Monday, December 22, 2014

20 Quotes from "Schaeffer on the Christian Life," by William Edgar.

I got this idea from Tony Reinke at the desiring God blog, where he occasionally posts 20 quotes from a good book. I thought it would be a helpful way for me to share some of the interesting things that I've gleaned from my reading. I just finished this great book and I thought I'd share 20 quotes from it.

Note: If you see no quotation marks it is a direct quote from the book. If you see quotation marks it means it is a direct quote from Francis Schaeffer that William Edgar is quoting.

Fran stopped at nothing to defend the objective reality of a true religious experience over against mysticism and liberal theology. If you had been there at Calvary’s cross, he said, and had rubbed your hand against it, you would have gotten a splinter! 66

“Sanctification is a process, not an act, and yet there are often one or more crises along the way as a Christian gains new knowledge of the meaning and the work of Christ in his present life and as he begins to act on that knowledge.” 83

When the Bible is not considered inerrant, what gets lost is our ability to stand against the surrounding culture, which is ever changing and fallen. Indeed, the culture begins to judge the Bible, not the other way around. In this same article [mentioned in the book], and throughout his work, Schaefer reminds us that it is one thing to believe correctly about the Bibles authority, but it is another, and equally important, to live according to the Bible. 85

The “religious” truth of the Bible is of the same nature as the truth about every day life. If the Bible affirms the physical resurrection of Jesus, then his body will never be found where he was buried. Ultimately the Hebrew and biblical view grounds the truth in the character of God, who reveals himself in both the creation and special revelation. 85

The Bible gives us what we need to know in order to understand the central thrust, but it does not give all the details we could wish for. That would require an enormous library! Still, when it addresses science, the cosmos, and so on, it does speak truly. As he puts it: “Wherever it touches upon anything, it does so with the true truth, but not with exhaustive truth….Where it touches history, it speaks of what I call true truth – that is, propositional, objective truth.” 87

At the heart of Francis Schaeffer's views on sanctification lies a theme that was indeed central to almost everything in his life and work, the theme of reality…His use of the term reality, particularly when referring to the Christian life, is informal. He means to say that God is real; the presence of God can really be known in our experience. There is an objective basis for human experience. 92, 94

[The] Christian life is a restoration to what I am meant to be; as a Christian I become who I was intended to be as God’s image bearer. 105

Sin is more than a forensic matter because the truth against which send offends is more than an abstract truth. 116
Schaeffer adds that we are very deep persons, and like the proverbial iceberg, nine tenths of our moral life lies under the surface...While we cannot even [it should say “ever”] become perfectly free from known sins, the best we can do is appeal to God when we do know something because it has surfaced, and then ask him to dig down deeper and bring more things to the surface so we can also deal with that particular send; and so it goes. 118

Just as a parent comforts a child crying in bed at night with the thought that the good Lord is watching over him, we can say to ourselves, no need to fear, because our God really is there. 119

God is not like a dispensing machine, obligated to make a product available at the drop of the coin. 141

If there is no transition from original perfection to sinful corruption, then cruelty is just a part of our intrinsic human nature. And this, in turn, means that "God is the devil." But if the problem is moral, that is, if we humans have made a sinful choice, then there can be hope, because that situation can be reversed, and has been reversed, in the cross. Jesus, the man, who is also God, took the weight of sin upon himself and canceled the penalty. 143

“Don't be proud. As you look out across the world of sinners, wait for them. Be glad indeed if you are redeemed, but never forget as you look at others that you have been one of them, and in a real sense we are still one with them, for we still sin. Christians are not a special group of people who can be proud; Christians are those who are redeemed – and that is all!” 145

“[Unless] true Christians show observable love to each other, Christ says the world cannot be expected to listen, even when we give proper answers.” 151

There is no better observable love, Fran says, then “saying we are sorry.” 152

Even for the purposes of doing evangelism, it may have to be that Christians cannot always work together. The overall reason is that in an age of relativism we need the opportunity to exhibit truth and antithesis. 154

