Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: Meditations on the Trinity

Meditations on the Trinity. A.W. Tozer. 2017. Moody. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Just because God cannot tell us what He is, He very often tells us what He is like. By these “like” figures He leads our faltering minds as close as they can come to that “light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16).

Premise/plot: Meditations on the Trinity is a new devotional published by Moody featuring one hundred selections by A.W. Tozer. The book is divided into four sections: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and God Three In One. The devotional readings are excerpts from Tozer's sermons and/or books.

If you're unfamiliar with A.W. Tozer and his work, this Tozer quote serves as a great introduction:
"Are you contented with nominal Christianity? If you are, I’ve nothing for you. Are you contented with popular Christianity that runs on the authority and popularity of big shots? If you are, I’ve nothing for you. Are you content with elementary Christianity? If you are, all I’ve got for you is to exhort you earnestly to press on toward perfection. But if you’re not satisfied with nominal Christianity, popular Christianity, and the first beginnings of things and you want to know the Triune God for yourself, read on."
My thoughts: I would definitely recommend this one! I would especially recommend it to those new to A.W. Tozer's works. I think it would make a very good first book. I personally have read a LOT of Tozer. (Though there are still some books I don't own and thus haven't read just yet.) The more I read Tozer, the more I love Tozer. I love his zeal and passion for the glory of the Lord. I love his reliance on the Bible. I love seeing someone so JOYFUL so PASSIONATE about the Word of God. Tozer was a man who loved God first and foremost. And because he loved God, because he treasured the Word of God, because God was his 'one thing' he fought to uphold truth no matter the cost. Tozer was not afraid to speak up and speak out.

Some of my favorite quotes:
Mercy is not something God has but something God is. If mercy was something God had, conceivably God might mislay it or use it up. It might become less or more. But since it is something that God is, then we must remember that it is uncreated. The mercy of God did not come into being. The mercy of God always was in being, for mercy is what God is, and God is eternal. And God is infinite. There has been a lot of careless teaching that implies that the Old Testament is a book of severity and law, and the New Testament is a book of tenderness and grace. But do you know that while both the Old Testament and the New Testament declare the mercy of God, the word mercy appears in the Old Testament over four times more often than in the New? That’s a bit hard to believe, but it’s true. This popular idea is a great error because the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New is one God. He did not change. He is the same God and, being the same God and not changing, He must therefore necessarily be the same in the Old as He is in the New. He is immutable, and because He is perfect He cannot be added to. God’s mercy was just as great in the Old Testament as it was and is in the New.
God does not play by ear, or doodle, or follow whatever happens to come into His mind or let one idea suggest another. God works according to the plans which He purposed in Christ Jesus before Adam walked in the garden, before the sun, moon and stars were made. God, who has lived all our tomorrows and carries time in His bosom, is carrying out His eternal purposes.
That is the fact before us: God is faithful! He will remain faithful because He cannot change. He is perfectly faithful, because God is never partly anything. God is perfectly all that He is and never partly what He is. You can be sure that God will always be faithful. This faithful God, who never broke a promise and never violated a covenant, who never said one thing and meant another, who never overlooked anything or forgot anything, is the Father of our Lord Jesus and the God of the gospel. This is the God we adore and the God we preach.
God is not “greater.” God is great. “Greater” is a word applied to creatures who are trying to be like God. But you cannot say that God is greater, because that would put God in a position where He was in competition with someone else who was great. God is simply God.
God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still.
I would remind you that His seeking voice has never died out. The echo of that voice is sounding throughout the widening years. It has never ceased to echo and reecho from peak to peak, from generation to generation, from race to race, and continent to continent, and off to islands and back to the continent again. Throughout all of man’s years, “Adam, where are you?” has been the faithful call.
There was no moral necessity upon God to redeem mankind. He didn’t have to send His Son Jesus Christ to die for mankind. He sent Him, but at the same time Jesus did it voluntarily. If God was willing, it was the happy willingness of God.
When you think about Jesus, you have to think twice. You have to think of His humanity and His deity.
To believe on Christ savingly means to believe the right things about Christ. There is no escaping this. A.W. Tozer
We are not wrong to believe—and proclaim—that while Mary’s Son, Jesus, died alone, terribly alone, on that cross, the loving heart of God the Father was as deeply pained with suffering as was the heart of the holy, dying Son. We must ask our Lord to help us comprehend what it meant to the Trinity for the Son to die alone on the cross. When the holy Father had to turn His back on the dying Son by the necessity of divine justice, I believe the pain for the Father was as great as the suffering of the Savior as He bore our sins in His body. When the soldier drove that Roman spear into the side of Jesus, I believe it was felt in heaven.
The work of Christ on the cross did not influence God to love us, did not increase that love by one degree, did not open any fount of grace or mercy in His heart. He had loved us from old eternity and needed nothing to stimulate that love. The cross is not responsible for God’s love; rather it was His love which conceived the cross as the one method by which we could be saved.
God felt no different toward us after Christ had died for us, for in the mind of God Christ had already died before the foundation of the world. God never saw us except through atonement. The human race could not have existed one day in its fallen state had not Christ spread His mantle of atonement over it. And this He did in eternal purpose long ages before they led Him out to die on the hill above Jerusalem. All God’s dealings with man have been conditioned upon the cross. . . . The Scriptures never represent the Persons of the Trinity as opposed to or in disagreement with each other. The Holy Three have ever been and will forever be one in essence, in love, in purpose.
Jesus Christ came in the fullness of time to be God’s salvation. He was to be God’s cure for all that was wrong with the human race.
What is your concept of Jesus Christ, my brother? If the “ten-cent-store Jesus” that is being preached by a lot of men, the plastic, painted Christ who has no spine and no justice and is pictured as a soft and pliable friend to everybody—if He is the only Christ there is, then we might as well close our books and bar our doors, and make a bakery or garage out of this church! But that Christ that is being preached and pictured is not the Christ of God, nor the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ we must deal with. The Christ we must deal with has eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished brass, and out of His mouth comes a sharp, two-edged sword. He will be the judge of mankind. And, thank God, you can leave your loved ones who have died in His hands, knowing that He Himself suffered, knowing that He knows all, that no mistakes can be made, that there can be no miscarriage of justice, because He knows all that can be known! This is one of the neglected Bible doctrines of our day—that Jesus Christ is the judge of mankind. The Father judges no man. When the Lord, the Son of Man, shall come in the clouds of glory, then shall be gathered unto Him the nations, and He shall separate them.
God has given Him judgment, authority, to judge mankind, so that He is both the Judge and Saviour of men. That makes me both love Him and fear Him! I love Him because He is my Saviour and I fear Him because He is my Judge.

