Don’t Settle for Spiritual Mediocrity

A. W. Tozer
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I blame faulty exposition of the New Testament for stopping many Christians dead in their tracks, causing them to shrug off any suggestion that there is still spiritual advance and progress beckoning them on.

The position of some would-be teachers which insists that when you come into the kingdom of God by faith you immediately have all there is in the kingdom of God is as deadly as cyanide. It kills all hope of spiritual advance and causes many to adopt what I call “the creed of contentment.”

There is always real joy in the heart of the person who has become a child of God.

Why should a Christian settle down as soon as he has come to know the Lord?  I would have to reply that he must have received faulty counsel and bad exposition of New Testament truth. There is always real joy in the heart of the person who has become a child of God, and proper and sound teaching of the Word of God will awake desire within him to move forward in spiritual adventure with Christ.

But the would-be teacher may tell the new Christian, “You are now complete in Him. The Bible says that and it means that you should just be glad that you are complete and there is nothing more you will ever need!” From that time on any effort to forge ahead for God is put down as some sort of fanaticism. This kind of exposition has brought many Christians into a place of false contentment—satisfied to stay right where they are.

But not so with the Apostle Paul who amazes and humbles us as we read in the third chapter of Philippians of his earnest desire to press forward and to become a special kind of Christian.

With great desire, he wrote: “That I may gain Christ”—and yet he already had Christ!

With obvious longing he said, “That I may be found in Him”—and yet he was already in Him. We go to Paul more than to any other writer in the Bible to learn the doctrine of being in Christ and yet Paul humbly and intensely breathed this great desire, “I want to know Christ,” when he already knew Him!

It was this same Paul who gladly testified, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Yet, because he could never be standing still, he further testified, “But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12b).

How utterly foreign that is to the spirit of modern orthodoxy! How foreign to the bland assurances that because we can quote the text of Scripture we must have the experience.

Too many of us are complete strangers to the desire and the spirit which drove the Apostle Paul forward day by day.

This strange textualism that assumes that because we can quote chapter and verse we possess the content and experience is a grave hindrance to spiritual progress. I think it is one of the deadliest, most chilling breezes that ever blew across the church of God!

Too many of us are complete strangers to the desire and the spirit which drove the Apostle Paul forward day by day. “That I may gain—that I may know—that I may be found in Him”—these were the words that drove Paul. But now, we are often told that we “have” everything, and that we should just be thankful and “go on to cultivate.” I say that the two attitudes are foreign to one another. They do not belong together.

We are told to study the biblical passages in the Greek. We find out what they mean in English. Then we say, “Well, isn’t that fine—isn’t that fine!” And that is all we do about it. But Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

For Further Reading:

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