III. The Believer's Privileges
Tom Haire, on the whole, takes a very charitable attitude toward all his fellow Christians and toward every shade of doctrinal belief within the framework of evangelical Christianity.
He would not be classified as a teacher of divine healing but he has strong convictions about the believer's privileges in Christ as they touch his physical body. He believes that God sometimes gives a praying man the assurance of healing for someone else. "There is a sense in which a true Christian may receive healing for another," he says, "God using him as a channel through which He can pour Himself out upon the needy person." In Tom's theology the onus of failure when praying for the sick never falls upon the sick man. Those who do the praying are responsible to exercise faith for the one in need. That is quite a reversal of the current practice of heaping scorn upon the sick man because he cannot get up after he has been prayed for.
In prayer we need always to obtain the wisdom of the Spirit so that we may pray according to the will of God and not suffer discouragement from failure to see our desires realized. "When I get the mind of God," Tom insists, "I always get the answer. When the wisdom of God floods over my understanding I can take the sick man by the hand and tell him to get up."
But even here he will not allow himself to get under bondage. He seeks not to support a doctrinal bias but to discover and follow the will of God. He tells of praying once for the recovery of a Christian woman who he felt was greatly needed on earth. He was on his knees interceding for her when he felt a check on his spirit. Then he thought he heard the Lord speaking in his heart. "Don't pray for her, Tom," the voice seemed to say, "I have prepared a big reception for her up here. I want her with Me." Tom immediately ceased to pray and began to celebrate the blessed reception about to be held in heaven for the departing sister. Shortly after this she went to be with Christ.
Brother Tom's prayer list is very long and contains among other things the names of many persons for whom he makes regular intercession. Once when going over his list before the Lord he came to the name of a dear friend who had lately died. "Being a Protestant," says Tom, "I took out me pencil and started to cross off his name, for I did not believe in praying for the dead. But the Lord spoke to me and said, 'No, Tom, do not cross him off. Just write after his name the word Home! You have not lost him!'" Tom happily obeyed, and while he did not again intercede for his friend, he never felt that he had died. The relationship between these two Christians had not been altered by the mere incident of death. This world and the one above are never far apart and sometimes they actually touch and intermingle. This has been the comforting belief of the sweetest saints of the ages, and Tom's experiences only seem to confirm the truth.
Anything that begins or ends in self is extremely hateful to Tom Haire. Self-righteousness, self-confidence and every other self-sin must be slain within us if we are to grow in the love of God. He goes back to the sixth chapter of Romans for his theology and insists that the doctrine become real in the life. To Tom the sanctified life is one that is dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God through Christ Jesus.
"A man is dead," he says, "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." Brother Tom sees a close relationship between dying and giving. "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."
When Tom was a young man God filled him with the Holy Ghost and he has never forgotten it. But he does not rest upon an experience that happened so long ago. He believes that we should go on to be filled again and again as the need arises. "If I am filled in 1953," he explains, "in 1954 there will be new areas discovered in my life of which I was unaware. These, too, need to be filled and claimed for God by the sovereign Holy Ghost."
While discussing the doctrine and experience of the Holy Spirit with him I took occasion to inquire what he thought of the notion that everyone who is filled with the Spirit will speak in tongues. I knew that his views would be of great value because they spring out of fifty years of holy living and victorious praying. Here would be no mere theory nor prejudiced opinion, but a wise and spiritual word spoken out of long familiarity with the Holy Ghost.
To my blunt question, "Brother Tom, have you ever spoken with tongues?" he gave the answer smilingly and gently: "No. I have never spoken in tongues, but I do not 'forbid' anyone from doing so. I think, however, that I have been instrumental in leading many persons from tongues to love. You see, I do not need tongues. I can make myself clear to others with the one I have now, and God knows what I am saying before I utter a word. So of what use would tongues be to me?" It may be that someone has spoken a wiser word on this controversial subject, but if so I have not heard it.
From THE PRAYING PLUMBER OF LISBURN - A Sketch of God's Dealings with Thomas Haire by A. W. TOZER. Published in 1954 in The Alliance Weekly magazine. It has been explicitly authorized by the Alliance Life editors to be made available free online. The only stipulations are: 1) The work may only be made available for FREE. 2) The following citation must appear: Originally published in the Alliance Weekly (now Alliance Life) January 6, 13, and 20, 1954. Used by permission. Creative Commons license: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.
Insights of the past for the present
Plumber of Lisburn - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.