Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Preparing for Jesus' Return (2012)

Preparing for Jesus' Return. A.W. Tozer, James Snyder, ed. 2012. Regal. 211 pages.

No biblical truth drew closer to the heart of A.W. Tozer than the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This focus on our Blessed Hope dictated much of his passion to encourage believers to rise above the times and fix their gaze on Jesus, our soon-coming King. He taught that for those who are ready for Jesus' return, there is no calamity raging around them that can shake the quiet assurance and confidence that Jesus Christ will return. 

Last year, I read the book of Revelation fifty-one times. My love for the book is relatively new having spent most of my life merely reading it out of duty, not realizing just how wonderful it is to live with what Tozer calls "the Blessed Hope" day by day. 2012 was also the year I discovered A.W. Tozer, so this book was a perfect way to start the new year for me.

Here are the chapter titles:

  • The Season of the Blessed Hope
  • The Blessed Hope and the Curse of Curiosity
  • The Blessed Hope Clearly Defines Christianity
  • The Shining Light of the Blessed Hope
  • The Divine Imperative of the Blessed Hope
  • The Glorious Sign of the Blessed Hope
  • The Mystic Shroud of the Blessed Hope
  • The True Hope of the Blessed Hope
  • The Nature Behind the Blessed Hope
  • The Sound of the Blessed Hope
  • The Triumph of the Blessed Hope
  • The Eternal Blessedness of the Blessed Hope
  • The Manifestation of the Blessed Hope
  • The Warning of the Blessed Hope 
  • The Little Book of the Blessed Hope
  • The Holy City and the Blessed Hope
  • Daily Live the Blessed Hope

How Tozer approaches Bible prophecy:
Right up front, Tozer points out the difference between the evangelical mystic and the evangelical rationalist when it comes to the book of Revelation. Here is where some will probably find occasion to pause and wonder which side they are going to be on. Tozer explains, "The evangelical mystic, like John, stands in the presence of the awesome God and cries 'holy, holy, holy' and falls down at His feet as dead. But the evangelical rationalist figures it all out and says, 'We can understand it, we know how it is,' then writes a long book about it, telling exactly what it is like." As you might well know, Tozer aligned himself with the evangelical mystic. This is how he approached Bible prophecy--not to fit in every little piece and person, but rather to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ as coming again. (6)
This book isn't about solving mysteries and giving answers to every curiosity. It is a book focused on Christ: on loving, adoring, worshiping Christ. Every chapter zealously urges believers to LOVE Jesus and to live life with HOPE knowing that Jesus IS coming again. It's a passionate, zealous book about loving a holy God, a majestic God, a victorious God, it is about KNOWING the happy ending is on the way.

