Regeneration

Here is a word we don’t hear often–“regeneration.”  I was surprised to come across it in my devotions. I saw it in the writings of A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).  The book I’m reading is called My Daily Pursuit.  The forward is by Ravi Zacharias, and he says this about Tozer:

The profound realization that God could be known personally drew me, with sincerity and determination, to plumb the depths of that claim…A few short years later, I encountered, through the writings, the distinctive pastoral voice of A. W. Tozer, who expounded on the grandest of all themes to which the human mind could ascend and the heart could embrace:  the study of God Himself.  Tozer’s voice was unique in his era, and I read and reread many of his books.  Works such as The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy opened up vistas that were life-transforming.  Those truths were timely for me and timeless for anyone hungry to know God.  So, his words still speak with power and tenderness today, leaving me with the twin passions of fulfillment and legitimate hunger…Tozer gives us the right kind of pause to learn the value of deep reflection on noble truths.  –Ravi Zacharias, quoted in A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 7-8

So now let’s look at this word “regeneration” that is heard so seldom today.  I think there are great truths to be considered here and this first quote is very touching to consider:

A new father goes to the hospital to see his first baby.  He goes to the window to look at all of the babies, but what he is looking for is one that looks like him.  The babies may be cute, but he has no interest in any of them except his own.  When he sees his own baby, what he is looking for is himself.  The little baby has his ears, his nose, his eyes and so forth.  The thing that drove him to that little baby is his own image in that baby.  The thing to draw God to us is His image in us.  Sin has destroyed it.  Regeneration puts it back in.  Now that man in Christ can have communion and fellowship with the Father of whose image he is.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 188

Now, if the word “regeneration” isn’t enough of an unfamiliar word, take a look now at “compatibility,” “communion,” “congruity,” “atonement,” and a word that I think Tozer made up–“feelingly!”  It all makes complete sense when you put them together and understand his point:

One of the great Bible truths we should revel in is that the newest convert born again today, has a degree of moral likeness to God, which gives him a measure of compatibility.  Heaven is a place of complete compatibility.  Sin introduced an incompatibility between God and the sinner.  Sin disrupts the communion between God and man.  Sin introduces that quality which throws men and God out of accord with each other.  As it is, there is no accord, no congruity.  But when that sinner believes in the blood atonement, which is trust in Christ, and is justified in heaven and regenerated on earth, there is complete compatibility and communion…That compatibility allows God to draw feelingly near to the man or women, and it makes communion morally consistent.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 186

Abba Father, through regeneration I have come back to the place where Thee can see in me Thy blessed divine image.  How I praise Thee through Jesus Christ my Savior!  Amen.  –A. W. Tozer,  My Daily Pursuit, pg. 188

Innocent

Here is the last set of quotes this week.  As promised, the first quote is a continuation of the previous quote I mentioned.  We don’t behave perfectly all the time, but nevertheless we can be certain we are innocent before our Heavenly Judge:

Justification declares the sinner righteous, but it is external to the man.  That is, the justified man may be no better off for his justification if that is all that happened to him.  Justification is a judicial thing.  Just as a man may stand before the court and be declared innocent of a crime — not guilty, and yet it does not change the man inside.  He weighs exactly the same as he weighed before; stands at the same height, with the same color of hair and eyes as before. He has the same relationships and in every way is the same man he was before.  The only difference, he is judicially free, declared not guilty before the law.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 184

Of course he doesn’t leave us that way if we truly seek Him in repentance and offer Him our hearts:

In the history lesson of Psalm 78, we find the Israelites following the Lord “only with their words.”  They knew what to say, but they didn’t know how to live.  They would come to God’s Temple with sacrifices but they would not offer him their hearts.  “I want you to be merciful,” God said,  “I don’t want your sacrifices.”  The people were going through the motions, but not letting God’s emotions go through them.  —One Year Book of Psalms, 6/21

Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction.  The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return.”  — A. W. Tozer

The atonement (the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life for us, and died a perfect judgment for us on the cross, and truly did rise again from the dead as proof) makes all the difference in the world and can even change the inside of a man, though we will never be perfect until Christ returns.  How do I know Jesus did rise from the dead?  See my previous “God is Real” posts — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!

Atonement is the basis upon which God acts toward humanity.  Atonement makes justification possible, and justification leads to regeneration.  This is the work of God outside of a man that has the potential to change the inside of a man.  Regeneration takes place at the same time justification takes place…A regenerated man is a man [or woman] who partakes of the divine nature, a man who has a new relation to God, which gives him eternal life.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 185

But now we are seeing the righteousness of God declared quite apart from the Law (though simply testified by by both Law and prophets)–it is a righteousness imparted to, and operating in, all who have faith in Jesus Christ.  (For there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God’s plan).  Under this divine system a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Christ Jesus.  God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith.  God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. What happens now to human pride of achievement?  There is no more room for it.  Why, because failure to keep the Law has killed it?  Not at all, but because the whole matter is now on a different plane–believing instead of achieving.  We see now that a man is justified before God by the fact of his faith in God’s appointed Savior and not by what he has managed to achieve under the Law.  — Romans 3:21-28 (PHI)

