A. W. Tozer, Mystery of the Holy Spirit. Edited by James L. Snyder (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007).
I was an early convert to Tozer’s writings, having been given Gems from Tozer, a collection of his memorable sayings, shortly after my call to ministry as a teen. God used two other Tozer’s books, Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy, to shape my character and theological understanding in important ways.
Already deeply appreciative of Tozer’s work, I was delighted to learn recently of another book, this a collection of his sermons on the Holy Spirit preached toward the end of Tozer’s ministry.
As a collection of sermons—essentially transcripts with little editing—this book reads differently than Tozer’s more carefully crafted works. Sometimes jarring with sentence fragments and incomplete thoughts, these sermons present another side of a man who always struck me as more mystic than evangelist.
Although less hushed in reverence and deliberate in detail than some of his better known books, Mystery of the Spirit contains what we have come to expect from Tozer: clear insights into the Bible, human nature, and the church, courageous observations, and an overriding focus on knowing and doing what honours God.
Tozer is often described as a prophet; seeing this side of Tozer reinforces that reputation. Old Testament prophets can seem at times mystical (cf. Isaiah 65:17-25), at times meddling (cf. Isaiah 66:3-4).
True to his role as prophet, Tozer hammers home an important and neglected truth, one close to God’s heart but far from human minds: the person of the Holy Spirit. The book provides a brief summary of what the Bible says about the Spirit, but the sermons are more intent on appealing to the listener to be filled with the Spirit.
Throughout this book, Tozer reiterates that “it is by the Spirit that God works His mighty work.” Yet we have neglected the Holy Spirit, whether through fear of Pentecostalism or the desire to take an easier and entertaining path.
Our anemic results in evangelism, Bible study, prayer, and holy living, explains Tozer, can be traced to this neglect. Perhaps the big Mystery of the Spirit is why Christians have made so little of Him.
Whether you are a long-time Tozer fan or a newcomer to his writings, this book will sensitize you to a very timely message: the importance of believing in the presence and indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, both personally and corporately. If Tozer is right that God works by the Spirit, the sooner we understand and appreciate the Spirit, the sooner we can experience God’s desperately needed power.