Men Who Met God
Twelve Life-Changing Encountersby A.W. Tozer, 1986
This book was based on a series of messages delivered in 1960. The audio versions, while of very poor sound quality, are available online and are much preferable to the marginal rendition of the messages presented in this book. The concepts were lifted out of the contexts of the messages they were in, jumbled, shuffled, cropped and clipped, re-worded, reduced, and rearranged into something that barely resembles the original.
For example, here is a transcript of a portion of the first message:
So God was saying to Abraham,Now listen, Abraham. I’m trying to get a message through to you. I’m trying to tell you something, Abraham, and you listen to Me, and here it is: Abraham, you were made in My image and you were designed for one purpose and that is to be a retainer at my court, and that is to be a worshiper at my throne, that is to glorify Me and live in My Presence and rest not day and night to eternity crying ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord God almighty!’ and be happy beyond the power of all mortals to understand. That, Abraham, is what I created you for, don’t forget it! You thought I created you for something else, but you’re wrong. This is what I created you for — to worship Me.
And you know, my friend, that’s what you’re created for. You’re first to be a worshipper. That’s what God made you for. God put a harp in your soul and He’s the only One that can get any music out of it. God put that harp there — that image of Himself there — that you might take it to Him and that He might use it and that He might play on that instrument and bring forth fine music to fill all the heavens above.
So this is what Abraham had to learn — to glorify God.Abraham, only God matters,God was saying ...and I say it to you now. Only God matters at last and if you get everything settled with God and you get God within the compass of your spiritual experience, He’ll untangle everything else. All problems are spiritual problems at bottom. All problems are spiritual and if you get God, everything else will iron itself out for you finally.
This section of the message was rendered in the book in this manner:
God was saying to Abraham,You may have some other idea about the design and purpose for your life, but you are wrong! You were created in My image to worship Me and to glorify Me. If you do not honor this purpose, your life will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.
Abraham, commit your whole life and future into My hands. Let Me as your Creator and God fulfill in you My perfect design. It is My great desire that you become a faithful and delighted worshiper at My throne.— page 23
As you can see, the words Tozer originally spoke with such power and intensity have been reduced to a few lackluster phrases which partially express the meaning, but also add concepts which belong to the editor, not Tozer. And this is the case with the entire book (and, unfortunately, every book compiled by Gerald B. Smith). Tozer spoke to the spirit of a person with words that carry deep meaning in their imagery as well as lexically. Taking the technical meaning of the messages only was a grave mistake as it missed Tozer’s heart, which is the essence that made his messages valuable spiritually. For it is because Tozer’s heart was so closely entwined with God’s heart that his messages were so powerful. His call to seek God was expressed in words that carried the listener into such closeness with the Spirit of God that the very thing he urged was accomplished even as he spoke. But the book can make no such claim. It may give the reader a dim shadow of the overall message, but ultimately it is cold and nearly sterile of any trace of the majesty it purports to represent.
We Preach Christ...and we never apologize for true Christian experience — We have a right to a conscious awareness of a meeting with God. (The basic message of this chapter was mentioned in message 1, but the majority of the chapter is additional material drawn from outside this series.)
I Will Pay Any PriceAbraham was on his face, God was on the throne — [Message 1] We were made to worship God.
God Is All I NeedAbraham’s faith was from the heart and rock-solid — [Message 1] There should be an altar deep within our hearts. (The title of this chapter is misleading, Tozer did not use this phrase nor do I think he subscribed to that error.)
Let the Fresh Waters FlowIsaac reopened the old wells—an object lesson for us — God has provided the water (Christian blessings) but man must dig the wells, as Isaac did. (This chapter does not appear to belong here. The original message from which this chapter was taken is not contained in the Men Who Met God series. In fact, Tozer made it clear that he didn’t think much of Isaac, at least not in connection with the topic of having an encounter with God. While the message of this chapter is a good one, it is not about the conscious awareness of a meeting with God.)
God Is Really HereJacob finds the face of God turned manward — [Message 2] God saw something worthwhile in the man that most people had written off as hopeless.
I Will Not Let Thee GoWounded Jacob is renewed by his hunger for God — There is some question as to the source material for chapters 6 and 8 as well. Some of Tozer’s comments lead one to think that there may have been additional messages for which we no longer have the audio. On the other hand, the tone of these chapters does not match the rest of the messages in the series making them seem out of place even though there are some side comments about direct encounters with God.
Why This Burning Bush?To be God’s man, Moses had to experience God personally — [Messages 3 and 4] This chapter actually follows the outline of the audio message rather closely, although the power and humour of Tozer’s original message have been removed.
The Treasures of EgyptMoses made God his choice, and so should we — God attempted to demonstrate to the Israelites the kind of God that He is.
I Stand Before GodElijah knew the way down is also the way up — [Message 5] This chapter follows the basic outline of the audio message.
I Have Seen Another WorldIsaiah lifts his eyes to gaze on the King of Kings — The invisible world of the spirit and the place of the man of God in it. There is never any contradiction between spirit and reality, only between spirit and matter. The real spiritual world coexists with our world. The physical world and the spiritual world are accessible to one another. (This message seems to fit the theme pretty well, although it unfortunately is missing from the audio set.)
The Heavens Were OpenedIn the worst of times, Ezekiel has a vision of God — [message 7] This chapter follows the basic outline of the audio message.
