The Knowledge of the Holy – by A.W. Tozer

I just finished reading A W Tozer’s classic work, The Knowledge of the Holy. This was the second time I’ve read through this book, but this time, I took it a lot slower and was all the more blessed in doing so. In the book, Tozer is pleading with the reader to know God and have a high view of God. In the preface, Tozer states, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking. With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence.” I am always blown away at how relevant Tozer is for the contemporary church even though he was writing 50 years ago. Tozer proceeds to take the reader through roughly 20 different attributes of God. I was amazed at this man’s knowledge of God and his love for God. If you are looking for something that challenges your thinking about God and at the same time exults the majesty of God, this might be a good book for you to purchase. Here are some of the most memorable quotes from the first and last chapters of the book:

Chapter 1: Why We Must Think Rightly About God

“the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
“The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably.”
“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is – in itself a monstrous sin – and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness.”
“The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.”
“We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.”

Chapter 23: The Open Secret

“When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old.”
“The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.”
“The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God our Savior.”

“Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:

1. First we must forsake our sins
2. Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith
3. Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus , followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit
4. Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world
5. Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God
6. Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative.”

Now, that is simply a taste of what Tozer brings to the table in The Knowledge of the Holy. Hopefully, Tozer has encouraged you today to pursue God like you’ve never pursued Him before. I want to encourage you to dig into the Word of God and discover for yourself the One, True God. Most Christians only have a superficial, surface knowledge of God, but God wants to be known intimately and deeply by His chosen ones. Why not make it your life goal to pursue that knowledge of the holy?

Pastors Newsletter – September 2009

It’s hard to believe but the summer months of June, July, and August have came and went and now we are moving into the fall season. The kids are back at school and the weather is cooling. As is usually the case, the fall is going to be a busy season of activity and I wanted to keep you up to date on what we have planned for September. On September 13th, after church and starting at around 3:00pm, we are having a golf tournament at Valley View Golf Course. This promises to be a great time for all involved. On Sunday, September 20th, we are having a membership meeting from 6:30-8:30pm. Anyone can attend this informational meeting, and especially those who are interested in membership.

In this newsletter, I would like to take this time to remind you of the importance of unity. Let me explain what I mean by that because I am sure it brings many things to mind when you read that. In this context, I am using the word unity to describe a group of people who come together for a common purpose. Our mission as a church is to glorify God, and how that happens is truly remarkable. In the Bible, one of the metaphors that is commonly used is the Body of Christ. There are hundreds of different parts that together form our bodies, but they are all important and each serves a specific purpose. This is instructive because we know that when all the parts come together, you have a healthy, functioning, body. The same is true with the Body of Christ on earth, the Church. If half the parts are not functioning and not being used, you have a sick body that will never perform as it was intended. However, if all the parts are working and functioning together for a common purpose and mission, you will have a very healthy body that accomplishes incredible things. My application for this is quite simple. We need you! We need everyone who is part of this local Body of Christ that is known as Hope Church to come together as one. We must be unified. God has given each one of us Spiritual Gifts and if there are only 15 people out of 50 who use those gifts, we will never be used of God as we could be. So go ahead, find your gift and use it for the glory of God. Jesus Christ desires to live through you by the power of His Holy Spirit and use you. I am so excited about what God is going to do this fall, but keep in mind, we need you!

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Matthew 6:33

The Problem with “The Shack”

