My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many of Tozer’s points in this book seem to come from his own speculation rather than from Scripture. Nevertheless, many of the points that do come from Scripture are profound and rich, making the small amount of time required to read this book well worth it. Especially helpful are Tozer’s observations about the necessity for the believer to follow hard after God relationally and the nature of faith as “the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

Notable points in the book:
Tozer characterizes modern evangelicalism as laying out the parts of the sacrifice on the altar and being “satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel.” (p.9)

The Presence of God is the central fact of Christianity. At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His Presence. That type of Christianity which happens now to be in the vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christian’s privilege of present realization. According to its teachings we are in the Presence of God positionally, and nothing is said about the need to experience that Presence actually. … We are satisfied to rest in our judicial possessions and for the most part we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience. (p.37)

The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence. The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience. … This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire that dwelt in the bush. (pp.38-39)

“With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus’ flesh, with nothing on God’s side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry outside? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look up God?” (p.43) … The answer? The veil that keeps us from approaching God is the veil in our hearts (p.44). … And that veil is made of all our “self-sins” (self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, etc.) “We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. We must prepare ourselves for an ordeal of suffering in some measure like that through which our Saviour passed when He suffered under Pontius Pilate. … there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience, that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. (p.46)

“To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but He remains personally unknown to the individual. ‘He must be,’ they say, ‘therefore we believe He is.’ … The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing. … The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things. ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good. All thy garments smell of myrrh. … My sheep hear my voice.’” (pp.49-51)

“[Receptivity to God] is a gift of God … which must be … cultivated. … A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer. … The tragic results or this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hallow religious philosophies …”

In chapter 6 Tozer argues that the voice of God is more than the written Word in Scripture. “The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” The written words of Scripture have power only because they correspond to God’s ongoing life-giving voice. (p.74)

When God spoke from heaven in John 12:28, the people who heard it simply said, “It thundered.” Tozer says, “This habit of explaining the Voice by appeals to natural law is at the very root of modern science. In the living breathing cosmos there is a mysterious Something, too wonderful, too awful for any mind to understand. The believing man … falls to his knees and whispers, “God.” The man of earth kneels also but not to worship. He kneels to examine, to search, to find the cause and how the of things. … We are more likely to explain than to adore. “It thundered, “ we exclaim, and go our earthly way. … Everyone of us has had experiences which we have not been able to explain: a sudden sense of loneliness, or a feeling of wonder or awe in the face of the universal vastness. Or we have had a fleeting visitation of light like an illumination from some other sun, giving us in a quick flash an assurance that we are from another world, that our origins are divine.” (pp.80-81)

“God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. … it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. … If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with notion that it is a thing … it is more than a thing, it is a voice.” (p.82)

On p.89 Tozer defines faith as “the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.”

“Another saying of Jesus, and a most disturbing one, was put in the form of a question, ‘How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God alone?’ If I understand this correctly Christ taught here the alarming doctrine that the desire for honor among men made belief impossible.”

In chapter 9 Tozer points out that human nature can be described fairly accurately by turning the beatitudes around to their opposites. “Of this kind of moral stuff civilized society is composed. The atmosphere ischarged with it; we breathe it with every breath and drink it with our mother’s milk. Culture and education refine these things slightly but leave them basically untouched.” (p.110)

“Jesus calls us to rest, and meekness is His method. … The meek man … learns to say, ‘Oh, so you have been overlooked? … They have whispered that you are pretty small stuff …” And now you feel hurt because the world is saying about you the very things you have been saying about yourself? Only yesterday you were telling God that you were nothing.” (p.112)