Category Archives: Our Life Group

Tozer’s Jesus – 7. Miracle Worker

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV)

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered Jesus as a miracle worker guided by the seventh chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “Miracle Worker.”

In our previous meeting, we’d agreed to assume that everyone would have read the chapter before the meeting and thus to limit our group study to a discussion of the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. Accordingly, we didn’t go through the chapter. However, since the first half of the chapter and first Reflect question were based on Tozer’s view that Jesus worked his miracles as a Spirit-anointed man rather than as the Son of God, we discussed that view before we discussed the Reflect questions. Here, though, since you haven’t read the chapter, I’ll summarize it before considering the Reflect questions.

After opening the chapter by quoting Acts 10:38 (see above), Tozer considers the anointing of Jesus and of us in two sections, the first without a title and the second called “The Anointing Is No Secret.”

The Significance of the Anointing

In the first half of this section, Tozer argues that Jesus didn’t work miracles in the strength of \his deity but in the strength of his Spirit-anointed humanity. In support of his claim, he quotes Acts 10:38 (quoted above). In our discussion of this view, we referred also to John 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” and concluded that Jesus’s deity was also involved in his miracles.

In the second half of the section Tozer considers the significance of the anointing. He opens by referring to Hebrews 1:9, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (a quotation of Psalms 45:7; the writer of Hebrews applies it to the Son, Jesus). Then he explains that in the Old Testament men with special ministries‒priests, kings, and prophets‒were anointed with a specially prepared holy oil having a unique fragrance. Finally he asserts that when the Holy Spirit came in the New Testament His presence fulfilled that fragrance, supporting his assertion by quoting Acts 2:4; 4:31; 7:55; and 10:44.

The Anointing Is No Secret

I am suggesting‒indeed, I am stating‒that no one among us, man or woman, can be genuinely anointed with the Spirit and hope to keep it a secret. His or her anointing will be evident. (Jesus, page 68)

Tozer’s opening the chapter by quoting Acts 10:38 (see above) and asserting “If we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives, we should be able to do what Jesus, the Son of Man, was able to do in His earthly ministry” (Jesus, page 65) suggests that he thinks that Christians who are anointed by the Spirit should be able to work miracles. However he opens this section by suggesting that the evidence of a Christian’s being anointed by the Holy Spirit is changed behaviour.

Tozer then returns to Hebrews 1:9 (quoted above), saying that it indicates what kind of persons we must be to receive a full anointing from God‒lovers of righteousness and haters of wickedness. He closes the section and chapter by asserting:

It is our imperfection in loving the good and hating the veil that prevents us from receiving the Holy Spirit in complete measure. God withholds it from us because we are unwilling to follow Jesus in His great poured-out love for what is right and His pure and holy hatred of what is evil. (Jesus, page 70)

Reflect Questions

1. Why is it significant that Jesus, as a man, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and not just of His own divine power?
We agreed that it is significant that Jesus, as a man, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and not just of His own divine power because it implies that all Christians should be able to perform miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. However we observed that other conditions may apply, noting Mark 9:29, “This kind can come out only by prayer [and fasting].” I noted that Tozer’s including “just” in the question indicates that, despite his affirmation that Jesus performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, he recognizes that Jesus’ divine power also played a part in them.

2. How does the New Testament depiction of Jesus differ from the way He is often portrayed in our world today?
We referred to Tozer’s saying, “When Jesus was on earth, He was not the passive, colorless, spineless person He is sometimes made out to be in paintings and literature. He was a strong man, a man of iron will. He was able to love with an intensity of love that burned Him up. He was able to hate with the strongest degree of hatred against everything that was wrong and evil and selfish and sinful.” (Tozer, Jesus, page 69)

3. How different would your life look if you received a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit?
This being a personal question, I won’t refer to our group discussion of it. However I will include my response to it in an earlier family study of the chapter, “If I were to receive a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit, I would manifest the fruit of the Spirit more consistently, would exercise some of the gifts of the Spirit, and would be a stronger witness of the Gospel.”

In that family study, one of the participants concluded her response to question 3 by saying, “In reading this chapter, my question is are only some people given the gift of healing, or was God’s plan that we should all have that ability‒and to what end?” I replied, “On the basis of 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, I think that only some people are given the gift of healing.”

