When You Follow Someone…
By John Ogunjimi
Of all the books I read last year, 5 were books by A.W. Tozer. One common thing I found written about the author was that he was a “self-taught theologian.”
That is something too significant to overlook, particularly in this our generation where people idolize their denominations, the founders, and the traditions of those denominations.
“Self-taught” is relative. Aside reading Tozer’s books, I listen to his sermons too. There is a fire that kindles in me when I do. I get the same effect from books and sermons of Leonard Ravenhill. When you listen to Tozer preach, you’d hear him reference great authors and preachers. That would put a question mark on him being self-taught, wouldn’t it?
But really, I still agree that he was a self-taught theologian. When you look at how widely he read, and how unique his theology was, you’d have your doubts dismissed.
Tozer was a prophet in his time. He decried the surge of worldliness that invaded the Evangelical churches in America. He spared no one in his sermons. His editorials were pungent. He taught fearlessly. He withstood the teachings of the denominations that excused sin. He was an advocate of true worship, and all forms of basterdized worship mingled with worldly entertainment received the sword of Tozer’s pen.
Tozer was indeed self-taught. Or, if you like, Spirit-taught. His convictions were not hidden under a bushel; He beamed them from hilltops. Those who think he was legalistic do not know him well enough.
True it is that there were other preachers that Tozer respected, but none of them was strong enough to mislead him when it came to interpretation of Scriptures.
The point in all these? Following a leader has to be done with wisdom. When you follow someone, don’t follow with a closed Bible!
Paul said something similar when he declared that his teachings were not inspired by men.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it , but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12 KJV)
This is not to undermine the authority of God-appointed shepherds over His flock. No, not at all! Instead, it is to state that no believer should follow any minister blindly into error.
I fellowship in a denomination where the man God used to start the ministry declared from the pulpit that if he tells us to do something that is contrary to the Scriptures, we should throw it back in his face.
We must read books. Yes, we must! But books must be read with discretion and spiritual discernment.
Preachers will preach–and we should listen–but no Christian is under any obligation to follow any preacher beyond the confines of Scriptural liberty into damnable liberalism or legalism.
That kind of Christianity is what the church in our generation needs. Friend, that is what you need! You can’t afford to follow anyone blindly. Let your theology be such that you have received from Christ and his revealed will in the Scriptures.
The Bible should be our final authority in all matters of Christian conduct and works.
Here’s what F.J. Dakes said about the Bible:
It is the book that reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.
Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories true, and its decisions immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.
The Bible contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.
Here heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.
Christ is its grand subject, our good is its design, and the glory of God its end.
It should fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your feet in righteousness and true holiness.
Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully, meditatively, searchingly, devotionally, and study it constantly, perseveringly, and industriously.
Read it through and through until it becomes part of your being and generates faith that will move mountains.
The Bible is a mine of wealth, the source of health, and a world of pleasure. It is given to you in this life, will be opened at the judgment, and will stand forever.
It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the least to the greatest of labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
I repeat, when you follow someone, do so with an open Bible.
Do this, and you will be the type of Christian that heaven will be proud of.