Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Schaeffer Resources

I've recently been listening to a lecture course from Covenant Seminary on the life of Francis Schaeffer by Jerram Barrs. The follow up course is available free here. These lectures have really refreshed my heart and opened me up to the effective power of God. It seems to me that many Christians live in depression all because they believe that sin is too big. Instead we all need to realise to a greater degree that God's Spirit in us, is greater than Satanic threats, activity, temptations, and demonic attacks (1 John 4:4).

Schaeffer's life is one of compassion and orthodoxy- often a rare combination. He was lovingly determined to fight for a theologically pure church. He took a stand against modernism and Unitarianism, without neglecting to love people, serve his congregation, and have an exemplary marriage to Edith Schaeffer.

Schaeffer is better known for being a great apologist. After feeling God's call he started a work in Switzerland named L'Abri. L'Abri (french for shelter) was designed to be a non-judgemental environment for people to visit and explore questions about God and life. The centre still runs today to carry on the work and legacy of Francis and Edith for Jesus glory!
The Tapestry- Edith Shaeffer's account of her and Francis' life and work.
True Spirituality- a great book that defines biblical Christianity and looks at the gospel's life implications.

How should we then live?- an analysis of historic western culture with conclusions on how these lessons should effect our lives today.

The God Who is There- in this book Schaeffer looks at different historical viewpoints regarding belief in God, and then draws his own conclusions.
Francis Schaeffer: The Early Years, and Francis Schaeffer: The Later Years- free lectures by Jerram Barrs (same links as above)

Also see Lane's Youtube channel for (cheesy!) Schaffer videos

Saturday, 26 December 2009

C. S. Lewis on the Search for Beauty

'Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself.

...We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted... Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is... the truest index of our real situation.'

- C. S. Lewis, taken from The Weight of Glory

Jesus for the Moral and Immoral

Over the last few days I've been reading The Prodigal God by Tim Keller. It's such a good book! Keller has skill in revealing the true meaning of the scriptures while applying them faithfully and relevantly to contemporary culture.

In case you don't know, the book is firstly about God. The Prodigal God. What does that mean? Isn't a prodigal someone who lives recklessly, rejects authority and spends all he has? Exactly. God is a prodigal God. God came down in Jesus and lived a life of offensive recklessness in the eyes of the religious leaders (the Pharisees hated Christ). Jesus doesn't reject authority but rather surrenders every right He has to be authoritative and be treated fairly, even to the extent of being nailed to a splintered bit of wood. What about spending all He has? Yes. Ultimate generosity is expressed in God giving Himself to mankind, living the life we could not live and dieing the death we should have died all to bring us back to Himself (1 Peter 3:18).

The book centers Christ's parable as recorded in Luke 15:11-31. In this parable we see two sons and a generous Father representing God. One Son is good, keeping the rules of the Father while the other Son rejects the Father, asks for His inheritance and runs off without a thought for the dignity of his family. On the surface it seems that we are taught to make a clear distinction between good and bad from the parable. This is not the case. Jesus is actually exposing the heart of the elder 'good' Son. His obedience is full of pride- He's driven by the pleasure of knowing that he is good in comparison with his reckless brother, an attitude that is despicable. The older brother doesn't love his Father. He loves to feel distinct from his runaway brother.
What's the message? You can reject Jesus by being good or bad. You can reject all the rules or keep them all to push away Christ. You can live morally or immorally without God. Keller explains that religious people avoid Jesus. The same people who are sitting in churches every Sunday (like the elder son in the home of his father), despising the lifestyles of those outside the church are avoiding Jesus by trusting in their own goodness. They don't need Jesus because they think they have their own goodness. Instead Christ wants all of us, moral and immoral, to trust in His goodness. When we trust in our own goodness to make us acceptable we are calling ourselves God, this is the essence of sin.
'Sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Saviour, Lord, and judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life' (pg. 43)

'It is only when you see the desire to be your own Saviour and Lord- lying beneath your sins and your moral goodness- that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything: how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, your virtue. It's called the new birth because it's so radical'. (pg. 78)
More to come...

Pleasure and Duty

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:

It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.
-John Newton

Monday, 21 December 2009

God's Kingdom of Grace

'Nothing matters in the Kingdom [of God] but the grace of God... God has a different way of looking at things. He does not see as men do; He does not compute as they do; it is all grace from beginning to end... He impresses the truth upon us by saying: 'That many that are last shall be first and the first last'. We have to cease thinking in a carnal fleshly manner. In the Kingdom of God and of Christ the standpoint is that of grace, and of grace alone; and it cuts across all other regulations. It is His grace that matters- 'by the grace of God I am what I am'. So stop looking at what you have not done and the years you have missed and realise that in His Kingdom it is His grace alone that matters.'

-Martyn Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression, pg 89
Race, gender, ethnicity, IQ, EQ, introvert, extrovert, rich, poor, labour, conservative, lib dem- none of this matters in God's Kingdom. Everyone and anyone who wants to enter God's spiritual society is welcome. Receiving grace makes everyone equal.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Jesus and the Old Testament

Have a read through this quote by Tim Keller on how the Old Testament relates to Jesus....
  • Jesus is the true and better Adam, who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

  • Jesus is the true and better Abel, who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal.

  • Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar, and go out into the void, not knowing whither he went, to create a new people of God.

  • Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his Father on the mount,but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “now I know you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me, now we can look at God, taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing Him, and say,” now we know that you love us, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from us.”

  • Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserve, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

  • Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold Him, and uses His new power to save them.

  • Jesus is the true and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

  • Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses who was struck with the rod of God’s justice, and now gives us water in the desert.

  • Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

  • Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes his people’s victory though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

  • Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace, but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

  • Jesus is the true and better Jonah, who was cast out into the storm so we could be brought in.

  • Jesus is the real passover lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so that the angel of death would pass over us.

Amazing! The whole of the Old Testament works to point us to Jesus...

'[The scriptures] testify to me' John 5:39

HT: Ed Goode