03 Nov AN UNCHANGING BOOK IN AN EVER-CHANGING WORLD, By A.W. Tozer
From Rut, Rot, or Revival
Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
One area of thinking that needs reform is our practical beliefs about God’s design for mankind. I emphasize practical beliefs, because there is a difference between nominal beliefs and practical ones. A nominal belief is what you hold in name, and the practical belief is what you hold in reality and what holds you. While probably there are not many faults to be found with the nominal beliefs, there are a great deal to be found with the practical beliefs. These practical beliefs need restoration to their happy and bright state with faults and abuses purged.
It has been a long time since Jesus was born in Bethlehem, died on the cross, rose again the third day, ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and sent the Holy Spirit to establish His church. Since those days there have been changes in the world so radical, sweeping, all-pervading, and revolutionary as to be entirely incredible to anybody living in Jesus’ day.
RESTORATION TO BELIEF IN THE TRUTH
Today’s world was entirely unimaginable to the people of those times. Have these changes forced God to modify His plans for His church and for mankind? Here is where we have fallen by the wayside. Here is where we need a reformation, a purgation, a removal of the faults, and a restoration again of the faith of Christians to a belief in the truth.
Many Christians say, without a question, “Yes, that is true.” Actually, I suppose they would not like to have it put to them like that: people do not like the most realistic constructions. What would the liberals and modernists say if you backed them in a corner with the questions, “Do you think God has been forced to change His mind?” I do not think anybody would quite have the courage to say yes. Nevertheless, they do say it little by little until they have brainwashed their people.
In effect, they say that the Bible must be interpreted in the light of new developments. A book that was written in the day when people rode donkeys must be reinterpreted to mesh with contemporary society. They say that the prophets and apostles mistook what God intended to do. The Bible is outmoded and largely irrelevant. Irrelevant means that it is not related to anything. Outmoded means we have new modes of thinking and living now, so the Bible is out-of-date—a back-issue magazine. We must, therefore, reassess its teachings and rethink our beliefs and hopes.
I am not overstating this at all. This is what is being taught today. It gets into the newspapers, and people are saying that the Bible must be interpreted in the light of all these changes. The apostles and prophets were mistaken. They had ideas that were good and advanced for their day, but not advanced for our day. We know more about ourselves, human motivation, and the nature of things than they did back then. Therefore a book written when people thought the earth was flat and the sun rose in the morning, crossed over the earth, and went down into the sea cannot possibly be taken seriously. While it certainly contains some beautiful poetry and some marvelously inspiring thoughts about human nature and the world in which we live, nevertheless all this is to be understood and reinterpreted, reassessed and rethought.
I challenge the idea that we are advanced. I know the majority of modern educators, newspaper writers, TV personalities, radio reporters, politicians, and all the rest do not agree with me. Nevertheless, I challenge the idea that we are any further advanced than they were in the days of Jesus.
If we are so advanced, then I want to ask some questions. Why do we kill thousands of human beings each year with automobiles? Because we ride automobiles instead of donkeys, we are advanced? If we are so advanced in our day, why are the penitentiaries packed full and the mental hospitals crowded? If we are so advanced, why is the whole world a powder keg? If we are so advanced, how is it that we have weapons that can annihilate the world? If we are so advanced, why is it that people cannot walk alone in the parks anymore? Why is it that workers who get out at midnight never walk home alone anymore? Why is it in this advanced aged that drugs, violence, abortion, and divorce are soaring?
There is a mindset that things every motion is progress. Every time you move you are progressing. Then there is the mindset that things wherever you move in a straight line you are going forward, forgetting that you can move in a straight line and be going backward.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE CENTURY
The tragedy of the century is that Protestants have accepted this as progress and actually believe it. The children of the protesters, children of the Reformation, have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by those who believe that changes have made a difference in God’s plan, a difference in Christianity, and a difference in Christ. We have been brainwashed to believe that we cannot read the Bible as we used to. We must now read it through glasses colored by change. We have been hypnotized by the serpent, the devil, into believing that we no longer have a trustworthy Bible, so Protestantism is no longer a moral force in the world.
Protestantism is not a force in this world because we have sold out to the brainwashers. Instead of being the sons and daughters of the protesters, we are now yes-men and yes-women. Running our protestant world are people who talk solemnly about Christ but who do not mean what the Bible means. They talk about the revelation and inspiration. But they do not mean what our fathers mean.
The second prominent tragedy is that the gospel churches are confused and intimidated by numbers. They accept the belief that there has been change and that Christians must adjust to the change. The word used is adjustments. We must get adjusted, forgetting that the world has always been blessed by the people who were not adjusted. The poor people who get adjusted cannot do much anyhow. They are not worth having around.
In every field of human endeavor progress has been made by those who stood up and said, “I will not adjust to the world.” The classical composers, poets, and architects were people who would not adjust. Today society insists that if you do not adjust you will get a complex. If you do not get adjusted, you will have to go to a psychiatrist.
JESUS WAS MALADJUSTED
Jesus was among the most maladjusted people in His generation. He never pretended to adjust to the world. He came to die for the world and to call the world to Himself, and the adjustment had to be on the other side.
The contemporary world is a result of radical changes down the generations amounting to revolution: the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the communications revolution, the philosophical revolution, and the social revolution. Are we going to accept the belief that the Bible must be interpreted anew in the light of these developments? Are we going to allow ourselves to accept the doctrine that the prophets and apostles were mistaken about God? Are we going to allow society to tell us that the Bible is outmoded and largely irrelevant and must therefore be reassessed in the light of modern advancement?
Has God changed? Are we going to accept it? Is there a change in the purpose of God? Have the changes in human society startled or shocked God?
Must we, in order to remain intellectually respectable and have good standing with these who doubt the Word, humbly say, “Well, I do not believe in miracles”. Or have we got enough of our Protestant protest and courage to stand up and say, “I believe in miracles whenever God Almighty wants to perform them. I believe that whenever God wants to do anything that is out of the ordinary and contrary to or at least above the common process of nature, He is able to do it. I believe the miracles of Jesus Christ were real miracles.” Are we going to allow ourselves to be brainwashed along with all the rest?
Or are we going to dare to stand and protest and be known over this country as being Protestants indeed? We would be people who refuse to adjust but who make the world adjust to us.
When you adjust, you are dead. The same is true if a church adjusts to these ideas. If you adjust, you are done. But if you dare to stand, the world will adjust to you. I can promise you that. Not all will adjust to you, but at least some will.
Some have asked themselves, “Is communism the unforeseen and unpredicted invasion? Is that what God did not know about, what Christ did not foresee?” Has Christ, after having come down the centuries triumphant, at last met His Waterloo? What is our answer to that? My answer is a loud, roaring, resounding no! He has never met His Waterloo and He never will. He, the Lord Christ, is going to ride the sky on a white horse, and upon His thigh will be written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). The rich men, the mighty men, the scientists, the doctors, and the lords of finance will cry for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb and the fury of His power.
Have God’s people at last been plucked out of His hand? He said we would never be plucked out of His hand, but did He know enough to tell us that? Have there been some new advancements and developments that He did not foresee? The answer again is no!
SHALL WE SURRENDER?
Shall we surrender to the world? No! Shall we surrender to liberalism? No! Shall we surrender to apostate Protestantism? The answer is no! Shall we surrender to the brainwashed churches whose preachers are afraid to stand up and talk as I am? The answer again is no!
Our church is going to go the way of the gospel. We are not radicals nor fools. We dress like other people, drive vehicles, and have modern homes. We are human and like to laugh. But we believe that God almighty has not changed and that Jesus Christ is the same. He is victorious, and we do not have to apologize for Him. We do not have to modify, adjust, edit, or amend. He stands as the glorious Lord, and nobody needs to apologize for Him.
If our answer to the question I have asked is yes, then we leave to our children a heritage but death. I say now, shall we believe the ringing words, “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6)? Shall we believe that “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8)? I do. We must believe the words that say, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (2:11). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (3:21).
We are not going to be sheep running over the precipice because other dumb sheep are running over it. We see the precipice—we know it is there. We are listening to the voice of the shepherd, not the voice of terrified sheep. The terrified, intimidated sheep are going everywhere.
I stand solidly and protest this. I believe we need a reformation back to the belief that God knew what He was talking about in the first place. We need to get back to the belief that Jesus Christ did not miss anything but foresaw it all, back to the belief that the apostles spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. We must return to the belief that our fathers who gave us the great creeds were not fools but wise saints who knew what they were talking about. We must get back to the belief that Protestants are to protest, dissenters are to dissent, and nonconformists must refuse to conform.