Nearness Is Likeness

I finally started reading Tozer recently. I’ve wanted to read some of his books for a long time – so when I found an old copy of The Best of A.W. Tozer earlier this year, I figured that would be a great place to start. Let me tell you – it is! It’s a compilation of 52 chapters (drawn from a dozen of Tozer’s books) which Warren Wiersbe put together. If I can find some more time, I’ll post some more quotes sometime soon; for now, here’s some of Nearness Is Likeness:

One serious and often distressing problem for many Christians is their feeling that God is far from them, or that they are far from God, which is the same thing.

It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when we are suffering from this sense of remoteness. It is like tying to have a warm, bright summer without the sun. The chief trouble here is of course not intellectual and cannot be cured by intellectual means; yet truth must enter the mind before it can enter the heart, so let us reason together about this. In spiritual matters we think correctly only when we boldly rule out the concept of space. God is spirit and spirit dwells not in space. Space has to do with matter and spirit is independent of it. By the concept of space we account for the relation of material bodies to each other.

We should never think of God as being spatially near or remote, for He is not here or there but carries here and there in His heart…

That God is equally near to all parts of His universe is plainly taught in the Scriptures (Psa. 139:1-18), yet some beings experience His nearness and others do not, depending upon their moral likeness to Him. It is dissimilarity that creates the sense of remoteness between creatures and between men and God….

But how can the conscious sinner bridge the mighty gulf that separates him from God in living experience? The answer is that he cannot, but the glory of the Christian message is that Christ did. Through the blood of His cross He made peace that He might reconcile all things unto Himself. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col. 1: 21,22).

The new birth makes us partakers of the divine nature. There the work of undoing the dissimilarity between us and God begins. From there it progresses by the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit till God is satisfied.

That is the theology of it, but as I said, even the regenerated soul may sometimes suffer from the feeling that God is far from Him. What then should he do?

First, the trouble may be no more than a temporary break in God-conscious communion due to any one of half a hundred causes. The cure is faith. Trust God in the dark till the light returns.

Second, should the sense of remoteness persist in spite of prayer and what you believe is faith, look to your inner life for evidences of wrong attitudes, evil thoughts or dispositional flaws. These are unlike God and create a psychological gulf between you and Him. Put away the evil from you, believe, and the sense of nearness will be restored. God was never away in the first place.

Nearness Is Likeness (emphasis added) – from Born After Midnight. You can find the whole chapter online here (it’s not very long).

I love the part about truth entering the mind first – probably partly because I’m so analytical 😉 But it’s true, isn’t it? All the more so when we feel at a distance from God. Praise God for His provision in Christ Jesus of the solution to bridge the “mighty gap” which we cannot bridge by any means on our own!

[Side note: I find it fascinating that the Psalm which most extols the beauty of the law (Ps. 119) is, in Hebrew, an incredibly structured poem that appeals to the intellect as well as the heart: every stanza is labeled with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in alphabetical order, with all 22 letters represented. Furthermore, every verse of every stanza starts with the letter the stanza represents. How cool is that!]

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2 Comments

  1. Lee; Great quotes, look forward to more. I have a client more importantly, a brother in Christ who works,lives in LA. His wife is struggling with where is God, as they deal with trials. I took the liberty of cutting and pasting a few of your quotes and sent them in an email- pray for Paul, as he draws near to God and that his wife would also cry out to God.

  2. David – I’m glad they were useful! Do check out the whole chapter (and encourage Paul to do so as well) using the link I provided – the chapter is only a couple of pages long – that way you’ll get the full context.

    Matthew Henry’s commentary pointed me to these verse in Hosea when I was studying Romans 2:4 this morning:
    Hosea 2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her.
    Hosea 11:4 I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.

    Oh – and here’s a great post by Chris Gatihi which might also help.

    I’ll pray for Paul and his wife.


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