April 6, 2010
The How of the Christian Life
"…be it unto me according to Your word."
"How It's Made," the Science Channel's hit show regularly makes the most of people's curiosity about how household items like gummie candy, aluminum cans, and flavored bacon actually go from raw materials to finished product. It's easy to become mesmerized when cameras are leading you behind the scenes into the inner workings of factories making a few of your favorite things. By the end of each segment, the mists of your own vague ideas about process and production have been utterly dispersed.
This week's reading in chapter four of Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality is a bit like "How It's Made" in that he delves into the secret of how the Christian life is effectively lived. While many of us know this secret in theory, the daily mist of our own residual fallen nature makes it necessary to review the blazing truth so that we might see ourselves (and God) accurately and live out our faith practically.
Moving forward from last week's teaching in chapter four about the normality of believing in unseen things, Schaeffer issues the biblical call this week to engage in what he terms "active passivity" when living the life of faith.
Schaeffer points out that belief in the Holy Spirit is one thing. Now what do we do with that belief? 2 Corinthians 2:14 says that "the communion of the Holy Spirit" is to be with all true believers. We are to rely fully and constantly on Christ's promise to send us the Holy Spirit. He is the agent of the power and Person of the glorified Christ.
"There is not enough strength in ourselves, but placed before us is the power and work of the glorified Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Surely this is exactly what Christ meant when he said, ‘I will not leave you as orphans.'"
"As we look at the book of Acts, we find in the early church not a group of strong men laboring together, but the work of the Holy Spirit bringing to them the power of the crucified and glorified Christ. It must be so for us also."
"As with Mary in the virgin birth when she gave herself with her body to God in response to His promise, so we are in the same situation in [a certain sense] that we have these great and thrilling promises we have been considering, and we are neither to think of ourselves as totally passive, as though we had no part in this; nor are we to think we can do it ourselves."
"If we are to bring forth this fruit through us by the agency of the Holy Spirit, there must be a constant act of faith, of thinking: ‘Upon the basis of Your promises I am looking for You to fulfill them… bring forth Your fruit through me into this poor world.'"
"We do not have to beat ourselves or be dejected, [but simply say]"Be it unto me according to Thy Word." This is what I mean by active passivity. This is the how, and there is no other."
Finally, as if to say "this is really how it's done!" Schaeffer reemphasizes that this is not just theoretical access to the power of the crucified, risen, glorified Christ. This is access that we have in reality—in the here and now.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Are you depending on your own energy, cleverness, persistence, charisma and talents to present the Christian life as attractive to your lost friends and family members? By faith (Hebrews 11:6), gaze upon Christ—His atonement, perfections and promises. Respond with active passivity: "Be it unto me according to Thy Word."
For Further Study:
the wind of the holy ghost blowing upon the dry bones in the valley of vision, by Ebenezer Erskine
john owen on the spirit in the life of christ, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson