Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tozer on the Gifts of the Spirit

"For a generation certain evangelical teachers have told us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles or at the completion of the New Testament. This, of course, is a doctrine without a syllable of Biblical authority back of it. The result of this erroneous teaching is that spiritually gifted persons are ominously few among us. This frightening hour calls aloud for men with the gift of prophetic insight. Instead we have men who conduct surveys, polls and panel discussions. We need men with the gift of knowledge. In their place we have men with scholarship---nothing more. Thus, we may be preparing ourselves for the tragic hour when God may set us aside as so-called evangelicals and raise up another movement to keep New Testament Christianity alive in the earth.

The truth of the matter is that the Scriptures plainly imply the imperative of possessing the gifts of the Spirit. But I must also add a word of caution. The various spiritual gifts are not equally valuable, as Paul so carefully explains. Certain brethren have magnified one gift out of seventeen out of all proportion. Among these brethren there have been and are many godly souls, but the general moral results of this teaching have nevertheless not been good. In practice it has resulted in much shameless exhibitionism, a tendency to depend upon experiences instead of upon Christ and often a lack of ability to distinguish the works of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit. Those who deny that the gifts are for us today and those who insist upon making a hobby of one gift are both wrong, and we are all suffering the consequences of their error."
-A.W. Tozer

13 comments:

Andrew E. Courtis said...

Hi Philip, I was wondering if you could let me know where this quotation is from? Andrew

Philip@ReformedVoices said...

Hi Andrew,

It comes from the booklet 'Keys to the Deeper Life'.

Puritan said...

Great quote brother thank you

Nathan W. Bingham said...

I'm not sure if you are able to clarify in more context Philip, what 'gifts' Tozer was referring too? Puritan, who commented before me, has a quote of Tozer's on his web site which reads:

"As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of “the signs of an apostle,” II Cor. 12:12) are absent."

Puritan sources that quote as coming from, "Arthur W. Pink, The Holy Spirit, 179."

If both quotes are accurate, then Tozer's position on the gifts is unclear until his terms are defined.

I haven't read enough of Tozer to comment any further, but I thought Puritan's Tozer quote was worth bringing to the table.

Nathan W. Bingham said...

It just came to my attention that I got my A.W.'s mixed up...

It now explains the contradiction between the two quotes.

Robert said...

I appreciate the concern from men like Tozer, Piper, Grudem and the like for a deeper spiritual experience, But for those in the neo reformed movement who think the supernatural sign gifts of the new testament are for today I have a few questions.
1. Can you please show me one man or woman in the world today with these gifts (the ability to speak in a foreign language never learned by them, the gift to heal even with their shadow, the gift to speak "thus saith the Lord" and never get it wrong) where are these men today?

2. Why are the people who claim to have these gifts from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, generally the most unholy and the least knowledgeable about the truth ?

3. Does anyone in Piper's (by the way I love John Piper)Grudems Churches practice these gifts? if not why not?

4. Isn't the revealed word of God enough ? We already have the very God breathed word, so why would we need a word from a fallible prophet?

Yes the Church and Christians including myself need to get a deeper experience of God, but this is not to be had in so called gifts of the Spirit but by cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, then we will have a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Thanks for reading God bless.

dale mcalpine said...

Amen Robert that was very well put.

- dale

Puritan said...

Robert,

1. Why are there healings in places like India and South America, but not so much in the west? Perhaps it is because when they get converted, they read their Bible and believe it. It says absolutely nothing about the gifts just being for that time period, and so they believe the miraculous and the miraculous happens.

There have been many examples of prophecy today. Paul Washer gave one example in a sermon I listened to recently, where the Spirit came upon him whilst he was preaching in Peru. Do you have such a high opinion of yourself that you’re accusing a brother who’s risked his life for the cause of the Gospel in jungles, of being a liar and a false prophet?

I was once witnessing to a girl on the street and the pastor I was with started to tell her about her self harm. We’d never seen this girl before, and she took off her jumper to reveal slash marks all the way up her arm, which we couldn't have know about. This was “You have 5 husbands” woman at the well stuff. The girl was converted that day, and 2 years later is still on fire for the Lord.

You’d do well to read Brother Andrew, Corrie Ten Boom or George Mueller.

2. That’s really a straw man. I’d say there are far more “unholy” people in cessationist churches.
People are unholy because they’re unconverted. Not because they believe or disbelieve the gifts.

3. I don’t go there. You’re best asking Piper or Grudem.

4. Exactly, so why do people make a doctrine to say the gifts have ceased when there isn’t one text of Scripture to support that view. Isn't the revealed word of God enough for you? Or have you had some extra Biblical revelation from a “fallible man”.

Robert said...

Hi there Puritan ( I am sure you are aware that the puritans were cessationists)
"Why are there healings in places like India and South America, but not so much in the west?" Are there healings in these places?
And if there are, it is God who is healing not men with apostolic gifts.

I asked for an example of a man today with the gifts of an apostle, and you give me a story about your friend, well frankly sir stories about friends don't cut it with me. As I'm sure you are aware we are commanded in the bible to be discerning, not believing everything we hear or even see.

Again show me someone who has the ability to speak a language they never learned, there are tens of millions of Pentecostals and charismatics on the planet who do believe in these things so finding one should not be too hard (if of course unbelief is the barrier)

"Exactly, so why do people make a doctrine to say the gifts have ceased when there isn’t one text of Scripture to support that view."
1st cor 13 8-12
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Context: Infancy in contrast with maturity. Gifts were for the infancy of the church not for its maturity, this was of course seen with the passing away of the gifts into history in the second century.

May I suggest you read some Puritan commentaries on the above text.

"and so they believe the miraculous and the miraculous happens."

50'000 people at a Benny Hinn gig believe the miraculous does that make it happen there too ?

And may I finish by saying you are straying into very dangerous territory by comparing the so called gift of your pastor friend with Jesus’ omniscience.

As far as having a high opinion of myself, I am not the one calling myself puritan!

Czirják Zsuzsi said...

Hi Robert,
Please read Joy Unspeakable from Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
I think you should behave more lovingly in this discussion, brothers.
It is a sensible point in the Body of Christ, so we must put aside all our presuppositions. I'm also dealing with this issue for a time and want to find out the truth whatever it should be.

blessed said...

1st cor 13 8-12
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

"when the perfect comes"......what is the perfect and when does it come?
Isnt that when these things will pass away and we will know fully?

Robert Lazar said...

What you dont know or have not experienced, does not necessarily mean it does not exist? I am from India and have known and experienced gifts of the Holy Spirit like prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues in abundance. Let us be careful when we deal with things concerning the Holy Spirit.

Robert Lazar said...

What you dont know or have not experienced, does not necessarily mean it does not exist? I am from India and have known and experienced gifts of the Holy Spirit like prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues in abundance. Let us be careful when we deal with things concerning the Holy Spirit.