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 

Meaning of Life

The meaning of life is seen in the reality that when we accept Christ as our Savior in the true biblical sense, our personal relationship with the personal God is restored. Every place we turn in Christianity we find that we are brought face to face with the wonder of personality — the very opposite of the dilemma and the sorrow of modern man who finds no meaning in personality. Consider the words of Paul, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (1)  It is the personal to which we are brought. First of all there is the personal relationship with God Himself — this is the most wonderful, and is not just in Heaven, but is substantially real in practice now. When we understand our calling, it is not only true but beautiful — and it should be exciting. It is hard to understand how a professing Bible-believing Christian can fail to be excited. The answers in the realm of the intellect should make us overwhelmingly excited. But more than this, we are returned to a personal relationship with the God who is there. If we are unexcited Christians, we should go back and see what is wrong.

We are surrounded by a generation that can find “no one home” in the universe. If anything marks our generation, it is this. In contrast to this, as a Christian I know who I am; and I know the personal God who is there. I speak, and He hears. I am not surrounded by mere mass, nor only energy particles, but He is there. And if I have accepted Christ as my Savior, then though it will not be perfect in this life, yet moment by moment, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, this person to person relationship with the God who is there can have reality to me and I not only find meaning to life but I ‘know’ the source of meaning to life.  And ‘He’ is love and thus I am loved and I am empowered to love my neighbor and the world 😊

(1) Corinthians 13:14

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

The Purpose of Life

When someone asks me the Christian answer to this question of purpose, the reason for man’s existence, I always take them to the first commandment of Christ. In passing, let us note that there is no reason to think that the first commandment — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (1)— is merely a first commandment uttered by Jesus. We know it is not so because He quoted it from the last book of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy.  

But we can say something more. Surely it is the first commandment because it is the one that expresses the purpose of man and, individually, my purpose. But it is not enough to quote this on its own. Without the answer given by historic Christianity that God is really there, such an answer can only be another cliché to the sincere person seeking truth, just one more twenty first-century “religious answer”; and we cannot blame him if he stops listening. When I hear this first commandment to love the God who is there with everything that I am, it carries with it a total concept of life and of truth. A man can only love a God who exists and who is personal and about whom he has knowledge. So the fact that this God has communicated is also of supreme importance. But this commandment carries something more; it tells me something very fundamental and exciting about myself. there is something electrifying to know about “myself.”  

As far as the modern mentality is concerned, it is shattering to be told that there is nothing intrinsically nonsensical in calling upon me to love the God who is there, and that God is of such a nature and that I am of such a nature as to make this a valid proposition. Those who understand what is involved will not dismiss this as “something I have heard since I was little.” To think through the implications is totally exciting. The God who is there is of such a nature that He can be loved, and I am of such a nature that I can love; and thus this first commandment, or basic purpose of man, is the very opposite of a nonsense statement. I know what man is, and I know who I am

(1) Deuteronomy 6:4-7,Matthew 22:37-40,Mark 12:30-31,Luke 10:27 

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

Truth and Spiritual Experience (3)

In saying God is there, we are saying God exists, and not just talking about the word god, or the idea god. We are speaking of the proper relationship to the living God who exists. there is no word so meaningless as the word god until it is defined. No word has been used to teach absolutely opposite concepts as much as the word god. Consequently, let us not be confused. There is much “spirituality” about us today that relates itself to the word god or to the idea god; but this is not what we are talking about. Biblical truth and spirituality is not a relationship to the word god, or to the idea god. It is a relationship to the One who is there. This is an entirely different concept. 

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

Truth and Spiritual Experience (2)

Part 2

To know and experience ‘truth’ in the realm of our spirituality occurs for us when we come to have knowledge of and a relationship with the God who is there. Therefore, Christian truth is that which is in relationship to what exists and ultimately to the God who exists. And true spirituality consists of being in the correct relationship to the God who is there, first in the once-for-all act of justification, secondly by being in that correct relationship as a continuing moment-by-moment reality. This is the biblical emphasis on true spirituality. It is a continuing moment-by-moment proper relationship with the God who exists.  

The Apostle Paul said it this way..

Acts 17:  22-28 

22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,c 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for 

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;d 

as even some of your own poets have said, 

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’e

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

Truth and Spiritual Experience

It is very important to realize, over against modern concepts of “spiritual experience,” that the biblically-based experience rests firmly on truth. It is not only an emotional experience, nor is it contentless. We can think of true spirituality as having three parts. 1. The indispensable beginning is to consider who (or what) “is there,” and how I can have a relationship to him (or it). 2. That something must be understood and defined. You cannot have a personal relationship with something unknown. 3. Then, having understood who it is with whom I am to have a personal relationship and how I may have it, comes the actual step of entering into that relationship. The Bible calls this being converted, “born again,” and this is a step which a person can take only as an individual. We cannot be born again in groups, but only one at a time. But to say that this is an individual matter is not the same as to say it is individualistic. The words may sound alike, but they are worlds apart. This gives the basis for a whole sociological and cultural concept.  

