Touched By God - Part 1

by The Old Scot

A. W. Tozer, revered teacher of not so long ago, set the bar very high for membership in the family of God: "Nothing can take the place of the touch of God in the soul and the sense of someone there. Where true faith is, the knowledge of God will be given as a fact of consciousness altogether apart from the conclusions of logic. Whatever else it embraces, true Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. Without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of an original once enjoyed by someone else of who we have heard." (The Divine Conquest, Christian Publications, pp. 25-26)

Implicit in Tozer's thought is a tremendous and vital challenge: Is he correct, or will some lesser standard suffice? How can a person know if he or she is genuinely a child of God? Surely there can be no more urgent question for us all!

Can we rely upon standards of men or traditions of the church? [And if the latter, which church; which traditions? Where did they come from, and what is their origin?]

I have just been reading an excerpt from the testimony of David Baron (1855-1926), son of a Russian Jewish couple, who sought to find peace with God through the teachings and traditions of his forefathers. But he realized at length that the harder he tried to abide by those teachings the less peace he found. Only through the blood of the Lamb of God, and only through the new birth promised by our Lord Jesus Christ did he finally know that he was truly a son of God. And his belief system was radically changed.

One of the great characteristics manifested by the new nature has to do with our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Formerly it worked on us from without. Now it works from within. And it leads us to "mortify the deeds of the body through the Spirit" (Rom. 8:13). We are to walk in the Spirit (Rom. 8:1,4); we are to be led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14); continue in the Spirit (Gal. 3:3), be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and live in the Spirit (1 Pet. 4:6).

Surely this is a tall order-an impossible order, because it is a hated order-for the old man in us (Rom. 8:7). But wonder of wonders, it is both possible and greatly desired by our new nature. Walking, being led by, being filled with, and living in the Spirit is something our new nature yearns to do and delights in doing.

This is a great test-possibly the greatest test-of the genuineness of being born again.

Of course, not long after the new birth comes the discovery that we have a battle on our hands! Our enemy, our deadly opponent, is our own old nature, and it is a fight to the death-no matter how protracted the struggle, one must live and the other die.

The Apostle Paul describes his own inner battle in Romans chapter 7. Ironically, just before he describes his losing battle with his old self, in chapter 6, he informs us that our old selves have been crucified with Christ. It is easy for the new babe in Christ to read into this that victory is already handed to us by our Savior-but the text nowhere says this happens immediately or without a struggle. Crucifixion was a slow process, and we should not be surprised to discover that this struggle will go on for the rest of our lives-and, indeed, that it is a battle that only God, acting through His Holy Spirit, can actually win.

In fact, Paul tells us this. Romans 7:24-25 contains both his wail of failure through his own abilities, and Christ's victory on his behalf: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

To summarize, we become children of God through being touched by Him-that is, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. This touch is absolutely real, and we should certainly be aware of it.

This brings us to what I believe is a huge problem in the church today. Are there not a great many in the church who have been manipulated into saying "yes" to Jesus? They are then assured, over and over again, that they are born again. But they fail to grow. They very likely don't have a clue as to what is wrong-they try, they attend services more or less faithfully-perhaps trying to supply what is lacking from themselves. Outwardly they may be indistinguishable from Spirit-led Christians. But they don't grow.

Joe McKeever, a seeker after truth with more than four decades in the pastorate, wrote of his experiences with the easy evangelistic methods he was taught as a young pastor. He came to the conclusion that, while our sovereign God may utilize the least of straws to achieve His will, nevertheless, many of the teachings came dangerously close to manipulation. (See his article, "Why Christians Fear to Witness," in the October issue of Pulpit Helps.)

It may be, dear pastor, that before you turn your evangelistic attention outside the church walls, you should ascertain whether you have a great need for the saving touch of our Lord within your church!

To be continued

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