We Walk by Faith Not by Sight, Not by Imagination

Here’s an interesting way to construct a chapter of a book: build up to a key paragraph for the first third of the chapter, then spend the rest of the chapter clarifying what you meant by two of the key words in that key paragraph.

The fourth chapter of The Pursuit of God is built something like this.

Here is that chapter’s key paragraph:

“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.”

Our Problem

Many Christians don’t know God in the way that they could know Him. They are lacking in personal experience of God. Their spiritual senses have indeed been awakened by God. They are His children. But these senses go unexercised.

The reason is lack of faith.

That’s the argument that comes before the key paragraph. And the key paragraph is a good one. It contains quite a promise.

Read it again below, and ask yourself a question: If you had the opportunity to ask A. W. Tozer to briefly clarify two of the words of this paragraph, which two words would they be?

Here’s the paragraph again:

“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.”

The Solution

Of course, we can’t tell Tozer which words to clarify for us.

He made that decision himself.

The words he choose are reckon and reality.

He deals with reality first. What Tozer means by reality is what everyone else means. It’s what he calls the “plain man’s idea of reality.”

The reason he defines it is to keep it from being philosophized away by the “idealists and relativists.” These are the inconsistent people who devise theories suggesting that there is no such thing as “reality,” yet continue to live their lives as if there is.

Here Tozer sounds like someone who has read plenty of philosophy. It’s hard to be certain, however, because he still speaks in plain language. He speaks as someone who has labored to understand the philosophers in their own terms, yet can still refute them in the terms of the “sincere plain man,” who “knows that the world is real.”

More important, for the Christian, is that he knows why the world is real. Reality is given to us, and maintained for us, by God:

“But he knows also that the Absolute One has made this world for man’s uses, and, while there is nothing fixed or real in the last meaning of the words (the meaning as applied to God) for every purpose of human life we are permitted to act as if there were.”

Reckon with the Eyes of You Heart

When Tozer begins to speak of reckoning, he speaks of faith.

First, he distinguishes faith from imagination:

“Imagination projects unreal images out of the mind and seeks to attach reality to them. Faith creates nothing; it simply reckons upon that which is already there.”

While faith is not imagination, neither is it one of our five senses. If we want to reckon upon spiritual reality, we cannot focus only on the world of sense, which Tozer describes as constantly in our faces, intent on taking up all of our attention:

“The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime. It is clamorous, insistent and self-demonstrating. It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final.”

We must contend against this clamor. We must focus on the spiritual world. The good news is that God has given to every born-again believer the “inner eyes” with which to behold spiritual reality. As we exercise this vision, it will increase:

“The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.”

In the next chapter, Tozer talks more about how to develop those spiritual senses.

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NEXT: Three Tips for Cultivating Spiritual Receptivity

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This Post is Part of a Chapter-by-Chapter Look at A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God

  1. This Voice from the Past is Still Calling for the Seekers
  2. The Larger the Heart, the Less It Holds
  3. God Tore Down His Veil, We Protect Ours
  4. We Walk by Faith Not by Sight, Not by Imagination
  5. Three Tips for Cultivating Spiritual Receptivity
  6. Has Everybody Heard the Speaking Voice?
  7. Seeking a Practical Definition of Faith
  8. Victorious Spiritual Experience Summed Up in Three Words
  9. Laying Down the Burden of Self
  10. Learning to See All of Life as Worship

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