I heard about the novel The Shack about a year and a half ago. I was not too interested in reading it at the time because I had dozens of other books on my to-read list and thought it would simply be a waste of time. Well, as an avid follower of the happenings of North American Christianity, it was not too long before I started to hear more and more about The Shack. The success of the book (over 7 million copies sold at this time) eventually forced me to take a closer look. Instead of starting off by reading the book, I surfed the net to see what others were saying about this publishing phenomenon. Most of what I read greatly concerned me. I also listen to Dr. Albert Mohler’s radio program where he devoted one of his episodes to the book. He explained many of his concerns with it and described parts of the book as “blatant heresy.” Well, even after taking a look at what discerning folks were saying about the book, I still did not get around to reading the book for several months. That is until, at the urging of Janet Clabaugh, I finally went down to the local library and took out a copy of The Shack. I was not surprised to find that many aspects of the book disturbed me and even shocked me. Ever since then(4 or 5 months ago), I have been meaning to write a book review on The Shack but have not got around to it. The bottom line with the book is that even though it is a story that has connected with a lot of Christian people, the book is full of heresy. If you do choose to read the book, please be prayerful and discerning as you read it. Some of the heresy is very subtle and hard to spot, so read it carefully!

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

On Dr. Michael Youssef’s website (leadingtheway.org), he lists 13 heresies in The Shack. Here they are:

1. God the Father was crucified with Jesus.

Because God’s eyes are pure and cannot look upon sin, the Bible says that God would not look upon His own beloved Son as He hung on the Cross, carrying our sins (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 27:45).

2. God is limited by His love and cannot practice justice.

The Bible declares that God’s love and His justice are two sides of the same coin — equally a part of the personality and the character of God (Isaiah 61:8; Hosea 2:19).

3. On the Cross, God forgave all of humanity, whether they repent or not. Some choose a relationship with Him, but He forgives them all regardless.

Jesus explained that only those who come to Him will be saved (John 14:6).

4. Hierarchical structures, whether they are in the Church or in the government, are evil.

Our God is a God of order (Job 25:2).

5. God will never judge people for their sins.

The Word of God repeatedly invites people to escape from the judgment of God by believing in Jesus Christ, His Son (Romans 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

6. There is not a hierarchical structure in the Godhead, just a circle of unity.

The Bible says that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. This doesn’t mean that one Person is higher or better than the other; just unique. Jesus said, “I came to do the will of Him who sent me. I am here to obey my Father.” Jesus also said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit” (John 4:34, 6:44, 14:26, 15:26).

7. God submits to human wishes and choices.

Far from God submitting to us, Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to eternal life.” We are to submit to Him in all things, for His glory and because of what He has accomplished for us (Matthew 7:13-15).

8. Justice will never take place because of love.

The Bible teaches that when God’s love is rejected, and when the offer of salvation and forgiveness is rejected, justice must take place or God has sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for nothing (Matthew 12:20; Romans 3:25-26).

9. There is no such a thing as eternal judgment or torment in hell.

Jesus’ own description of hell is vivid … it cannot be denied (Luke 12:5, 16:23).

10. Jesus is walking with all people in their different journeys to God, and it doesn’t matter which way you get to Him.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one will come to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

11. Jesus is constantly being transformed along with us.

Jesus, who dwells in the splendor of heaven, sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ruling the universe. The Bible says, “In Him there is no change, for He is yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 11:12, 13:8; James 1:17).

12. There is no need for faith or reconciliation with God because everyone will make it to heaven.

Jesus said, “Only those who believe in me will have eternal life” (John 3:15, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40).

13. The Bible is not true because it reduces God to paper.

The Bible is God-breathed. Sure, there were many men through 1,800 years who put pen to paper (so to speak), each from different professions and different backgrounds, but the Holy Spirit infused their work with God’s words. These men were writing the same message from Genesis to Revelation. If you want to read more about the place of Christ in the Scripture, read “We Preach Christ” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Pastors Newsletter – August 2009

It is hard to believe that July has already come and gone, but as we look back on the month that was, we once again see God’s faithfulness. At our annual Ice Cream Social, more than 200 people from around our area came through the doors of Hope Church and feasted on the food and ice cream. No doubt many of those people do not know the joy of the Lord and we will continue to pray that God would use the people of our church to reach them. Later on in the month, we had a special service at the Crawford County fair, which was also well attended. Please pray that God would continue to expand the reach of the ministry of Hope Church in order that many more would come to delight in our great God and King and follow Jesus wherever He leads us.

