The Fruitful Bride (Part 1)

When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we are immediately in a new relationship with God the Father.  God the Father is immediately our Father. He is Abba—Daddy—to us.  But, of course, if this is so, we should be experiencing in this life the Father’s fatherliness. When I accept Christ as my Savior, I also come into a new relationship with God the Son. He is at once my vine, my bridegroom.  Now this raises a question.  If I, as a branch and as a bride, am not bringing forth fruit one would expect from him, who is my vine and my bridegroom—what is wrong?   

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  Romans 7:4 ESV 

Notice the double ‘so that you’: first, that we ‘may belong to another’ to Christ; second, ‘in order that we may bear fruit for God.’  But with that must go the very sober warning:  

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Romans 6:13ESV 

As a Christian, I can yield myself to one or the other, in order that I might be used by one or the other, as a weapon in the warfare that is being fought.   

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.  Romans 6:14-21 

This passage points out our high calling, to put ourselves by choice in the arms of our rightful lover, our bridegroom, in order to bring forth his fruit in the external world.  But it also warns us that it is possible, even after we are Christians, to put ourselves into the arms of someone else and bring forth his fruit in this world.  If I as a Christian am not bringing forth the fruit that one would expect, the fruit of Christ, there is spiritual unfaithfulness on my part.  And when we see it this way, the word unfaithful takes on a very special and clear significance, for faith is the instrument by which we bear the fruit of our risen Christ. So the word faithless has a very pointed meaning. If I do not have faith toward Christ, I am unfaithful toward him, and this is faithlessness

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past, Future, Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part  31

Conclusion of our study in the chapter – Salvation:  Past, Future, Present 

Sanctification and assurance are comparable.  A man may be saved and not have understanding (experiential comprehension) he is saved because he does not raise the empty hands of faith at this particular moment and believe God’s promises.  And a man may lack in sanctification all that God means him to have in the present life because even though Christ has purchased it for him upon the cross he fails to believe God at this place and raise the empty hands of faith moment by moment.  Now let me repeat, to be absolutely clear about it, the basis of your salvation is not your faith; it is the finished work of Christ.  Faith is the instrument to receive this wonderous free gift from God that Christ has purchased for us.   

So this is the third unity, the unity of what salvation is:  a single piece, and yet a flowing stream.  I became a Christian once for all upon the basis of the finished work of Christ through faith; that is justification.  The Chrisitan life, sanctification, operates on the same basis, but moment-by-moment.  There is the same base (Christ’s work) and the same instrument (faith); the only difference is that one is once-for-all and the other is moment-by-moment.  The whole unity of biblical teaching stands solid at this place.  If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength we will have sorrow, but if we live in this way, we will not only serve the Lord, but in place of sorrow, he will be our song.  That is the difference.  The ‘how’ of the Christian life is the power of the crucified and risen Lord, through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit, by faith, moment by moment.   

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’.  Romans 15:13 ESV.

This is our calling, through the agency of the Holy Spirit.  We are not called to serve God just any way, but to know joy and peace in believing. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past, Future, Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part 30

Continuing with… Salvation:  Past, Future, Present

The Bible makes it plain that the man who is a Christian has a right to know that he is saved:  it is one of the good gifts of God, to know truly that he is a Christian.  This refers not only to the initial fact, after one has accepted Christ as Savior, but also applies in those great and crushing moments in our lives when the waves get so high that it seems, psychologically or spiritually, that we can never find our footing again.  At such moment, a Christian can have ‘assurance’.  His salvation rests on the finished work of Christ, whether he accepts the peace he should have or not, and he can have assurance to the extent to which he believes the promises of God at that moment.   

It is exactly the same with sanctification.  The basis is the finished work of Christ; the instrument to lay hold of that which God means us to have at this moment is faith.  As a child of God, sanctification from the time of justification on, in the present life, is moment-by-moment.  Justification is once for all, at the moment when, by God’s grace, I accept Christ as my Savior; but sanctification is moment-by-moment, a moment-by-moment life of faith.  At this particular place the existentialist is right when he points out the moment-by-moment character of man’s life. 

