What does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience?
It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is
no place, there can be no place, where he is not. ...
If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where he
is not, ... why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated
fact of the world? The patriarch Jacob, "in the waste howling wilderness,"
gave the answer to that question. He saw a vision of God and cried out
in wonder, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not."
The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same.
There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly
unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His Presence....
Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are
widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well known Christians of
post-Biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the
saints were not alike… The differences are as wide as human life itself.
Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living
far above the common way.
Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God
of no significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What
I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common
was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something
urged them Godward....
Receptivity is not a single thing; it is a compound rather, a blending
of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward,
a sympathetic response to, a desire to have.... It may be increased by
exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible
force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God,
indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift
if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given....
The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saint of old, has
now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common.
We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action.... To put it differently,
we have accepted one another's notions, copied one another's lives and
made one another's experiences the model of our own....
It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to
wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times and return to Biblical
ways. But it can be done....
Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself
unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity
by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything
he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.
[excerpt from The
Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer, 1948, public domain]
Aiden Wilson Tozer (April
21, 1897 - May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author,
magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor. For his
work, he received two honorary doctorate degrees.
Among the more than 40 books
that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The
Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. His books impress
on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with
Living a simple and non-materialistic
lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring
bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author,
Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.
Tozer had seven children,
six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with
a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God."
Prayer was of vital personal
importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions
of his prayer life," comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book,
In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to
make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying
to them," writes Snyder..