“I can visualize times when the only way to make plain the seriousness of what is involved in regard to a service or to an activity where the gospel is going to be preached is not to except an official part if men his doctrine is known to be an enemy are going to be invited to participate officially.” 154

If the church is a brotherhood of believers who know how to practice visible love, then what is the church to proclaim? Simply put, the church must preach the truth… What Schaffer and his followers tell us is that the truth has largely been abandoned in our times, even in the church, and we need to recover it. 155

Modern theology is parasitical on shifts in the general culture, including philosophy and the arts. 156

At any rate, Francis Schaeffer held passionately to the importance of preaching truth. The Word of God contains propositional truth, as he insisted over and over. Speaking the truth loud and clear is the most fundamental call of the church. 157

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Who can teach?

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

One of the things that really struck me in our recent sermon series came in the text from the final sermon. In it, we explored the question and answer: “Who needs the gospel? The world does.” The text was Matthew’s Great Commission passage, Matthew 28:16-20.

Here’s what smacked me right between the eyes: every disciple can teach.

It needs to be said that some disciples are gifted to teach in a way that others are not (elders, for example in 1 Tim. 3:2).

But every disciple can teach in some way. Otherwise, it makes little sense that Jesus would give the Great Commission to all (not some of) his disciples, and then call them to teach the new disciples. If all are called, then all can teach.

And in the sermon, I argued that “teaching” has to do with the simple idea of handing over something (the act of teaching), and then receiving that something (the act of learning). This comes from the root of the Greek word for “teaching” used in the passage. Part of the stem of that word is the word for reaching out and receiving something.

So I concluded: “Don’t we hand over our ideas on politics? Sports? Hobbies? Certainly we should all hand over the truths of the gospel to other Christians.”

I plan to write a couple of more posts on this in the days/weeks ahead. For now, I simply reiterate that every disciple can teach.

Do you know Jesus? Are you getting to know him better? Then share what you’ve learned with another Christian, and watch as teaching happens!

"The Trellis and the Vine" is my go to book for thinking about discipling. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Outline of the four sermons in the series "who needs the gospel?"

Who Needs the Gospel?
Seeking to make the gospel central in our lives, in our church,
and in our mission to the world

1. I do—1 Corinthians 15:1-5
        *Big idea: Each one of us has a personal, daily, ongoing need for the gospel
        A. Old news, but not dead news (1-2)
·      The word for “gospel” simply means good news. A message that is proclaimed. News of victory in war or something like that.
·      Confusion in the church at Corinth means Paul needs to clarify what the right gospel actually is. He goes on to do this in verses 3-5
·      The Corinthians received this gospel, stand in this gospel, are being saved by this gospel. In other words, it’s still relevant. It’s not dead.
·      They must keep on believing, and never give up the hope this gospel offers
        B. Old news, but still critical news (3-5)
·      Critical because it’s the same news taught by Jesus, and it’s the same news taught by all the other Apostles
·      Critical because the news that Jesus died means that our sins are all atoned for; we are forgiven because Christ was forsaken for us
·      Critical because the news that Jesus was resurrected means our forgiveness is certain, and the risen Jesus lives for us
·      Critical because Paul says this is the most important news ever: “of first importance” (v. 3).
C. Application: Beware of at least four ways in which we say “Not me. I don’t need the gospel” when we should be saying, “I do! I need the gospel every day!”
·      Negligence: we fail to rehearse the basic facts of God, Man, Christ, Response
·      Emotions: we let fear or sadness or shame proclaim their bad news to the point that we can’t hear the good news
·      Condemnation: we turn criticisms or failures into news that is more important than the good news. Christ took all our sins and failures on himself on the cross and atoned for every one of them.
·      Legalism: C.J. Mahaney’s definition of legalism: “Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and acceptance by God through my obedience to God.” Legalism makes our good works into the good news that saves us, rather than letting Christ’s good work on the cross save us.

