Tozer on Worship, Part One
These are some of the most important things we can ever dwell upon:
The other day I shared this quote from R. C. Sproul: “The point of the exodus was not simply to redeem people from oppression, but to redeem them to something: from slavery to worship. That’s true in an even higher manner in the redemptive work of Christ in the New Testament: we are not saved simply because we need to be saved, but so that we might worship Him.”
If one wanted to summarise the teachings of another great Christian pastor and writer, A. W. Tozer, it would be something quite similar to what Sproul wrote. The end of all things is for us to worship the living God. And Tozer constantly wrote about this lofty and majestic theme.
I have around 40 books by Tozer. Probably all of them would in one way or another deal with the topic of worship. And at least four of them are specifically about worship, as the following titles indicate. They are:
Whatever Happened to Worship? Edited and compiled by Gerald B. Smith (Moody, 1985, 2012).
Whatever Happened to Worship? A shorter version of the above and part of a ten-book boxed set (Authentic, 1985, 2009).
Tozer on Worship and Entertainment. Compiled by James Snyder (WingSpread Publishers, 1997, 2006).
The Worship-Driven Life. Edited by James Snyder (Monarch Books, 2008).
All of these books – and others – could be drawn upon in this piece. But I will simply offer some quotes from the first one mentioned. That book features several sermon series Tozer preached on worship in the early 1960s (he died in 1963).
Here then are a number of great quotes from this book. But because there are so many gems to be found here, I have been forced to turn this into a two-part article to get them all in. So please prayerfully and worship-fully read and meditate on these great words from Tozer.
“I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.” p. 14
“I would warn those who are cultured, quiet, self-possessed, poised and sophisticated that if they are embarrassed in church when some happy Christian says ‘Amen!’ they may actually be in need of some spiritual enlightenment. The worshipping saints of God in the body of Christ have often been a little bit noisy.” p. 16
“The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God. Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the Apostle Paul was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God. A survey of church history will prove that it was those who were the yearning worshippers who also became the great workers. . . . We will be making a mistake if we just stand back and say, ‘But if we give ourselves to worship, no one will do anything.’ On the contrary, if we give ourselves to God’s call for worship, everyone will do more than he or she is doing now. Only, what he or she does will have significance and meaning to it. It will have the quality of eternity to it.” pp. 18-19
“Something wonderful and miraculous and life-changing takes place within the human soul when Jesus Christ is invited in to take His rightful place. This is exactly what God anticipated when He wrought the plan of salvation. He intended to make worshippers out of rebels; He intended to restore to men and women the place of worship which our first parents knew when they were created.” pp. 22-23
“The God who desires our fellowship and communion is not hard to please, although He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself supplied. He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him and just as quick to overlook our imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will… The God we love may sometimes chasten us, it is true. But even this He does with a smile—the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.” p. 27
“The Presence of God in our midst – bringing a sense of godly fear and reverence – is largely missing today.” p. 31
“The whole import and substance of the Bible teaches us that the God who does not need anything nevertheless desires the adoration and worship of His created children.” p. 33
“How can anyone ever worship God acceptably without knowing what kind of God He really is?” p. 37
“One of the greatest tragedies that we find, even in this most enlightened of all ages, is the utter failure of millions of men and women ever to discover why they were born… Yes, worship of the loving God is man’s whole reason for existence. That is why we are born and that is why we are born again from above. That is why we were created and that is why we have been recreated. That is why there was a genesis at the beginning, and that is why there is a re-genesis, called regeneration. That is also why there is a church. The Christian church exists to worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth.” pp. 44, 50
“Much of our problem in continuing fellowship with a holy God is that many Christians repent only for what they do, rather than for what they are. It should help us to be concerned about the quality of our worship when we consider that Isaiah’s reaction was a feeling of absolute profaneness in the presence of the moral purity of the Divine being. Consider that Isaiah was a commendable young man – cultured, religious and a cousin of the king. He would have made a good deacon in any church. Today he would be asked to serve on one of our mission boards. But here Isaiah was an astonished man. He was struck with awe, his whole world suddenly dissolving into a vast, eternal brightness. He was pinned against the brightness – red and black, the colors of sin. What had happened? Isaiah, only human, had glimpsed One whose character and nature signaled perfection. He could only manage the witness: ‘Mine eyes have seen the King’.” p. 67
“What should happen in genuine conversion? What should a man or woman feel in the transaction of the new birth? There ought to be that real and genuine cry of pain. That is why I do not like the kind of evangelism that tries to invite people into the fellowship of God by signing a card. There should be a birth from above and within. There should be the terror of seeing ourselves in violent contrast to the holy, holy, holy God. Unless we come into this place of conviction and pain, I am not sure how deep and real our repentance will ever be.” p. 70
“The man whom God will use must be undone. He must be a man who has seen the King in His Beauty.” p. 72
“Thankfully, when God made us in His own image, He gave us the capability to appreciate and admire His attributes. I once heard Dr. George D. Watson … point out that men can have two kinds of love for God – the love of gratitude and the love of excellence. He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character. Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude. I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence. Many of us are strictly ‘Santa Claus’ Christians. We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath. That is only an elementary kind of love. We need to go on. We need to know the blessing of worshipping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again. We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence.” p. 79
Part Two of this article is found here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2023/01/24/tozer-on-worship-part-two/