In The Spirit’s Power

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 20

Conclusion of the chapter, In the Spirit’s Power.  We continue with the ‘how’ of true spirituality in the Christian life: 

Third, this is not to be merely passive on our part.  As we have seen already, it is not to be on the basis of our own works, or our own energy, any more than our justification is on the basis of our own works and energy. But again, as in the case of justification, I am not a passive stick or stone. 

The illustration which brings this to me with force is Mary’s response to the angel in Luke 1:38. The angel has come to Mary, and says, in effect, Mary, you are going to give birth to the long-promised Messiah.  This was a unique promise, and unrepeatable.  There is something totally unique here, the birth of the eternal second Person of the Trinity into this world.  What is her response?  The Holy Spirit, we are told, is to cause a conception in her womb.  It seems to me that she could have made three responses.  She was a Jewish girl, probably seventeen or eighteen years of age, and in love with Joseph.  There is no reason to think of him as an old man, as the painters love to paint, no reason whatsoever.  They do that because this was a Roman Catholic mentality, as though Joseph and Mary had no children of which they were both the parents, after Christ’s birth.   

Here she is, a Jewish girl in a normal historic situation, with normal emotions, planning to get married, and suddenly she is told she is going to give birth to a child.  She could have rejected the idea and said, “I do not want this; I want to withdraw; I want to run.  What will Joseph say?” And we know what Joseph thought later.  Humanly, we could not blame her if she had felt this way.  But she did not say this. 

Second—and this is our danger at such a point as we now are in the study of the Christian life—she could have said, “I now have the promises, so I will exert my force, my character, and my energy, to bring forth the promised thing.  I have the promise.  Now I will bring forth a child without a man.”  But with this response she never would have had the child.  She could not bring forth a child without a man, by her own will, any more than any other girl could do.   

But there was a third thing she could say. It is beautiful; it is wonderful.  She says, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it happen to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38.   

There is an active passivity here.  She took her own body, by choice, and put it into the hands of God to do the thing that he said he would do, and Jesus was born. She gave herself, with her body, to God.  In response to the promise, yes; but not to do it herself.  This is a beautiful, exciting, personal expression of a relationship between a finite person and the God she loves.  Now this is absolutely unique and must not be confused; there is only one Virgin Birth.  Nevertheless, it is an illustration of our being the bride of Christ.  We are in the same situation in that we have these great and thrilling promises we have been considering, and we are neither to think of ourselves as totally passive, as though we had no part in this, as though God had stopped dealing with us now as men; nor are we to think we can do it ourselves.  If we are to bring forth fruit in the Christian life, or rather, if Christ is to bring forth this fruit through us by the agency of the Holy Spirit, there must be a constant act of faith, of thinking, Upon the basis of your promises I am looking for you to fulfill them, my Jesus Christ; bring forth your fruit through me into this poor world.   

So now we stand before two streams of reality:  those who have died and are with Christ now; and we, who have the ‘earnest’ (2 Cor 1:22) of the Holy Spirit now and so, upon the reality of the finished work of Christ, have access—not in theory, but in reality—to the power of the crucified, risen and glorified Christ, by the agency of the Holy Spirit.   and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us 2 Corinthians 1:22 NLT) 

True spirituality is not achieved in our own energy.  The ‘how’ of the kind of life we have spoken of, the true Christian life, true spirituality, is Romans 6:11: “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.”  This is the ‘how,’ and there is no other.  It is the power of the crucified, risen, and glorified Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirt by faith.   

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

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