1 John 5:3 ESV says… For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.  Is that true?  In ourselves, do we find that his commandments are not burdensome?  And the truth is that ‘we’ can and do find them burdensome until we see and understand God’s intention inside the context of this verse.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.  For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. 1 John 5:3-4.  Fortunately, vs 4 does not end there, or it would not tell us the ‘how.’  

And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  1 John 5: end of vs 4.  On the basis of the finished work of Christ, a moment-by-moment life of faith is ‘the victory.’ Not our victory, but Christ’s victory, purchased for us on Calvary’s cross, laid hold of moment-by-moment in faith. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past, Future, Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part 29


Salvation:  Past, Future, Present

Continuing from yesterday…. 

We read this promise of Christ:  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:16-18 ESV.  We are not ‘orphaned’; Christ comes to us through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  And, in verse 23, connected with this, Jesus says: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  In this context the thrust is that the Holy Spirit indwelling the individual Christian isn’t only the agent of Christ, but he is also the agent of the Father.  Consequently, when I accept Christ as my Savior, my guilt is gone, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and I am in communication with the Father and the son, as well as the Holy Spirit—the entire Trinity.  Thus now, in the present life, if I am justified, I am in a personal relationship with each of the members of the trinity.  God the Father is my Father; I am in union with the Son; and I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  This is not just meant to be doctrinal; it is what I/we have now.   

Let me stress it again:  salvation is all one piece.  All salvation—past, present, and future—has one base.  That base is not our faith.  If we are confused here, then we are confused completely.  A man can never be justified on the basis of his own faith.  Through all of salvation the only base is the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross in history.  Faith is the empty hand, the instrument by which we accept God’s free gift.  Faith is simply believing God.  It is not a leap in the dark.  It is a ceasing to call God a liar, and believing him.  Justification is only on the basis of the finished work of Christ.  Faith is the instrument by which we accept that finished work.  This is the how, but this ‘how’ extends through all salvation.  

Friends…this is gold: verse 23, John 14…Jesus says that He and the Father will come to make their home inside us…wow…that is as close to heaven on earth as we can get in this present age.  And ‘that’ is where we want to be….to learn to spend as much time as possible in the moment-by-moment awareness of that reality…to practice the reality of the presence of the God Trinity living inside us.  I am learning that this is a practiced discipline…maintaining the ‘awareness’.  You have to practice it through time in meditation, time in conversation with the Trinity, time in God’s word which is the fuel that gives us the energy to move to conversation with the Trinity.  In this fallen state, in this fallen flesh, the desires of the flesh as we live in this fallen world will always seek to keep us distracted ‘so that’ we do not practice awareness of the presence of the Trinity living inside us.   But if we can really begin to get-hold of this reality…God the Father, Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit God, living inside us…wow.  Once we learn to practice ‘awareness’ of the Trinity living inside us, we will begin to realize the change in our moment-by-moment thinking and choices as we live-out our daily life.  As we learn to practice ‘awareness’ we naturally bring God ‘in’ to center of our thinking and choices on a more consistent basis.  And ‘that’ is the essence of a Christ centered life.   No..I am not nearly fully there yet…but I am, day by day, seeking to practice His presence more…’so that’ I can bear more eternal fruit and please the Father with my life.  (con’t tomor)

 
Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past, Future, Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part 28
Continuing with …Salvation:  Past, Future, Present…picking up the last thoughts from yesterday…..

This is the purpose of man, though lost through the ‘fall.’  And when I accept Christ as my Savior, the guilt that has separated me from God, and from the fulfillment of my purpose, is removed.  I then stand in the place in which man was made to stand at his creation.  Not just in some far-off day, after the return of Christ, nor in eternity, but now I am returned to the place for which I was made at the beginning.  I am immediately in a new and living relationship with each of the three persons of the Trinity.  

 Continuing today…..

First, God the Father becomes my father.  Theologically, this is spoken of as adoption.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…John 1:12 ESV.  When I receive Christ, on the basis of his finished work I become a child of God.  Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is uniquely the eternal Son of God,.  But the Bible declares, and it should be a joy to us, that when I have accepted Christ as my Savior, I immediately come into a new relationship with the Father, and I become his son, in the sense of the creature in the proper place for which he was made in the first place.   

Second, when I accept Christ as my Savior, I immediately come into a new relationship with God the Son.  In theology this is spoken of as our mystical union with Christ.  In the book of Ephesians we are told over and over again that when we accept Christ as our Savior we are ‘in’ Christ.  In Romans 7:4, we are told that Christ is our Bridegroom and we are the bride.  In John 15 we are told that Christ is the Vine and we are the branches.  In all these relationships there is pictured or related the mystical union of Christ and the believer.  And who is this Christ, with whom we enter into a relationship?  Not the baby Jesus, nor Christ when he was on earth, nor Christ as he hung on the cross, but the risen, ascended, and glorified Christ.  

Finally, the bible says we also enter into a new relationship with the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.  When we are justified, we are also and immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  In John 14:16-17, Christ is making a promise just prior to his death, which was fulfilled at Pentecost after his resurrection and ascension:  ‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you’. (ESV).  There was a then-present relationship, but there would also be a future one.  John explains this when he says that the Holy Spirit was not yet given, for Christ was not yet glorified (John 7:39).  In the book of Romans, it is again made very plain that now if we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are in this new relationship with the Holy Spirit, and anyone who is not in a relationship with the Holy Spirit is not a Christian.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:9 ESV.  Paul, writing to all the Christians at Corinth, asks, Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV.  This was written down through the ages to every man who has accepted Christ as Savior.  When I am justified, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and have entered into this new relationship with the third person of the Trinity.   (con’t tomorrow)

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past, Future, Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.
Part 27

Continuing in our study…. Salvation:  Past, Future, Present

Purpose and Relationship 

Salvation is a unity.  When I accepted Christ as my Savior, when my guilt was gone, I returned to the place for which I was originally made.  Man has a purpose.  In this beginning of the twenty-first century, one is constantly confronted with the question, ‘What is the purpose of man—if man has any purpose?’  And to that question the twenty-first century returns a great silence.  But the Bible says that man has the purpose of loving God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind.  And this ‘loving’ is not meant to be vague or ‘religious,’ in the modern sense, but a genuine communication with God: the finite person, thinking and acting and feeling, being in relationship with the infinite—not a bare infinite, but an infinite who is a personal God, and therefore communication is possible.  This is the purpose of man, though lost through the ‘fall.’  And when I accept Christ as my Savior, the guilt that has separated me from God, and from the fulfillment of my purpose, is removed.  I then stand in the place in which man was made to stand at his creation.  Not just in some far-off day, after the return of Christ, nor in eternity, but now I am returned to the place for which I was made at the beginning.  I am immediately in a new and living relationship with each of the three persons of the Trinity.  (con’t tomorrow). 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past-Future-Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Part 26

Salvation:  Past-Future-Present  (Con’t from yesterday)  

In sanctification there are degrees.  We have said that there are no degrees of justification, because the guilt is absolutely gone.  But in the question of our relationship to our Lord in the present time, there are degrees.  (Let’s say that again…our relationship to our Lord in the present time..)  There are degrees between different Christians, and we must also acknowledge degrees in our personal lives at different times.  The Christian life is not an unbroken, inclined plane.  Sometime it is up, and sometimes—we must all acknowledge if we are not deluding ourselves—it is down.  While it is not possible to be more or less justified, it is possible to be more or less sanctified.  Justification deals with the guilt of sin; sanctification deals with the power of sin in the Christian’s life, and there are degrees in this.   

Salvation is not just justification and then a blank until death; God never meant it to be so.  Salvation is a unity, a flowing stream, from justification through sanctification to glorification: 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.  Romans 8: 28-30 

It is made plain, in the tenses that are used, that salvation is to be seen as an unbroken stream.  There are examples of the same truth: 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5 

Or we may take the keynote verses of the first half of the book of Romans: 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.  Romans 1: 16-17 

Now the word ‘salvation’ here is not justification.  The word ‘salvation’ encompasses the whole:  justification, sanctification, glorification.  ‘For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.’  This is not just the ‘once for all’ faith at justification, but faith ‘from faith to faith.’  ‘As it is written, the just shall live by faith’—not just justified by faith:  the just shall live by faith

In certain ways, sanctification is the most important consideration for the Christian now, because that is the point where we are.  It is the present portion of salvation, and in this sense it is the most important consideration of the Christian now.  Justification is once for all; sanctification is continuous, from our acceptance of Christ right up to our death.  This study of the Christian life and ‘true spirituality’ falls within the present portion of our salvation.  That is, this whole study is, in reality, a study of the biblical teaching of sanctification.   (con’t tomorrow)

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past-Future-Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.
Part 25
Salvation:  Past – Future – Present

Continuing from yesterday…. 

Justification must be understood to be absolutely irrevocable, for Christ took the punishment of all our sin, not just our sin up to the moment when we accepted Christ as our Savior.  Nothing is left to be charged to our account.  Seeing it this way, which is the biblical way to see it, there are no degrees of justification.  One cannot be more or less justified.  In this sense one cannot be more or less Christian.  One is a Christian, or not a Christian, on this basis.  Just as one is born or not born, married in God’s sight or not married, so one has accepted Christ as Savior, and thus is declared justified by God, or not.  There is no halfway, no degrees.  Guilt is totally gone from the Christian, and gone forever.  Therefore, for the Christian, justification is past.   

But we must not make a mistake here.  Salvation, as the word is used in scripture, is wider than justification.  There is a past, a future, and a real present.  The infinite work of Christ upon the cross brings to the Christian more than justification.  In the future, there is glorification.  When Christ returns, there will be the resurrection of the body, and eternity.  But there is also a present aspect of salvation.  Sanctification is our present relationship to our Lord, the present tense.  (We will drill-down into ‘sanctification’ tomorrow) 😊 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past-Future-Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.
Part 24
Salvation:  Past-Future-Present (Con’t)

Christians are to demonstrate God’s character, which is a moral demonstration, but it is not only to be a demonstration of moral principles; it is a demonstration of his being, his existence.  What a calling, and how overwhelming!  Surely anyone who has been at all honest, and not just romantic or idealistic in a bad sense, must understand that any such demonstrations would be totally meaningless by his own effort, in his own strength.  So again, the biblical teaching of Christ the Bridegroom, bringing forth his fruit through us—the power of the crucified and risen Christ and the agency of the Holy Spirit by faith—is seen to be no isolated teaching.  It should not take us by surprise.  It fits into the unity of the Bible’s teaching about the calling of the Christian in this present world.  This is the second of the biblical unities we have considered.  The first was the unity of the Bible’s teaching in regard to the supernatural nature of the universe.   

(Friends…absorb and embed the wording and content…the meaning…of this next paragraph into your hearts and minds…it is the essence of your identity ‘in’ Christ.)  A third unity of the Bible’s teaching is the unity of what salvation is.  When I truly accept Christ as my Savior, the bible says God declares me justified at once.  God, as the Judge, judicially declares the guilt gone upon the basis of the substitutionary work of Christ. It is not that God overlooks the sin.  He is holy, and because he is holy, all sin results in true guilt.  But when I accept Christ as my Savior, my sin has been punished in Christ: in history, space, and time, upon the cross.  And God declares me justified as far as guilt is concerned.  It is as though I had never sinned.  On the cross Jesus took all of our punishment, which means there is no punishment left for us to bear, either in this life, or hereafter.  Because Christ is divine his death had infinite value—value enough, in substitutionary fashion, to cover all of the individual sin, and all the guilt of all those who will ever come to him.  (more on this tomorrow 😊) 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Salvation: Past-Future-Present

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.
Part 23

The Bible says that man fell at a specific point in history, and as man fell, both man and the world over which he had dominion became abnormal. It would seem, looking at subsequent history, that God’s creation of rational, moral creatures was a failure. 

But then Christ came, died, and rose—also in history—and the necessary victory was won.  When Christ returns, the evidence of his victory will be completely obvious.  Yet on the earth today there is neither universal peace for the individual nor for mankind.  Indeed, the twenty-first century world is not basically very different from the Assyrian, the Babylonian, or the Roman world…and in many ways…it is more severely corrupted and broken.   

Does that mean that between the victory on the cross and the present day, and to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, God did not intend that there should be any evidence of the reality of the victory of the cross? 

As we examine Scripture, we surely find that this is exactly what he did not mean.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. I Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

This passage says that in this present life, Christians are called for a purpose, called to show forth the praises of God.  In other words, God did not mean that there should be no evidence of the reality of the victory of the cross between Jesus’ ascension and his second coming.  God has always intended that Christians should be the evidence, the demonstration, of Christ’s victory on the cross.    

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc