“‘A man is dead, when he no longer resists the will of God in anything. Dead men do not resist. You must go to God as a lamb, to obey, follow and die. We must come to God with our hands open. A man can’t be crucified while he keeps his fists closed. Open your hands in generous giving and hold nothing back. Even tithing can be harmful if we unconsciously feel that the one tenth we have given is all that belongs to God. Everything is His; we own nothing at all. The tenth is only the amount we set aside for religious work. The other nine tenths are His also, but He graciously permits us to use it as we have need.’ Brother Tom sees a close relationship between dying and giving.” (The Praying Plumber of Lisburn by A.W. Tozer)
This is a quote I read recently from a man who was 66-years-old and had only been to America twice in his life at the time it was published. Although many had knocked on his door asking to write about him, he only ever allowed one… his longtime friend, A.W. Tozer. Upon reading the book Tozer wrote about his life, it is without question that the reason he didn’t let others interview him was not out of arrogance or anti-social behavior. It was because “The Praying Plumber of Lisburn” took the Scriptures literally and seriously. Matthew 6:1 says that if you seek recognition for your deeds here, you forfeit recognition from the Father, and Tom Haire would not risk making this trade in even the slightest sense. Tom explained, “All I have is from God and I don’t want to let any man elevate me in any way.” Tozer said he then whispered, “I’m afraid of losing me power with God” (me power? Lisburn is in Ireland).
A.B. Simpson said in his book “The Self-Life and The Christ-Life”:
“The man that lets go gets all, and the man who holds fast loses what he has, and the Lord’s words come true—‘Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.’”
Simpson points to Abraham, Isaac, Joseph and Moses as men of God who had to give up all they wanted or found important and only then did they receive all God had for them, telling Moses “now you have a better resurrection.” He also points to Saul who resisted God and would not give up himself or his wants and the price he payed as a result. In the New Testament, Simpson points to Peter to whom Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go… Follow Me” (John 21:18). Peter was to spend his life, not leading himself, but being led by the Spirit until ultimately “he should be crucified with downward head upon his Master’s cross.”
If you’ve read very many of the posts on P.O.C. then you’ve had to hit at least a mention of “We Must Die to Self to Live in Christ.” This Scriptural Truth seems to be hitting me a lot lately, this reference being only one of them. It did, however, provide a unique look at this vital issue and spurred an image I will use as the basis of this post.
Growing up, I had a lot of relatives in poor health for various reasons. As a result, I spent more time in hospital settings than the average child. From this view of the world I saw the inevitable “life support” debate played out and heard discussions of the value and cost of “resisting” death. Again, this is the illustration not the issue, so I will not go into this debate, but I will say this. For someone who has not taken the opportunity to accept Christ, every effort should be made to acquire the chance to correct this mistake. You cannot rush too slowly into your fate. For someone who has chosen Christ, the issue of their service, the length and form of it, is between them and God. When our appointed time has come, a Christian cannot rush too quickly into our reward. But these are not the issues to which this post speaks. “A man is dead, when he no longer resists…” This is the subject matter of this post.
Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). In case it’s not clear, when you are “crucified,” you die. What does this mean? In Matthew 16:24-26 Christ answers that question: “…If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” What was it Tom said… “Everything is His; we own nothing at all…, but He graciously permits us to use it as we have need.” Let me put them together for a minute. We own or have nothing. As the Creator of All… All is His who created it. As God created Life itself, this includes our life. Life, and the comforts of it, were given as a temporary Gift. As Mc’Clure said, we are to use these Gifts as a “preparation” for the time to come. Life after Death. More specifically, Eternal Spiritual Life after temporary physical life. Or as Christ said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”
Most Christians have a general understanding and an even more general commitment to this concept. But God does not stop at understanding. He requires Action. As we discuss in “Faith Is” God didn’t just ask Abraham, “Would you give up your promised son Isaac for me?” God required Abraham to actually do it. When Abraham showed he in fact would put God above all that he loved in the physical world, God honored His Promise and stopped Abraham. As Simpson pointed out, “Joseph died to his circumstances…” then, after Joseph had surrendered all he held dear to God, God “put him on the World’s Throne.” Christ asks us as he did Peter, “Will you lay down your life for Me?” (John 13:38) Christ also tells us in John 12:24, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Now, what does this mean? It is directly to our point. Most of us have either bought or been in the store and seen the little packets of seeds ready to plant in our garden. Provided they are given the right environment, those seeds can stay healthy in those packets for years, but they will never be more than seeds. Eventually, despite best efforts, these seeds will wither and be wasted having never fulfilled the plan of their creation. They will never produce fruit. If we take those seeds home and scatter them on our concrete driveway they will also wither and fail the purpose of their creation. On the other hand, if we take them home, turn, fertilize and water a nice patch of soil, then place the seeds in that soil, something else happens. First, the seed dies. It surrenders its current form, everything it currently is. Then, from this state of death, it bursts forth in new life, reaching for the sky to be all its Creator asks it to be. This once tiny, simple, useless thing is now a beautiful plant, a new creation. From this new life it forgets it ever was a seed and puts all it has into producing fruit for its Creator.
As I said, most Christians understand the “Yeah, I’m a seed thing” and say “I want to bear fruit for my Creator,” but few are truly willing to do the part in between. In varying degrees, they “resist” death. They hold on to all they have in the physical world and “say” they would give it all up. Few, however, would make the trip up the mountain that Abraham did, even fewer would pull out their dagger. Tom Haire also said, “We must come to God with our hands open,” that a man cannot be crucified when making a fist. And this is why the story of Tom inspired my thoughts and this post. How many of us say we will give up all for God? How many would die rather than deny Him? How many believe God when He promises a better Life in Him through the Spirit if we would just die to the captivity of this physical world? You see, what Tom showed me is that the number who can truly answer “I will” to these questions is small and not nearly the number most of us think. The Truth Is, few of us would mean it if we said, as Tom did, “All I have is from God… I have nothing at all.” If we don’t now, we all have had that one thing that was ours. That thing that even if we let go of everything else, we clench tightly in our “fists.” That one thing we just can’t die to that keeps us from being born “Anew” as one of God’s Spiritual Trees. That last remnant of our physical existence that just means too much. That thing that keeps us grasping for every last breath of the physical world. It is that thing for which we sacrifice our Spiritual Life. So, we lie there, mostly dead, but not completely dead. A useless seed just Living on life support with that one little thing our “fists” tightly close around we won’t die to.
As Tom said, “Dead men do not Resist!” There is no morsel of life they cling to. They do not and cannot devise means to Die but keep just a little life. They do not… Live? on life support. They “unplug,” let go, allowing death its full embrace. We must let ALL go before we can receive any of what our Creator offers us! We must reject the Lie that we can Live on life support, “open our hands” and reach out for that cross. It is only those who “go to God as a lamb, to obey, follow and die,” to themselves and this world, who can Rise with Christ into a New Spiritual World. Then, like Christ, we will be “in the world, but not of the world.” We will know the Peace, Hope and Joy that He has promised.
© Scott A Caughel 3/13/2019