Straight talk about the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit is confined to creeds, the church becomes like a land with no water or a kite with no wind. In his life and writings, A.W. Tozer was insistent that the church reclaim a practical theology of the Holy Spirit—that it actually know Him.
The Counselor will help you cultivate sweet communion with God. Gifted at bringing lofty thoughts down low, Tozer explains clearly who the Spirit is and what it means to know Him. His words will leave you with a deep longing to be filled with the blessed Spirit, to have joy, peace, life, and power in Him.
"[The Holy Spirit] wants to be Lord of your life, to possess you so that you are no longer in command of the little vessel in which you sail.”
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About the Author
A.W. TOZER began his lifelong pursuit of God at the age of seventeen after hearing a street preacher in Akron, Ohio. A self-taught theologian, Tozer was a pastor, writer and editor whose powerful use of words continues to grip the intellect and stir the soul of today's reader. Among his best-loved books are the classics The Pursuit of God and The Attributes of God.ANITA M. BAILEY was a close associate of A. W. Tozer and the managing editor of The Alliance Witness, a publication of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Read an Excerpt
By A. W. Tozer
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1993 Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
All rights reserved.
Whenever Jesus Christ Is Glorified, the Holy Spirit Comes
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. ACTS 2:1–6
When we come to this important Scripture passage, the second chapter of Acts, I want us to consider something that is so often overlooked — the fact that whenever Jesus is glorified, the Holy Spirit comes!
Contrary to what most people unintentionally assume, the important thing here was not that the Spirit had come — the important thing was that Jesus had been exalted.
Now, let's summarize this chapter in Acts. Peter and all the disciples were gathered together when the day of Pentecost was fully come, and they were all with one accord in one place. Suddenly as they were gathered, "there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). It was not a rushing, mighty wind — it was the sound of such a wind. It filled all the house where they were sitting. Little jets of fire sat upon each forehead, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in languages. Seventeen nations were there and heard them speak in their own languages. The ones who could be amazed were amazed. The doubters doubted, and the questioners said, "What meaneth this?" (2:12).
Those who sat in the seat of the scornful were also present, and they said, "These men are full of new wine" (2:13).
"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words. ... This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel" (2:14, 16).
He proceeded to tell them how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled prophecy and from there on, it was all about Jesus of Nazareth. In verses 32 and 33 Peter testified that "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." Then in verse 36, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
So, the important thing, according to Peter, was the fact that Jesus had been exalted.
Jesus Himself had said on that last great day of the feast at Jerusalem, recorded in John 7,
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified) (John 7:38–39).
It is plain that the glorification of Jesus brought the Holy Spirit, and we ought to be able to get hold of that thought instantly. So, we repeat: Where Jesus is glorified, the Holy Spirit comes. He does not have to be begged — the Holy Spirit comes when the Savior is glorified. When Christ is truly honored, the Spirit comes.
FAITH IN FAITH VS. FAITH IN GOD
Now, I want you to notice particularly Acts 2:14, "Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice ..."
He stood up, and then he lifted up his voice.
I would remind you that Peter here stands for the whole Church of God. Peter was the first man to get on his feet after the Holy Spirit had come to the Church. Peter had believed the Lord's word and he had received confirmation in his own heart. The difference between faith as it is found in the New Testament and faith as it is found now is that faith in the New Testament actually produced something — there was a confirmation of it. Faith now is a beginning and an end. We have faith in faith — but nothing happens. They had faith in a risen Christ and something did happen.
That's the difference.
Now, here was Peter, standing up, and he lifted up — and that should be the business of the Church — to stand up and lift up. Peter became a witness on earth, as the church should be, to things in heaven. The Church must be a witness to powers beyond the earthly and the human; and because I know this, it is a source of great grief to me that the Church is trying to run on its human powers.
Peter testified to something beyond the human and the earthly. Some power that lay beyond the earthly scene was interested in us and was willing to enter and become known to us. That power turns out to be none other than the Spirit of God Himself.
So, Peter, witnessing to things he had experienced, wanted to influence, urge and exhort those who had not yet experienced to enter in.
Now, a plain word here about the Christian Church trying to carry on in its own power: That kind of Christianity makes God sick, for it is trying to run a heavenly institution after an earthly manner.
