Throughout the history of humanity, there have been many great discoveries. I am not sure which one we could point to and say, "That is the greatest discovery in the world." But for the hungry heart, there is but one discovery that satisfies it: the discovery of the manifest, conscious presence of God.
This book you hold is an unveiling of Dr. Tozer's greatest discovery: to understand what God's presence in the Christian's life is all about and to experience it. Dr. Tozer is a qualified guide in this pilgrimage.
There are several things you will notice as you go through this book. First, everything that Dr. Tozer writes about is based upon solid, scriptural truth. The major point he makes is that one truth is not isolated from another truth. Isolating God's truth, according to Tozer, is how heresy starts in the Church.
When people begin isolating Scripture to try to make it stand on its own, it is a warning signal that truth will be sacrificed. It is possible to make the Bible say anything you really want it to say. After all, the cults in the world begin with the Bible, and what they do is isolate truth, failing to recognize the harmony of the truth in God's Word. Often, Dr. Tozer will say something to the effect that it takes all of the Bible to make it the Word of God.
So the scriptural foundation is very important. Many people have taken a sharp left turn somewhere and gone into what Dr. Tozer calls a Christless mysticism. Nothing could be more dangerous than this, which has led to a strange caricature of Christianity in our day.
I think the next thing you should look for in this book is what Dr. Tozer describes as the conscious, manifest presence of God. Many people decry the word "experience." However, unless you have experienced salvation, you have not been born again. And so the plea in this book is for each of us to press on and press in and experience the presence of God.
Are there charlatans along this line? Of course. But we cannot allow some heretic to rob us of truths associated with the Christian life. This basic truth before us is that it is possible for us to know God in a degree of intimacy that is progressive as well as dynamic. The apostle Paul said, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death" (Phil. 3:10). That is the goal and what we are after: to know God in an increasing level of intimacy from day to day.
This book will whet your appetite for some of the deep things of God. I think if Dr. Tozer were alive today, he might be shocked at some of the teaching we hear over the airwaves, especially on television. The deep truths of God's Word are not being expounded in our day on any large scale.
That leads to another theme in this book. Tozer never goes easy on what he refers to as religiosity, or, as the Scripture says, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Tim. 3:5). One of the things he attacks most viciously is entertainment in the Church. If you are the sort of person who craves entertainment, you may not like what you read. This message is for those who really want to know God in a way that is out of the ordinary.
A word of caution here: You might not always agree with Dr. Tozer. In fact, he would not want you to agree with him on everything. His purpose is not to win you over to his side. We have a tendency in our society to divide ourselves into little religious pigeonholes. Every little pigeonhole has to agree with everybody on everything in that particular group. If you do not agree with everything, then you must go to another pigeonhole.
Tozer thought this idea ludicrous. There are certain fundamentals of the faith to which we all must embrace and adhere, but then, as Tozer would muse, we must always allow room for mystery. So many things in the spiritual realm remain a mystery. Where we get into trouble is trying to define and describe all of the mysteries. Many of us have a Sherlock Holmes complex when it comes to spiritual things. We want to know everything to the smallest detail. This is nothing more or less than religious minutia, and it only feeds Pharisaic pride.
Striving after God and aspiring to know Him are welcome traits. But in all of this, no matter how far we go in our spiritual walk, there will still be mysteries. What Dr. Tozer teaches in this book is how to walk in the mystery of experiencing God's presence.
Included at the end of each chapter is a carefully chosen hymn or piece of poetry that sums up the truth in that chapter. It would be well worth the effort to spend some time meditating on that hymn or poem. Dr. Tozer's practice in his daily walk with the Lord was to spend time in the hymnbook. I know the hymnbook has gone out of style in many churches today, but we cannot afford to miss the rare treasure of some of these old hymns of the church!
Dr. Tozer was not one to continually look back and pine for the "good old days." But neither was he dismissive of the great history of our Christian faith. And nowhere is that history appreciated more than in the words of a good old-fashioned hymnbook. Perhaps his love of hymnody will whet your appetite to explore this rich store of doctrinal truth.
May God enable you in your spiritual journey to experience everything He has for you to experience. And may you come away from this book ready to live in the manifest, conscious presence of almighty God.
James L. Snyder