Summary of “THE MARK OF THE CHRISTIAN” by Francis Schaeffer

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In his book The Mark of the Christian Schaeffer points out the great Commandment to love God and neighbor is at the core of our message and it must be lived out if two things are to occur.  First, if men are to know that we are Christ’s disciples, there must be the humble preference toward one another that Jesus demonstrated to the disciples when he washed their feet in (John 13).  Love among the brothers lets the watching world see if we actually belong to Jesus or not.

We may very well be his, but if our actions are contradictory then the unbeliever has the right given by God to judge us.  This kind of life is costly, painful and accompanied by great loss, but our love for the Savior and for the lost must be what motivates us.

Second, we must be unified with believers so that our evangelistic endeavors are not hindered and the world may know that the Father sent the Son (John 17).  This unity must be evident in word and in deed.  Even when there are differences among us, and there will be, it’s critical that forgiveness, repentance, humility and kindness be evident when we part ways with our brothers and sisters.

This unity, according to Schaeffer, is not organizational, nor our mystical union with Him, it’s not our positional unity in Christ, not even a legal unity before Him.  But it’s a real, observable, practical unity that practices both God’s holiness and love.  Schaeffer rightly accentuates that this unity is never to be separated from His propositional truth (scripture) for it is these propositions that believers are called to live out before the world.

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Summary of “The Church at the End of the 20th Century” by Francis Schaeffer

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In his book The Church at the End of the 20th Century, Schaeffer considers where in history we have come.  He considers how to understand the then current student revolt of the 60’s and how we as the church can make an impact.  As he argued in; The God Who is There, the results that accompany denying God’s existence in space time history are inescapable.  If there’s no ultimate reference point of God, we have no absolute truth, what then follows is man, not God becoming the measure of all things, and as such sends us down a slippery oblivion of utter despair.

The core of the book concerns the absolute need to make the essential things of the Christian faith essential, and those that are not, not essential while still being important.  It’s an issue of degreed importance.  Hence, orthodoxy is essential to have true Christianity for God has communicated to us in propositional form.  But that’s not everything.  We must have orthodoxy in community.  If it does not work itself out practically in our relationships through love, we will be seen as ugly.  As we should be!  Overcoming the hurdles required to walk in loving community can only be done through the Holy Spirit’s power poured in and through humble servants.

In other words, we need to teach the Christianity that has content and purity of doctrine.  And in our ecclesiastical affairs we must practice that truth in our religious cooperation if both young and old are going to be attracted to us.  Where changes need to be made (e.g., Korean church going underground or the times we meet for worship, or where we meet) must be considered graciously rather than given some “divine authority” which the Scriptures do not support.  Cultural relevance necessitates a “hot orthodoxy” that is savvy, not belligerent.

Summary of “Two Contents, Two Realities” by Francis Schaeffer

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In Schaeffer’s Two Contents, Two Realities he holds to the view that for the church to encounter the mounting challenges of the culture and increasing pressures upon her four things are essential to be in place.  Without these, he doesn’t see how we can be truly light and salt.

First, we must have the content of sound doctrine.  There can’t be any compromise here, for where essential Christian doctrines are denied, true Christianity disappears.  And clarity of content to those making a profession of faith is indispensable.  Otherwise, what will result are many false conversions.  Moreover, relativism must be smashed with true truth, the cost of discipleship must be real and love must ground all the above.

Second, we must with content give honest answers to honest questionsBecause Christianity is true truth from God, the Scriptures have an answer to our deepest fundamental questions as human beings.  For Christ is Lord over all creation, and as its master, He has the solutions for our deepest concerns.  This will mean that Christians like Paul must love the culture enough to understand its functional gods/idols and show their inadequacy when compared to the Gospel.  Whether rich or poor, educated or working class the same questions concern us all.

Third, the reality of true spirituality demonstrates what it means to love God and neighbor as ourselves, however imperfectly.  We may have orthodox doctrine and know how to provide the answers our generation is asking or not asking, but if among believers there’s no true (though imperfect) love, than we have utterly failed!  The way we treat others is a massive indication of our understanding of what it means for them to be image bearers.  Without minimizing the first and second contents, if this third reality is not in place, the gig is up.

Fourth, the beauty of human relationships in Christian community is costly and smashes every racial and class barrier.  The rich and poor, rulers and servants are to understand that they are brothers and sisters in Christ. The church cannot just be a place where preaching and activities occur, where no community is really being experienced.  In the church of Antioch, the race issue was not an issue for the early Christians and while they had their problems the Gospel was able to destroy these barriers in a way that in America it hasn’t been a reality in too many of our churches.  If we are going to touch our generation with the Gospel, this must be remedied by Christ’s power in our lives.

It is when we begin to see these two contents, and two realities that a profound impact will be experienced by our generation.

