3. Organization: Necessary and Dangerous (Part 2)

The “Church” Paradigm (a la Tozer)

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Ex. 20:21 π Jdgs. 2:10 π Mt. 13:31-32 π Mt. 16:18 π Mt. 23:13 π Lk. 5:37 π Lk. 5:38-39 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 12:24 π Jn. 15:5 π Jn. 17:20 π 2 Cor. 11:3 π Gal. 5:4 π Gal. 6:7-8 π Eph. 2:10 π Eph. 6:12 π Phlp. 2:30 π Col. 4:12 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 2:2 π 2 Tim. 3:10-11 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π 1 Jn. 2:21 π 1 Jn. 4:18 π 1 Jn. 5:19 π Rev. 2:4

All quotes from A.W. Tozer are from his book, God Tells the Man Who Cares unless otherwise specified.

Tozer wrote:

Another cause back of our top-heavy and ugly over-organization is fear. Churches and societies founded by saintly men with courage, faith and sanctified imagination appear unable to propagate themselves on the same spiritual level beyond one or two generations. The spiritual fathers were not able to sire others with courage and faith equal to their own. The fathers had God and little else, but their descendants lose their vision and look to methods and constitutions for the power their hearts tell them they lack. Then rules and precedents harden into a protective shell where they can take refuge from trouble. It is always easier and safer to pull in our necks than to fight things out on the field of battle.

In all our fallen life there is a strong gravitational pull toward complexity and away from things simple and real. There seems to be a kind of sad inevitability back of our morbid urge toward spiritual suicide. Only by prophetic insight, watchful prayer and hard work can we reverse the trend and recover the departed glory. (“Organization: Necessary and Dangerous,” p. 32)

A cause behind the top-heaviness and ugliness in our “church” organizations, wrote Tozer, is fear. Tozer, writing around 1960, recognized that a key building block of the usual “church” structure was fear! But yet we’re still supposed to believe that somehow God is the designer of the “church” structure! No!!! “Perfect love” – and God is perfect Love – “removes all fear.” (see 1 Jn. 4:18; top )

Parasitical organizations attached to the work of God is precisely what Jesus predicted. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” ( Mt. 13:31-32 ) The kingdom of God started with the crucifixion of one Man and has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon. In the New Testament, the “birds of the air” consistently refers to the demonic entities opposed to Christ and His kingdom. A nest is an organized structure attached to the organism that is the Tree that spiritually grows up from the Grain that fell into the ground and died. (see Jn. 12:24; top ) Even Tozer clearly recognized that Christ the nominal but not literal “Head of the of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over.” (“The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches,” p. 210) Any organization (local, regional, denominational, whatever) that does not have Christ as its literal and active Head – and not just as its nominal and figurative poster child – is a nest for the birds of the air! Let he who has ears hear.

Works started by “saintly men with courage, faith and sanctified imagination” were accomplished precisely because those saintly men “had God and little else.” They had the spiritual growth of the original Seed. The “little else” they had though, was the idea that additional organization was needed. Somehow the life of the Seed was inadequate to provide for maintaining the peculiar nature of those saintly men’s works and thus methods and constitutions are brought in – precisely because Christ is not the literal and active Head over people who claim to be His – and another nest for the birds of the air is constructed. The fact that the spiritual fathers’ works are unable to sire others of like faith beyond one or two generations should tell us immediately that somehow their works differ from the work of Jesus and His original disciples which still produces followers of Christ to this day. (see Jn. 17:20; top )

Paul wrote to Timothy, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” ( 2 Tim. 2:2 ) And, “you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions…” ( 2 Tim. 3:10-11; top ) That list is a lot longer than what most “churches” try to impart to their followers!

The saintly men of courage, faith and sanctified imagination who had God and little else and constructed works that endured for at least a generation or two faced the opposition of the hardened wineskin (see Lk. 5:38-39; top ) that preceded them. The spiritually blind, impotent followers of a generation after these saintly men seek positions, salaries, awards, accolades, consensus and approval whereas the saintly men simply sought truth and the presence and Person of God. Is it any wonder that there is a vast difference between the spiritual pioneers and the carnal organizers and undertakers of only a generation or two later.

