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Archive for June, 2008

True Spirituality : “Plus Nothing”

June 10, 2008 4 comments

I started reading Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality and I really enjoy it. Here is a quote.

The first point which we must make is that it is impossible even to begin living the Christian life, or to know anything of true spirituality, before one is a Christian. And the only way to become a Christian is neither by trying to live some sort of a Christian life nor by hoping for some sort of religious experience, but rather by accepting Christ as Savior. No matter how complicated, educated, or sophisticated we may be, or how simple we may be, we must all come the same way, insofar as becoming a Christian is concerned. As the kings of the earth and the mighty of the earth are born in exactly the same way physically as the simplest man, so the most intellectual person must become a Christian in exactly the same way as the simplest person. This is true for all men, everywhere, through all space and time. There are no exceptions. Jesus said a totally exclusive word: “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

The reason for this is that all men are separated from God because of their true moral guilt. God exists, God has a character, God is a holy God, and when men sin (and we all must acknowledge we have sinned not only by mistake but by intention) they have true moral guilt before the God who exists. That guilt is not just the modern concept of guilt-feelings, a psychological guilty feeling in man. It is a true moral guilt before the infinite-personal, holy God. Only the finished, substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross as the Lamb of God – in history, space, and time – is enough to remove this. Our true guilt, that brazen heaven which stands between us and God, can be removed only upon the basis of the finished work of Christ plus nothing on our part. The Bible’s whole emphasis is that there must be no humanistic note added at any point in accepting the gospel. It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, upon the cross, plus nothing, that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt. When we thus come, believing God, the Bible says we are declared justified by God; the guilt is gone, and we are returned to fellowship with God – the very thing for which we were created in the first place.

It is worth noting what Schaeffer said in the Preface. After explaining a spiritual crisis he faced long after becoming a Christian, he says:

As I rethought my reasons for being a Christian I saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist and that Christianity is true. In going further, I saw something else which made a profound difference in my life. I searched through what the Bible said concerning reality as a Christian. Gradually I saw that the problem was that with all the teaching I had received after I was a Christian, I had heard little about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives. Gradually the sun came out and the song came.

What we learn or do not learn will have a direct effect on our lives.

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Categories: books, theology