Excerpts from the writings of A.W. Tozer:


“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”  (Matthew 16:24)

“...There is a strange beauty in the ways of God with men.  He sends salvation to the world in the person of a Man and sends that Man to walk the busy ways saying, “If any man will come after me.”  No drama, no fanfare, no tramp of marching feet or tumult of shouting...  “If any man will,” He says and passes on.  Friendly, courteous, unobtrusive... And those who would follow Him must accept His conditions.  “Let him,” He says, and there is no appeal from His words.  He will use no coercion, but neither will He compromise.  Men cannot make the terms; they merely agree to them.  Thousands turn from Him because they will not meet His conditions.  He watches them as they go, for He loves them, but He will make no concessions...

What are the terms of discipleship?...  “Let him deny himself.”  We hear these words and shake our heads in astonishment.  Can we have heard aright?  Can the Lord lay down such severe rules at the door of the Kingdom?  He can and He does.  If He is to save the man, He must save him from himself.  It is the “himself” which has enslaved and corrupted the man.  Deliverance comes only by denial of that self.  No man in his own strength can shed the chains with which self has bound him, but in the next breath the Lord reveals the source of the power which is to set the soul free:  “Let him take us his cross.”  The cross has gathered in the course of the years much of beauty and symbolism, but the cross of which Jesus spoke had nothing of beauty in it.  It was an instrument of death.  Slaying men was its only function.  Men did not wear that cross; but that cross wore men.  It stood naked until a man was pinned on it, a living man fastened like some grotesque stickpin on its breast to writhe and groan till death stilled and silenced him.  That is the cross.  Nothing less.  And when it is robbed of its tears and blood and pain it is the cross no longer.  “Let him take... his cross,” said Jesus, and in death he will know deliverance from himself.  

A strange thing under the sun in crossless Christianity.  The cross of Christendom is a no-cross, an ecclesiastical symbol.  The cross of Christ is a place of death.  Let each one be careful which cross he carries.

“And follow me.”  Now the glory begins to break in upon the soul that has just returned from Calvary.  “Follow me” is an invitation, and a challenge, and a promise.  The cross has been the end of a life and the beginning of a life.  The life that ended there was a life of sin and slavery; the life that began there is a life of holiness and spiritual freedom.  “And follow me,”  He says and faith runs on tiptoe to keep pace with the advancing light.  Until we know the program of our risen Lord for all the years to come we can never know everything He meant when He invited us to follow Him.  Each heart can have its own dream of fair worlds and new revelations, of the odyssey of the ransomed soul in the ages to come, but whoever follows Jesus will find at last that He has made the reality to outrun the dream.”    (Tozer, 'Salvation Walks the Earth'  The Set of the Sail p. 40-43)

“The cross effects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim's, and creating another pattern, its own.  Thus it always has its way.  It winds by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him.  It always dominates.  It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for th sake of peace.  It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible.

With perfect knowledge of all this Christ said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24)  So the cross not only brings Christ's life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life of every one of His true followers.  It destroys the old pattern, the Adamic pattern, in the believer's life, and brings it to an end.  Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.

This, and nothing less, is true Christianity, though we cannot but recognize the sharp divergence of this conception from that held by the rank and file of evangelicals today.  But we dare not qualify our position.  The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment.  A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the entertainment-mad saintlings who will have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.

We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do—flee it or die upon it.  And if we should be so foolhardy as to flee, we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of Christianity something other than it is.  Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power will depart with our departure from the true cross.

If we are wise we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us.  To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life.  And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet hymnody and elevated feeling.  The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations.  It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end.  Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works.

The changed attitude toward the cross that we see in modern orthodoxy proves not that God has changed, not that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross; it means rather that current christianity has moved away from the standards of the New Testament.”  (Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, p 68-70)

“...the very power of the cross lies in the fact that it is the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of man” (Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, p. 79)


“The cross would not be a cross to us if it destroyed in us only the unreal and the artificial.  It is when it goes on to slay the best in us that its cruel sharpness is felt.”  (Tozer, Born After Midnight, 53)


“Men have fashioned a golden cross with a graving tool, and before it they sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play” (Tozer, The Divine Conquest, p. 61)


“Men crave life, but when they are told that life comes by the cross they cannot understand how it can be, for they have learned to associate with the cross such typical images as memorial plaques, dim-lit aisles and ivy.  So they reject the true message of the cross and with that message they reject the only hope of life known to the sons of men” (Tozer, The Divine Conquest, p.62)


“In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die” (Tozer, Man:  The Dwelling Place of God, p. 44)


“The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.  To any who many object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present.  Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching what has brought life and power to the world through the centuries” (Tozer, Man:  The Dwelling Place of God, p. 45)