Rut, Rot, or Revival – Reflections

I read this book called Rut, Rot, or Revival. It’s a bunch of sermons by A.W. Tozer compiled by James L. Snyder. I was looking to better understand what revival looked like and realized a couple of things. Let me paint the general picture of what A.W. Tozer’s sermons were trying to say, and then I’ll talk about some of the things that I learned.

A.W. Tozer pointed out the problems that he saw in Christianity during his lifetime. He said that people can be in a rut where they are in bondage to being in a rote, which is doing the same thing over and over without feeling. People in a rut aren’t aware that they’re in a rut. There are also people who are in rot. Tozer explains rot like this: 

“The church is afflicted by dry rot. This is best explained when the psychology of nonexpectation takes over and spiritual rigidity sets in, which is an inability to visualize anything better, a lack of desire for improvement.”

He also points out what people try to do once they’re told that they’re in a rut. They try to do things. They think something along the lines of “We want to change and see the church grow.” He calls them out by saying that they’re trying to get people to come and join them in their rot. He also talks about how they try to do things. He specifically calls out eating a meal, travelling, and forming a committee. (I’m not sure what the reason behind those specific things are, but the idea is that simply doing something won’t cause change in the church.) There’s a lot of rebuke that is towards Christianity during his time. Yet, Tozer doesn’t leave it at that. He addresses the internal, spiritual problem that a lot of Christians have using Scripture, analogies, and examples. He lays things out pretty clearly to encourage Christians to know God and examine their own lives. He understands that the task at hand can seem overwhelming but encourages the Christian to look to God and to know that He is not far away. He shows that true change in a Christian’s life happens when they submit to God and His Word.

The book was not what I expected, but that’s a good thing. I thought that revival looked like some moving event where a lot of Christians are very passionate about God and as a result, more people become Christian and passionate about God. I thought that I can learn more about what that looks like or how to get to that point from reading this book. Instead the book gave a greater emphasis on continuing to know God through His Word and examining your own life against what the Bible says. Ironically, this is also something that is emphasized at church on an almost weekly basis. I realized that I was not looking towards God for revival, but I was looking towards something else like people or their methods. Knowing God and living for Him has greater implications and effects than I could ever imagine, because God is the One at work. Instead of trying to think for myself how I could better live for God, why don’t I just go to God directly through His Word? Why would I look for revival in a person or a method instead of from God who works in the hearts of sinful men? It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I do. That was the biggest thing that I learned from the book, and I’m glad to go to a church where these truths are emphasized.

This book was refreshing since it emphasized God’s Word but rebuking since I did not practice what I thought I already knew. I hope that I will continue to remain in God’s Word and allow Scripture to reveal to me my shortcomings and how I can better live for God. If you’ve read this book before, what are your thoughts on it? Are they similar? I’d love to talk about it with you!

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