The first book I read after becoming a Christian (besides the Bible) was The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. This book affected my understanding of God profoundly and helped feed the flame to know God and his Word. I would go on to read several more books written by him and recommend them to others. So, I’m pleased to see that his writings have now been compiled into a single resource—the A.W. Tozer Study Bible.

This resource produced by Hendrickson Publishers with the KJV version includes excerpts from Tozer’s writings. There are three categories of excerpts—On Scripture, Reflections, and Challenges—and includes introductions to each book of the Bible. Here’s a brief biography of Tozer and several excerpts from his writings.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897-1963)

A.W. Tozer was born into a western Pennsylvania farming family that relocated to the factory city of Akron, Ohio, in 1912. Three years later Aiden responded to a street preacher’s exhortation, “If you don’t know how to be saved . . . just call on God,” by turning over his life to the Lord. Thus began the journey of a man whose life and work would lead some to call him a twentieth-century prophet.

In 1919, five years after his conversion, and despite his lack of formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church. He embarked upon a fruitful forty-four-year career leading Christian and Missionary Alliance congregations in West Virginia, Chicago, and Toronto, Canada.

Tozer was a deeply spiritual man whose ministry was established upon a solid foundation of prayer. “As a man prays,” he said, “so is he.” Indeed, it is accurate to characterize Tozer’s preaching and writings as extensions of his prayer life. He habitually spent hours in prayer every day in his office, worshiping and communicating with God.

Throughout his career Tozer’s primary concern was the promotion of Christian living. Privately, he, his wife Ida, and their seven children followed a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle. Publicly, he constantly pointed out the dangers the church faces when “worldly” concerns distract it. “The flippant did not like Tozer,” a biographer wrote. “The serious who wanted to know what God was saying loved him.”

A. W. Tozer succumbed to a coronary thrombosis in May 1963. He authored eight books, and dozens of his sermons and other writings were published posthumously. Tozer is perhaps best known for The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy, which impress upon the reader the possibility and necessity of deepening one’s relationship with God.

Tozer On Scripture

But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

—Acts 4:14

If a doctor saves a man who has only a runny nose, he wouldn’t write a book about it. He didn’t do much. The fellow would get well anyhow. But the doctor who takes a man with a brain tumor, puts him asleep and, with great care, prayer, and skill, brings that man back to life—he has done something.

He “saved a wretch like me.” He “turned all our blame into endless worship.” I believe the Bible teaches—our Lord hinted at it and Paul developed it further—that the day will come when they will gather around us from everywhere, and say, “Behold the marvels of God.” You read in the book of Acts (4:14) of seeing the man that was healed standing among them, and they could say nothing. And seeing that wicked sinner standing there, we can only say, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain” (Revelation 5:12). And worthy is the goodness of God that out of His infinite kindness, His unchanging, perfect lovingkindness, He made amends for us, “full, fair and many,” turning all our sin into endless worship.—The Attributes of God I

Challenges from Tozer

We are twentieth-century Christians. Some of us are Christians only because it is convenient and pleasant and because it is not costing us anything. But here is the truth, whether we like it or not: the average evangelical Christian who claims to be born again and have eternal life is not doing as much to propagate his or her faith as the busy adherents of the cults handing out their papers on the street corners and visiting from house to house.

We are not willing to take the spit and the contempt and the abuses those cultists take as they knock on doors and try to persuade everyone to follow them in their mistaken beliefs. The cultists can teach us much about zeal and effort and sacrifice, but most of us do not want to get that serious about our faith—or our Savior.—Jesus Is Victor!

Reflections by Tozer

The Holy Spirit is a moral flame.

It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word holy may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity. And the Spirit, being God, must be absolutely and infinitely pure. With Him there are not (as with men) grades and degrees of holiness. He is holiness itself, the sum and essence of all that is unspeakably pure.

The Holy Spirit is a spiritual flame.

He alone can raise our worship to true spiritual levels. For we might as well know once for all that morality and ethics, however lofty, are still not Christianity. The faith of Christ undertakes to raise the soul to actual communion with God, to introduce into our religious experiences a supra-rational element as far above mere goodness as the heavens are above the earth. The coming of the Spirit brought to the book of Acts this very quality of supra-mundaneness, this mysterious elevation of tone not found in as high intensity even in the Gospels.

The flame of the Spirit is intellectual.

Reason, say the theologians, is one of the divine attributes. There need be no incompatibility between the deepest experiences of the Spirit and the highest attainments of the human intellect. It is only required that the Christian intellect be fully surrendered to God and there need be no limit to its activities beyond those imposed upon it by its own strength and size. How cold and deadly is the unblessed intellect. A superior brain without the saving essence of godliness may turn against the human race and drench the world with blood; or worse, it may loose ideas into the earth which will continue to curse mankind for centuries after it has turned to dust again. But a Spirit-filled mind is a joy to God and a delight to all men of good will.

The Spirit is a volitional flame.

Here as elsewhere the imagery is inadequate to express all the truth, and unless care is taken we may easily gain a wrong impression from its use. For fire as we see and know it every day is a thing, not a person, and for that reason it has no will of its own. But the Holy Spirit is a Person, having those attributes of personality of which volition is one. He does not, upon entering the human soul, void any of His attributes, nor does He surrender them in part or in full to the soul into which He enters. Remember, the Holy Spirit is Lord. “Now the Lord is the Spirit,” said Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 3:17).—God’s Pursuit of Man

Challenges from Tozer

The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles. The delicate, brittle saints being produced in our religious hothouses today are hardly to be compared with the committed, expendable believers who once gave their witness among men. And the fault lies with our leaders. They are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men to give to God that which costs them nothing.—That Incredible Christian

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