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Tozer’s Jesus ‒ 6. The Center of All

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered how Jesus Christ is the centre of all guided by the sixth chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “The Center of All.”

Tozer introduces the chapter by quoting Colossians 3:11, “Christ is all, and in all” (ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). He then compares Jesus to the hub of a wheel around which everything revolves and observes, “When Jesus Christ has His place as hub, we are all equally close or equally far from Him” (Jesus, page 57).

The chapter contains four sections besides the brief introduction: Center of Geography, Center of Time, Center of Humanity, and Anyone Can Reach Him. We considered each of them and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said in discussing the questions.

Center of Geography

At the time of the Crusades many believed that merit could be gained by making a pilgrimage to where Jesus was born and even more to where he was buried. And there is still great interest in being where Jesus had been.

Tozer describes this interest as being “spiritually obtuse” and cites what Jesus told the woman in Samaria, “I tell you that neither in this mountain or in Jerusalem do men worship the Father, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him who worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Tozer’s summary of John 4:21-24; Jesus, page 58).

Similarly geography doesn’t mean anything in our relationship to Jesus. As Tozer puts it, “Jesus is the hub and geography is all around Him” (Jesus, page 59).

Center of Time

It is good to meditate on the life and ministry of Jesus when he was on earth. We sing a song that says:

I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children as lambs to His fold,
I should like to have been with Him then!
(quoted in Jesus, page 59)

However, as Tozer observes, “There were hypocrites and Pharisees and opposers, murderers, and unbelievers in the time of Christ! You would not have found things any better two thousand years ago” (Jesus, page 60). And, as he also observes, the people who were with Jesus then were not as well off as they were ten days after they left him, for “ten days after He departed, He sent the Holy Spirit, and the disciples who understood only in part suddenly knew the plan of God as in a blaze of light” (Jesus, pages 59-60),

Center of Humanity

In this section Tozer demonstrates that with Jesus Christ there are no favoured races, levels of education, or ages. Here are a few quotes from what he says:

He is the Son of all races no matter what the color or tongue.
It is just as near to Jesus from the jungle as it is from the halls of ivy.
The distance we are from God is no greater when we are ninety than when we were youngsters.
(Jesus, pages 60-61)

Anyone Can Reach Him

Both a child with little experience in life and an old person with wide experience can reach Jesus. “Jesus Christ stand in the middle of life experiences and anyone can reach Him, no matter who he is!” (Jesus, page 62)

The superscription on Jesus’ cross was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. “Someone has pointed out that in doing this, God had taken in the whole world. Hebrew stands for religion, Greek for philosophy, and Latan for Rome’s military prowess. All the possibilities of human experience on a world scale were taken in.” (Jesus, page 63)

Why then doesn’t everybody come? Tozer suggests these reasons: inexcusable stubbornness, unbelief, preoccupation with other things, and not believing that we really need him.

Tozer concludes: “The most important thing about you and Jesus is that you can reach Him from where you are!” (Jesus, page 64)

Reflect Questions

1. How is it that Jesus is the center of all things? How does this knowledge impact your life?
We discussed how Jesus is the centre of geography, time, and humanity (see above) and said that this impacts our lives because it assures us that we can reach Jesus wherever we are whenever we want to. (In an earlier study of the chapter by my family, we also discussed in connection with “Centre of Humanity” the special role of the Jews in the Old Testament and in prophecies of the end-times.).

2. Why do you think it is so difficult to reach out for the help of Christ in everyday life?
We suggested several reasons including the four Tozer gives for why not everybody comes to Jesus (see under “Anyone Can Reach Him” above).

Tozer’s Jesus ‒ 5. The Mystery of the Incarnation

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). John goes on to identify “the Word” with “the only Son from the Father … Jesus Christ” (John 1:14, 17). We call the Son’s becoming flesh and dwelling among us as a human his “incarnation.”

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered the incarnation guided by the fifth chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “The Mystery of the Incarnation.”

Tozer introduces the chapter thus: “We are told that the Word was made flesh. May I point out that within the statement of these few simple words is one of the deepest mysteries of human thought” (Jesus, page 47). He goes on to explain that there are only two things in the universe, God and not God, and that there is a “wide, yawning gulf” (Jesus, page 47) between them.

