The Fruitful Bride – (final thoughts)

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.

Additional thoughts to wrap-up the chapter… The Fruitful Bride 

It is as redeemed, justified, created creatures, men and women, that we now stand, moment by moment, before the personal God.  It is not just one part of us.  The will, the mind, the emotions—all are involved: the complete man, as a unit, involved in this moment by moment, one moment at a time, believing God’s promises and living moment by moment in total regard to the significance of the work of Christ in our present lives.  Eve doubted God; that was her sin.  She believed the ‘lie’.  Eve doubted God, and I as a child of God am now to do exactly the opposite:  I am to believe him in every choice I make in my moment by moment life.  The fundamental problem in the world is that people doubt the God who exists.  Doubting God is living in revolt to the God who is Creator. Doubting God is living in revolt to the truth of purpose and intention for life.  To believe him, not just when I accept Christ as Savior, but also at every moment, one moment at a time:  this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality.  And ‘this’ is what the lost world seeks.  If we can learn to let Christ fully shine through us, we can be his light and love to the people who live in darkness in the world around us.   

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

The Fruitful Bride (final part of chapter)

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.

So let’s review where we have come in our study and review of Dr. Schaeffer’s work over these past few weeks and months as we finish the chapter, The Fruitful Bride: (This is double gold…read it several times and burn the basic premise of it into your mind…this is who we are and what we were made for 😊) 

It is precisely what we would expect in the light of the total unity of the Bible’s most basic teaching.  The most basic teaching of the Bible is that God exists, and what he is, and the corollary of what man is as made in God’s own image.  We live in a personal universe, and not in an impersonal one.  God exists, God is personal; we are personal, as we have been made in the image of God, and our relationship to God is to be personal, not mechanical.  We are not machines, we are not plants, we are not mere animals, but men, created in the image of God—rational and moral.  When we were created, we were created for a purpose.  And the purpose of our creation, in which all our subsidiary purposes fit, is to be in a personal relationship to God, in communion with him, in love, by choice, the creature before the creator.   

But sin destroyed this.  The creature tried to be on the same level as the creator; the finite (us) sought to be placed on the same level as the infinite (God).  And now, when we are saved on the basis of the finished work of Christ, our guilt is gone and we are returned to this proper relationship, not in a mechanical sense, but in a personal relationship of communion.   

So modern man is struggling properly when he is struggling with his basic question, as to the problem of personality and communication.  According to the Scripture, this struggle is at the right point: not the point of a few superficial taboos, a few superficial conformities, but of the tremendous problem of personality.  The Bible’s answer to the problem is that the central communication that makes all the other communications meaningful is the communication of the Creator and the creature, which is restored when I have accepted Christ as my Savior and my guilt is gone.   

When this has happened, I am not supposed to set up a rival center in the universe all over again.  That would be contrary to the whole thing.  When I have accepted Christ as my Savior, I am to be in my appointed position, in the proper place and in a personal relationship with God.  This that for which were made in the first place.  The only difference between our relationship with God now, and that which man’s would have been if he had not sinned, is that now it is under the covenant of grace, and not under the covenant of works; therefore, it rests on the basis of Christ’s finished mediatorial work.  That is the difference.   

(We will continue with the remainder of True Spirituality) 

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

The Fruitful Bride – Part 6

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.

And since we have been talking about ‘faith’, let’s pause here.  Living in the first half of the twenty-first century, we must keep on saying what faith is, in the biblical sense.  Christian faith is never faith in faith. Christian faith is never without content.  Christian faith is never a jump in the dark.  Christian faith is always believing what God has said.  And Christian faith rests upon Christ’s finished work on the cross.  

The reality of living by faith as though we were already dead, of living by faith in open communion with God, and then stepping back into the external world as though we are already raised from the dead, this is not once for all, it is a matter of moment-by-moment faith, and living moment by moment.  This morning’s faith will never do for this noon.  The faith of this noon will never do for dinnertime.  The faith of dinnertime will never do for the time of going to bed.  The faith of midnight will never do for the next morning.  Thank God for the reality for which we were created, a moment-by-moment communication with God himself.  We should indeed be thankful because the moment-by-moment quality brings the whole thing to the size which we are, as God has made us.   

This being the case, it is obvious that there is no mechanical solution to true spirituality or the true Christian life.  Anything that has the mark of the mechanical upon it is a mistake.  It is not possible to say, ‘Read so many of the chapters of the Bible every day, and you will have this much sanctification.’  It is not possible to say, ‘Pray so long every day, and you will have a certain amount of sanctification.’  It is not possible to add the two together and to say, ‘You will have this big a piece of sanctification.’  Such is a purely mechanical solution, and it denies the whole Christian position.  For the fact is that the Christian life, true spirituality, can never have a mechanical solution.  The real solution is being cast up into the moment-by-moment communion, personal communion, with God himself, and letting Christ’s truth flow through us through the agency of the Holy Spirit.   

