‘The world is famishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for want of his presence.’
With these words A. W. Tozer captures as well as anything the thinking behind ‘Behold Your God’.
It is quite hard to pin this course down. It is not exactly a doctrine course, nor is it evangelism, nor is it discipleship. But then again, it is all three and more.
If you are looking for the next big idea then this is not the course for you. You could use it like that, and it would make a better fist of it than many, but to do so would be to miss the point. This is a course about the inadequacy of that whole way of thinking. It makes the case that our big need is not new methods or new ideas but a deeper knowledge of God himself.
So, above all, this is a course about God. It is about Him being bigger than we think; about us not knowing Him as well as we could and should; and, especially, about the fact that it doesn’t have to be that way. The call here is to a renewed knowledge of God, to a new discovery of the power of repentance and faith, and to a new delight in Christ Himself.
I think there is depth here – and weight; and orientation; and direction.
The course consists of a Workbook and a set of DVDs. It is twelve sessions long and set up to run over twelve weeks. The idea is that each participant does the five studies in the Workbook during the week, and then the group comes together to watch the DVD and share their thoughts. It is important to know that the key material is delivered through the five studies in the Workbook. The DVD sometimes repeats that material, but it usually assumes it, and is more ‘motivational’ in character.
Each DVD has three sections:
1. A 10 minute biographical sketch. The roll call is A. W. Tozer, Timothy Dwight, George Muller, Samuel Rutherford, George Whitefield, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Charles Spurgeon, Daniel Rowland, Amy Carmichael, Charles Finney, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Edwards.
2. A 30 minute sermon from John Snyder filmed with an audience in a café setting. John Snyder studied at WEST in the late 90’s completing a PhD on the Theology of the 18th Century Revival.
3. A 10 minute ‘interview’ section edited from interviews with Andrew Davies, Conrad Mbewe, Eifion Evans, Paul Washer, Richard Owen Roberts, Jordan Thomas, and Anthony Mathenia. These men form a good cross section of ages and contexts and it is nice to see a couple of familiar faces in there.
That list of names is useful to know as it conveys a sense of the theology and ‘ethos’ of the course. It is setting out what I would call ‘Big Vision’ Christianity. Flowing from the Reformation, this vision of the Christian Faith was forged in the fires of the 18th Century Revivals and was, more recently, recovered in the 20th Century through the influence of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
I was raised and converted in this ‘ethos’ but find that nowadays it is strangely out of fashion. It has been good to find a resource that presents it afresh. I think it has been a help to others also. We ran ‘Behold your God’ in our church every Friday for twelve weeks in 2013 with good attendance and largely positive feedback.
The course is from the USA. That does mean there is some translation work to do – linguistically, culturally and maybe spiritually. But we are used to things from the US and, unless you’ve got some personal issues, the problems are minor. In practice the themes being raised run much too deep for any cultural differences to get in the way.
So I would say invest in this course. It isn’t cheap but it is worth it. We are currently running it in our church with the sessions just once a month. This gives people time to do justice to the five home studies in the workbook. The Workbook is also worth cannibalising to use parts of it as ‘stand alone’ studies – the five on holiness were especially good in this regard. Also valuable as a ‘stand alone’ resource is the third part of each DVD, the ‘interview’ section. I have used these as discussion starters in other contexts. I think too they could be the way to use this course with teenagers – start with the ten minute ‘interview’ section from the DVD, do your own Bible study drawing on the Workbook, then maybe use the relevant biographical slot from the DVD to end. I have also been watching the ‘interview’ sections for my own personal encouragement now and again, and can see no reason why they wouldn’t be valuable in family devotions too – assuming any children are not too young. Check out www.beholdyourgod.org for more. Your best bet for getting a copy in the UK at the moment is the Heath Bookshop in Whitchurch Road, Cardiff.