The chapter contains three sections besides a brief introduction: Bridging the Gulf, No Compromise, and The Lost Presence. We considered each of them and discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said about them.

Bridging the Gulf

Tozer opens this section by asserting that how God could bridge the great gulf between God and not God is a profound mystery. He reminds us that there are other orders of beings between God and mankind and observes that we would suppose that if God were to step down He would stop with the angels or seraphim instead of coming down to our order. About God’s doing so, Paul declares, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness” (1 Tim. 3:16).

Tozer concludes the section by repeating John Wesley’s advice that we should distinguish an act from the way in which it is done and not reject the incarnation just because we don’t know how it was done and observing:

I think also that it is very becoming for us to enter into the presence of God reverently, bowing our heads and singing His praises, and acknowledging His loving acts on our behalf even with our words, “It is true, O God, even if we do not know or understand how You brought it all top pass” (Jesus, pages 49-50).

No Compromise

Tozer opens this section by asking, “How much, then, can we know of this great mystery?” (Jesus, page 50)

Tozer identifies two things that we can know for sure about it:
(1) We can know that God did not compromise Himself. The mythical gods of the nations often compromised themselves in the tales that were told about them. However the incarnation was accomplished without God’s making Himself less than God in any way. Instead of God’s being degraded, man was elevated.
(2) We can know that God can never back out of His bargain. The incarnation remains a fact forever.

Tozer illustrates these facts with God’s walking with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Because God had made man in His own image, He could commune with him without degrading Himself. But Adam’s sin broke the communion and God sent him from the garden.

The Lost Presence

Tozer opens this section by observing that after Adam lost the presence of God God never dwelt with men again in the same way until “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Tozer devotes the rest of the section to explaining how “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18) shows that Jesus Christ was both the Son at the Father’s side and human. It was as a human that he cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). And it was as the Son that he cried, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)

Tozer concludes: “So the cross did not divide the Godhead‒nothing can ever do that. One forever, indivisible, the substance undivided, three persons unconfounded” (Jesus, page 55)

Reflect Questions

1. How is the incarnation of God the Son different from the legends of Roman, Greek, and Scandinavian gods?
Tozer observes that the gods of the Roman, Greek, and Scandinavian legends could and often did compromise themselves but the incarnation of God the Son was accomplished without any compromise of his deity.

2. What happened to humanity when God became man?
Tozer observes that the incarnation takes man up into God (rather than degrsding God).

3. When God the Son became man and suffered on the cross, was the Godhead divided? Why or why not?
Saying that it was the human Jesus, not the divine Son, who cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Tozer claims that when God the Son became man and suffered on the cross, the Godhead was not divided because nothing can do that (see above under “The Lost Presence”). Although we appreciated Tozer’s position, we also felt that Jesus’ cry indicated a temporary loss of contact between God the Father and God the Son despite their being of one substance.

Tozer’s Jesus ‒ 4. The Revelation of God


What is the essence of God’s message to us?

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the fourth chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “The Revelation of God.”

Tozer opens his consideration of the question by quoting and commenting on “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV). He observes that, although when the writer of Hebrews wrote this God had been speaking in many ways for some 4000 years, most people were alienated from Him and that that situation might have continued. However in His love and wisdom God spoke again‒this time through Jesus, His Son‒and completed His revelation in the Old Testament.

The chapter contains two sections besides the introduction: “God’s Message in the Past” and “God’s Message to Us.” We considered each of them and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said about them.

God’s Message in the Past

Hebrews was written to confirm Jewish Christians in their faith in Jesus, the Messiah-Saviour, showing that he is superior to angels, Moses, and the Levitical priests. It lets us know that while our Christian faith grew out of Judaism it isn’t dependent on it. Thus if Judaism should cease to exist, Christianity would continue to stand, resting on the same living, speaking God that Judaism rested on.

Tozer emphasizes the uniformity and yet ever-widening elements in God’s spoken messages in the past from His speaking in early Genesis of a warfare between the serpent and the Seed of the woman to His giving the Law to Moses and telling of the coming Prophet who would be like him but superior to him. Between them Tozer notes God’s messages to Abel and Cain, to Noah, and Abraham.

