Tuesday, November 3, 2020

"It's Complicated"

Tozer gets rather deep in this week's chapter.  It is difficult to get through without a broader reading of Tozer's materials in books such as The Knowledge of the Holy, The Pursuit of God, and God's Pursuit of Man to name but a few. He mentions "three degrees of knowledge open to Christians."  

1.  "The first is the common knowledge shared with all persons, namely the data furnished by the senses and by reason operating upon such data."

2.  "The second is the knowledge received by faith. It consists of all data given by divine revelation and received by the believing mind without proof.  

3.  "The third kind of knowledge is that given by direct spiritual experience...It has nothing to do with the senses and so it is not physical or natural data It has nothing to do with ethics or doctrine so it is not moral or theological knowledge."

Now before we get too far into the weeds some background on this type of discussion is in order. Traditionally, Reformed Christian theology has put forth two types of Revelation (that is means by which God reveals Himself who is Truth)

1.  The first is General Revelation - information about God which is discerned through nature and reason - 

The heavens declare the glory of God,
   and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
   and night to night reveals knowledge.
[ Psalm 19:1-2]

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God
has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, 
his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived,
ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. 
So they are without excuse. [Romans 1:19-20]
General Revelation includes a consciousness of God (though that may be denied) and includes a general awareness of one's sinful estate.
2.  The second is Special Revelation - information about God which is discerned through supernatural means other than reason -
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
[Psalm 19:7-9]   
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that 
brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
 “The righteous will live by faith.” [Romans 1:16-17]
Special Revelation generally refers to God's self revelation through Holy Scripture (which is only properly discerned through the presence of the Holy Spirit in one's life).

 So, when Tozer begins talking about this third means of knowledge he sets the conversation into what, I would suggest has more to do with the actual spiritual experiences or convictions which, though in line with Scripture, are beyond simply the words of scripture and which may not otherwise be generally discerned.
Academics, Theologians, Biblical Scholars, and Preachers may tell us all about the contextual setting of the Biblical passage, they may exposit the passage, they may interpret the passage, they may apply the passage, but, if I understand Tozer correctly, it is the the actual conviction that comes to individual believer, that comprises this third level of knowledge.  It is the certainty, the conviction itself, not the information which is convicting which comprises spiritual experience. 

My sense is that if we could get Martin Luther, Johannes Calvinus, and others in a room with Tozer, they might agree that this third level of knowledge is a part of Special Revelation but who knows.  The may argue for hours and never come to a conclusion.

What I do know is this:

1.  The whole of nature declares the Glory of God and the sinfulness of humanity;
2.  Scripture provides us the context for God's work in Christ to redeem us;
3.  Only those who are truly born again and Spirit filled, are able to properly discern the will of God for their lives, and that is a life-time task.

I pray that this study opens conversations for you, wherever you may be, which ultimately lead to the advancement of the Kingdom for the Glory of Him Who Reigns!

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         November 23-27, 2020 for Thanksgiving!