Saturday, December 12, 2009

True Spirituality - The Law of Love

True Spirituality - The Law
and The Law of Love
Lecture Notes On Francis Schaeffer's Book True Spirituality
A Book Study By Dan Guinn

Chapter 1 - As we begin, we need to mention that Dr. Schaeffer starts the chapter with two important questions for us. Firstly, "What is True Spirituality?" , and secondly, "How can it be lived out in a twentieth-century setting?" To clarify, the "twentieth century setting" that Schaeffer is referring to is the time in which we live, yet also the culture in which we live. Our challenge in living out true spirituality today is that our culture has been changed over time from a culture that once largely esteemed the Christian message to one that has mistakenly rejected it in many respects and is now far less accommodating. These changes have been brought about by many forces in concert, yet primarily by the influence of religious and philosophical Liberalism. It is important to note that much of Schaeffer's aim throughout the book is to speak to, and give answers to the problems the Christian faces in living in that particular setting. Thus, I think you will find out as we study through the book that the answers both instruct us, as well as equip us with answers for the watching world. 

Now, in chapter 1, The Law and The Law of Love, we are given a framework for learning the nature of true spirituality. It is helpful to analyze the system presented to understand it's value. However, we should understand that while it is systematic, it is not a mechanism. Schaeffer explains in a later chapter that, "It is not possible to say, read so many chapters of the Bible every day, and you will get this much sanctification." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 87 (1971), pg 78 (2001) Just as in our earthly relationships we can follow guidelines but there are always other factors involved. If we are just going through the motions alone or proceeding with the wrong motives we will soon be off the course and not achieve the desired end.

You Must Be A Christian
While it might seem like "a given" to many of the people listening to this lecture that you must be a Christian in order to practice true spirituality, there are many in our culture that think otherwise. Likewise, some may even think that it is arrogant for the Christian to claim such a thing. However, our basis for teaching this is what Christianity and the Bible teaches. 

Scripture is clear that there is an obstacle for the non-Christian in understanding. Unless his eyes are opened then he cannot see God.

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

In our day the exclusivity of Christianity is often mistakenly categorized as "hate". This unfair evaluation is the natural result of religious pluralism and liberalism in our culture. It believes that all religious ideas are equal and should be tolerated as equal opinion. This is a naive treatment of religion which naturally breaks down religion and logic itself. If we believe that "all religious ideas are equally true" then there really is no basis for determining if any religions are true. Moreover, we are at this point not far removed from the opinion of some who teach that all religions teach basically the same thing.

While non-Christians may exhibit spiritual behavior it is only that. Behavior without the heart change only brings a simple surface level fix alone.

Christ Plus Nothing
If we assume we can add anything to the work of Christ for our redemption we are in fact saying that Christ work was insufficient. We must believe that Christ's death accomplished our redemption entirely. The gift of faith and a changed heart produce the outward action rooted in Christ's love. If we strive to do good works outwardly without the inward change we are only honoring ourselves.

Having said this, there are times in our Christian life when we must "do" out of obedience to Christ alone without inward confirmation. This is because the inward spirituality is not based upon inward feeling but an inward transformation.

The Law of Love
As Dr. Schaeffer explains, the Law of Love is not outward but inward. It begins with learning not to covet. Now Schaeffer wishes us to understand that coveting as a command is deeper than the "thou shalt not" aspect. Rather, we should not only not envy, but we should also give. We should seek the good of God and man, which is really the basis of the entire law. 

Positive and Negative Aspects

To understand how Schaeffer arrives at this we need to understand that in the ten commandments each command also implies and opposite. "Thou Shalt Not Murder" also implies "Thou Shalt Preserve Life." Therefore in that same way, "Thou Shalt Not Covet" also implies, "Thou Shalt Seek the Good of God and Others." Let's read the commandment with this in mind.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.” Exod 20:17

In referring to Christ words on the greatest commandment, Schaeffer says, "Coveting is the negative side of the positive commands" - Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 8 (1971), pg 78 (2001) 

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 22:37-29

It is easy to see Christ position here. He gives us the positive side of the commandment. The negative is by default implied.

Not Outward But Inward
Living in the Law of Love through grace and through Christ, brings about a "heart change" that changes us from the inside out. Sin falls away because the changed heart begins to desire God.  

1 John 3:9 "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God."

Rom 6:1-2 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

Even though we are free from the curse of the Mosaic Law we are not lawless. Since we are under a new covenant, we are under the law of it's priesthood. Christ law is a law of faith and love full of grace written on our hearts. It is a law within us. I have added a few verses here not mentioned by Schaeffer to assist us in this.

 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people." Jeremiah 31:33

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 

1 John 5:1-3

So now we desire to follow our new covenant priest, Jesus, who desires us to keep His commandments.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

John 14:21 "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

Contentment & Thankfulness
In practice, the life of love without coveting produces contentment and thankfulness. For Schaeffer this is "reality."

"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Phil 4:6

"20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Eph 5:20

"28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Rom 8:28

So those who do not live in thankfulness corrupt their own heart.

"21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:21

Longing in Love
This further produces "Longing in Love" for the good of God and others in the Christian life.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Transformation - Death/Life
Finally, this process is what it means to die to oneself (negative aspect) and live in Christ (positive aspect).

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Rom 6:4

"20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20

Dr. Schaeffer notes that "crucified with Christ" is a negative,  but it rolls over to a positive.

"So although there is a negative, it sweeps over to a positive, and to stop at the negative is to miss the whole point. The true Christian life is not hating life, in the way that we are apt to do when we get into despondency or other psychological problems. The Christian negative is not a nihilist negative; there is a true Biblical negative; but the Christian life does not stop with a negative There is a true life in the present as well as the future." Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 15 (1971), pg 13 (2001).

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