Saturday, February 6, 2010

True Spirituality - The Fruitful Bride

True Spirituality - The Fruitful Bride
Comments on Francis Schaeffer's Book True Spirituality
A Book Study By Dan Guinn

Chapter 7 - The concept of the "Fruitful Bride" combines two significant themes in scripture; The concept of "bearing fruit" and the "bride". Both of which are rich in symbolism and meaning in the relationship of the life of the believer and their Savior. Dr. Schaeffer directs our attention to a passage where these two concepts are unified.

"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." Rom 7:4

As the Bride of Christ (Matt. 22:1-14,25:1-13, Rev. 19:6-10) we are to bear fruit in that relationship. Bearing fruit embodies imagery utilized in scripture such as the "vine" and the "fig tree." In essence these symbols are indicative of the product or end result of the Christian life.

The Bride's Calling
Dr. Schaeffer points out that this is our high calling in life.

        "..our high calling, to put ourselves by choice in the arms of our rightful lover, our                     bridegroom, in order to bring forth fruit in the external world." Francis Schaeffer, True             Spirituality pg 81


This commitment involves faithfulness on our part. Dr. Schaeffer uses the illustration of the illegitimate foreign child born through (the fruit of) adultery. Are we unfaithful toward God?

"13 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. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 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? 17 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, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 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.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 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." Rom 6:13-21

        We Are to Honor the Divine Guest       
"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  of feelins would be offensive to this divine Guest!' The Holy Spirit is a Person, but knowing that he is a Person should remind us that he can be greived...'" Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 82

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Eph 4:30

"Do not quench the Spirit." 1 Thess 5:19

The Empty Hand of Faith

"...For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." Rom 14:23b
"The sin here is 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 in God." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 83

Reasons Why We May Not Be Bringing Forth the Fruit We Should

The following outline is intended to convey as a quick reference the problems and pitfalls Christians can easily fall into which prevent them from bearing fruit. Notice that each of these are areas where an unbalanced emphasis is placed on one portion of the gospel message. Without applying the whole gospel, to the whole of life we may very well be misdirected and not produce fruit or find the healing in this life that it provides.

How Fail to "possess our possessions" as Christians.

  1. Ignorance or Confusion
  • Taught We Are Justified - But never taught the present meaning of Christ work in our lives right now.
  • Taught Faith - But are left trying to live life in own strength.
  • Taught Faith - Antinomianism (literally "against law") : We believe but either believe there is no spiritual law or that God's law is not applicable. People in this area may not necessarily believe they are anarchist, but in many ways can be living in lawlessness.
  • Taught Second Blessing - Lives on basis of personal holiness practice. There are several groups that have taught this. This can further lapse into legalism.
  • Taught Faith & Justification - Never taught that faith needed to be acted upon. Much like the first covered in this area, I believe that Schaeffer is identifying those who understand faith and justification clearly and even understand the present meaning of Christ in our lives but are yet ignorant of the conscious action needed to grow after coming to faith.

Avoiding Mere Intellectual Ascent - Later Schaeffer goes on to mention "mere intellectual ascent. This may in some ways be a summary of the areas just covered. However, these may be areas of the process of sanctification in our lives as well. We all can probably identify when we were in one state or another in our understanding. We must be careful to merely rest on our knowledge of our current state of spirituality as we all have much further to go before we are comformed to the likeness of Christ. We need to be constantly moving and learning so that we may mature. The moment we stop this action is the moment we falter. "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10:12 Here are some points which Schaeffer suggest.

Doctrine Appropriated
"In the last analysis it is never doctrine alone that is important. It is always doctrine appropriated that counts." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 84

Justification/Sanctification Parallel
"In justification we must see, acknowledge and act upon the fact that we cannon 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." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 85

One Difference
  • Justification - Deals with the guilt (legality) of my sin.
      • Sanctification - Deals with the power of sin in my life.

Let us be sure to grasp the above bullet points. Unless we are to understand how to apply the gospel to the whole of life, we must grasp the difference between justification and sanctification and begin to live them out.
Moment-by-Moment Relationship
Finally, as the bride or Christ, we are to live a life in moment-by-moment relationship. Unlike human relationships where separation or failure of devotion can transpire. The Spirit of God is there in moment-by-moment relationship with us. His love is steadfast and unmoved. While it is possible to offend Him, He is gentle and long-suffering with us, ever teaching, ever guiding.

This is the conclusion of the first section of the "Freedom Now From the Bonds of Sin." Schaeffer ends with this section with many remarks that help to summarize this relationship.

"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 a time."
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 86

"This morning's faith will never do for this noon. The faith of this noon will never do for the supper time. The faith of supper time 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."
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 87

"... 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 me through the agency of the Holy Spirit." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 88

"We live in a personal universe, and not in an impersonal one. God exist, God is personal; we are personal, as we have been made in the image of God, and out relationship to God is to be personal, not mechanical... 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 hime, in love, by choice, the creature before the Creator." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 88

"Modern man is struggling properly when his is struggling with the basic question, as to the problem of personaliotly and communication... The Bible's answer to the problem is the central communication, which makes all the other communications meaningful, is the communication of the Creator and the creature." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 88

               personality (identity) ----> Christ
communication (meaning/truth) ----> Word

                               creature ----> Creator

"... mankind in revolt doubts God. To believe him, not just when I accept Christ as Savior, but every moment, one moment at a time: this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 89

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