Summary of “THE NEW SPIRITUALITY” by Francis Schaeffer

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In Schaeffer’s The New Super Spirituality he considers how among non-Christians and in the church we came full circle as a culture in America with our problems without even realizing it.  A generation that found itself in a post Christian world became that which it despised, that which it rejected.  For example, in the sixties the youth rebelled against their parents’ love of affluence and peace and saw their “plastic reality” to provide no real answers to life’s difficult questions.

Instead of reasoning through hard issues, the youth were encouraged to just maintain the status quo.  This anti-intellectualism the youth ironically accepted through the transcendental mysticism of Eastern thought in the sixties which down-played reality as we know it—drug culture sprang up, and thus a denial of reason flourished.  The source of these ideas was a mixture of mysticism, the occult, and some demonic.  It’s easy to become that which you criticize if care is not taken.

In the Christian community, of the many problems that obtained were not understanding what it means for Christ to be Lord over all creation.  Instead of giving answers to tough questions, the youth were told to just believe…they turned away.  There was also no beauty in the community; divorce became rampant, families torn apart—in church—because of an anti-intellectual approach to their orthodoxy.  Moreover, strong legalism set in and many taboos were put in place of Scripture.  This lead to an unbiblical Platonic world-view that denied the importance of the physical world and only spiritual themes mattered.  And while in the new Pentecostalism that unlike their predecessors, experience trumped content, however important experience is.

There are certain marks in the new super spirituality; 1) an unbiblical exegesis of the use of reason and the intellect from 1 Corinthians 1, 2 as if God upheld stupidity as a virtue, 2) a disdain for apologetics thinking it to be “non-spiritual”, 3) the despising of the body and embracing asceticism for its own sake, 4) certain questions are altogether not being asked, thus showing where people’s interest consist, 5) a longing to experience the spectacular and the extraordinary, and 6) an eschatology-centered theology.  How are we to respond to these trends?

Schaeffer says, first it’s important to remember that these people are our Christian brothers and that how we deal with each other determines whether or not the world can know we belong to Christ (Jn.17).

Second, in light of the new Platonism, we must be saturated with the content based propositional revelation of truth in the Scriptures and we must place our freedoms under the lordship of the Holy Spirit.

Third, we must resist the new super-spirituality, and while difficult, steer aright new converts to worship in churches that are orthodox in both doctrine and in their community.

Fourth, we must not overreact when confronting these problems—this is so critical and difficult to do.  It’s truly difficult to strike a balance.  If we are to live in the reality that Christ is Lord over all creation, then as Christians it is incumbent on us to love God in word and deed, prayerfully study our Bible, love the Church and the Culture, care for both Body and Soul, and in all this avoiding extremes and making it our goal to live Scripturally saturated lives.

Summary of “TRUE SPIRITUALITY” by Francis Schaeffer

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In True Spirituality Schaeffer considers so many precious gems of wisdom that to do it justice I would have to do a report on the book, not give a summary.  To begin with, his understanding of the gospel and its application to life are liberating because he (rightly) does not have too much of a realized eschatology.  This prevents a triumphalism from creeping in that’s so pervasive in many Evangelical circles today.  This is especially true in the areas of justification, sanctification and final glorification.

Rightly understanding the biblical teaching of the above as we rest in the power of the Holy Spirit and look to the Trinity for direction, wisdom, and instruction, there’s the opportunity for our brokenness to be healed, substantially that is.

The chapter on Freedom in the Thought Life there’s a massive thought that, “true spirituality in the Christian life rests…in the realm of my thought life” (pg.310).  While I’m finite, my limitations don’t prevent me from creating something in the external world what my internal thoughts influence (e.g., a sculptor, painting, etc.). Yet, even though I’m a Christian, my thoughts can be a death producing machine if I yield myself to Satan instead of Christ.  Wow!

Made in the image of God, our choices determine whether or not life or death will overflow into the lives of other human beings.  Capable for committing acts of kindness or cruelty, able to create beauty or produce horror.  In this section Schaeffer concludes with three thoughts:

First, the reality of communion with God, and loving God, must take place in the inward self.  Our thought life is the proving ground.

Second, the real battle for men is in the world of ideas, rather than in that which is outward.  “Where a man will spend eternity depends on his reading or hearing the ideas, the propositional truth, the facts of the gospel in the external world, and these being carried through the medium of His body into the inner world of his thoughts…either his believing God on the basis of the content of the gospel or his calling God a liar” (pgs.312-313).

Third, the Christian life…always begins in our thought-world.  The spiritual battle, the loss or the victory, is always in the thought life.  When our thought life as believers is set Godward, substantial healing can be experienced in our psychological, personal problems, interpersonal relationships can be healed and even healing in the church can be a reality.

