Monday, June 1, 2020 -
Yesterday morning I was discussing with “M” how the evangelical church today has traditions that are not clearly taught in the scripture, and that sometimes they can actually do more harm than good. Not always are they harmful but at times.
Take, for example, the idea of the “sinners prayer,” a topic I have written about previously. Nowhere in scripture do we find that one has to recite a prayer to be saved or born again. Paul preached that what is required is repentance and turning to God (Acts 26:20). Peter preached, “repent therefore in turn, that your sins may be wiped away in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). True repentance will cause a yearning in one’s heart to know God fully, to experience His presence.
Jesus Himself put it even more succinctly when He was in our midst. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and TAKE UP HIS CROSS and FOLLOW ME” ( Matthew 16:24). How much clearer can it be?
Yet, modern-day prayers, formulas, and actions such as an alter call encourage people to act with their minds and not their hearts, whereby the rote act of saying a prayer ensures their salvation. Unless repentance truly comes from the heart, and there is a legitimate surrender of our lives, wills, and struggles to Christ, we can easily be deceived and end up as the seeds sown by the roadside or among the thorns (Matthew 13:3-9; 18–23) and our relationship with Christ will wither and die. It is, for this reason, He also taught that they will know us by our fruit (Matthew 7:16-17).
In many ways, “M” and I agree, the evangelical church has embraced tradition in similar ways that the Catholic Church has had throughout the centuries which Tozer brought to the world’s attention unintentionally.
Later yesterday, I read about half of A.W. Tozer‘s classic The Pursuit of God. Amazingly, he concurred with the day's previous discussion!
The doctrine of justification by faith – a biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unveiling self-effort – has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such a manner as to actually bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversation has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and embarrassment to the academic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is neither hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little…
“Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible). And we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic that insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him…
“I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God the lack of it has brought us to our present low state. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly fall of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”