Who Was A.W. Tozer?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Who was A.W. Tozer and why is it important that we should know?

Who is A.W. Tozer?

A.W. Tozer was a man who was obsessed with the glory and the holiness of God and making it known to others.   If that’s all you remember about him, I’m sure he’d be thrilled by that because he was completely immersed into the God of glory and just how tremendously awesome He is.  For the record, Aiden Wilson Tozer was born on April 21st, 1897 and passed into the presence of the Holy One on May 12th, 1963.  In between that time he was a pastor, an author, magazine editor, and a mentor to many.  He touched so many lives that it’d be impossible to cover those in one article.  His beginnings could not have been any less assuming, growing up in a small farming community in La Jose, Pennsylvania where he lived at the poverty level as a youth, yet he would later receive two honorary doctoral degrees.  Such was the impact this man left; yet he would have hated the accolades and the attention!  Think about this; he educated himself and taught himself what would have been covered in high school and later, in college.  He was a pastor for 44 years, yet never attended seminary once, proving that God doesn’t anoint diploma’s, he anoints men and places them where it pleases Him.


The Knowledge of the Holy

In A.W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy, you will find a deep, treasure trove of attributes and knowledge of God.  This very short book goes into such rapid-fire mode, feeding you so richly and quickly about the attributes and holiness of God, that it might choke a seminary professor.  Tozer covers perhaps the greatest of God’s attributes like His grace, mercy, wisdom, but most of all, the holiness and glory of God.  This book will help you learn to pray better, mediate on the Word more often, and know how to experience God’s presence during your day.

The Pursuit of God

If you really want to know more about God then you need to read more from A.W. Tozer because another fine work by him is The Pursuit of God and may be one of his best and established as one of the Christian classics.  Somehow, Tozer writes such a scholarly and master study on the inner life of a follower of Christ with a heart thirsting and panting after God, eager to grasp the hem of His garment and the infinitely deep love that God has for sinners which reveals such amazing grace. He writes is if we’re on the verge of His unapproachability due to His majestic and magnificent glory. In an ironic twist or turnabout on the title The Pursuit of God, Tozer writes God’s Pursuit of Man, as if the hounds of heaven were pursuing you, which reflects on the effectual call of God on sinners.  It’s like the Prodigal Son who came to his senses but not from his own senses as he, like us, were invaded by the Holy Spirit of God and have an alien righteousness imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21).  It is the Father Who calls us, Who draws us, and Who saves us through Christ, so it’s really God pursuing us (John 6:44).  For me, it was like this; He sought me, He caught me, He bought me, and He taught me, what I ought be….and so it’s all about Him and that’s good.  In this way, He receives all the glory for us being saved.


A.W. Tozer, being such a brilliant scholar but humble man had a knack for bringing us (Christians) down to reality, like when he said “We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing” and honestly, I see that in myself.  Not always but it just seems to come so naturally (Rom 7:19) and one of his most powerful sayings, and by my experience has proven to be true, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Many of the men who we minister which come out of prison have been deeply wounded, but this wound is what they’ve done to others and before a holy God! They could phrase it “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly until he has first wounded him deeply.”  They often struggle to see the sufficiency of the completed work of Christ at Calvary.  In a sense, such humility and brokenness is good…but then, we must move on after asking for forgiveness and being cleansed (1 John 1:9). We don’t want these men tripping over what’s behind them and over that which has been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  A.W. Tozer understood the depth of the grace of God which washed over him like a flood…and on us too if God has brought us to repentance and trust in Christ.  These men’s pain can be used by God as means to save others, knowing of course that it is God alone Who saves (Acts 4:12; Rom 10:9-13).


A.W. Tozer is one the most respected, intelligent, and biblically sound men that I have read and heard. There are actually some of his sermons still floating around for free on the Internet.  hey come as mp3’s. The sounds a bit rough (knowing the technology then) but the feeding trough is spectacular!  He knows about God and was passionate to make known the holiness of God and the attributes of God.  “The Knowledge of the Holy” is one of the shortest books you’ll read but it’s just incredibly condensed with godly wisdom and insight into the Holy One. Knowing as much as I do about Tozer, I believe this man would have been praying and weeping, on his face, knowing the holiness of God and the terror of the Lord.  We can learn much about God when we read a lot from Tozer.

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