God’s Message to Us

To us God says, “Jesus Christ is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Tozer, Jesus, page 42). But many don’t want to hear what God is saying to us through Jesus. Why not? Because, according to Tozer, God’s message in Jesus is, as it is throughout the Bible, a moral pronouncement. He quotes in this regard what Jesus said in John 12:47-48: “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

Fundamental to human morality is acceptance of the sovereignty of God and of His last word to us, Jesus Christ. We may not like what Jesus says about us and our sin but, as Peter told Jesus in John 6:68-69, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Tozer concludes:

This is the Savior whom God is offering. He is the eternal Son, equal to the Father in the Godhead, co-eternal and of one substance with the Father.
He is speaking. We should listen! (Tozer, Jesus, page 45)

Reflect Questions

1. How is it that divine revelation, whether from the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, is always the same?

We found the question ambiguous because it could mean “Why is the divine revelation always the same?” or could mean “In what way is the divine revelation always the same?” If it means the former, the answer would be that the three Persons of the Trinity are always in full agreement with each other. If it means the latter, the answer would be, according to Tozer, that it points to Jesus Christ and the salvation from sin that he would bring.

2. What is the essence of God’s message in Jesus?

Again we had two answers. One was that it is that we came from God and must return to Him by admitting Jesus into our lives as Lord and Saviour. The other was this quote from Tozer, “Jesus Christ is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Jesus, page 42).

3. Are there any ways in which you have tried to get a “second opinion” about |Jesus or His message?

All of us said that we hadn’t tried to get a “second opinion” about Jesus or his message. However we appreciated this answer to the question in a discussion by the Hunter Family Bible Study group at Facebook: “Tozer said we shouldn’t try to get a ‘second opinion’ about Jesus and His message. To me, each time I read what other Christians say about the Bible, I am getting a second opinion.”

Tozer’s Jesus ‒ 3. Creator, Sustainer, Benefactor

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).

What is the glory of the Son?

Thursday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the third chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “Creator, Sustainer, Benefactor.” We began by proposing answers to the question and reading the introduction to the chapter.

Our proposed answers included Jesus’s miracles and his glorious appearance on occasion. In introducing the chapter Tozer asserts that the glory of the Son is “the truth that God has never done anything apart from Jesus Christ” (Jesus, page 31) and that this includes not only his being Lord and Saviour but also his being Creator, Sustainer, and Benefactor.

I observed that most commentators on John 1:14 note that in other places John identifies the glory of the Son with Jesus’ signs or miracles (2:11) and with his death and resurrection (13:31). I also observed that although John doesn’t describe the transfiguration, some commentators speculate that he is thinking here of it.

The chapter contains three sections besides the introduction: The Same God, Beholding His Glory, and Of His Fullness. We considered each of them and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. I’ll summarize each of the sections, present the Reflect questions, and note some of what we said in discussing the questions.

The Same God

Tozer opens the section by quoting part of John 1:17, “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” He goes on to observe that in referring to the passage he isn’t employing a contrast between the Old and New Testaments, explaining:

The idea that the Old Testament is a book of the law and the New Testament is a book of grace is based on a completely false theory. There is certainly as much about grace and mercy and love in the Old Testament as there is in the New. There is more about hell, more about judgment and the fury of God burning with fire upon sinful men in the New Testament than in the Old. (Jesus, page 32).

Tozer devotes most of the rest of the section to illustrating grace in the Old Testament and law in the New Testament. His point is:

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. The Father in the Old Testament is the Father in the New Testament. Furthermore, the Christ who was made flesh to dwell among us is the Christ who walked through all the pages of the Old Testament. (Jesus, page 32)

However in the middle of the section Tozer admits that there is a contrast between what Moses could do and what Jesus could do, explaining:

All that Moses could do was to command righteousness. In contrast, only Jesus Christ produces righteousness. All that Moses could do was to forbid us to sin. In contrast, Jesus Christ came to save us from sin. Moses could not save, but Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior” (Jesus, page 32).

Beholding His Glory

Tozer opens the section by observing:

The apostle John speaks for all of us also when he writes of the eternal Son and reminds us that we beheld his glory. It is right that we should enquire, “What was this glory? Was it the glory of His works?” (Jesus, page 34)

Then he refers to several of Jesus’ miracles, beginning with his turning water into wine and concluding with his raising the daughter of Jairus.

