Having Paul's Theology AND Paul's Heart

by A.W.Tozer on January 22, 2014
                          Having Paul's Theology AND Paul's Heart
                     by A.W. Tozer  
Suppose some angelic being who had since creation known the deep, still rapture of dwelling in the divine Presence, would appear on earth and live awhile among us Christians. Don't you imagine he might be astonished at what he saw ?

He might for instance, wonder how we can be contented with our poor, commonplace level of spiritual experience. In our hands, after all, is a message from God not only inviting us into His holy fellowship but also giving us detailed instructions about how to get there. After feasting on the bliss of intimate communion with God, how could such a being understand the casual, easily satisfied spirit which characterises most evangelicals today ? And if our hypothetical being ever knew such blazing souls as Moses,David,Isaiah, Paul, John, Stephen, Augustine, Rolle, Rutherford, Newton, Branerd and Faber, he might logically conclude that 20th century Christianity had misunderstood some vital doctrine of the faith somewhere and had stopped short of a true acquaintance with God.

What if he sat in on the daily sessions of an average Bible conference and noted the extravagant claims we Christians make for ourselves as believers in Christ, and compared them with our actual spiritual experiences ? He would surely conclude that there was a serious contradiction between what we think we are and what we are in reality. The bold claims that we are sons of God, that we are risen in Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places, that we are indwelt by the life-giving Spirit, that we are members of the Body of Christ and children of the new creation, are negated by our attitudes, our behavior, and most of all, by our lack of fervor and by the absence of a spirit of worship within us.
Perhaps if our heavenly visitor pointed out the great disparity between our doctrinal beliefs and our lives, he might be dismissed with a smiling explanation that it is but the normal difference between our sure standing and our variable state. Certainly then, he would be appalled that as beings once made in the image of God, we could allow ourselves thus to play with words and trifle with our own souls.
Significant, isn't it, that of all who hold the evangelical position, those Christians who lay the greatest store by Paul are often the least Pauline in spirit. The is a vast and important difference between a Pauline creed and a Pauline life.  Tens of thousands of believers who pride themselves on their understanding of Romans and Ephesians cannot conceal the sharp spiritual contradiction that exists between their hearts and the heart of Paul.

The difference may be stated this way :Paul was a seeker and a finder and a seeker still. They seek and find and seek no moreAfter "accepting" Christ, they tend to substitute logic for life, and doctrine for experienceFor them the truth becomes a veil to hide the face of God; for Paul it was a door into His very Presence. Paul's spirit was that of the loving explorer. He was a prospector among the hills of God, searching for the gold of personal spiritual acquaintance.
Many today stand by Paul's doctrine who will not follow him in his passionate yearning for divine reality. Can these be said to be Pauline in any but the most nominal sense ?
With the words "That I may know Him" Paul answered the whining claims of the flesh and raced towards perfection. All gain he counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, and if to know Him better meant suffering or even death, it was all one to Paul. To him, conformity to Christ was cheap at any price. he panted after God as the hart pants after the waterbrook, and calm reason had little to do with the way he felt.

Indeed a score of cautious and ignoble excuses might have been advanced to slow him down, and we have heard them all. "Watch out for your health" , a prudent friend warns. "There is a danger that you become mentally unbalanced" , says another. "You'll get a reputation of being an extremist" cries a third, and a sober Bible teacher with more theology than thirst, hurries to assure him that there is nothing more to seek. "You are accepted in the beloved" he says, and "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. What more do you want? You have only to believe and to wait for the days of His triumph."

So Paul would be exhorted of he lived among us today, for so in substance have I heard the holy aspirations of the saints damped down and smothered as they leaped to meet God in an increasing degree of intimacy. But knowing Paul as we do, it is safe to assume that he would ignore this low counsel of expediency and press onward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And we do well to follow him.
When the apostle cries "That I may know Him", he uses the word know, not in its intellectual but in its experiential sense.
We must look for meaning, not to the mind but to the Heart. Theological knowledge is knowledge about God. While this is indispensable it is not sufficient. It bears the same relation to man's spiritual need as well does to the need of his physical body. It is not the rock-lined pit for which the dusty traveller longs, but the sweet, cool water that flows up from it. It is not intellectual knowledge about God that quenches man's ancient heart-thirst, but the very Person and Presence of God Himself. These come to us through Christian doctrine, but they are more than doctrine. Christian truth is designed to lead us to God, not to serve as a substitute for God.
From "The Deeper Life by A.W. Tozer, published by Sovereign World Limited.