Let us be clear to say that God has given us his word to ‘read’ and God has given us a spirit and mind and heart to communicate to him in prayer, thanksgiving, and praise.  These are the means to help us experience more of the moment-by-moment relationship that is the purpose and intention of us being in the Creator/creature relationship.  It is why we were made and what we were made for.  It is the fundamental purpose and meaning of our existence.  So what is the meaning of life?  To know God at a deep personal level and to enjoy and love him forever.  This is ONLY possible through accepting Jesus Christ, God’s son, as our personal Savior.  Jesus is the door, the path, the ‘way’ to be restored to an eternal moment-by-moment connection and eternal relationship with God.   

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

The Fruitful Bride – Part 5

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.

When we say ‘moment by moment,’ we are dealing in practice with a succession of single, historical moments.  No one lives his whole life at one time.  Life is not a once-for-all thing; it is a series of moments.  So when we talk about living the Christian life moment by moment, we can only live it in practice one moment at a time, just as my justification took place in one moment.  There is no other way to do it.   Nobody can live except moment by moment, and only one moment at a time.  History is like a knife-edge, razor sharp.  God has made sequence to be real, and the present is the present to me, the future is the future, and the past is the past.   

So we must believe God’s promises at this one moment in which we are.  Consequently, in believing God’s promises, we apply them—the present meaning of the work of Christ for the Christian—for and in this one moment.  If you only can see that, everything changes.  As we believe God for this moment, the Holy Spirit is not quenched.  And through his agency, the risen and glorified Christ, as the bridegroom of the bride, the Vine, brings forth his fruit through us at this moment.  This is the practice of active passivity.  And it is the only way anybody can live; there is no other way to live but moment by moment.   

We accept Christ as Savior at one moment and our guilt is gone on the basis of the value of the finished work of Jesus Christ.  But after we become Christians, the moments proceed, the clock continues to tick; and in every moment of time, our calling is to believe God, raise the empty hands of faith, and let fruit flow out through us.   

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

The Fruitful Bride – Part 4

Continuing…the chapter…The Fruitful Bride – Part 4

Looking at reasons we do not bring forth the fruit that we can and should…. 

Another reason is that we may know the doctrine by mental assent without making the doctrine ours.  In the last analysis it is never doctrine alone that is important.  It is always doctrine appropriated that counts.  We can see this in the case of justification.  There are many men, unhappily, who have heard the gospel and know the gospel but do not take Christ as their Savior.  In such a case a man has the knowledge, but it means nothing to him because he has not taken it.  It may be so with us in this matter of our present life.  We may know the truth, we may have knowledge, but it has not been appropriated, and so it will not mean anything to us in practice, and the fruit will not be born.  But we do not need to be either ignorant or confused.  If we are truly Christians, we know how we were justified when we became Christians.  The practice of sanctification is very much parallel to what we know from justification.  In other words, if I am a Christian at all, I have been justified, and thinking back to my justification, all I have to do is to see the parallelism between justification and the Christian life.  When I see these, there is no reason either to be ignorant or confused, because there are these very definite parallels.   

In justification the basis is the finished work of Jesus Christ; in sanctification it is the finished work of Christ.  In justification, we must see, acknowledge, and act upon the fact that we cannot save ourselves.  In sanctification, we must see, acknowledge, and act upon the fact that we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength, or in our own goodness. 

In justification the instrument by which we receive the free gift of God is faith, which believes God as he has given us his promises in the Bible; in sanctification the instrument by which we receive the free gift of God is faith, which believes God as he has given us his promises in the Bible.  It is exactly the same thing.  There is one difference between the practice of justification and sanctification.  As justification deals with our guilt, and sanctification deals with the problem of the power of sin in our lives as Christians, justification is once for all, and the Christian life is moment by moment.  There is a difference in that one deals with guilt of my sin, and the other deals with the power of sin in my life.   

If we are Christians, we have understood and acted upon the finished work of Christ once for all at our justification, and our guilt is gone forever.  Now let us understand and act upon the practice of the same work moment by moment in our present lives.   

Let me repeat; the only difference in the practice is that in justification it is once for all, and the Christian life is lived moment by moment.  The Christian life is acting moment by moment on the same principle, and in the same way, as I acted at the moment of my justification.   

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

The Fruitful Bride – Part 3

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.

In the light of the structure of the total universe, in the light of our calling to exhibit the existence and character of God between the Ascension and the Second Coming, in the light of the terrible price of the Cross, whereby all the present and future benefits of salvation were purchased on our behalf—in the light of all this, the real sin of the Christian is not to possess his possessions by faith.  This is the real sin. 

Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23 ESV.  The sin here is in not raising the empty hands of faith.  Anything that is not brought forth from faith is sin.  When I am not allowing this fruit, which has been purchased at such a price, to flow forth through me, I am unfaithful, in the deep sense of not believing God.  When we understand this, certainly we must say, “May God forgive us.”  The Christian life is a thing of joy, but it should also have the understanding of sorrow, if we compare what could be with what is:  the poverty, which riches are offered and when we have brought forth the fruit of the Lord’s enemy, the devil, instead of the fruit of our lover, our Lord.  