It is a thought-provoking book as well. Tozer asks some tough questions of his readers:
The iniquity I am referring to here is more than just the world; it has everything to do with the Church. In this generation, we are facing a backslidden Church. I am talking about individuals in the Church, and I want to press two very important questions. The first question is, How would you describe your passion for the person of Christ? The Scriptures teach that one of the evidences of the last days is this: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). So, how ardent is your love for the Lord Jesus Christ?
The second question is simply, What has your Christianity cost you? We have become a bunch of well-groomed showpiece Christians behind glass. Our Christianity has cost us nothing. (18)
He goes on to note,
We come to church when it is convenient. We serve the Lord at our convenience. The center of our entire life is convenience. (19)
Here's more of what he has to say about the church:
I do not wonder that churches back-slide; my wonder is that they do not all backslide. I do not wonder that churches do not hold together; the wonder is that they hold together at all. If it were not for the invisible presence of our Lord in their midst--a Priest to stand before God for us, and a King to rule and exercise authority--there could be no church. (47)
Other favorite quotes:
We must get on our knees before our open Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to break our hearts and create a passion for Christ as we've never had before. We must ask for a passion of such a nature that the things of this world will begin to diminish in their attraction for us. A passion for Christ will enable us to rise above our culture and look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (21)
When He returns is not as important as the fact that we are ready for Him when He does return. The crucial question is, When He returns, will He find us waiting? (23)
Where the Bible is clear, we need to be clear and dogmatic. Where the Bible is not as clear, we need to be careful that we are not adding or taking away from the Scriptures. The Bible is not to divide us but enable us to focus on Jesus Christ, the Man of Prophecy (25)
Holiness, as taught in the Scriptures, is not based upon knowledge on our part. Rather, it is based upon the resurrected Christ in-dwelling us and changing us into His likeness. (28)
Holiness has nothing to do with what we know and understand, but it has everything to do with the person of Christ and our relationship with Him. (28)
The tendency is to try to stretch the sayings of the Lord to cover everybody so that His sayings become an umbrella for the entire human race. The simple fact is, these words of His benediction apply only to those who are within the fold, and exclude everybody else. Each of us must decide whether we come under this benediction or are excluded from it. (35) 
If we were to place less emphasis upon scholastic education and more upon the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we would be a wiser, holier, more powerful Church than we are now. (36)
The only cross in all of history that was turned into an altar was the cross on which Jesus Christ died. It was a Roman cross. They nailed Him on it, and God, in His majesty and mystery, turned it into an altar. The Lamb who was dying in the mystery and wonder of God was turned into the Priest who offered Himself. No one else was a worthy offering. (37)
"Grace and peace be unto you" is for you and me. What do we need more than grace? What more do we need for our wretched sinfulness than the grace of God? And what more do we need for our poor, uprooted, alienated, distraught souls than peace? (39)
Christianity is not about just sweating out our lives day by day; rather, it is about walking in the authority of heaven and looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus Christ is about to return, and our life lived here below is in accordance with that great and mighty expectation. (41)
The most important thing about the Church is the one who is in the midst. He is here to see and to judge. He is here to keep us and represent us to God, and represent God to us. (52)
When you were saved, you got a new nature, and that nature belongs with God; but you were not taken to God, because you were not ready. He is getting you ready now. You are being prepared as a Bride, as a purified people; you are getting ready. Do not let anybody talk you out of that. (52)
When Jesus Christ came into the world, He had the infinite compassion of God, for He is God. All the infinite compassion of God was in His heart, and He never looked at a blind man without grief and sorrow in His heart. He never looked at a deaf man who was unable to hear the sweet sounds of nature without grief in His heart. He never looked at a man with a withered hand or a crippled leg, or a dead girl being carried out on a bier, without sorrow in His heart. He loved people, not populations; He loved people. He loved the look of them and the sound of them and the warmth of them and the eyes of them. Jesus loved people and loved them so much that He gave everything He had for them. He had the heart to do it. (63)
David would settle for nothing short of the face of God. Our problem today is that we usually settle for anything and everything but that shining face of God. The cost and inconvenience of pressing deep into His presence are too much for the kind of life we are living. (82)
If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict. In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus' fist, but by His nail-pierced hands; not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness; not by force but by sacrifice. Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him. (111)
If we serve God in man's way, we will make a mess of it, which is the condition of many Christians today. We are trying to serve God in man's way instead of serving God in God's way. (114)
I would not hesitate to say that on any given Sunday, in any church across our country, the average Christian reciting the Lord's Prayer has no idea what that prayer means. (127)
Some books claiming to be exhaustive are only exhausting to read. (191)
It is essential that we learn how to read the Scriptures, to meditate upon the Scriptures and discipline ourselves in memorizing Scripture. It is absolutely essential that the Bible have top priority in our thought life. Nothing else should surpass the Scriptures. Everything we do should have roots in the Scripture. Our morning sessions with God over the Scriptures should set forth the pattern and temperament of our daily walk that day. We truly have not read the Bible until we have seen Jesus Christ. (197)
Prayer is both the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing we will ever do. There is so much against our prayer life. For one, the enemy of man's soul despises the power of prayer and so, with everything he can muster, he will discourage our prayer life. (198)
I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

this does sound good. Thanks for the review. I've never read anything by Tozer, though I did spebd one year (fall and spring) on Revelation through Community Bible Study.