I believe the job of a prophet is to rattle the spiritual cage and wake up sleepy Christians, calling them out to understand the danger we face today. We have come to the point of contentment. We are content with where we are, we are content with what we have, and we have no real expectation of what the future holds. Henceforth, this generation of Christians and the next faces a grave and severe danger.
I have to admit: In terms of the plethora of “unpublished” posthumous books (mostly converted sermons) by A.W. Tozer, this is one of the lesser ones. Still, Tozer is Tozer, and thus there’s always something to learn or truths to be reminded of.
A.W. Tozer. Alive in the Spirit: Experiencing the Presence and Power of God. Compiled and edited by James L. Snyder. 192p., $14.99, Bethany House.
As is apparent from the title, the focus is on the Spirit, both in terms of knowing the Person and in accessing His power. One thing that does set this book apart from many of Tozer’s others is that we’re given a fairly lengthy glimpse into his own personal testimony early on in the book, so those curious about that alone may want to check this out. And for those who really haven’t been taught about the person or works of the Holy Spirit, this book can serve as a good primer for that.
The majority of the book, though, is Tozer being Tozer—which means a never-dull combination of insight and crankiness, and a even bit more of the latter than usual in this one. Nonetheless, the “evangelical trends” he regularly railed against back in the ’50s and ’60s are now the norm—the drive for numbers rather than transformation, trusting in political solutions rather than embracing God’s holiness, relying on human energy rather than spiritual empowerment, entertaining rather than truth-telling (in Tozer’s words, “people who want church to be fun”), etc. Therefore, it’s worth going back to read and heed these warnings from more than a half-century ago now, because he wasn’t wrong then and he’s even less wrong now.
Ultimately though—and exactly because others aren’t—Tozer’s goal is to get us relying on the power of the Spirit rather our own power, and to live a life that reflects His holiness:
Power is a positive, not a negative word. When Jesus promised His church power, He meant, of course, that they were to have power to stand against evil, but that was not the primary purpose. The primary purpose was that they should have the power to do good. . . . So may God help us. We are not only against something, but for something. Or we are against something only because we are for something better.