He concludes this book with an appendix The Dust of Life where at the end of the day we believers are called to live our lives in this present evil age in light of the future coming kingdom of God.  We are to model now what is still future.  We are to be a redemptive tool in God’s hands displaying His personal care for the souls of men and the earth in which they were designed to live.

This book is must reading for anyone in leadership or anyone desiring to go into leadership in the church.  In fact, this should be read by all who desire to glean from the godly wisdom this broken man offers.  We’ll be the better for it if we consider and act.

 

Summary of “NO LITTLE PEOPLE” by Francis Schaeffer

IMG_20170911_104919This is one of Schaeffers’ most powerful books.  In No Little People he focuses on the significance of the smallest details both in the life of God’s servants and the places in which they find themselves.  According to the Bible says Schaeffer, “With God there are no little people” (pg.5).  He then considers how significant a simple stick of wood was to become in Moses hands as a source of judgment—plagues, deliverance—Red Sea, and supply—water from the rock.   This stick, something “insignificant” became the rod of God.  As this rod became God’s, so to must the believer.  Essentially there are no little people, only those that are and are not consecrated to God.  That’s sobering!   At the end of the day we as believers must follow Christ’ humble approach of service, nothing else.  In fact, humility is not an option for honoring Jesus, but a requisite.

In the chapter The Weakness of God’s Servants, attention is given to just that—their weakness.  I found this sobering and encouraging.  It’s sobering because I can identify with my own struggles with sin.  It is among other things refreshing to know God reveals our heroes faults—to embarrassing heights often.  Why?  Because the Bible is a realistic book with flesh and blood, sweat and tears, highs and lows revealing the “mannishness” of man.  We even in the church are sometimes too blinded to this reality.  Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Gideon, David, Solomon, Elijah, Peter, Paul represent different aspects of our common problem: sin before a holy God.  Honestly, I’m glad my name’s not in the bible and my deeds on display for all to see.  They may one day however, and that’s scary.

Lastly, not because there’s not much more to consider, but in the chapter David: Lawful and Unlawful Vindication the hard lesson is that personal sin can and too often does paralyze our duty to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God.  Post Bathsheba and Uriah, David’s life was never the same.  Being in leadership is no small task however great or small the band may be.  Our actions have far reaching consequences the likes of which can be utterly daunting to consider.  Nonetheless, ponder I must for the sake of the Name of God.

This book is must reading for anyone in, aspiring to, or presently going into church leadership for it gives in my view a sober and realistic assessment of our human plight even though we are part of the covenant people.

Reflections From Isaiah 1: “WHO IS STUPID?  THOSE WHO FORSAKE THE LORD”

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I’m stunned and tremble that forsaking the LORD God of Israel is akin to becoming less rational than a beast of burden for, “an ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger but Israel does not know, My people do not understand” (v.3).

Like the beast of burden is weighed down with the yoke, Israel is weighed down with iniquity (v.4) as a result of abandoning the LORD and despising the Holy One of Israel.  What does this look like?  Israel still practices their religious rituals but the LORD rejects them all together:

Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.
11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? 13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
” (Vv.10-15)

 Religious ritual without the life of trust in Yahweh in the daily grind is not acceptable to Him.  God rejects mere duty when His own play the “hypocrite” by having blood on their hands (v.21, 23).  Thus God calls for repentance:

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” (Vv.16-17)

When repentance occurs the God of heaven always extends mercy, for it is part of His character and when mercy is given, forgiveness occurs:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. 19 “If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Vv.18-20)

Amazing!  The result of abandoning the LORD God is heightened irrationality.  It’s a sub-animalistic ability to reason because of sin.  A beast of burden is more rational than the image bearer we the LORD is rejected by them.  We don’t tend to think in those terms.  Many erudite, scholars, and sages of our age think that belief in God is irrational fantasy.  The opposite is true.  Many professing believers also believe that lie.

Yet, the remedy from said evil and irrationality is repentance which includes right thinking (according to reality—that so many deny is real and true) and the evidence is “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, Plead for the widow”.

Are you someone who thinks you’re smarter than everyone else around?  How do you compare to God’s standard?  May holiness to the LORD be the cry of our hearts so we don’t slip below the intelligence of a donkey.  SDG

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TRUTH…AND IT’S A GOOD THING!  SURE ABOUT THAT?

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There’s no such thing as truth, and it’s a good thing!  Really, this kind of nonsense has flooded the minds of Western civilization.  It has undermined the Christian faith and is decimating what remains of Western civilization.  Why?  Because it’s false and rots the root system of reality. If there’s no such thing as truth, then our faith is worthless!  During his high-priestly prayer, Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

What does that mean?  Why should we care?  And what happens when his words are ignored? These questions and more will be considered in the seminar sponsored by Sovereign Grace Fellowship: Trusting God’s Word: Reclaiming our Confidence in the Truth of Scripture

TOPICS

  • Who do You Ultimately Take Your Orders From? – Scripture’s Authority (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • What do You Ultimately Bank On? – Scripture’s Inerrancy (John 17:17)
  • How Are Your Ultimate Needs Met? – Scripture’s Necessity (1 Peter 1:23)
  • Where do You Go for Ultimate Answers?– Scripture’s Sufficiency (Matthew 4:4)

WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS SEMINAR?

