On Pursuing Quality

Guest Article-By Dr. A. W. Tozer

On Pursuing Quality

The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity, with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, the size of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.

This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor.

A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error.

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Could It Get Any Better?

Because of space limitations, we can give only a few examples. What examples they are! First and foremost, we are given the greatest of all blessings; it is to have a personal relationship with our Creator. That blessing is ours when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. When we do that, all sins are forgiven. New life (His) enters our innermost being. We become children of God. Peace enters our hearts. God’s peace is ours for the taking. His love is poured out on us; His joy fills us. He gives us purpose. He offers guidance and direction for our daily lives. He provides discipline, correction and fruitful living. We have a whole volume of God’s Word, the Bible. It gives understanding, knowledge and wisdom about how to live life to the fullest, it reveals God’s plan for the ages, our part in that plan, and gives us a glimpse of our eternal future. He will bear our burdens and give us grace, comfort, healing and hope. Well, I’m just getting “warmed up,” but I have to stop somewhere, so, consider this hymn by Charles Wesley: “Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow.”  Think on the content, carefully: “Christ, from Whom all blessings flow, perfecting the saints below, hear us, who Thy nature share, who Thy mystic body are. Join us, in one spirit join, let us still receive of Thine; still for more on Thee we call, Thou Who fillest all in all. Move and actuate and guide, diverse gifts to each divide; placed according to Thy will, let us all our work fulfill; Never from Thy service move, needful to each other prove; use the grace on each bestowed, tempered by the art of God. Many are we now, and one, we who Jesus have put on; there is neither bond nor free, male nor female, Lord, in Thee. Love, like death, hath all destroyed, rendered all distinctions void; names and sects and parties fall; Thou, O Christ, art all in all.” As Paul reminds us: “Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly (places) in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:3-8). Selah! As the hymnwriter says: “blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.” If you haven’t entered into that relationship, I urge you to do it now, while you can!    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

Fire Danger

If someone you knew was doing something that might cause a fire in the home, what would you say to that person? If someone’s house was on fire and you saw it, would you call 911? If you could sound an alarm or do a personal rescue of someone in a burning house, would you do it? Why, then, do we not warn people of the danger of eternal fire? Could it be that our enemy has generated a fear of rejection or fear of a sarcastic or annoyed response? If someone needed to escape a burning house, and we cried out to him or her, “Come out quickly,” and the response was, “Leave me alone!” would we? People can often escape a fire or recover from one. From Hell, there is no escape, ever!! Rescue from such a fire is a far greater rescue than from any earthly fire! Revelation 20:21 warns of this fire: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Only those who come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord will escape this fire! Three stanzas from Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Rescue the Perishing,” aptly describe our responsibility and opportunity to help people escape such a destiny: “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting, waiting the penitent child to receive; plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently. He will forgive if they only believe. Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore; touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that are broken will vibrate once more!” Selah! A friendship, a tract, a book, a DVD or CD, an invitation to a Bible Study or to an evangelistic event are some of the ways that people might be warned and see the need to escape. Think carefully on this excerpt from the hymn above: “touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness.” This will reach some and if it reaches only one, it will be well worth all the love and concern that we offer to a lost person.   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

Hoarded Treasure

When we think of treasure, we usually think in terms of material treasure. Each of us, who are born again, have the greatest of all treasures. We have the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! We have His Personal Presence, We have His wisdom, guidance, direction, peace, comfort and love, to name a few jewels. Paul gives us his evaluation of this treasure in Philippians 3:8. This is how he put it: “….I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” This treasure is not stored somewhere in a safe place. It is not locked up and guarded. We have instant access to this treasure! In II Corinthians 4:7 we are told: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels….” There is enough wealth in this treasure to bless all the peoples of the earth. The supply can never be exhausted! Why then, are we far too often hoarding this treasure for ourselves? If we offer it and it is refused by many, it will be gratefully received by some. We offer; refusals are not our responsibility! Anne S. Murphy gave us the hymn, “Constantly Abiding, in which she describes this wonderful treasure: “There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave, a peace it cannot take away; though the trials of life may surround like a cloud, I’ve a peace that has come here to stay! ll the world seemed to sing of a Savior and King, when peace sweetly came to my heart; troubles all fled away and my night turned to day, blessed Jesus, how glorious Thou art! This treasure I have in a temple of clay, while here on His footstool I roam; but He’s coming to take me some glorious day, over there to my heavenly home! Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine; Constantly abiding, rapture divine; He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind: “I will never leave thee”—Jesus is mine.” Selah!  The more of this treasure that we share, the richer we become in the things that matter most!    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com 

 

Where is the Glory?