He closes the section by asserting:

The works of our Lord were always dramatic works. Always they were amazing works. We wonder if John had these things in mind when he said, “We beheld his glory,” bu I think not. I think John had a much greater glory in mind. We can never know all of the wonderful works of healing and mercy that Jesus performed while on the earth, but we should fix our eyes on His glory, which was far greater than the miracles and works of wonder. (Jesus, pages 34-35)

Of His Fullness

Tozer opens the section by referring to John 1:16, “And from his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace.” He goes on to explains that this doesn’t mean that any of us has received all of God’s fullness. Instead “[i]t means that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, is the only medium through which God dispenses His benefits to His creation” (Jesus, page 35).

Tozer devotes the second half of the section to a thought that he had one day, “it could have been easy for God to have loved us and never told us” (Jesus, page 36). After quoting John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known,” he continues:

The eternal Son came to tell us what the silence never told us. He came to tell us what not even Moses could tell us. He came to tell and to show us that God loves us and that He constantly cares for us. He came to tell us that God has a gracious plan and that He is carrying out that pl\an. Before it is all finished and consummated, there will be a multitude that no man can number, redeemed, out of every tongue and tribe and nation. (Jesus, page 36)

Reflect Questions

1. What implications does Christ’s lordship, as Creator of the universe, have for your life? We said that it implied that we should put Jesus and his will first in our lives.

2. Does knowing that Jesus is the same God as the God of the Old Testament change your perception of God the Father? Our answers varied, my saying that it made me see God the Father as more compassionate.

3. If there is no opposition between the Old and New Testaments, what does that say about the relationship between the Father and the Son? We said that if there is no opposition between the Old and New Testaments, then the Father and the Son are in agreement with each other.

4. How have you received grace from Jesus? In what ways does Jesus want you to receive His grace in your life right now?

A. W. Tozer’s Jesus – 2. God’s Express Image

What is God like?

Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered that question guided by the second chapter of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017), “God’s Express Image.”

Tozer opens the chapter by pointing to Hebrews 1:3 as providing the ultimate clue as to what God is like. The verse begins, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (ESV).  “He” is God’s Son (1:2), Jesus, and thus tells us that Jesus is the glorious light of God and the exact representation of His character. In other words, Jesus is what God is like and, as Tozer concludes, we no longer need to ask, “What is God like?” Note that while Tozer claims that “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” affirms that Jesus is God, I think that it just says that Jesus is the spitting image of God (the Father). However, I certainly agree with Tozer that Jesus is God.

The chapter contains five sections besides the introduction. We considered at least a part of each section and then discussed the Reflect questions at the end of the chapter. These are the parts which we considered:

(Convinced about Christ) Bible-believing Christians … may have different opinions about the mode of baptism, church polity, or the return of the Lord. But they agree on the deity of the eternal Son. Jesus Christ is of one substance with the Father‒begotten, not created (Nicene Creed). In our defense of this truth we must be very careful and very bold‒belligerent, if need be. (page 23)

(God Became Flesh) When we say that Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, we are saying that Christ is the shining forth of all that God is. Yes, He is the shining forth, the effulgence. When God expressed Himself, it was in Christ Jesus. Christ was all and in all. He is the exact representation of God’s person. (page 25)

(God’s Express Image) The words express image, of course, have their origin in the pressed-upon-wax seal that authenticated a dignitary’s document or letter. The incarnate Jesus Christ gives shape and authenticity to deity. When the invisible God became visible, He was Jesus Christ. When the God who could not be seen or touched came to dwell among us, He was Jesus Christ. (page 26)

(Religions Have No Answers) Often enough we have been warned that the morality of any nation or civilization will follow its concept of God. A parallel truth is less often heard: When a church begins to think impurely and inadequately about God, decline sets in. (page 29)

(Jesus Is What God Is Like) God’s revelation of Himself is complete in Jesus Christ, the Son. No longer need we ask, “What is God like?” Jesus is God. He has translated God into terms we can understand. (page 30)

These are the Reflect questions along with a summary of what we said in our Life group discussion of them:

1. What does it mean that Jesus reflects God’s glory? After we proposed various answers to the question, I noted two possible answers given by Tozer in the chapter: “Jesus is of one substance with the Father–begotten, not created” (page 23) and “Christ is the shining forth of all that God is…the exact representation of God’s person” (page 25).

