Articles

The Missing Witness, by A.W.Tozer
 

 


The Missing Witness
by A.W. Tozer


One cause of the decline in the quality of religiuos experience among Christians these days is the neglect of the doctrine of the inward witness.

The words witnessexperience, and feeling, are cautiously avoided by the rank and file of evangelical teachers. In spite of the undeniable lukewarmness of most of us, we still fear that unless we keep a careful check on ourselves we shall surely lose our dignity and become howling fanatics by this time next week. We set a watch upon our emotions day and night lest we become overspiritual and bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. Which all, if I may say so, is for most of us about as sensible as throwing a cordon of police around a cemetery to prevent a wild political demonstration by the inhabitants.

It is not creedal descent that proves us to be true sons of Pentecost, but identity of spirit with them upon whose heads sat the cloven tongues like as of fire.
One distinguishing mark of those first Chrstians was a supernatural radiance that shined out from within them. The sun had come up in their hearts and its warmth and light made unnecessary any secondary sources of assurance. The had the inner witness. They knew with animmediate awareness that required no jockeying of evidence to give them a feeling of certainty. Great power and great grace marked their lives, enabling them to rejoice to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

It is obviuos that the average evangelical Christian today is without this radiance. The efforts of some of our teachers to cheer up our drooping spirits are futile because those same teachers reject the very phenomenon that would naturally produce joy, nameley, the inner witness. 
In their strange fear of the religeous emotions they have explained away the Scriptures that teach this witness, such as, " The Spirit itself bears witness" and

" He that beleives the Son of God has the witness in himself"

Instead of the inner witness we now substitute logical conclusions drawn from texts. A conversation between a seeker and a worker in an inquiry room is likely to run about like this : " Do you want the Lord ro receive you and make you His child?" 
"Yes"
"Well, read this : "Him that cometh to Me I will not cast out". Do you beleieve that ?"
"Yes"
"Now if he doesn't cast you out, what does He do?"
"I suppose He takes me in"
"Amen. Now He has taken you in and you are His child. Why don't you tell others about it ?"

So the bewilddered seeker forces a waxy smile and testifies that he has been converted to Christ. He is honest and means well but he has been led astray. he has fallen victim to a Spiritless logic. Such assurance as he has rests upon a shaky syllogism. There is no witness, no immediacy of knowledge, no encounter with God, no awareness of inner change.

Where there is a divine act within the soul there will always be a corresponding awareness. This act of God is self-validating. It is it's own evidence and addresses itself direct to the religeous consciousness.
Abundant external evisence may exist that a work has been done within, and in this the reason may rejoice, but such evidence cannot be sufficient to guarantee that a saving work has been wrought.Whatever can be judged by reason is subject to the limitations and errors of reason.
God waits to assure us that we are His children in a manner that eliminates the possibility of error, that is, by the inner witness.

To the salvation by logical conclusion devotees, such language is plain heresy. If it is heresy, I run to join such a glorious heretic. And may God send us many more.

(From : "Born After Midnight" by Christian Publications)


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