As we look ahead to August, we are excited about our Lowmiller’s pond service on the 16th and Kid’s Day on the 30th. Please consider inviting friends and family members to these events. For Kid’s day, a familiar face will be joining us (that being Walt Keib) and we are praying that many kids from around the area will also join us for that special day. The fall is also fast approaching. Before we know it, the kids will be back in school and the summer will be over (sorry if that’s depressing to you). We will also have many exciting things going on in the fall and I pray that God would use them mightily and for His great glory.

As often as I can, I try to remind us of our mission as a church:

“Hope Church exists to glorify God by learning, following, and sharing the Word of God and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, both locally and globally, through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.”

This little statement, communicates a tremendous amount. First off, we are here for God. It’s not about us – we are intended for God and exist to bring Him glory. Secondly, the Word of God is central to all that we do as a church. If this ever ceases to be the reality at Hope, we will die as a church. Thirdly, we desire to spread the gospel message all over this area, and to the far reaches of the world. Finally, the only way any of this can be accomplished is through the power of the Holy Spirit. May you have a wonderful month and stay close to the Lord Jesus.

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

July 10th marked the 500 anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. If you are wondering who John Calvin is and what is significant about his life, here is a short biography.

Calvin, John (1509–1564). French reformer and founder of Calvinism. Educated at the College de Montague, Calvin became a Protestant while still a student. By the 1530s he was caught up in the Reformation movement. He was forced to leave Paris along with his friend, Nicholas Cop, rector of the University of Paris, because of their attack on the church and a call for Lutheran reform. For the next three years he was on the run, but he used his literary talents during this time on behalf of the Protestant cause. In 1534 Olivetan’s French translation of the Bible appeared with a preface by Calvin. In 1535 he fled to Basel, where he published one of his most important works, Christianae Religionis Institututio (1536), a short summary of the Christian faith and an able exposition of Reformers’ doctrines.

On passing through Geneva, Calvin was persuaded by Guillaume Farel to assist in organizing the Reformation in that city. The articles they drew up organizing worship met with considerable opposition because they imposed ecclesiastical discipline and used excommunication as an instrument of social policy. Forced to leave the city, Calvin spent the next three years at the invitation of Martin Bucer as pastor to the French congregation at Strasbourg. Here he expanded the Institutes, wrote a Commentary on Romans (1539), and took part in the colloquies with Lutherans and Roman Catholics at Worms and Regensburg. In 1541 he returned to Geneva at the invitation of the city council. His ecclesiastical ordinances for establishing a Christian social and political order were approved by the city council. They established four ministries within the church—pastors, doctors, elders, and deacons—introduced vernacular catechisms and liturgy, and set up a consistory of 12 elders to enforce morality. His goal was to make Geneva a “holy city,” a Christian commonwealth in practice as well as doctrine.

In 1559 Calvin established the Genevan Academy for the training of his followers. Although there was constant opposition from the pleasure-loving Genevans against Calvin’s measures, he was not deterred from his mission. At the same time, Calvin helped to make the civil laws more humane, established a universal system of education for the young, and promoted the public care of the old, the poor, and the infirm. Geneva gained a reputation as a haven for all persecuted Protestants who flocked in from many countries. From Geneva they returned home as missionaries for the propagation of Calvinist ideas and reforms. Thus the name of Calvin was scattered all over Europe, and he became one of the dominant figures of the Reformation in the mid 1600s. Meanwhile, Calvin was busy producing commentaries on 23 books of the Old Testament and on all books of the New Testament except the Revelation in addition to pamphlets and collections of sermons. By 1559 the Institutes had been revised five times and expanded from a book of six chapters into four books with a total of 79 chapters. It was also translated from Latin into French, and its French edition became a literary classic.

Calvin left a legacy that transcended theology. Calvinism was a complex set of ideas whose ramifications extended into society, politics, and economics as well as theology. He was a warm and humane person fully committed to the Word of God in everything he did. As a religious statesman, a logical and seminal thinker, a formidable controversialist, and a biblical exegete, he had few peers in his generation or in the centuries since.

George Thomas Kurian, Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary: The Authoritative Resource on the Christian World (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001).

Answer by: Joseph R. Nally, Theological Editor, on behalf of the staff at IIIM.

Pastors Newsletter – July 2009

I absolutely love the summer! It is my favorite season of the year and this month is going to be great! It is also going to be a busy month for Hope Church. Just to run through the calendar, we have our monthly potluck on July 5th, the Ice Cream social is on July 9th, the Crawford County fair service is on July 19th, and Ted Evans will be our guest preacher on July 26th. So it will be a busy month, but I am excited to see what our great God and King does over the course of this month. Friends, God is moving in mighty ways – are you on-board with His agenda?

I would also like to mention that this is a special month in that it marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great reformer, John Calvin. Even though Calvin is one of the most influential men in history, most people are unaware of the significance of his life and many have misconceptions about his teachings. On our July 12th service , I am going to try to answer the question, “Who was John Calvin and What is Reformed theology?” It is not an easy task to answer those two huge questions but I know it will prove to be a fruitful study.

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you will have probably noticed that there has been a lot of high profile deaths lately. The deaths of TV personality Ed McMahon, actress Farrah Fawcett, pop star Michael Jackson, and salesman Billy Mays have dominated the news media in recent weeks. Closer to home, Skip Rox, friend of Steve and Cyndi Solinger, went home to be with the Lord this past Tuesday. It has been said that most of society lives in denial of death. Oh sure, we know the statistics that 1 out of 1 dies, but we convince ourselves that we don’t have to worry about death. I fear that even during this time where we are hearing more about “death” in the news than usual, that most people will not stop and ask the hard questions about death. Does how I live in the here and now actually matter for eternity? If I died today would I be ready to meet my Maker? Am I truly living for something bigger and greater than my own little kingdom? Folks, it is my prayer that the people of Hope Church would ask these kinds of questions of themselves and also be concerned for their friends who, perhaps, are not asking these kinds of questions. We just never know when our time on this earth will end. Are you making this day count for eternity?

HELPFUL TIPS FOR READING THE BIBLE

1 . OBSERVATION

7 STRATEGIES TO FIRST-RATE READING:

1. Read Thoughtfully – don’t be afraid to put your thinking cap on
2. Read Repeatedly – read it over and over and over and over till you get it
3. Read Patiently – good bible study does take time and we need to be patient with it
4. Read Critically – ask: who?, what?, where?, when?, why?
5. Read Prayerfully – this is key – pray, “Lord, teach me through you Word.”
6. Read Meditatively – reflect on the text, chew on it, dwell in it, so that you can act on it
7. Read Purposefully – purposeful reading looks for the aim of the author

6 THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

1. Things that are emphasized
2. Things that are repeated
3. Things that are related
4. Things that are alike, and unlike
5. Things that are true to life
6. The big picture perspective

2. INTERPRETATION

5 KEYS TO INTERPRETATION:

1. Content – if you have correctly done the work of “observation”, this will be easy
2. Context – look for the literary, historical, cultural, geographic, and theological context
3. Comparison – in short, we compare scripture with scripture
4. Culture – does the cultural setting have any effect on the meaning of the text?
5. Consultation – this involves the use of secondary resources

3. APPLICATION

8 QUESTIONS TO ASK:
1. Is there an example for me to follow?
2. Is there a sin to avoid?
3. Is there a promise to claim?
4. Is there a prayer to repeat?
5. Is there a command to obey?
6. Is there a condition to meet?
7. Is there a verse to memorize?
8. Is there a challenge to face?

Adapted from Howard Hendricks’ book “Living By The Book”