2. The Church does—1 Cor. 15:1-5; Rom. 8:29; John 15:12
*Big idea: The church needs the gospel because the church
only makes sense because of the gospel
        A. Remember the basics: God, Man, Christ, Response
·      The basic message is for individuals for sure
·      But as 1 Cor. 15:3 made clear, the gospel has a community element: Christ died for our sins
B. Question: What does the church have to do with the gospel? Answer: everything.
·      “Brothers” in 1 Cor. 15:1 is a theological word: the church at Corinth exists because God has taken isolated spiritual orphans and brought them together into God’s new family
·      God’s plan has always been to create a new people for himself through his Word
·      God in his wisdom has not left each of us to be lone ranger Christians
·      Mark Dever has said, “Christian proclamation might make the gospel audible, but Christians living together in local congregations make the gospel visible.”
C. Gospel-neediness within the local church is reflected in the “one-anothers”
·      John 15:12 is a foundational one-another statement: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
·      It’s foundational because it shows that the gospel is to drive the way we treat one another; we are to love in the way that Jesus has loved us
·      Love, humility, and unity are three categories that can be given to summarize many of the 50+ one-another statements in the New Testament (see appendix to this outline for a listing of nearly all of the one-another statements)

3. My Neighbors do—Luke 10:25-37
*Big idea: When you love God, you will love like God,
because you know how you have been loved by God
        A. Follow Jesus
·      Loving God means following Jesus, and submitting to his authority in your life
B. Love fulfills the Law
·      True love for God always results in loving neighbor. A good root bears good fruit.
C. Love is not limited
·      True love for God and neighbor never asks the question “Who is my neighbor?” To ask that question is to look for an out, a loophole in finding out who I must love. Love is not limited.
·      Love does not “pass by on the other side.”
·      Love happily embraces needy, messy people wherever they may be found.
D. Love is detailed
·      Love is detailed and thorough because it is marked by compassion
·      The compassion shown by the Samaritan reminds us of God’s love for us demonstrated in the Gospel
E. Love asks the right question
·      The right question to ask is “Am I a neighbor?”
·      The person who asks that “right question” is willing to love needy, messy people
F. Application questions
·      “Am I a neighbor?” Is there anyone in my life who is not a Christian who would call me their friend? In other words, they sense that I love them and I am committed to them as the Samaritan was to the needy, messy man in the story that Jesus told
·      “Am I too busy to be a neighbor?” In my list of priorities for my life, do I include time in my schedule to love my neighbors?
·      “Is our church a neighbor to our community?”

4. The World does—Matthew 28:16-20
*Big idea: Every follower of Christ is part of the Great Commission
        A. The greatness of the risen Jesus
·      Jesus comes near and speaks to his disciples who had abandoned him, showing his mercy and willingness to forgive
·      Jesus makes clear that he is the long awaited Son of Man prophesied in Daniel 7. Thus, all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him
B. The mission given by the risen Jesus
·      The mission is to make disciples
·      The people who carry out the mission are all those who follow Jesus as his disciples, not merely a special group of people
·      The mission is carried out wherever disciples go, by baptizing new disciples into the community of disciples, and by teaching them to obey all the Jesus has commanded
·      No individual follower of Christ is exempt from the call to make disciples, even though every individual disciple will play a different role in the process
C. The presence of the risen Jesus
·      The task would truly be impossible without God’s help
·      Disciples have God’s power present with them in the person of the Holy Spirit

Links to "Who needs the gospel?" Recommended Reading

In the following post I'm going to give an outline of the four sermons we just heard at our church. The hope of these sermons was to draw our attention to the importance of a gospel-centered life as individuals, and a gospel-centered mission for our local church.

Also, I’ve compiled a series of links to all the books that were recommended over the past month as part of the series. I mentioned in one sermon that C.J.’s book is a must-read for every Christian, and I reiterate that here.

Who Needs the Gospel? Recommended Reading

I do

The Church does

My Neighbors do

Mission Minded, by Peter Bolt

The Art of Neighboring, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
*Note: this book is light on the gospel. However, it’s full of great ideas for connecting with neighbors. Try to read it alongside these other books

The World does

To the Golden Shore, by Courtney Anderson
*This is an absorbing biography of early American Baptist missionary, Adoniram Judson.