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Why We Must Think Rightly About God

why we must think rightly about GodWhether you are familiar with A.W. Tozer or not I think you will enjoy the following. Tozer wrote the book The Knowledge of the Holy. Below is the first chapter of that book entitled, Why we must think rightly about God. This is my first attempt at bringing his early 20th century writing into 21st century language. His original work can be fairly tedious to read for most today. Please let me know what you think by your comments. Should I continue the project and complete the updating/editing of Tozer’s book?

The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

Chapter 1: Why We Must Think Rightly About God

Lord God Almighty! I call upon you not as a god of our own making. You are the One revealed and proclaimed by the prophets and apostles, and best of all, by your own Son Jesus Christ!

Those who don’t know you call on you as someone other than who you really are. They do not worship you but a creature of their own imagination. Therefore reveal yourself to us that we may know you as you truly are so that we will love you and praise you fittingly.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us!

The history of mankind will no doubt reveal that no people has ever risen above its religion. And our spiritual history will definitely demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is either pure or corrupt based on whether the worshiper thinks high or low thoughts about God.

For this reason the most crucial matter before the church is always God himself. The most significant issue for us as individuals is not what we may say or do in a given moment, but in our hearts what we perceive God to be like. Without fail every one of us has a mental image of God. This is true both individually and as a collection of worshipers in the church.

The most revealing characteristic of a church is its view of God. And its most significant message is what the church says about God or leaves unsaid. The church’s silence about who God is often speaks more eloquently than its message. The church always reveals its true nature based on its witness of who God is.

The answer to the question, “What comes to your mind when you think about God?” will surely predict your spiritual future. What our church leaders think of God today will determine our church’s condition tomorrow.

Without doubt, the most weighty word in any language is its word for God and the most powerful thought is thinking about God. Thought and speech are God’s gifts to us whom he created in his image. Word and thought are intimately linked with God and are impossible apart from him. How significant that the first word was the Word, “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) We can speak because God spoke. In him, word and thought are inseparable.

It’s vital that our concept of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God. What we truly think about God impacts us far more than platitudes we recite about him. What we really think about God may be buried under the guise of commonly accepted spiritual teaching and may require careful, rigorous inspection to expose it for what it is. Often, nothing short of a painful ordeal, trial or suffering will reveal what we actually believe about God.

Right thinking about God is not only vital to our theology but to our lifestyle as a follower of Christ as well. The true worship of God rests on right thinking about God just as a building rests on its foundation. When the foundation is crooked or poorly constructed, the whole building is in danger of collapse. Dishonorable and distorted thoughts about God always lead to errors in doctrine and Christian morality.

In my opinion the current Christian understanding of God is corrupt and altogether beneath the dignity of the Most High God. In fact, our distorted view of God has led us—professed Christians—into moral ruin.

All the problems of heaven and earth combined amount to nothing compared with the weighty issues facing us about God—his existence, what he is like, and our response to him.

In the course of our conversion, when we first begin to believe rightly about God we find relief from our many temporal burdens. For we realize that those worldly problems are puny from a divine and eternal perspective. However, in that first moment as we begin to see God and therefore ourselves rightly, we also become aware of the crushing burden of our guilt, shame and accountability before the Holy God. In his presence we recognize our immense obligation to love, obey and worship him acceptably. Then we realize that until now we have done none of those things but have been guilty all our lives of rebellion against the Almighty and Holy God. At that point our self-awareness and utter guiltiness become to great for us to bear.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can lift this crushing burden from our life, freeing us from the guilt, shame and heaviness of our obligation. But unless we see God as he truly is—high and lifted up—we will not feel the weight of our burden before him. And unless we feel that weight, the Gospel will mean nothing to us. Low views of God render the Gospel useless for those who hold them.

Of all the sins mankind pursues, idolatry is probably the most detestable to God, because idolatry defames his character. The heart of the idolater views God other than he is (an outrageous crime in and of itself) then substitutes a cheap imitation of his own making for the one true God. The idol always conforms to the image of the one who created it, whether vulgar or wholesome, cruel or kind.

A god so formed in the shadows of a fallen heart can never be an accurate likeness of the true God. Of such a person the Lord declared, “You thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” (Psalm 50:21 ESV) This mutilation of the character of God is a serious charge! He is the Most High God before whom the angels cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty!” (Revelation 4:8)

We must take care not to assume falsely that idolatry always involves bowing before some object of worship and that it is therefore foreign among civilized people. The essence of idolatry is entertaining thoughts about God that are unworthy of him. Idolatry begins in the mind and may be present even where no overt act of worship occurs.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:21-23 NLT

Note that this series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God not only produce idolatry, but are themselves idolatry. The idolater simply imagines things about God and lives as though they were true.

Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. Israel’s record clearly bears this out and the history of the church confirms it. A true and lofty concept of God is so necessary to the church that when that concept begins to decline, the church with its worship and moral standards declines with it. A church takes its first step down when it compromises its high view of God

A church begins losing its witness in the community when its beliefs about God become corrupt. At that point this church cannot rightly respond to the question, “What is God like?” and fabricates something of its own making. Although this church may continue to profess to a sound set of doctrines, its relationship with God has become marred. This church’s members soon believe God to be different than he actually is. This kind of false teaching is most dangerous and deadly!

Our number one priority as a church today is to purify and elevate our view of God until our view is once more worthy of him (and of the church). We must give first place to this objective in all our prayers and ministry. The greatest legacy we can pass along to the next generation of Christ-followers is to provide them with a pure and noble view of God.

To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:25-26

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the fathers’ sins into the laps of their children after them. O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve. Jeremiah 32:17-19

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36

 
©2009 Rob Fischer

1 comment

1 Theresa Andes { 07.21.13 at 7:34 pm }

Hello, I just loved your writings from The Knowledge of the Holy. They really spoke to me – I am so sad that you did not continue. But, thank you so much!