The Necessity of Encounter With God

by A.W.Tozer on September 23, 2013

The Necessity of Encounter With God
by A.W. Tozer

            We are in tune with the plain teachings of the Bible when we attach
            great importance to genuine Christian experience. But I will take
            immediate objection to the charge, "Tozer preaches experience!" I do
            not preach experience. I preach Christ. That is my calling, and I
            will always be faithful to that calling.

            Nevertheless, I insist that the effective preaching of Jesus Christ,
            rightly understood, will produce spiritual experience in Christian
            believers. Moreover, if Christian preaching does not  produce
            spiritual experience and maturing in the believer, the preaching is
            not being faithful to the Christ revealed in the Scriptures!

            Let me say it again in another way. The Christ of the Bible is not
            rightly known until there is an experience of Him within the
            believer, for our Savior and Lord offers Himself to human

            Our shortcoming in spiritual experience is our tendency to believe
            without confirmation. God Himself does not need to confirm anything
            with His being. But we are not God. We are humans, and in matters
            of our faith we need confirmation within ourselves.

            Why are so many Christian believers ineffective, anemic,
            disappointed, discouraged? I think the answer is that we need
            confirmation within ourselves, and we are not getting it.

            I have no doubt that God, in love and grace and mercy, awaits to
            confirm His presence among those who will truly hunger and thirst
            after righteousness. For a long while I have been on record
            insisting that true spiritual experience is conscious awareness,
            illustrated early in the Old Testament by Abram's personal
            realization and knowledge of the presence of God.

            In the Christian Church, genuine spiritual experience goes back to
            the apostles---actually back to our Lord Himself. I do not refer to
            a dream while a person sleeps. I do not refer to something a person
            has buried in his or her subconsciousness. I refer to a conscious
            intelligence, an awareness.

            The human personality has a right to be consciously aware of a
            meeting with God. There will be a spiritual confirmation, an inward
            knowledge or witness.

            I repeat: Experience is conscious awareness. This kind of
            confirmation and witness was taught and treasured by the great souls
            throughout the ages.

            Conscious awareness of the presence of God! I defy any theologian or
            teacher to take that away from the believing church of Jesus Christ. 
            But be assured they will try. And I refer not just to the liberal
            teachers. God has given us the Bible for a reason. That reason is so
            it can lead us to meet God in Jesus Christ in a clear, sharp
            encounter that will burn on in our hearts forever and ever!

            Genuine Christian experience must always include an encounter with
            God Himself. The spiritual giants of old were those who at some time
            became acutely conscious of the presence of God. They maintained
            that consciousness for the rest of their lives.

            The first encounter may have been one of terror, as when "an horror
            of great darkness" fell upon Abraham or as when Moses at the burning
            bush hid his face because he afraid to look upon God. But reading
            on, we learn that this fear soon lost its terror and changed rather
            to a delightful awe. Finally, it leveled off into a reverent sense
            of complete nearness to God. The essential point is this: These were
            men who met and experienced God!

            Is it not that indeed they had become friends of God? Is it not that
            they walked in conscious communion with the real Presence and
            addressed their prayers to God with artless conviction that they
            were truly addressing Someone actually there?

            The Spirit of God has compelled me to preach and write much about
            the believer's conscious union with Christ -- a union that must be
            felt and experienced. I will never be through talking about the
            union of the soul with the Savior, the conscious union of the
            believer's heart with Jesus. Remember, I am not talking about a
            theological union only. I am speaking also of a conscious union, a
            union that is felt and experienced.

            For men and women who have met God, we may say that the sun --
            the Son -- has come up in their hearts, and His warmth and light have
            given them a distinguishing radiance. They have the inner witness.

            Perhaps you will agree with me when I say, sadly, that the average
            evangelical Christian is without this radiance. Instead of an inner
            witness, he or she too often is found substituting logical
            conclusions drawn from Bible texts. There is no witness, no
            encounter with God, no awareness of inner change.

              The whole point I am trying to make about the fellowship of a person
            with God is this: where there is a divine act within the soul, there
            will be a corresponding awareness. This act of God is its own
            evidence. It addresses itself directly to the spiritual

            It is within this context of awareness and fellowship and communion
            with God that I would comment on three abiding elements of Christian
            experience and spiritual life. These are elements that are always
            the same among men and women who have had a personal meeting
            with God.

            First, these great souls always have a compelling sense of God
            Himself, of His person and of His presence. While others would want
            to spend their time talking about a variety of things, these godly
            men and women, touched by their knowledge of God, want to talk
            about Him. They are drawn away from a variety of mundane topics be
            because of the importance of their spiritual discoveries.

            Second, it is plain that the details and the significance of their
            personal experiences remain sharp and clear with true spiritual
            meaning. I am not referring to any need or formula for identical
            Christian experiences. We ought to be fully aware that in the body
            of Christ we are not interested in the production of "cookie-cutter'
            Christians. God has given each of us an individual temperament and
            distinct characteristics. Therefore it is the office of the Holy
            Spirit to work out as He will the details in Christian experience.
            They will vary with personality.

            Certainly, [though], we can be sure of this: whenever a person truly
            meets God in faith and commitment to the gospel, he will have a
            consciousness and a sharp awareness of the details of that spiritual

            The third element is the permanent and life changing nature of a
            true encounter with God. The experience may have been brief, but the
            results will be evident in the life of the person touched as long as
            he or she lives.

            We can always trust the moving and the leading of the Holy Spirit in
            our lives and in our experiences. On the other hand, we cannot
            always trust our human leanings and our fleshly and carnal desires.

            That is why I am always a little suspicious of the overly bubbly
            Christian who talks too much about himself or herself and not enough
            about Jesus.

            Then, I am always a little worried about the "hope-so" Christian who
            cannot tell me any of the details of his or her Christian

            And, I am more than a little concerned about the professing
            Christian whose experience does not seem to have resulted in a true
            inner longing to be more like Jesus every day in thought, word and
           (Adapted from Chapter 1 of the book Men Who Met God, published by
            Christian Publications, Inc.)