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Lowell Brueckner

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Tozer Points to John on Patmos


A. W. Tozer

As A. W. Tozer maintained a well-balanced testimony to truth in the middle of the Twentieth Century, the church was rocking and reeling under an avalanche of teaching that offered the world and heaven besides. It was a ‘here-and-now gospel’ that didn’t want to learn about the future or the past. Church history and its doctrines were thrown aside, along with its hymnology, in order to take advantage of newly-discovered ‘truth’. The hope of heaven faded, as promises were made about believers becoming the elite of the earth, driving the best vehicles and living in mansions. Few seem to have achieved these goals, except for the preachers, who collect the offerings during their meetings.

Just in case I haven’t made it clear before in this blogspot, I have been an opponent for many years of the “health-and-wealth gospel”. I have said publicly in places, where it was not popular to say so, that I believe that prosperity preaching is a ministry to the egotistical ‘old man’, who wants to see what the gospel has in it for himself. It is for old Adam and not for the born-again Christian. Those who have received the nature of Christ are not drawn to such teaching. They have one major goal in life and that is to bring glory to God, whether it is, as Paul said, “by life or by death”.   

What claims to be ‘the word of faith’, I have seen destroy faith in innocent people. I have spoken with them. They told me that, in spite of maintaining their positive confession, they didn’t see the promised results. When they didn’t get the desired healing or financial blessing, they began to doubt whether or not, God had truly saved them. I could give some horrific true stories to illustrate what I am saying.

Read Tozer, as he battles against the current, which in his day was already flowing strongly in the church, as it always had in the world, carrying its adherents on to earthly comfort and well being. He saw it as an alternative contrary to the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. He reminds us of John on the Isle of Patmos, when he received the Revelation of Christ and a future world after God destroys this one in flames.  

Suffering is ours in Jesus

“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus…” Revelation 1:9

If there is no suffering…

John was well aware of Satan’s attack against God and the church in that first century of Christian history. He humbly affirmed that he was a ‘companion in the suffering… and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus (Rev.1:9). And what had John’s faithful Christian testimony earned for him? Exile!

Had it happened in the West in our era, some publisher would have flown in to offer John a five- or six-figure check for book rights to his story. But I do not think John would have been concerned about turning a personal financial profit from his experience. The present-day financial value of a ‘born again testimony’ was mercifully unknown in AD 95.

‘Give your heart to the Lord, get born again, and your business will grow and grow!’ ‘If you want to become a top athlete and be well known, just accept the Lord and be born again!’ ‘If you want your cows to give more milk…’ ‘If you want to be sure of getting better grades in college…’

Possibly no one ever had a clearer, sweeter, stronger testimony of the grace and salvation that is in Jesus Christ than John. Humbly he relates it: ‘I… [am] your brother and companion in … suffering… [I] was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus’.

In our day, the media would be asking, ‘What are you doing there on Patmos, John? You were the bishop in Ephesus. You should be at home among your people, presiding over your congregation. You were born again, were you not, John?’

‘Yes,’ John would have replied meekly, ‘I was the Lord’s disciple and companion, and I have been ministering and witnessing as He said. I am now His servant in exile.

Allow me to be frank about this insidious issue in our Christian circles. If the modern doctrine of ‘accepting Jesus’ is all its current advocates claim it to be, John would not have been suffering in a one-man slave camp on Patmos. He would be at home with his congregation. He would have financial prosperity. He would know what strings to pull and how to be friendly with the right people in high places.

… there can be no Revelation

Remember this, however: If John had been a product of our present-day ‘accept Jesus and prosper’ gospel, he would have seen no divine vision of Christ’s glory and coming triumph; he would have written no Revelation. John could have chosen to compromise his faith. Had he done so, he would have remained at home – balancing his praise between God and Caesar. But then he never would have glimpsed that open door in heaven or the throne with the heavenly rainbow encircling it.

Yes, John could have taken the easier way. Just a little compromise and the important people would begin to say, ‘This man is really doing good things for the community.’ But John was a man of faith. He knew what he believed; he knew in whom he believed. He was willing to take the heat from those who hated the living God and His Christ.

If you are willing to lower the temperature of your testimony, the world will turn off the heat it has been applying. But if you are faithful to God and His word, consistent and sincere in your testimony to what Christ means to you, you can expect both heat and pressure. John had a strong, uncompromising testimony. It evoked the opposition of the powers, who decided to silence his witness in Patmos’s rocky isolation.


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