Monthly Archives: June 2016

A. W. Tozer Beware The File Card Mentality

Tozer Beware The File Card Mentality

The essence of true religion is spontaneity, the sovereign movings of the Holy Spirit upon and in the free spirit of redeemed men. This has through the years of human history been the hallmark of spiritual excellency, the evidence of reality in a world of unreality.

When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system—and the file-card mentality.

Back of the file-card mentality is the belief that spirituality can be organized. Then is introduced into religion those ideas which never belong there—numbers, statistics, the law of averages and other such natural and human things. And creeping death always follows!

Now a file card is a very harmless little tool and a very useful one for some purposes. It is splendid for keeping attendance records in the Sunday School, and a good mailing list can hardly be managed without it. It is a good thing in its place and deadly out of its place Its danger comes from the well-known human tendency to depend upon external helps in dealing with internal things.

When the file card begins to direct the Christian’s life it immediately becomes a nuisance and a curse. When it gets out of the file case and into the human heart-woe be uno us; nothing but an internal spiritual revolution can deliver the victom from his fate.

Here’s how the file card works when it gets into the Christian life and begins to create mental habits: it divides the Bible into sections fitted to the days of the year and compels the Christian to read according to rule. No matter what the Holy Spirit may be trying to say to a man, still he goes on reading where the card tells him, dutifully checking it off each day. Every Spirit-led saint knows that there are times when he is held by an inward pressure to one chapter, or even one verse, for days at a time, while he wrestles with God till some truth does its work within him. To leave that present passage to follow a prearranged reading schedule is for him wholly impossible. He is in the hand of the free Spirit, and reality is appearing before him to break and humble and lift and liberate and cheer. But only the free soul can know the glory of this To this the heart bound by system will be forever a stranger.
The slave to the file card soon finds that his prayers lose their freedom and become less spontaneous, less effective. He finds himself concerned over matters that should give him no concern whatever—how much time he spent in prayer yesterday, whether he did or did not cover his prayer list for the day, whether he gets up as early as he used to do or stays up in prayer as late at night. Inevitably the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled. And even if under such circumstances he succeeds in making his prayer amount to something, still he is suffering tragic losses and binding upon his soul a yoke from which Christ died to set him free.

The Pastor, too, must watchlest he become the victim of the file card. From the road in it looks like a good idea to work out a system of sermon coverage, mapping out the doctrines of the Bible as a farmer divides his acre, allowing so much time during the year for sermons on the various Bible truths so that at the end of a given period the correct amount of attention will have been given to each one. This looks good and theoretically it should be fine, but it will kill any man who follows it, and it will kill his church as well; and one characteristic of this kind of death is that neither pastor nor people are aware that is has come.

Those responsible for the activites of churches and gospel workers must also look out for the file card snare. It is a deadly thing and works to stop the spontaneous operation of the Spirit. No one need die, no one need lie in patient, suffering prayer in the presence of God while the Holy Spirit imparts His sovereign will to his believing heart. No vision of God, high and lifted up, no shocking exposure of inner uncleanness, no pain of a burning coal upon the lips. Yes, it is an easy way. But dare we take it?

The glory of the gospel is its freedom. The Pharisees, who were slaves, hated Christ because He was free. The battle for spiritual freedom did not end when our Lord had risen from the dead. It still goes on, and in a tragic degree the sons of freedom are losing it. Many wo know better are surrendering their liberties with only a token struggle. They find it easier to consult the card than to pray through to a place of spiritual illumination and inward prophetic assurance.

Let us not forget that a free man who could hear God speak opened Europe to the gospel. Do not forget that a man with a free mentality founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Remember that a man whose heart was bursting with a weight he could no longer contain forced hi way into Indonesia and opened one of the most fruitful mission fields i modern times.

It will indeed be cause for mourning in Zion when the race of free men dies out in the church and the work of God is entrusted wholly to the file card jockey. O Lord, hear, O Lord, remember, and put off the evil day as long as possible.

A. W. Tozer Beware The File Card Mentality is from Alliance Weekly 22 August 1951

A. W. Tozer The Essence Of Beauty

A. W. Tozer The Essence Of Beauty

One thing the Bible teaches very plainly is that Christ is the sum of all virtues and the essense of all beauty.

On this subject, modern Christians have a lot to learn. We have been cheated of this truth for the last half-century or more, the emphasis falling elsewhere. And we are always victims of the prevailing religious vogue. Whatever is getting the attention from our spiritual leaders is what we finally come to accept as orthodoxy in any given period of history. And right now we are definitely not hearing much about the loveliness of Jesus.

Christ is God shining through the personality of a man, and shining unhindered. His sacred humanity does not veil His divine beauty in any degree. The Christ who lived among men showed forth the nature of God as certainly as if He had still been with His Father in the preincarnate state.

There is no moral beauty but what Christ is the source of it. Every trait of lovely character we see in any believing man or woman is but an imperfect demonstration of how wonderful Jesus is. Even those moral beauties that appear to be “natural” to some people have their source in Him. For human goodness cannot exist apart from Christ.