When the blind followers of saintly men take up their precepts but do not find for themselves the Lord of those saintly men, all that is left is to write up rules, methodologies, constitutions and precedents. Resorting to law is the only method for maintaining control left to those who have fallen from grace ( Gal. 5:4 ) and a hardened wineskin can be the only result. ( Lk. 5:37; top ) This “protective shell” behind which they hide protects them from their need to take up their cross and die daily, seeking the Lord’s will rather than their own for themselves and the people they influence. They have a preconceived paradigm to obey and there is no need to seek further wisdom, insight and revelation from God. Instead of having to be right in God’s eyes, they need only be right in the eyes of their followers who are already spiritually blind and carnally predisposed to agree with them anyway. It’s no real trick to draw yes-men to one’s cause if it doesn’t require the self-denial and crucifixion of our flesh life but instead gives our self a place to strut it’s proud stuff in the guise of religion.

“The fathers had God and little else.” But the followers have leaders who inadvertently step into the place of God. Whereas the leaders sought God, the followers sought the leaders. Wherever there is a “Moses” who will go up the mountain of God in the place of all the people (see Ex. 20:21 ), there will be “Israelites” practicing idolatry and producing golden calves behind his back. And a generation or two later, after “Moses’” successor “Joshua” dies or is fired or ousted by his competitors for his place of preeminence, the next “generation” (or the next round of “church” turnover) knows nothing of the Lord nor do they experience the work God did in the original leader(s). (see Jdgs. 2:10; top ) When any substitutions are made for the way of God, yet another nest is built for the birds of the air and when the spiritually blind, impotent, cowardly followers take over the original saintly men’s religious empires, the way is paved for the apostasy to roll in and become the accepted status quo, the preferred and “proper” way to practice “Christianity.” And this is precisely what modern “churchianity” has become – a collection of various competing sects each with their own accepted status quo leadership requirements and each views itself as the preferred and “proper” way to follow Christ!

Also, as a result of these spiritually blind, impotent, cowardly followers taking up positions of “church” leadership in their generation but simultaneously pulling their necks in and refusing to fight the good fight of the faith, nearly no one knows what it means to conduct spiritual warfare – or even that there is any need to do so! In an age when we need every warrior capable of putting the demonic to flight, we find nearly every believer intimately connected with, even controlled by the demonic. Most “churches,” if they even touch the subject, teach that no believer can be demon possessed (a murky, deceptive teaching propagated by the demonic if there ever was one! – see 1 Tim. 4:1 ) and even though Paul listed four types of spiritual beings that we are to wrestle against ( Eph. 6:12; top ), most do not know even what those types are, let alone how to overcome them!

“In all our fallen life,” Tozer wrote, “there is a strong gravitational pull toward complexity and away from things simple and real.” What is the source of that pull? Paul wrote, “The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness and I fear that in the same way your minds may be corrupted away from the simplicity that is in Christ.” ( 2 Cor. 11:3 ) In a word, that “strong gravitational pull” toward complexity and away from the simple and real life that is Christ is the evidence that we are still under the sway of the evil one. (see 1 Jn. 5:19 ) The power of death – and that is precisely what pulls us away from Christ who is our life – has no power over one who has already been crucified. That nearly every “church” throughout every segment of church history has strayed from the simple and real life of Christ is the evidence that Satan has more influence at the helm and in the body of those “churches” than we have given him credit for. Satan is the father of all lies because there is no truth in him ( Jn. 8:44 ) and no lie is of the truth. ( 1 Jn. 2:21; top ) Wherever any move of God is diverted into complexity (politicking for power, gossip, envy, backstabbing, strife, etc.), it is precisely there that yet another nest has been built for the birds of the air.

It is not, as Tozer wrote, a “sad inevitability back of our morbid urge toward spiritual suicide.” No, it is a devilish scheme carefully calculated and designed to tap into our carnal nature and rob us of our inheritance in Christ. Some will immediately turn to Jesus’ promise that the gates of Hell (the schemes of the devil) will not prevail against them. (see Mt. 16:18 ) Too many people have tried to claim that promise – which in truth is only for Christ’s one true ekklesia that He established on the revelation of His nature as Christ and God – and they have not taken care to be sure that they are truly part of His one true ekklesia. Christ’s one true ekklesia will prevail over the gates of Hell, every scheme of the devil, but the question of whether an individual will prevail depends entirely on whether the individual is truly a member of Christ’s body, the ekklesia, or whether he is just a member of one of the birds’ nests, more obedient to the machinations of his flesh and the demonic than to the Spirit of Christ. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” ( Gal. 6:7-8; top )

Tozer says we need 1) “prophetic insight,” 2) “watchful prayer” and 3) “hard work” if we are to recover “the departed glory.” Before we examine those three elements let us remind ourselves of what the “departed glory” is supposed to be about. Jesus rebuked the people of Ephesus for having left their first love. ( Rev. 2:4 ) The first- and second-century Christians fell from the heights of simply abiding in Christ and few, if any, groups have climbed to those heights ever since. So if we seek to obtain the “departed glory,” we must first preach – and practice! – the way of self-denial and the crucifixion of the flesh so as to attain to the will of God. Few will stand for this in this last hour of apostasy and lawlessness. (see 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top )

When Tozer speaks of our need for prophetic insight, he speaks well. In another book, he wrote,

The soundness of current Christianity is assumed by the religious masses as was the soundness of Judaism when Christ appeared. People know they are seeing certain activity, but just what it means they do not know, nor have they the faintest idea of where God is or what relation He has toward the whole thing.

What is needed desperately today is prophetic insight. Scholars can interpret the past; it takes prophets to interpret the present. Learning will enable a man to pass judgment on our yesterdays, but it requires a gift of clear seeing to pass sentence on our own day. One hundred years from now historians will know what was taking place religiously in this year of our Lord; but that will be too late for us. We should know right now.

If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of this century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting.

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt-spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the one and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath. (“The Gift of Prophetic Insight,” excerpted from Of God and Men)

It is virtually impossible to improve on that description!

Tozer’s second prescription was “watchful prayer” and this is equally necessary – so long as we understand that Tozer is referring to prayer initiated and assisted by the Holy Spirit of God. Prayers to the mush “God” who condones nearly every kind of personal sin to accomplish some social “good” and pleas for God to bless the carnal works concocted by carnal men, especially those building yet more nests for the birds of the air, are neither beneficial nor what Tozer is referring to here. Travail – hard, laborious prayer - in the Spirit that brings forth new life where none existed before, not regarding our own life to supply what is lacking in others (see Phlp. 2:30 ), that they may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. ( Col. 4:12; top ) Intercession is a virtually lost art among “Christians” today but it still stands as one of the highest and most needed giftings today.

Tozer’s third prescription was for “hard work.” This, as Tozer would agree, is not just any “good” work we happen to want to do. This work is the “good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” ( Eph. 2:10 ) Neither random acts of kindness nor charity practiced in His name but done apart from Him (see Jn. 15:5; top ) will be sufficient in this last hour. Only those good works pre-ordained by God will bear fruit that will endure for eternity.

As Jesus’ parable of the mustard tree shows, Tozer’s whole premise in this chapter is flawed. The organization that men bring to the table is not necessary – though it is indeed exceedingly dangerous! The organization that men bring becomes a nest for the birds of the air (the demonic) and competes with the organism that is the Tree of Life for followers. The nature of men’s organizations cause them to stand squarely in front of the door to God’s kingdom – they neither go in themselves nor do they lead or allow others to go around them to get in. (see Mt. 23:13; top ) Woe to all those false shepherds who stand somewhere between the true Shepherd and His sheep!

2. The Vital Place of the Church π 4. The Wasp and the Church Member
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