♣ Be Widely Read
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
“All else being equal it is desirable that Christians, especially ministers of the gospel, should be widely read. It is a disagreeable experience to present oneself before a teacher for religious instruction and discover in less than three minutes that the said teacher should have changed places with his listeners and learned from them rather than they from him. If he is a humble man and sticks close to the small plot of ground with which he is familiar, he may, if he loves God and men, succeed in ministering to the spiritual needs of his flock. If, however, his ignorance is exceeded by his arrogance, then God help his hearers. If he boasts of his ignorance and scorns learning, show me the nearest exit! I can learn more from a child laughing on the lawn or a cloud passing overhead.” – A.W. Tozer
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Wow! Tozer was so right here, which reminds me of only a few weeks ago when I was talking to a pastor of a local church (one that both my wife and I considered attending), and asking him what denomination his fellowship was. I inquired if he had heard of some of the great leaders in church history (just out of interest and fellowship); some that are undeniably notorious worldwide. To my surprise he hadn’t heard any of the person’s named. His reply was more or less, “…we just stick to the Bible and not to man…” This is a pastor – a shepherd of souls that uttered those words. A fellow believer who has just come into the faith I can quite well understand but a leader of a flock is beyond me! Well, I’m pretty sure we will not be attending there.
I hear it so much these days in the church and among so many Christians, “Don’t listen to man, listen to what the Bible teaches”. I agree, the Bible is the authority over man’s word – but this is where the danger comes in. If people don’t need ‘man’ then why on earth are folks still attending church to sit under ministry; why sit under another man’s teaching? It is sad and laughable at the same time. No, God has ordained His men to lead, to shepherd, to teach, to admonish, to correct, to oversee, to reprove, to encourage; they are to labor in order to see the marks of Christ in their lives. O they are just men, but God’s appointed men!
Sadly over the years so many so called ‘leaders’ have abused their position and have been the ruin of many lives. We know they are wolves that only have one intention – themselves. The real leaders will serve, will gently lead, and will even give of their lives for the sheep. A minister’s life is 24/7 for God and for the people; travailing in anguish and prayer for the cause of God – not to play golf whenever he feels like, or jet around the world having squandered and manipulated money from the congregation – all ‘supposedly’ for the work of God! We know the deceivers and the self appointed apostles that speak words of death over a misled people. They maybe well read but well on the way to a lost eternity – those who ‘volunteered’ for the ministry, those who are unconverted – unsaved leaders! I wonder how many speak from the thousands of pulpits here in America?!
And just because false leaders have misused knowledge does not give us the liberty to walk in ignorance and ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’. Great men of God have studied and labored hard and have even looked up to their spiritual forefathers. There have always been greater men before. We have much to learn in our so-called ‘advanced society’; and while knowledge can puff up, ignorance can make one prone to deception as one of the Puritans once said, “He who knows nothing believes anything.” We need teachers once again, we need more Ezra’s birthed in our generation who will faithfully declare the whole counsel of God, and so lead the church in order to worship God the right way. A leader, who is not well read, who is too lazy to do so, and who is ignorant in spiritual matters especially in the western culture, has no right whatsoever to be in the pulpit and lead other souls. If a man cannot read then he should not lead!
Tozer was an uneducated man due to unfavorable circumstances in his early years but when God got a hold of his heart he was thirsty for knowledge and learned on his knees. Would you have believed that after all the books he’s written? He remains one of the greatest writers of 21st century Christendom – amazing what God does with a surrendered soul! Leonard Ravenhill passed on Dr Lloyd-Jones’ regards for the book that Tozer had written, ‘The Pursuit Of God’. Tozer in response just quietly smiled at Ravenhill and said that it took him 25 years to write it! He hadn’t been on vacation for 25 years! Name me one leader today of that caliber. Did he have difficulty in writing it? No – it’s just one of those books that no one can write on bit of paper, lounging in Starbucks, that so many are accustomed to these days. These books were birthed out of hard, sheer experience, study, meditation and adoration of the glory and majesty of God. We have lost this aspect today – men that KNEW God. We talk about it but that’s all we do!!! It was said that Tozer would get on his face, literally, before God and just worship Him, without saying a word – just gazing in absolute awe on God’s majesty for 3-5 hours at a time. Is that foreign to you? Does that sound strange and unfamiliar? O’ that God would baptize us in such a way as to draw true worship! We need to stop telling lies and pretending we’re spiritual when we’re not. Tozer said, “We not only tell lies, we sing them too.” And he’s so right. God grant us another vision of Himself – we need it!
An empty head will result in a gullible heart. History reveals the acts and accounts of God; get familiar with them and above all make sure it’s all done with a passion for Him, not just for knowledge’s sake, do it to get to know Him more. I’ll say this now that the great leaders in the whole history of the church were men that were well read in the knowledge of God. God gave a brain and we’re to use it even as Christians. Obliterate the so-called mentality of today’s Christianity, ‘Throw away your mind and just feel’. It is a lie from hell!