There are two main reasons why we may not be bringing forth the fruit we should. It may be because of lack of knowledge, because we may never have been taught the meaning of the ‘work of Christ’ for our present lives.  There are five possible reasons of ‘not knowing’ in this area.  First, the Christian may have been taught how to be justified but never taught the present meaning of the work of Christ for him.  Second, he may have been taught to become a Christian through the instrumentality of faith, but then he may have been left, as though from that point on the Christian life has to be lived in his own strength.  Third, he may have been taught the opposite; that is, he may have been taught that, having accepted Christ, in some antinomian way it does not now matter how he lives.  Fourth, he may have been taught some kind of second blessing, which would make him perfect in this life when he receives it.  This the Bible does not teach.  And therefore, he just waits hopelessly or tries to act upon that which is not.  Fifth, he may never have been taught that there is a reality of faith to be acted on consciously after justification.   

Because of this ‘lack of knowledge,’ the Christian may not ‘possess his possessions’ in this present life.  But when a man does learn the meaning of the work of Christ in the present life, a new door is open to him.  And this new door then seems to be so wonderful that often it gives the Christian, as he begins to act upon the knowledge of faith, the sense of something that is as new as was his conversion.  And it has been true for many of us that at a certain point, after we have been Christians for a long time, suddenly through the teaching of the Bible—directly or through someone teaching us—we come to see and understand the meaning of the work of Christ and the blood of Jeus Christ for our present life, and a new door opens for us.  So what is needed is the knowledge of the meaning of the work of Christ in our present life, for our present life, and then for us to act upon it in faith.   (to be con’t. I will be away from the computer for a couple of days) 

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

The Fruitful Bride – Part 2

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.

Let’s move to the third step in our new relationship.  When I have accepted Christ as my Savior, I am also immediately in a new relationship with and to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives in me as the agent of the whole Trinity.  Now the fruit of the Spirit is clearly delineated in the Bible:   

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 

The Scripture is equally clear about the works of the flesh:   

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  Galatians 5:19-21 

The Holy Spirit is the agent of the whole Trinity.  He is the agent of the crucified the raised, the glorified Christ.  If I am bringing forth something other than the fruit of the Spirit, the only reason is that I have grieved the Holy Spirit who is our divine guest.  Dr. Charles Hodge expresses it like this: “The great distinction of a true Christian is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  How careful should he be, lest anything in his thoughts or feelings would be offensive to this Divine guest?”  The Holy Spirit is a person, but knowing that he is a person would remind us that he can be grieved, that he can be made sad.  So in Ephesians 4:30 we are told, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.   

Do not make sad the divine guest who lives in you.  If you are a true Christian, you are sealed by him to the day of redemption.  It is by his indwelling that our continuing salvation is guaranteed to us.  Let us not grieve him, make him sad.   

In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 we have the command:  Do not quench the Spirit.  When we grieve him, we push aside the one who is the agent to us of the work of Christ for our present life.  On the basis of the finished, passive work of Christ—that is, his suffering on the cross—and on the basis of the active obedience of Christ—that is, keeping the law perfectly through his life—the fruits are there.  They are there to flow out through the agency of the Holy Spirit through us into the external world.  The fruits are normal; not to have them is not to have the Christian life which should be considered usual.  There are oceans of grace that wait.  Orchard upon orchard waits, vineyard upon vineyard of fruit waits.  There is only one reason why they do not flow out through the Christian’s life, and that is that the instrumentality of faith is not being used.  This is to quench the Holy Spirit.  When we sin in this sense, we sin twice:  we sin in the sin, and this is terrible, as it is against the law and the character of God himself, our Father; but at the same time we sin by omission, because we have not raised the empty hands of faith for the gift that is there. 

(Friends:  I sit here in this year of my 73rd birthday, on this December morning, and I read what I am posting and writing, and I have to admit my need to repent for the carelessness I have in assuming God’s grace, kindness, and blessing to me.  He has always been sooo good to me.  And I have not nearly, not even close, been sufficiently tuned-in and protected and embraced and cherished the gift of His Holy Spirit that lives in me.  I get contented with little drops of fruit when I should, by faith, by devotion from my heart, be seeking buckets of fruit to be produced through me for His glory….. so I need to pray:   oh dear Father…I repent for being so careless and casual with Your gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in me.  I repent for grieving Him in all the occasions that I have and do.  I pray, that by this same, this precious Holy Spirit, that You will give me the will of obedience to be more mindful and aware of what it is that You have given me…that I am a vessel of Your Spirit ‘so that’ I can produce buckets of fruit.  It is only by your power and through practicing faith that I can produce fruit for You.  It is not about me…it is only about You…Your eternal glory.  I pray You forgive me and strengthen me and help me to live in the mindfulness and practice of living in active faith.  I am sooooo glad that you are patient and merciful and forgiving and longsuffering.  Thank you, thank you for such love.  Amen.)

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

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