For myself, if I couldn't have the divine power of God, I would quit the whole business. The church that wants God's power will have something to offer besides social clubs, knitting societies, the Boy Scout troops and all of the other side issues.
WHAT WE MUST DO
If any church is to be a church of Christ, the living, organic member of that redeemed Body of which Christ is the Head, then its teachers and its members must strive earnestly and sacrificially with constant prayer to do a number of things.
First, we must strive to make our beliefs and practices New Testament in their content. We must teach and believe New Testament truths, with nothing dragged in from the outside. It means we must be going constantly back to the grass roots.
The men who pioneered our great North American continent took over a wilderness and conquered it. They went out with their axes, cutting down trees, building houses and then planting corn, potatoes, other vegetables and grain. You know, when they planted, they didn't go to bed and sleep until time for the harvest. They fought encroachment from the wilderness from the day they planted their corn and the rest of their crops until they harvested them and had them safely in their log barns.
The wilderness encroaches on the fruitful field, and unless there is constant fighting off of this encroachment, there will be little or no harvest.
I think it is exactly the same with the Church, for as one of the old saints said, "Never think for a minute that there will be a time when you will not be tempted. He is tempted the most effectively who thinks that he isn't being tempted at all."
Just when we think we are not being tempted, that is the time of danger, and so it is with the Church. We lean back on our own laurels and say, "That may be true of some churches, but it is not true of us. We are increased with goods and have need of nothing!" (see Revelation 3:17).
This is to remind us that we must fight for what we have. Our little field of God's planting must have the necessary weapons and plenty of watchmen out there to drive off the crows and all sorts of creatures, to say nothing of the little insects that destroy the crops. We have to keep after them. We must keep our field healthy, and there is only one way to do that, and that is to keep true to the Word of God. We must constantly go back to the grass roots and get the Word into the Church.
Seek the Power
In the second place, we must also earnestly, sacrificially and prayerfully strive to be empowered with that same power that came upon them.
Peter said, "He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" (Acts 2:33). We must live to gear ourselves into things eternal and to live the life of heaven here upon the earth. We must put loyalty to Christ first at any cost. Anything less than that really isn't a Christian church. I would rather be a member of a group that meets in a little room on a side street than to be part of a great going activity that is not New Testament in its doctrine, in its spirit, in its living, in its holiness, in all of its texture and tenor. We need not expect to be popular in such a church, but certain fruits will follow if we make a church that kind of a church.
FRUITS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH
Now, let's note some of the characteristics of a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led congregation.
First, they will be a joyful people.
The history of the Moravians tells how the Holy Spirit came upon this movement one October morning in 1727. They were having communion. They went out joyful from that place, scarcely knowing whether they were on earth or had died and already gone to heaven. That joyfulness was characteristic of the Moravians for 100 years. They were not just a happy people in the sense of working up their happiness — their joy came from within.
We do have many professing Christians in our day who are not joyful, but they spend time trying to work it up. Now, brethren, I say that when we give God His place in the Church, when we recognize Christ as Lord high and lifted up, when we give the Holy Spirit His place, there will be joy that doesn't have to be worked up. It will be a joy that springs like a fountain. Jesus said that it should be a fountain, an artesian well, that springs up from within. That's one characteristic of a Spirit-filled congregation. They will be a joyful people, and it will be easy to distinguish them from the children of the world.
I wonder what the apostle Paul would say if he came down right now and looked us over in our congregations. What if he walked up and down the aisles of our churches, then went to the theater and looked them over, then on to a hockey game, on to the crowds at the shopping center and into the crowded streets? Then when he came back and looked us over again, I wonder if he would see very much difference. But where the Church is a spiritual Church, filled with the Spirit, we should always be able to distinguish the children of God from the children of the world.
Also, let us consider that a congregation that is Spirit-filled will be useful to the race of men.
I am not worried about what the critics say about preachers being parasites and the churches not producing anything, but I do believe that the Christian Church ought to be useful to the whole community. We can help the neighborhood where we live, and the neighborhood will be better because we are there as witnessing Christians. We don't need to apologize. Actually, they owe us a great debt, for our kind of transformed people keep the crime rate down, and where we have more God-filled, Spirit-filled churches we are going to have fewer policemen on the street. Wherever there's more godliness, there's less crime.