We read with excitement about great revivals of the past and our hearts yearn for a fresh visitation from Heaven. Our heartcry is an echo of Psalm 85: 6: “Wilt Thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in Thee?” Even in recent history, there has been a “glory” that we seem to know little of, today. Where are the “Deeper Life” and “Prophecy” conferences? Where are the blessed Evangelistic Crusades? Where are the vital prayer meetings? Where are tears shed over lost souls? Where is the passion for world missions? Where can we find calls to “surrender” to full time Christian ministry? Where is conviction of sin(s)? Where are Christians reaching out to others; what we used to call: “witnessing?” Where is consecration? And where is separation? Has God written “Ichabod” over our local churches? Has the Glory departed? Is there hope of restoration? Yes, if we truly heed I Peter 4:17a: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” C. H. Gabriel gave us this hymn of prayer entitled, “Pentecostal Power.” If we make it our prayer and seek to be a part of the answer, maybe the “glory” will shine again! “Lord, as of old at Pentecost Thou didst Thy power display, with cleansing purifying flame, descend on us today. For mighty works for Thee, prepare and strengthen every heart; come, take possession of Thine own and nevermore depart. All self consume, all sin destroy! With earnest zeal endue each waiting heart to work for Thee; O Lord, our faith renew! Speak, Lord! before Thy throne we wait, Thy promise we believe, and will not let Thee go until the blessing we receive. Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power! Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide! Lord send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power, that sinners be converted and Thy name glorified!”  Selah! I believe it was Gypsy Smith who taught that if we want revival, draw a circle around our feet and don’t step out of the circle until God revives everything in that circle. The point is that revival is available to any who will seriously seek God’s face. Are we ready to seek?   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

Misplaced Trust

Have you ever considered that some of what we do in our local churches today may have been put in our minds by Satan? The expected answer to this question would be: “No way!” Just stop and think a little more about this. If he suggested something to our minds, would it be obviously evil? Of course not! He is too clever for that. He would be much more likely to suggest something that would help us. It would sound like a good idea. Let’s relate that approach to our local churches. What would cause us to grow? What would draw people to come? How can we meet the budget? How could our sermons meet people’s felt needs? Now, while there may be some value in these kinds of questions, there is great danger! If we rely on methods, means, programs, entertainment, social times, etc. we have just misplaced our trust. We have come to trust our ideas and actions, instead of the working of the Holy Spirit and His use of God’s Word. How timely the words of the inspired writer of Proverbs! In Proverbs 3:5-6, he exhorted, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Some of our ideas may be worthwhile, if they are truly done depending on the Holy Spirit to use them. If we are depending on the ideas, that is idolatry. Consider this excerpt from Clara McAlister Brooks’ hymn, “Holy Spirit, Be My Guide.” Think carefully: “By the promise of the Father, comes the Spirit from on high, into hearts redeemed from evil, by His pow’r to sanctify. Holy Spirit, faithful Teacher, in my trusting heart abide; by Thy sacred, holy Presence be my Comforter and Guide.” Selah! It would be folly to depend on our ideas instead of depending on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Let’s not fall into the trap of misplaced trust.    Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com

 

Would It Be Recognized?

Imagine a scenario where Paul, or Peter, or one of the early disciples arrived on earth today. Visiting some churches, what would be seen? Entering in, comparing them to the early church, would they be similar? Would they be in sharp contrast? What do you think? I don’t even have in mind so-called churches. I’m thinking of those that are considered to be sound. What would concern the visitor(s)? What changes would be called for? Would the visit be cause for rejoicing or cause for grief? Would the church(es)have a passion for God, for holiness of life?  Would it (they) be fearlessly and faithfully witnessing to lost people? Would new Christians be carefully discipled? What activities and methods would need to be scrapped. Would a lot of rote prayer shock the observer? Would any fervent prayer be found? Are there members, whose quality of lives would be in sharp contrast to those of the “fallen” world round about them? In short, would there be a call for repentance, revival and renewal? Would the Apostle John  admonish us, as he did the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Kenneth Lorne Cober gave us a much needed prayer in his hymn, “Renew Thy Church, Her Ministries Restore.” May this be our fervent prayer: “Renew Your church, our ministries restore: both to serve and adore. Make us again as salt throughout the land, and as light from a stand. ‘Mid somber shadows of the night, where greed and hatreds spread their blight, O send us forth with power endued, help us, Lord, be renewed. Teach us Your Word, reveal its Truth divine, on our path let it shine; tell of your works, your mighty acts of grace, from each page show your face. As you have loved us, sent your Son, and our salvation now is won, O let our hearts with love be stirred, help us, Lord, know Your Word. Teach us to pray, for you are ever near, your still voice let us hear. Our souls are restless till they rest in you, this the goal we pursue. Before Your Presence keep us still that we may find for us Your will, and seek Your guidance every day, teach us, Lord, how to pray. Teach us to love, with strength of heart and mind, each and all, humankind; break down old walls of prejudice and hate, leave us not to our fate. As You have loved and given Your life to end hostility and strife, O share your grace from heaven above, teach us, Lord, how to love.” Selah! If any part of His body suffers, the whole body is affected. Each born again child of God must be Spiritually healthy. This will contribute to the Body’s Spiritual health and vitality!   Ron

Questions? E-Mail me at knowingtheway1@gmail.com