 Truly anyone attending will benefit from the topics covered; Parents wanting to faithfully raise their children according to God’s commands; Pastors and Leaders desiring to strengthen those under their care; students longing to be emboldened in their witness for Christ; Followers of Jesus determined to live humbly under God’s truth; and the Skeptic whose questions have not been satisfactorily answered.

SPEAKER INFO follow link:

Seating is limited so SIGN-UP TODAY!

Summary of “Art and the Bible” by Francis Schaeffer

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In this book Art and the Bible, Schaeffer argues for the necessity to see all of life under the Lordship of Christ Jesus which includes art.  The Bible is not averse to art “religious” or “secular”.  The paradigm from which to work is that God created the whole man, in Christ the whole man is redeemed, Christ is the Lord over the whole man and the Christian life, and Christ will in the future redeem the whole man body and soul.

The Bible does use art in the tabernacle, Solomon’s temple and makes use of things in nature and their modifications.  The issue is not to make art an idol, not that it’s forbidden.  While there’s much he covered, at the end of the day we as Christians are to make sure that the body of our artistic work presents a faithful picture of the Christian worldview.

Among other things, every Christian is to endeavor to make their lives a work of art in how it’s read and seen by all men.   The question is: Are we God-centered or Man-centered?  Faithfulness to Christ and the good of mankind requires the former, rather than the latter to be the orb of the “masterpiece.” Note: page 386 on how David is an exemplary model for the artist.

Summary of “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” Francis Schaeffer

IMG_20170827_083008Many years ago in Bible College I took a class called Hebrew History and the book of Joshua was our starting point.   I don’t remember much of that class’s content, but I do recall the texture of wonder in my soul as musings of the text were considered, both in class and in my study.

According to Schaeffer, a major theme (and I agree) is the significance of our choices.  The book of Joshua centers on this reality of our “choices.”   Between the God Who is There or the idols that surround us, we are to choose whom we will serve.  God’s faithfulness to his promise to the fathers of Israel possessing the land was realized, but there was much to be gleaned by the “choices” God’s covenant people made—either negatively or positively.

Joshua before his death distributes the land to the different tribes of Israel and finally gives them his last “speech” (Joshua 24: 14-15):

14 “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The focus is not on their “stuff” but on their “loyalties” whether it is Godward or Manward—their worship is the ultimate issue.   And their worship like ours is seen in the choices that they daily made.  In Chapter 2 Joshua chose to recognize that Israel’s true leader was the Captain of the host of the LORD who was before him.  Chapter three focused on the national portion of the Abrahamic covenant.  The Jews chose to cross the Jordan—from that time until now, their choices would either result in blessing or cursing (i.e., the conditional aspects of the covenant).  Chapter 4 and 8 show how Rahab and the Gibeonites chose to deceive in order to become part of the people of God—they knew and heard of the renown of God’s name.

In chapter 5 two memorials were erected: one of stones and another of circumcision, both of which were signs of remembering and obeying the God of the covenant however impractical it seemed to the eye.  Chapter 6 shows how Achan’s choice to disobey God’s command lead not only to the temporary defeat of Israel’s army but also brought death to him and his kin.  Moreover, in the chapter 7 at Mt. Gerizim and Ebal blessing and cursing was established within the covenant—choose life Israel.  Chapter 9 Caleb once again shows himself faithful to God while standing opposed to Israel’s disobedience of taking the rest of the land.  He chose God, as he had done 40 years prior.

Chapter 10 the two and a half tribes that returned east of Jordan chose to serve the living God and those west of the Jordan lovingly and passionately entreated them thinking that they had turned to serve the gods of the land.  In chapter 11 the cities of refuge are set up and the one who has accidently committed homicide has a choice to run and be safe from the avenger of blood in this place.

The whole book demonstrates how choice—our choices effect history in a deep way; our family, our affiliations, our nation.  We are not to “Forget who we are” as Scripture constantly reminds.   We are not machines, but created in God’s image and we must choose rightly, not like Adam, but like Abraham.

What struck me here is that we can’t make a choice in the present that we are not in the habit of making in the past.  The little choices are not little in the least bit, instead they are monumental and oh the blindness within that argues contrarily.  Joshua understood this so well that at the end of his life both his “life” and “words” matched his professed convictions.  Israel knew it.  What a man, what a Great God he served.  What will you choose with the little time left on earth believer? The God of creation or the idols that promise so much but can’t deliver?  Whose word will you ultimately bank your life on?  The Creators or the creatures?