“They are but broken lights of Thee, And Thou,
O Christ, are more than they.”

Some good Christians are afraid to give notice to any lovely virtues which may appear here and there among God’s people lest they detract from the glory of Christ. Such timidity is understandable, but uncalled for. If we know to begin with that all goodness is from Christ, that all sweetness, all holiness, all loveliness are out of Him and from Him and in Him, we will not hesitate to recognize moral excellence wherever it may occur on this dark planet. If a ray of holy light shines out from any man’s life, it must be because Christ is there shining in secret in a human breast, and we should be quick to catch this dim glimpse of the Light of the World again incarnated in a human being. The glory of Christ will not suffer from this frank and eager acknowledgment of virtue where we find it.

Because we are sentient beings, we must have some love-motivation to keep us running. This fact (on a lower level) is well known to everyone. God knew this (for He made us) and gave us the supreme love-Object of the universe to fire our hearts with holy passion. That Object is Jesus. The Christian faith may be summed up in the love of Jesus. To love Him enough is to be sweetly and wonderfully free. To love Him as He should be loved is to know at once complete release from religious forms and traditions. It is to reach the goal of life even here below.

A. W. Tozer The Essence Of Beauty Alliance Weekly 8 August 1951

A. W. Tozer Co-Workers, Not Competitors

It is too bad that anything so obvious should need to be said at this late date, but from all appearances, we Christians have about forgotten the lesson so carefully taught by Paul:, that God’s servants are not to be competitors, but co-workers.

In any religious work there are two interests, either of which may be served: the spiritual interest or the natural; the divine or the human; our own or God’s. And it is altogether possible to serve our own interests with poured-out devotion. It is possible to serve the flesh even while engaged in the most intense sort of religious activities. The very fact that our activities are religious will sometimes disguise the presence of the rankest kind of selfishness.

It is impossible for two servants of Christ to compete as long as the work they are doing is God’s work. When the spirit of competition enters, we may be sure that the work of God is no longer being done. God is one; it is wholly impossible for Him to compete with Himself. As long as His Spirit is in control there can be no such thing as competition among those who are under that control. The Spirit achieves cooperation, always, and makes of His servants not competitors, but co-workers.
A local church, as long as it is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot entertain the psychology of competition. When it begins to compete with another church, it is a true church of God no longer; it has voided its character and gone down onto a lower level. The Spirit that indwells it is no longer divine; it is human merely, and its activities are pitched on the plane of the natural.

Wherever the spirit of competition between brethren rears its head, there will be found carnality, selfishness and sin. The only way to deal with it is to tag it for what it is and put it away in the sorrows of repentance.

The Holy Spirit always cooperates with Himself in His members. The Spirit-directed body does not tear itself apart by competition. The ambitions of the various members are submerged in the glory of the Head, and whatever brings honor to the Head meets with the most eager approval of the members.

We should cultivate the idea that we are co-workers rather than competitors. We should ask God to give us the psychology of cooperation. We should learn to think of ourselves as being members in particular of one and the same body, and we should reject with indignation every suggestion of the enemy designed to divide our efforts.

A. W. Tozer Co-Workers, Not Competitors Alliance Weekly 8 August 1951

A. W. Tozer It Seemed Good In Thy Sight

A determination to know what cannot be known always works harm to the Christian heart.

Ignorance in matters on our human level is never to be excused if there has been opportunity to correct it. But there are matters which are obviously “too high for us.” These we should meet in trusting faith and say as Jesus said, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

There are things that we can never understand until we have the benefit of advanced experience and the addition of a light beyond anything we possess at present. Under those circumstances it is not good to attempt to understand.

Confessed ignorance becomes us better. Human curiosity and pride often combine to drive us to try to understand acts of God which are plainly outside the field of human understanding. We dislike to admit that we do not know what is going on, so we torture our minds trying to fathom the mysterious ways of the Omniscient One. It’s hard to conceive of a more fruitless task.

For instance, a child which had been long desired and prayed for is suddenly taken away. The parents are prostrated with grief, and to add to their suffering comes the torturing thought that they should know why it all happened, but do not. Then begins the long, painful attempt to learn the secret of life and death. Why did this happen? What does God have in mind? These poor friends bruise their minds cruelly trying to fathom the unfathomable.

Under such circumstances the Christian thing to do is to say, “That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest…Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” A blind confidence which trusts without seeing is far dearer to God than any fancied knowledge that can explain everything.

We may as well learn (and the earlier the better) that God has no private secretaries who are on the inside of the secrets of eternity. All God wanted to say, He has said in the Scriptures. Beyond that we show the greatest wisdom simply to remain still before Him and whisper, “Even so, Father.” To the adoring heart, the best and most satisfying explanation for anything always will be, “It seemed good in thy sight.” Amen.

A. W. Tozer It Seemed Good In Thy Sight is from Alliance Weekly 1 August 1951