From there, we can encourage one another in our relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  The apostle Paul spent much time in prison writing to believers in various places, encouraging them in their faith.  Here is just one example of many, beautifully expressed in the J.B. Phillips translation:

I wish you could understand how deep is my anxiety for you…How I long that you may be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love.  How I love for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself.  May your spiritual experience become richer as you are more and more full of God’s great secret, Christ himself.  For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him–in simple faith.  Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.  –Colossians 2:1-7 (PHI)

And now, if you haven’t already, go back and read my “God is Real” posts, to see why I’m so certain that all of this is true — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

 

Cast Off

This week I’m sharing quotes from my “Word of the Year” — “Cast.”  What a strange word, but it has such deep meaning when you consider really casting something away from you with great energy.

God grant that we may each of us cast off our own works of darkness, whatever they are, however we can, and put upon ourselves the armor of something at least like light as we wait for the truth of Christ to come finally and fully true at last.  — Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark, pg. 285

Our preparation and coming into His presence has to do with cultivating the simplicity of our lives.  That is, getting rid of (casting off) everything in our lives that hinders our sincere devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 37

…for verily I say to you that whoever may say to this mount, be taken up, and be cast into the sea, and may not doubt in his heart, but may believe that the things that he saith do come to pass, it shall be to him whatever he may say.  –Mark 11:23 (YLT)

We often are in danger of casting off the wrong things.  Take this scripture to heart and you will not be disappointed.

So do not throw away (cast off) this confident trust in the Lord.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that he has promised.  — Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT)

Worship

This week I’m sharing quotes from my Word of the Year–“Worship.”  We don’t worship God because He needs it or requires it, but because He deserves it.  I can say for a fact that He is real; I’ve felt immediate healing at least twice in my life; He speaks to me daily not only through His Word but through many other sources, such as a book, a friend or an unexpected message of some type.  In other words, I’ve experienced Him; He’s real and trustworthy.  He’s worthy of our worship:

It is the heart that must trust and love and worship and obey…The Christian needs ever, when he has studied or heard God’s word, to cease from his thoughts, to put no trust in them, and to waken up his heart to open itself before God, and seek the living fellowship with Him.  –Andrew Murray, How Great Is Our God, 3/7

Worship is essentially a way of honoring God.  It means recognizing His honor and feeling the worth of it and ascribing it to Him in all the ways appropriate to His character.  Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth.  The reason for saying gladly is that even the mountains and trees reflect back to God the radiance of His worth:  “Praise the LORD from the earth…mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars.”  (Psalm 148:7,9 ESV).  Yet this reflection of God’s glory in nature is not conscious.  The mountains and hills do not willingly worship.  In all the earth, only humans have this unique capacity.  –John Piper, How Great is Our God, 4/23

When God spoke out of heaven to our Lord, self-centered men who heard it explained it by natural causes:  they said “It thundered”  (John 12:29).  The believing man does not claim to understand.  He 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 the how of things.  –A. W. Tozer, How Great is Our God, 7/7

Meet Lydia.  She was a city girl, a salesperson.  A homeowner with enough room to house a host of people.  Yet her professional life was balanced by the priorities of her spiritual life.  She worshiped God.  — Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 358

From Childhood

Here are some more great quotes from my journals.

O Lord, you alone are my hope.  I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.  Psalm 71:5 [NLT]

…every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative voice sounding over the earth…could it be that a genius is a man haunted by the speaking voice, laboring and striving like one possessed to achieve ends which he only vaguely understands?  Faith in a risen Savior is necessary if the vague stirrings toward immortality are to bring us to restful and satisfying communion with God.  — A. W. Tozer [How Great is Our God, 7/19]

God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  — I Corinthians 1:28 [NLT]

 

One Last Desire

This week I’m sharing some of the best quotes from my journal recently.  I hope these will be of great encouragement to you.

Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.  — A. W. Tozer

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me,” and my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”  — Psalm 27:8 [NLT]

The point of temptation or the pinnacle of pain is not the ideal time to decide whether to stick with Christ.  The most effective time to resolve to obey Christ is in advance of difficulty.  — Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 334

As I leave to return to God, my Father, permit me to confide to you one last desire…that you strive to create a climate of true love and respect for the poor because the poor man is Christ.  — Alberto Hurtado [Chile, 1901-1952]

 

Only Fire

Here is another outstanding quote from my journal.  It’s hard to believe that A. W. Tozer lived before 1963, and yet these words seem to be written for our day.  One thing I’m certain of — our God is real, and holy, and He will be recognized and revered by the entire world at the time of His choosing.  Everyone will know that what we’ve known all along really is true.  There is a lot of fake religion and human arrogance and pretension that will not stand when the true God appears.

What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is eternal, which means He antedates time and is wholly independent of it.  To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.  He is immutable, which means he has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure.  He is omniscient, which means He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events.  He has no past and no future.  He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him.  Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it.

Only fire can give even a remote conception of it.  In fire He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey.  The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the Shekinah, the Presence, through the years of Israel’s glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple.

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, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us.  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.  — A. W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/25/16