A Spirit-filled congregation is useful in the neighborhood — useful to the sons of men, even the ones that are not converted.
In another sense, we are to be influential among the churches, as well.
I would like to see a church become so godly, so Spirit-filled that it would have a spiritual influence on all of the churches in the entire area. Paul told some of his people, "ye were ensamples to all that believe" and "in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad" (1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).
It is entirely right that I should hope this of you. I could hope that we might become so Spirit-filled, walking with God, learning to worship, living so clean and so separated that everybody would know it, and the other churches in our area would be blessed on account of it.
It is common knowledge that when Luther carried out his reformation, the Catholic Church was forced to clean up — the moral pressure from Lutheranism brought about change in the Roman Church. When Wesley came and preached throughout England, the Anglican Church was forced to clean up some of the things that were wrong. Methodism was a spiritual force that compelled others to do something about their own condition.
There is no reason why we could not be a people so filled with the Spirit, so joyfully singing His praises and living so clean in our business and home and school that the people and other churches would know it and recognize it.
The great thing about this is that when we have a Spirit-filled people who can live well, they can also die well. They began to look at the martyrs in the Roman days and said one to another, "Behold, these Christians die well!" Recall that old Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous, but he wouldn't live the life of the righteous. We Christians ought to be able to die well — we should be able to do that if nothing else.
SOME WON'T LIKE IT
But, of course, there are some folks who just won't ever feel at home in a Spirit-filled congregation. Not all men have faith and there are some who don't want that kind of a church. I will name some of them now.
The people who put on religion as a well-pressed Sunday garment won't like that kind of a joyful church.
When we have a revival and the blessing of God comes to us and we do get the help we need from God, those who make religion merely a Sunday garment won't like it very well — in fact, they will be disturbed. From the biblical side, we will insist that they live right on Monday morning, and they don't want to do that. They want to keep their religion disengaged from practical living. Their religion is here and their living is over there. On Sunday they go in and polish their religion, but about 11 p.m. in the evening they put it on the shelf. On Monday they go out and live the way they want to live. I refuse to surrender to that kind of thing and to that kind of people. We are to be a church of the living God, and not a gathering of the influential and the big shots. The big shots can come if they get on their knees — a big shot on his knees isn't any taller than anyone else, you know.
Excerpted from The Counselor by A. W. Tozer. Copyright © 1993 Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. Whenever Jesus Christ Is Glorified, the Holy Spirit Comes, 7,
2. The Holy Spirit Is Not Known through the Intellect, 25,
3. The Presence and Ministry of the Holy Spirit: All That Jesus Would Be, 43,
4. Pentecost: Perpetuation, Not Repetition, 61,
5. The Promised Filling of the Holy Spirit: Instantly, Not Gradually, 77,
6. Do You Have All God Wants for You?, 97,
7. Spiritual Gifts: The Ability to Do, 113,
8. Cultivating the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit, 131,
9. The Holy Spirit Makes the Difference!, 149,
10. The Heavenly Dove: Repelled by Corruption, 167,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In The Counselor, Tozer presents some excellent questions, provoking the reader to consider the absence of thorough, accurate teaching about the Holy Spirit in many churches. Throughout The Counselor, Tozer uses various analogies and stories to further explain his points. This is particularly helpful for readers who might struggle to get past his astute writing style. He also emphasizes the importance of founding beliefs upon Scripture and not basing beliefs off of hearsay or tradition. Readers looking for a light, effortless read should think twice before picking up The Counselor by A.W. Tozer. Personally, I found it difficult to become absorbed in The Counselor. Though the content is challenging and thought-provoking, the astute language and writing style required a lot of focus. I certainly expanded my vocabulary while reading The Counselor! Some sentences are repetitive; however, it seems Tozer utilizes the repetition for emphasis. Finally, I found chapter 8, “Cultivating the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” particularly challenging. I’m sure whether this Tozer used simpler writing in chapter 8, or if the content was of a familiar nature to me. Consequently, I intend to read The Counselor again and trust it will be easier to absorb the content without focusing on the writing style. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in order to write an honest, unbiased review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.