your attention to Jesus. This may be difficult at first, but with time, it becomes easier as you focus on His person.
Faith is not in itself a meritorious act but is a redirecting of your sight from yourself to God. Sin has made your vision inward, but faith looks out, and your whole life will fall into line. When you lift your inward eyes to gaze upon God, you will meet friendly eyes gazing back at you, and heaven has begun right here on earth.
The author emphasizes the importance of having a personal and intimate relationship with God. He explains that true faith involves looking to God with the gaze of our heart and that this can be done anywhere, at any time.
The author also notes that while private prayer and church attendance are important, they are only meaningful when we have this inward habit of beholding God. The author stresses that this type of faith is not exclusive to monks or ministers, but is for all of God’s children, regardless of their calling or circumstances.
The author acknowledges that some may fear that private religion is being magnified out of proportion, but says that “one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be by other means.”
The Place of Meekness in the Pursuit of God
The pursuit of God involves embracing meekness and finding rest in Jesus. The human race often embodies the opposite of the virtues in the Beatitudes, such as pride and arrogance, but Jesus offers a different way through his teachings.
The author establishes how that Jesus explains meekness as a release from the interior burden of pride and self-love. He calls for his followers to take his yoke upon them, for he is meek and humble of heart, and in doing so, they will find rest for their souls.
The meek man cares not for worldly esteem, and instead, develops a sense of humor and learns to let go of the burdens of self-love. The author points out that in embracing meekness, you will find rest for your soul and find peace in the pursuit of God. “His words are the essence of truth…His own meekness, that is the rest.”
“The meek man is not weak, but rather bold in his moral life,” says the author. He has accepted God’s estimation of his life and knows that he is of great importance in the sight of God, despite his weakness and helplessness.
He no longer worries about what the world thinks of him and is content to let God set His values. This allows him to attain a place of soul rest and be free from the burden of pretense and artificiality.
“In myself, nothing; in God, everything,” is the meek man’s motto. He allows God to defend him as he walks in meekness and finds peace in doing so. The world, on the other hand, is plagued by pride and pretense, causing tension and burden. The author states that there is no release from this burden apart from the meekness of Christ.
“Come unto me…and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. The rest He offers is the rest of meekness, which according to the author comes when you accept yourself for who you are and cease to pretend.
The author concludes on this subject, as he humbly prays for you and himself to be childlike, simple, and artless, free from the urge to compete, and to find true peace in beholding God. “Deliver me from the urge to compete, help me to forget myself, and find my true peace in beholding thee,” he says.
Living for The Glory of God
In the pursuit of God, it is important to remember that everything we do, whether it be eating, drinking, or any other activity, should be done for the glory of God, the author remarks. The common habit of dividing our lives into two areas, the sacred and the secular, creates inner conflict and a divided life.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example of a unified life, where every act contributes to the glory of God. According to the author, the sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. “I always do those things that please him” is the summary of Jesus’ life as it related to the Father.
The author emphasizes the importance of living a life dedicated to God, making every act an expression of your consecration to Him. Your body, which was created by God, should not be a source of shame but rather a tool to carry out His will.
“The idea that your entire live can be a sacrament, an external expression of inward grace, is a truth that should run in your blood and shape the way you think” says the author.
However, the author added that, breaking free from old habits and the sacred-secular duality can be difficult, and it takes intelligent thought, prayer, and aggressive faith to overcome. He also refutes the idea of the sacredness of places and emphasizes that every place can be sacred if you offer all your acts to God and believe that He accepts them.
The author argues that sacramental quality of everyday living means that the motive behind what you do determines whether your work is sacred or secular. The entire life of someone who sanctifies God in their heart will be a priestly ministration, and all they do will be accepted by God through Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, the author through this book offers a deep and personal exploration of the spiritual journey towards a deeper relationship with God. He emphasizes the importance of the prevenient grace of God, which draws individuals to seek and follow Him.
The author also stresses the significance of a personal and conscious relationship with God, through the avenues of our mind, will, and emotions. He challenges you to seek a deeper knowledge of God and to experience the full and intimate communion of love and thought with the Creator.
Finally, we have a question for you.
Have you ever considered the idea that God must first seek you before you can seek Him? How has this impacted your relationship with God?
We will love to hear from you, please leave your answer and comments in the comment box below.
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