2. Does knowing that Jesus is the express image of God change the way you view God? Although all of us felt that our studying the chapter hadn’t changed the way that we viewed God, we agreed that knowing that Jesus is the express image of God gives us a clearer picture of what God is like.

3. How in your own search for God might you have forgotten what He is like? We didn’t think that our search for God made us forget what He is like. However I suggested that possibly in trying to analyse God we might lose track of what is important about Him.

A. W. Tozer’s Jesus – 1. The Self-Existent God

Yesterday evening our church’s small group which meets in our home held its second meeting for 2017-18. In its first meeting, held a week earlier, we talked about our plans for the year, which I summarized as follows in a handout to those attending:

Welcome to the first meeting of our Life group for 2017-18. The group meets in the home of Bob and Leonora Hunter, 1 Brown’s Heights, at 7:00 every Thursday evening. The main part of each meeting is the study, which Ray Noble and Bob alternate in leading. Ray leads it in a Voice of Martyrs’ study and Bob leads it in a Bible study (see the next paragraph). Singing led by Leonora precedes the study, and prayer for needs and a lunch follow it.

In Bob’s turns in leading the study we’ll work through Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017). The book contains seventeen selections from Tozer’s writings on the person and work of God the Son. Its aim is to encourage us to recognize Christ for who He is and to daily submit to Him as Lord and Saviour. It can be obtained at Religious Book and Bible House.

Bob plans to share the study at his blog, Bob’s Corner. The morning after we study each chapter, he’ll summarize the chapter and our discussion  of the reflection questions asked at the end of it. Previous studies by our group which Bob shared at Bob’s Corner are Ephesians 6:10-20, The Problem of Pain, Prayer, Pentecostal Doctrine, and the Parables of Jesus. See https://opentheism.wordpress.com/category/our-life-group.

The first chapter of the book is called “The Self-Existent God.” Its text is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word … “ and it is divided into four parts: an introduction, “God Does Not Need Anything,” “Before Creation,” and “God’s Eternal Love,”

The introduction observes that although everything around us has a cause, if we could somehow go back in time before creation we would come to a point where there was nothing but God: “God‒self-sufficient, uncreated, unborn, unmade‒God alone, the living and eternal and self-existent God” (p. 11). It emphasizes that compared to God everything else is insignificant and that He doesn’t need anything from us.

“God Does Not Need Anything” develops the idea that God doesn’t need anything we have, His having created us and thus not depending on us. If He did, He wouldn’t be omnipotent, sovereign, omniscient, or self-existent, all qualities that we recognize Him as having. The section also brings out that pre-creation wasn’t a void, the triune God’s being there and already making redemptive plans for us.

“Before Creation” refers to Ephesians 1:4 and 1 Peter 1:2 to show that the acts of creation in the beginning weren’t God’s first activity, His choosing and foreordaining us before creation of the world. In connection with this Tozer refers to an item that he wrote called “We Travel an Appointed Way,” noting that in it he was just saying that our heavenly Father goes before us and not that God foreordains everything. He then considers the beginning involved in creation‒matter, space, time, and spirit, the last so that there might be creatures who were conscious of God Himself.

“God’s Eternal Love” reiterates that God doesn’t need us and points out that as a result only we lose if we choose not to follow Him. However even fallen and hell-bound people are dear to Him and so He offers them salvation. Tozer concludes, “God made us for Himself: that is the first and last thing that can be said about human existence and whatever more we add is but commentary” (p. 20).

The compilers of the book ask three Reflect Questions on the chapter. Here they are along with a summary of what we said in our Life group discussion of them:

1. How would intentionally recognizing God’s eternal and self-existent nature impact the way you live your day-to-day life? Intentionally recognizing God’s eternal and self-existent nature would make us realize how insignificant we and what we do are compared to Him.

2. If God doesn’t need anything, then why did he create us? Tozer says that God created us “in order that there might be creatures conscious of God Himself.” We suggested that God created us to love and worship Him.

3. If God is eternal and unchanging, then what does that mean about His love for us? God’s being eternal and unchanging means that he always has and always will love us.