When Will Revival Come?Revival will come when we know God in living experience — We have something in us that demands to see God. He appears to that in us which is most like Himself. (Contains additional material taken from outside the audio series.)
- Abraham [Download audio (mp3)] — The beating heart of living religion / The ancient fountain of worship / A man who met God in intelligent experience / They spoke to one another / Spiritual experience needs confirmation within ourselves / Experience is conscious awareness of something by somebody / It is our right to be consciously aware of meeting with God / The modern church hears a recording, not God’s voice; sees a painting, not God’s face / Only God matters / Everything is best when it’s fulfilling its design / God made us to be worshipers / All problems are spiritual; get God and everything else will iron itself out for you finally / Meeting God in living encounter changes your perspective
- Jacob Had an Encounter with God [Download audio (mp3)] — The central factor of Jacob’s life: he had an encounter with God / Jacob came from a divided home / Jacob’s parents played favourites / Jacob had character flaws: effeminate, duplicitous, cheater / Jacob seemed hopeless, while Esau seemed like the better person / Jacob was miserable and lonely, the perfect state to be in to recognize the need for God / Before a man can pursue God, God must pursue the man / God was with Jacob all the time, patiently waiting / This is God’s world and He is in it even though we may not know it / God was not ashamed to say
I AM Jacob’s God/ The men who met God had experiences they could not explain, only adore and enjoy / Jacob, the worst became Jacob, the best
- Moses and the Burning Bush - He Met God in a Crisis of Encounter [Download audio (mp3)] — Moses was a great man; prophet, lawgiver, emancipator, leader, statesman, teacher of the ages / He was prepared for greatness; educated and courtly among the Egyptians, schooled among the sheep to listen to the silence and to know himself / One thing he yet needed; a face to face encounter with God / The greatest loss of modern man is the loss of a sense of sacredness / Meeting God in a vivid personal experience; a crisis of encounter / We see God more vividly with our inner eyes, our real eyes / God revealed Himself as fire / God shows us what He is like; He is like fire / God no longer just an idea to Moses / Two kinds of knowledge: description, experience / Tragic breakdown in fundamental circles: doctrine has replaced experience / The Bible is not an end in itself; it is a path leading us to God / Five lessons / 1. The Lordship of Jesus; the fire dwelt in the bush; Christ in us, the hope of glory; the indwelling Christ; Committed, no backing out / 2. Purified by fire; Holiness is God dwelling in the human heart, purity is by the Presence of the indwelling God / 3. The bush was transfigured by the flame; God gives a person significance by dwelling within him / 4. The bush was protected by the fire; nobody can hurt a Christian while God is in him; protection is by the indwelling fire / 5. It became beautiful in the fire; attractiveness is the great and mighty need of religion; saintliness is attractive; we are not called to be great, we are called to be beautiful
- Moses on the Mount [Download audio (mp3)] — We can’t grasp God intellectually, we can only experience Him / We need to know God other than by hearsay / Spiritual experience should be the outgrowth of doctrine, but we have made doctrine terminal / God wants His people to be holy, but holiness is never separated from God (This audio message was a reiteration of the five lessons from the end of message three)
- Elijah -
The Lord Liveth Before Whom I Stand[Download audio (mp3)] — Elijah had many undesirable qualities and lacked many desirable qualities / Why does the grace of God operate toward some people and not toward others? / Elijah had found the ultimate reality, the absolute in the midst of the relative / The fixed absolute is a Being who calls us His children / If you can find God in the midst of a shifting changing world, it’s better than if you try to rise beyond it and try to find God in a monastery or chapel / Elijah didn’t find religion, he found God / This man’s spiritual encounter was tested in the fire of living / It is the work of God to make the Word flesh over and over again / God heard Elijah because Elijah heard God
- Elijah and the Fire on the Altar [Download audio (mp3)] — This audio is included in this series by mistake, it would appear. The message about Isaiah was replaced by one which uses another episode from the story of Elijah as a starting point. The message of this sermon clearly does not feature a man who met God. Instead, it discusses the plight of those who choose to follow Baal — People of the true religion often don’t believe it, while those who hold to a false religion usually believe fervently / If you’re going to be a Christian, you’re going to have to stand against the vogue / There is a good, hard way and God calls you to it, the way of a soldier / When you’re led astray, the person who leads you astray leaves you in the lurch / Baal offers fun, wealth, fame, and success but at the last, these are not enough / If you don’t get delivered from your possessions, they’ll curse you; if you get delivered from them, you can have them and you’ll be all right / Make all you can, then give it away / At the last, you want inward cleansing and forgiveness of sin and those are the things that The World does not offer
- Ezekiel - You Must Meet God [Download audio (mp3)] — Three things that are always the same about men who meet God: they all have a sense of God and the Holy; the details of the experience were sharp and clear to the person who experienced them; though brief, the effect lasts a lifetime / Textualism is lifting up the text while forgetting the God who wrote the text / Christianity is never easy, but there’s joy in it / The world’s greatest calamity: the closed heavens, men are without God / Anything worth having, you’ll get from God / Summary: You meet God, that’s religion; you must meet God, that’s the imperative of religion; you can meet God, that’s the Christian message; how to meet God, that’s the gospel / The Christian life that you can have is so much better than the Christian life that you do have