For everything we need, we are called back to the simplicity of the faith, to the simplicity of Jesus Christ and His unchanging person. The very same Jesus—a Brother who bears your image at the right hand of the Father, and who knows all your troubles and your weaknesses and sins, and loves you in spite of everything! The very same Jesus—a Saviour and Advocate who stands before the Father taking full responsibility for you and being easier to get along with than the nicest preacher you ever knew and being easier to approach than the humblest friend you ever had. The very same Jesus—He is the sun that shines upon us, He is the star of our night. He is the giver of our life and the rock of our hope. He is our safety and our future. He is our righteousness, our sanctification, our inheritance. You find that He is all of this in the instant that you move your heart towards Him in faith. This is the journey to Jesus that must be made in the depths of the heart and being. This is a journey where feet do not count.
A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the doxology and the benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity boldly declares the equality of the Three Persons and the right of the Holy Spirit to be worshiped and glorified.
I contend that we are in error to believe that Bible study can remove the veil that keeps us from spiritual perception. The Word does not say “no man knoweth the things of God except the man who studies his Bible.” It does say that no man knows the things of God except by the Holy Ghost. We will never know more about God than the Spirit teaches us. We will never know any more about Jesus than the Spirit teaches us, because there is only the Spirit to do the teaching. He is our Teacher, and if He does not teach us, we never can know. He is our Illuminator, and if He does not turn on the light, we never can see. He is the Healer of our deaf ears, and if He does not touch our ears, we never can hear.
The Scriptures are the only trustworthy revelation of God, and we depart from them at our own peril.
None of us can ever be fully pleasing to God if we are not willing to be well taught in His Word.
God is boundlessly enthusiastic. I’m glad somebody is, because I don’t find very many Christians who are.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: