Easiest and Hardest…Part 2

The ‘hardest’ 

Yesterday we talked about Christianity as the ‘easiest religion in the world.  Now we can turn that over because it is the hardest religion in the world for the same reason.  The heart of the rebellion of Satan and man was the desire to be autonomous; and accepting the Christian faith robs us not of our existence, not of our worth (it gives us our worth), but it robs us completely of being autonomous.  We did not make ourselves, we are not a product of chance, we are none of these things; we stand there before a Creator plus nothing, we stand before the Savior plus nothing – it is a complete denial of being autonomous.  Whether it is conscious or unconscious (and in the most brilliant it is occasionally conscious), when they see the sufficiency of the answers on their own level, they suddenly are up against their innermost humanness – not humanness as they were created to be human, but human in the bad sense since the Fall.  That is the reason that people do not accept the sufficient answers and why they are counted by God as disobedient and guilty when they do not bow.   

People are living against the revelation of themselves.  They are denying the revelation of God that they themselves and all reality ‘are’.  They are denying it and yet they have to live with it.  When the person comes to see that there are good sufficient reasons, then he or she is faced with a problem; either they bow before those good and sufficient reasons, and bow to the Person behind the reasons, or they refuse to bow.   

It is not that the answers are not good, adequate and sufficient.  Unless one gives up one’s autonomy, one cannot accept the answers. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Easiest and Hardest

The ‘easiest’… 

We must realize that Christianity is the easiest religion in the world, because it is the only religion in which God the Father and Christ and the Holy Spirit do everything.  God is the Creator; we have nothing to do with our existence, or the existence of other things.  We can shape other things, but we cannot change the fact of existence.  We do nothing for our salvation because Christ did it all.  We do not have to do anything.  In every other religion we have to do something – everything from burning a joss stick to sacrificing our firstborn child to dropping a coin in the collection plate – the whole spectrum.  But with Christianity we do not do anything; God has done it all:  He has created us and He has sent His Son; His Son died and because the Son is infinite, therefore He bears our total guilt.  We do not need to bear our guilt, nor do we even have to merit the merit of Christ.  He does it all.  So in one way it is the easiest religion in the world.  (the ‘hardest’ tomorrow) 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Faith That Is Real

‘Faith’ is needed to become a Christian, but there are two concepts concerning faith.  The two ideas of faith run like this: One idea of faith would be a blind leap in the dark.  A blind leap in which you believe something with no reason (or no adequate reason), you just believe it.  This is what I mean by a blind leap of faith.  The other idea of faith, which has no relationship with this, none whatsoever, is that you are asked to believe something and bow before that something on the basis of good and adequate reasons.  There is no relationship between those two concepts of faith.   

The biblical concept of faith is very much the second and not the first.  You are not asked to believe in a blind leap of faith.  The Bible teaches that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true.  If you examine the ministry of the Apostle Paul and also of Christ, you find they endlessly answered questions.  There was no concept here of ‘Keep quiet, just believe”; it just does not exist.  Paul answered the questions of the Jews, he answered the questions of the non-Jews, he was always answering questions; and the book of Romans certainly answered the questions of those without the Bible as well as of those with it.  

There are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true.  We have already dealt with the fact of reality and everybody having to deal with reality: (1) the existence of the universe and its form; (2) the distinctiveness of man (you); and (3) you can relate these to a third thing, and that is the examination of the historicity of Scripture.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

An Answer To Lostness

‘Lostness’ is answered by the existence of a Creator.  Christianity does not begin with ‘accept Christ as Savior.’  Christianity begins with ‘In the beginning God created the heavens (the total cosmos) and the earth.’  That is the answer to the twenty first-century and its lostness.  When a person can understand that there ‘is’ a God who is Creator, then they are ready to hear and understand the ‘second lostness’ (the original cause of all lostness) and God’s solution for lostness which is the death of Christ.   

In summary:  God in His grace has shut us up by the totality of reality to the biblical answers – i.e., there are good, adequate and sufficient reasons to know that the Christian answers are truth – so much so that if we do not bow to those answers, the Bible says we are disobedient and guilty. 

Those who object to the position that there are good, adequate, and sufficient reasons to know with our reason that Christianity is true are left with a probability position at some point.  At some point and in some manner within how they are reasoning and framing the Christian view, they are left with a leap of faith.  This does not say that within such view that they are not Christians, but it means that they in their limited view can, at best, only offer one more probability to twenty first -century relativistic people to who everything is only probability.  They are offering one more leap of faith without reason to a generation that has heard a thousand leaps of faith proposed in regard to the crucial things of human life.  I would repeat that what is left is that Christianity becomes watered-down to the level of a probability.  

Real, truly understood, take-hold-of,  life-changing Christianity begins with one person.  That person is Jesus Christ – Son of God.  He is NOT a probability or a leap of faith!  He is God the Creator’s solution to man’s problem of lostness.  Thus He ‘saves’ us from being lost.  He steps into our lostness and gives us light to see the truth of existence and self.    

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

About Being ‘Lost’

There is no where that people can go that they can escape the things of grace that God has given them in the reality that exists.  The reality of God the Creator is ‘there’ in the existence and reality of the universe and nature and the existence and reality of the uniqueness and specialness of man. And if we love people enough, and we care about them enough, we can usually find ways to talk to them, no matter how deep in their well they are.  That is what I am saying.  It is not that we use a universal formula to reach people, either in evangelism or in apologetics.  

When we say a person is ‘lost’ we usually think of evangelically lost, that he or she is a sinner and needs to accept Christ as Savior.  Being ‘lost’ has nothing to do with how loving and kind someone may be or how brilliant they are.  No.  When we say ‘lost’, we clearly are using it as being ‘lost’ as in separated relationally from their Creator God who is there and who loves them.  But what we must realize is that these people do not know that they are lost in that sense, call it evangelically.  How could they?  They do not believe there is right and wrong, they do not believe there is a God, they do not believe there is an absolute, there is no reason for them to think of themselves as a sinner.  Few believe in guilt anymore.  There is only sickness, or guilt-feelings, or sociological nonconformity.  There is no such thing as true guilt that creates a separation barrier between God and man.  How much meaning does our talking about accepting Christ as Savior have for such a person?  But our whole generation does relate to and have a second sense of being lost which is valid, and that is they are without meaning in the world, without purpose, without morals, without a basis for law, no final principles, no final answers for anything.  They know they are lost in that sense.  All ‘lost’ people naturally think about meaning and purpose of life, about meaning to existence.  When we turn to the Bible, the Bible makes plain that indeed they are lost in both senses – they are lost evangelically; but without God, they are also lost in the modern sense as well. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Subject – Object Correlation

When people refuse God’s answer, they are living against the revelation of the universe and against the revelation of themselves.  They are denying the revelation of God in who they themselves are.  I am not saying that they do not live in the light of real existence.  No.  I am saying that they do not have any answer for living in it.  I am not saying that they do not have moral motions, but they have no basis for them.  I am not saying that the person with a non-Christian system (even a radical system like Buddhism or Hinduism or the modern Western thinking of chance) does not know that the object exists – the problem is that they have no system to explain the subject-object correlations.  As a matter of fact, this is their damnation, this is their tension, that they have to live in the light of their existence, the light of reality – the total reality in all these areas –and they do live there, and yet they have no sufficient explanation for any of these areas.  So, the wiser they are, the more honest they are, the more they feel that tension, and that is their present damnation.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

It Is Enough

(Friends…the next post will be May 11th 🙂)

Let me repeat a phrase from yesterday… God shuts everyone up to the fact of reality… and everyone has to deal with the reality that is.  

When we turn to the Bible, the Bible says that on the basis of God’s created world and on the basis of who we are, there are good and sufficient reasons to know the biblical answers are true. People come to the knowledge that this is adequate on different levels, depending on their intelligence, their education, their personality, the way their mind works; but at some point they come to the place where indeed they have what to them should be good and sufficient and adequate answers.  

So what you have is the flow of the totality of reality — instead of being focused on religious things only, it is religious things as a part of reality. And instead of this concept being contrary to the Bible, it is the way the Bible is written. It is not “just a religious book”; the Bible is rooted in space-time history and speaks of the totality of reality.  

The glory of the Bible is that it is enough for every age and it is enough for every person. When you consider the early chapters of Genesis on through Deuteronomy, given about 1500 B.C. to Moses, it gave truth to those people in that day. Now we come to our age, and we know a lot that those people did not know about the cosmos, all kinds of things, and those same chapters (and the rest of the Bible) are enough to give truth to us. If Christ does not come back for another 500 years the people then will know more than we do now, and the Bible will give truth to them. So, whether it is the individual, no matter what his level of education, sophistication, etc., or whether it is the age we live in with the knowledge we have, the Bible is enough to give the answer to the questions raised by reality. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Truth To Discuss

It is of importance to say the ‘Bible measures up to history’. Once we say that, this is very exciting. It is very exciting because other religions are not founded in history, they are “out there” somewhere, or you can think of them as inside of your own head — whichever way you are looking at it. On the other hand, the Bible claims to be rooted in history. Whether we are considering the history of the Old Testament, whether we are considering the history of Christ, including the resurrection, or Paul’s journeys, it is insisted on as real history. So now we have three interwoven parts. Usually I have dealt with the first two because I think they are the two which touch more the twenty first-century person, but the third is also there. We have to face the reality of the universe and its having an existence and having a form. We have to face the reality in the uniqueness of man. We are able to discuss the fact that the Bible is rooted in history.  It has a beginning in relationship to history.  Its reference to the future is in relationship to a historical story that unfolds in relationship to history.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

A System of Objective Truth

The Christian system (what is taught in the whole Bible) is a unity of thought. Christianity is not just a lot of bits and pieces — there is a beginning and an end, a whole system of truth, and this system is the only system that will stand up to all the questions that are presented to us as we face the reality of existence. Some of the other systems answer some of the questions, but leave others unanswered. I believe it is only Christianity that gives the answers to all the crucial questions.

What are those questions? The questions are those which are presented to us as we face the reality of existence. God shuts us up to reality. We cannot escape the reality of what is, no matter what we say we believe or think.

This reality of which I speak falls into two parts: the fact that the universe truly exists and it has a form, and then what I would call the “mannishness” of man — which is my own term for meaning that man is unique.  People have certain qualities that must be explained.

God has shut up all people to these things, and I always like to go back to the statement of French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) though he had no answer for his own statement, and that is that the basic philosophic question is that something is there. Things do exist, and this demands an explanation for their existence. I would then go beyond Sartre’s statement to one by Einstein. Einstein said that the most amazing thing about the universe is that we can know something truly about it. In other words, it has a form that is comprehensible, even though we cannot exhaust it. And then I would say beyond that — no matter what people say they are, they are what they are; that is, man is unique as made in the image of God. Any system of thought, to be taken seriously, has to at least try to explain these two great phenomena – the universe and man. In other words, we are talking about objective truth related to reality and not just something within our own heads.

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There

Justification…for purpose

Let me start today’s ‘light’ by referencing some verses from the Bible in the book of Romans in the New Testament as provided by the Apostle Paul.  The reason for this is to give definition to the word ‘justification’ as used in Christian teaching:  

 Romans 3:21-26 ESV 

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God24 and are justified by his grace as a giftthrough the redemption that is in Christ Jesus25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus

And I personally like this simplified definition:  All of the sins of God’s people were laid on Christ (as if he had committed them). … So that when anyone, whoever he is and whatever he has done, turns from his sins and trusts in the shed blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, he is justified (declared to be righteous) in God’s sight. 

Okay…that said…now back to Schaeffer…. 

Even in justification, many Christians who are perfectly orthodox in doctrine look back upon their justification as though it were the end of all, at least until death comes. It is not. Birth is essential to life, but the parent is not glad only for the birth of his child. He is thankful for the living child that grows up. Whoever saw a couple get engaged simply because they wanted to enjoy the marriage ceremony? What they want to do is to live together. So it is with becoming a Christian. In one way you can say that the new birth is everything; in another way you can say that really it is very little. It is everything because it is indispensable to begin with, but it is little in comparison with the living existential relationship. The legal circle of justification does not end statically; it opens to me a living person-to-person communication with the God who exists. 

In marriage and in other human relationships the same thing applies — the proper legal relationship must be there, but if it is static it becomes a dusty monument. It is no longer beautiful. It becomes a flower that dies under a glass. It can only be beautiful if inside the proper legal circle we have a personal relationship which speaks of the personal God who is there. This is the Christian calling, not only to exhibit something substantially real to a watching world, but to enjoy it ourselves. I am called to love God with all my heart and soul and mind, and I am called to love my neighbor as myself: each person involved in the proper circle and in the proper relationship. 

If we say that personality is not an intrusion in the universe but central, the world has a right to see the Christians both individually and corporately living on a personal level. Men must see that we take personality seriously enough, by the grace of God, to act upon it.  

There must be an observable indication of this in the midst of the daily life in this present abnormal world, or we have denied the central Christian presupposition. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There