True spirituality cannot be abstracted from truth at one end, nor from the whole man and the whole culture at the other. If there is a true spirituality, it must encompass all.   

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

Space-Time Proof

Part 2

The same kind of groundwork of true knowledge is set forth in the Prologue to the Gospel of Luke 1:1-4: 

 1. Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,  (there are things which have happened in history, in the space-time before “us”), 2. “just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses (this history is open to verification by eyewitnesses) and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3. it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus…  (what is open to verification can also be communicated verbally, in writing) 4.  that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. 

There is no leap in the dark, for it is possible to “know the truth.”  

Only when we have understood this introduction are we ready for the rest of the Gospel of Luke, beginning in the next verse: 5.  In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah.  We know from the Prologue that Luke is dealing with a framework of historic truth, and we are to place Herod, Zacharias and Christ within this space-time framework. Knowledge precedes faith. This is crucial in understanding the Bible.  

To say (as a Christian should) that only that faith which believes God on the basis of knowledge is true faith, is to say something which causes an explosion in the twenty first-century world. 

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

Space-Time Proof

Part 1

The purpose of our posts is to communicate the truth and reality of the God Who Is There through ‘knowledge’ that is communicated in the bible.  The bible emphasizes that knowledge is needed and used in presenting a man’s need for faith in God that results in ‘salvation’.    

Historic Christianity has never separated itself from knowledge. It insists that all truth is one even if twenty first-century thought and theology deny it.  

The invitation for an ‘act’ of the will to occur comes only after an adequate base of knowledge has been given.  

This accords with the reason John gave for writing his Gospel,  

John 20:30-31, ESV version Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  

The word “sign” is related to the historic events of the life, death and resurrection of Christ as put forth in this Gospel. In twenty first-century language we could translate “sign” as “space-time proof”: “Many other space-time proofs therefore did Jesus.” Note first that these space-time proofs which, by their very nature, are observable were set forth as having taken place in the presence of the disciples who observed them. And not only that, but that they were written down in verbalized form. This means, of course, that these space-time proofs can be considered on the basis of the normal use of language as set forth in grammars and lexicons. The order in these verses is important. Firstly, these are space-time proofs in written form, and consequently capable of careful consideration. Then, secondly, these proofs are of such a nature as to give good and sufficient evidence that Christ is the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament, and also that He is the Son of God. So that, thirdly, we are not asked to believe until we have faced the question as to whether this is true on the basis of the space-time evidence.  

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

The Wisdom of Solomon

Light years and dark days 

This is taken from a study by my pastor and friend, David Niednagel.   

From the book of Ecclesiastes 11:7-10  (NLT Version) 

Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.  Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.    

Light is sweet. So is life. Whether young or old, enjoy every day of it. But remember that it is “hebel” – meaningless = fleeting, without substance. Nothing of it will last forever physically. In :10  “a whole life before you” is literally the word for “black hair”. He is saying if we do live a long time, our hair will get grey/white. We are going to look old, feel old, and not be able to do what we did when we were young. So enjoy it while you can. ”Refuse to worry”(10)  means deal with the emotional psychological part of growing older. Accept it. Losses will come. But he also says “keep your body healthy”. Don’t give up before you have to. Keep active as long as you can.  

However, Solomon believed God was real, and even though our bodies will pass away, there is eternal and spiritual significance to everything about life, even if we can’t see it or figure it out. We “must give an account to God for everything we do” – for our words, deeds, and attitudes.  

4 Disciplines of Spiritual Growth

Becoming a Christian is just the beginning.  

After a person has become a Christian, four things will help him:  

1. A regular study of the Bible, which is God’s communication to us.  

2. Regular prayer. Now that our guilt has been removed, there is no barrier between us and God and we are able to talk freely with Him. There are two kinds of praying we shall need to practice: special times of prayer, and the constant looking to the Lord as we go about our daily tasks.  

3. Talking to others about the God who exists and His solution to man’s dilemma.  

4. Regular attendance at a church where the Bible is believed. This does not mean every church, but one that is true to the content of the Bible, and one which does not just recite the right words, but where there is a living of the truth in community and compassion to those in the church and to those outside of it. 

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