Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Book Review: Tozer on Worship and Entertainment

Tozer on Worship and Entertainment. A.W. Tozer. 1997/2006. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The impulse to worship is universal. If there is a race or tribe anywhere in the world that does not worship it has not been discovered. And yet the act of worship is, for the most part, so imperfect, so impure and so far astray that any teaching that might help us worship God more acceptably would indeed be a word well spoken.

Tozer on Worship and Entertainment is a collection of themed excerpts compiled by James L. Snyder. What did Tozer have to say on worship? on true worship? on false worship? on entertainment? on the state of the church? on the state of society? on human nature? on sin? on the Word of God?

The first chapter is a full sermon by A.W. Tozer entitled, "The Act and Object of Worship." The last chapter is another full piece by A.W. Tozer. That one is, "The Menace of the Religious Movie." The other chapters are all excerpts from various sermons and articles. The chapter titles are: "Worship," "Unacceptable Worship," "Spiritual Concentration," "The Presence of God," "Personal Communion," "The Power of God in Worship," "Adoration," "Thoughts of God," "Hymn," "Entertainment: An Evangelical Heresy," "Propaganda, Popular Religion and Programs," "An Outward Shift," "Modern Evangelism," "Religious Activity," and "Worldliness."

I love Tozer. If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know that I love, love, love A.W. Tozer. Even though he's not Reformed. Even though I don't always agree with him 100% of the time. I love his passion, his zeal, his no-nonsense approach to proclaiming the WHOLE word of God. Diluting the truth was not an option for Tozer. He was uncompromising when it comes to teaching and preaching.

In chapter one, Tozer writes:
Worship must be all--entire. By that I mean that the total life must worship God. The whole personality has to worship God or our worship is not perfect. Faith, love, obedience, loyalty, high conduct and life all must be taken as burnt offerings and offered to God. If there is anything in me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly. I would not go so far as to say that God will not accept anything less than perfect worship; if I did, I would rule myself out... But the ideal God sets before us is that we should worship as near to perfectly as we can. And if there are areas in my being which are not harmonious and do not worship God then there is no area in my being that worships God perfectly. (4-5)
Do you see what I mean?! Even within the Christian community, Tozer's conclusions may seem extreme. But when taken in light of the word of God--it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We are to have undivided hearts that love God wholly and completely. Sin must go. No ifs about it. And that message doesn't sit well with the world OR with worldly churches.

Just in case you missed what Tozer was saying,
I repeat that no worship is wholly pleasing to God till there is nothing in us displeasing God. (7)
Do we ever really truly stop and consider if our lives are pleasing to God? Or are we all about pleasing ourselves OR pleasing others? Do we look to God for standards? Or do we set our own? Or perhaps even worse do we let society set the standards we live by?
How can we worship God acceptably when there is within our nature something that, when it catches on fire, gives off not a fragrance but a smell? How can we hope to worship God acceptably when there is something in our nature which is undisciplined, uncorrected, unpurged, unpurified--which is evil and which will not and cannot worship God acceptably? Even granted that a man with evil ingredients in his nature might with some part of him worship God half acceptably, what kind of way is that to live? (9)
How we live does matter. Tozer writes,
We can go to church and worship. But if we go to church and worship one day it's not true worship unless it is followed by worship six days after that till the next Sabbath comes. We must never rest until everything inside us worships God. (10)

Not only do our actions matter, but our thoughts matter too.
God won't dwell in spiteful thoughts, polluted thoughts, lustful thoughts, covetous thoughts or prideful thoughts. He will only dwell in meek, pure, charitable, clean and loving thoughts. He will dwell in positive thoughts--even aggressive, fighting thoughts if need be--but they must be pure thoughts, thoughts that are like God's. God will dwell in them as a sanctuary. Your theology is your foundation...Make your thoughts a sanctuary God can inhabit, and don't let any of the rest of your life dishonor God. See to it that not a foot of ground is unholy. See to it that every hour and every place is given over to God, and you will worship Him and He will accept it. (11)
This first chapter is a MUST read in my opinion. It challenges readers--invites them to reorient their lives.

Tozer is emphatic.

  • I want to tell you that if your life doesn't worship God, your lips don't worship God either. (39)
  • If you departmentalize your life and let certain parts of you worship God but other parts of you do not worship God, you are not worshipping God as you should. (39)
  • A heretic is not a man who denies all of the truth, he's just a very persnickety man who picks out what he likes and rejects the rest. Heresy means I take what I like and I reject what I don't like. (39)
  • Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion. (42)
  • Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it. Get on your knees and in faith, say, "Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!" (46)
  • If we would progress spiritually, we must separate ourselves unto the things of God and concentrate upon them to the exclusion of a thousand things the worldly man considers important. (47)
  • We should never forget that God created us to be joyful worshipers, but sin drew us into everything else but worship. (67)
  • Oh, go back into the Word of God and consider how thirsty the friends of God were for God Himself! The great difference between us and Abraham, David and Paul is that they sought Him and found Him and seeking Him still, found Him and sought Him continually! We accept Him and seek Him no more, and that is the difference. (69)
  • We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better, we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is. (77)
  • I do not think death is going to transform our attitudes and disposition. If in this life we are not really comfortable talking or singing about heaven, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts. If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now they will be tedious after the hour of death. (85-6)
  • Hymns do not create truth, nor even reveal it; they celebrate it. (94)
  • I hope that we will remove from our hearts every ugly thing and every unbeautiful thing and every dead thing and every unholy thing that might prevent us from worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in the beauty of holiness. (108)
  • Why should believing Christians want everything pre-cooked, pre-digested, sliced and salted, and expect that God must come and help us eat and hold the food to our baby lips while we pound the table and splash--and we think that is Christianity. (116)
  • Never imagine that the cross of Christ will become socially acceptable. That which is of Adam will always persecute that which is of Christ. (126)
  • We cannot afford to let down our Christian standards just to hold the interest of people who want to go to hell and still belong to a church. (137)
  • Any evangelism which by appeal to common interests and chatter about current events seeks to establish a common ground where the sinner can feel at home is as false as the altars of Baal ever were. Every effort to smooth out the road for men and to take away the guilt and the embarrassment is worse than wasted; it is evil and dangerous to the souls of men. (165)
  • I am positive that much that passes for the gospel in our day is very little more than a very mild case of orthodox religion grafted on to a heart that is sold out to the world in its pleasures and tastes and ambitions. (168)
  • In many churches Christianity has been watered down until the solution is so weak that if it were poison it would not hurt anyone, and if it were medicine it would not cure anyone. (170)
  • I'm against the devil, I'm against sin, I'm against worldliness, I'm against the flesh and I'm against Christianity that pretends to be Christianity and isn't. I'm against spiritual ignorance that tries to harmonize Christianity with the world. It's absolutely futile to try to do it. (179)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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