A.W. Tozer on the Need to Grow Beyond the Doctrine of Justification by Faith

This excerpt is from the first chapter of Tozer’s classical work, “The Pursuit of God”. In no way whatsoever do I wish to minimize the foundational importance of the doctrine of justification by faith – it is the rock on which we stand as righteous in God’s eyes. I have found, however, in many “Reformed” circles a preoccupation with imputed righteousness and a particular understanding of law and Gospel that functionally minimizes the importance of the resurrection for our sanctification and new life. Tozer was however responding to the “easy decision-ism” of the day displayed in the ever-popular evangelistic crusades that swept the country. Getting the folks to walk the isle and repeat a prayer was crossing the finished line in the perspective of some. Their souls had been won, they were now forever justified by this one-time act of faith and they could go on their way knowing that God would be gracious because they exercised faith once upon a time. Folks would be told at the altar that they were saved and eternally secure and not ever to doubt it.


The doctrine of justification by faith—a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort—has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.

© 2011, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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