Talk about the attributes of God in the modern pulpit and few will stay to listen. Most of us – I included – would rather listen to practical messages: “How to find peace in times of trouble”, “How to be self-controlled”, and many more. We’ve taught people how to live but we haven’t taught them much about the One who gave them life and breath.
THE CHURCH’S LOSS
Tozer says, “We’ve suffered the loss of that high concept of God, and the concept of God handled by the average gospel church now is so low as to be unworthy of God and a disgrace to the Church.” Yes, there must be appropriate pragmatism in the church – knowledge of God must be translated to daily life. But exhortations without foundation will not stand.
In fact, this is why we are in a mess today. The value, distinction, and immutable aspects of human life are under attack. Why? We don’t know the image we were made after.
THE ONLY REMEDY
Tozer’s solution, then, to the moral weakening of Christianity and the subsequent moral decline of the world is this: “We must see God again; we must feel God again; we must know God again. Nothing less than this will save us.”
But two objections will likely be raised: (1) the attributes of God are an academic subject – will simple people listen to it?; and (2) unbelievers don’t care about God – how can that fulfill the Great Commission?
Tozer’s rebuttal: “I have an old Methodist hymnal that rolled off the press 111 years ago and I heard forty-nine hymns on the attributes of God in it. I have heard it said that we shouldn’t sing hymns with so much theology because people’s minds are different now. We think differently now. Did you know that those Methodist hymns were sung mostly by uneducated people? They were farmers, coal miners and blacksmiths, carpenters and cotton pickers – plain people all over this continent.”
Our covenant God is for His covenant people. The glorious truth about who God is must be brought to the day-to-day believer because God Himself came down for him.
THE AUTHOR: TOZER
This case is made even better by the fact that our author had no college or Seminary training for the pastorate. A.W Tozer was a theologian who learned ad fontes – straight from Scripture. He pastored Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 31 years and Avenue Road Church in Toronto from 1958 to 1963.
The attributes of God covered by Tozer are as follows:
- Volume 1
- God’s Infinitude
- God’s Immensity
- God’s Goodness
- God’s Justice
- God’s Mercy
- God’s Grace
- God’s Omnipresence
- God’s Immanence
- God’s Holiness
- God’s Perfection
- Volume 2
- God’s Self-Existence
- God’s Transcendence
- God’s Eternalness
- God’s Omnipotence
- God’s Immutability
- God’s Omniscience
- God’s Wisdom
- God’s Sovereignty
- God’s Faithfulness
- God’s Love
Interestingly, it is only in Volume 2 that we have a chapter that discusses God’s Character. It serves as the introduction and yet has the weight and impact of a standalone chapter.
It would seem to me that Tozer approaches the subject in this manner:
- Select texts displaying that particular attribute of God.
- Draw inferences from it and lay down propositions. Often these are in the “God is _________ but God is not _______” format.
- Apply it in day-to-day scenarios.
- Exhort believers to live consistent with discussed attribute.
- Show how it is with Christ.
- Exhort unbelievers to come to Christ – the image and fullness of God.
And while a bulk of the chapter tends to be at the second part, it is neither boring nor dull. Tozer has a way with similes and metaphors that make it a bit easier to comprehend. By the time he comes to the fourth part, the heart has been warmed by the character of God and is prayerfully asking God to let one live worthy of Him.
But I personally find that it is the section where Tozer connects the attributes of God to Christ that makes my heart jump in glee. Christ is the One through whom I know God. Nothing increases worship to God than a fuller understanding of Christ. And nothing grounds obedience and faith as having Christ as a sure ground to the heart and mind.
SHOULD YOU READ THIS BOOK?
Absolutely! Then, you can follow it up with Stephen Charnock’s “Existence and Attributes of God” and A.W Pink “Attributes of God”.
Volume 1: https://amzn.to/3gJnhTG
Volume 2: https://amzn.to/2WaITyY
Locally available at OMF, PCBS, and other bookstores.