Tozer, the Cross, and the Crucified Life

Sometimes the best thing I can do is simply share what I have been reading. And a recent book purchase has been a terrific addition to an already bulging library. Given that I already have around two dozen of this guy’s books, it shows that this volume is well worth reading – at least in my view.

A refer to one of the great recent prophetic voices in the church, A. W. Tozer. This great man of God has inspired and motivated millions of Christians – this one included. I have written him up on a number of occasions, such as:

But do yourself a massive favour and grab this book: The Radical Cross (WingSpread Publishers, 2005, 2009). It is a short 150-page book, but it contains over 30 of his best writings on the cross and the crucified life. This is a very helpful collection indeed of his thoughts on these topics.

Image of The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ
The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ by Tozer, A. W. (Author), Zacharias, Ravi (Foreword) Amazon logo

Tozer’s sermons and essays are scattered all over the place in well over 50 volumes. So it is great to have collected in this one volume some of these timeless pieces. The cross is at the centre of the Christian faith, and it was at the centre of Tozer’s writing and preaching.

Every believer should have this slim volume to read and re-read – often and thoroughly. Here I can do no better than to select a few choice offerings from this book, and let Tozer speak for himself. I also include the name of the essay and the page number as well. So here are some of many great quotes:

“Christ is Lord and can make any demands upon us that He chooses, even to the point of requiring that we deny ourselves and bear the cross daily. The mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit that follows will restore to the soul infinitely more than has been taken away. It is a hard way, but a glorious one. Those who have known the sweetness of it will never complain about what they have lost. They will be too well pleased with what they have gained.” (What is the ‘Deeper Life’? p. 16)

“We are willing to join heartedly in singing, ‘To God Be the Glory,’ but we are strangely ingenious in figuring out ways and means by which we keep some of the glory for ourselves.” (No One Wants to Die On a Cross, p. 29)

“The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.” (The Old Cross and the New, p. 53)

“The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.” (The Old Cross and the New, p. 54)

“We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.” (The Old Cross and the New, p. 55)

“The cross is a sword and often separates friends and divides households. The idea that Christ always brings peace and patches up differences is found nowhere in His own teachings. Quite the contrary is true. For a man to cast in his lot with Christ often means that he will be opposed by his blood relatives and will find his true family ties only in the community of regenerated souls.” (Not Peace, But a Sword, p. 59)

“I believe that God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure! This is why we believers have to surrender to Him the full control of everything that we consider to be an asset in terms of human power and talent and accomplishment.” (The Cross of Obedience, p. 75)

“I earnestly believe that God is trying to raise up a company of Christians in our day who are willing to be completely separated from all prejudices and all carnal desires. He wants those who are ready to put themselves at God’s disposal, willing to bear any kind of cross- iron or lead or straw or gold or whatever – and to be the kinds of examples He needs on this earth. The great question is: Is there a readiness, an eagerness among us for the kind of cross He wants to reveal through us?” (The Cross of Obedience, p. 76)

“In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.” (We Must Die If We Would Live, p. 100)

“The cross stands in bold opposition to the natural man. Its philosophy runs contrary to the processes of the unregenerate mind, so that Paul could say bluntly that the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. To try to find a common ground between the message of the cross and man’s fallen reason is to try the impossible, and if persisted in must result in an impaired reason, a meaningless cross and a powerless Christianity.” (That Incredible Christian, p. 101)

“A new moral power will flow back into the Church when we stop preaching social adjustment and begin to preach social repudiation and cross carrying. Modern Christians hope to save the world by being like it, but it will never work. The Church’s power over the world springs out of her unlikeness to it, never from her integration into it.” (Integration or Repudiation, p. 106)

“The cross has gathered in the course of the years much of beauty and symbolism, but the cross of which Jesus spoke had nothing of beauty in it. It was an instrument of death. Slaying men was its only function. Men did not wear that cross; but that cross wore men. It stood naked until a man was pinned on it, a living man fastened like some grotesque stickpin on its breast to writhe and groan till death stilled and silenced him. That is the cross. Nothing less.” (Take Up Your Cross, p. 111)

“If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament on the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter.”  (Joy Unspeakable, p. 128)

“Any valid hope of a state of blessedness beyond the incident of death must lie in the goodness of God and the work of atonement accomplished for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. The deep, deep love of God is the fountain out of which flows our future beatitude, and the grace of God in Christ is the channel by which it reaches us. The cross of Christ creates a moral situation where every attribute of God is on the side of the returning sinner.” (Our Hope of Future Righteousness, p. 133)

Those in Australia can grab this wonderful book for a mere nine dollars. Worth every penny, a dozen times over:

[1474 words]

8 Replies to “Tozer, the Cross, and the Crucified Life”

  1. P 53: Yes, I often think of that verse in Hebrews, “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross”. It is strengthening to know that His joy was to set us free so we could live with Him forever, utterly selfless, but joy none the less and “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. We need to know this when our cross, though we pick it up, weighs us down. There is joy, there is an end to suffering, there is eternal life, which he promised and without which promise we would be “most to be pitied”.
    P 55: If we are not diplomats, what does Paul mean when he calls us Ambassadors for Christ and what role does Apologetics play in this?
    I hope the book is available on Kindle, I will surely get it if it is.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  2. Dear Bill,
    Tozer’s article on 2 crosses hit me like a tsunami. I had followed our Lord Jesus during the tough years, serving in a general hospital. Then the discipline of six years of medicine and a growing family. . .
    Harrold Steward

  3. Hi Bill – thanks for posting these paragraphs. Each paragraph quoted above is a serious wake up call. There are some books by Christian teachers that need to be read over and over again, and I agree that Tozer’s books definitely come under that category. When God’s truth is espoused with this level of clarity it has a remarkable impact on the searching soul.

    Peter Baade.

  4. Dear Bill, With all due respect, I prefer to read the works of Pope Benedict. I have no doubt of the benefit of A.W. Tozer’s books.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  5. He was special for many reasons. Not least of which was his command of English; he writes superbly in an area where the prose of others is often turgid. Also, like Lewis, no faction could claim him; he was not a Calvinist yet he loved the puritans. He loved some of the old Catholic mystics too and Wesley for him had a special place.
    At times he seems severe and he felt these were desperate times, yet in all of his writings the balm of Gilead is there.
    Andrew Robinson

  6. Oh! How beautifully do you folks write…without mincing words: A.W. Tozer, Bill Muehlenberg & Andrew Robinson. Andrew, love that balm of Gilead bit…it is part of my e-mail address. Keep the fire burning! Keep up the great attacks on the enemy!
    Jyoti Mastapha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *