The finished work of Christ
How do these doctrines relate to the Christian life? Two of the most helpful books for me on this have been works by Francis Schaeffer: True Spirituality (Tyndale House, 1971, 2001) and The Finished Work of Christ (Crossway, 1998). The latter book is a kind of spiritual life commentary on the first eight chapters of the book of Romans. It is also an excellent introduction to the gospel for postmodern seekers and new believers.
Here are some highlights from The Finished Work of Christ...
Man is fallen, but he is not a zero, he is not worthless. Man has great value as created in the image of God. At the same time, however, all of our being has been tragically affected by the Fall, including our will and intellect.
The problem is for fallen humans, each at the center of his or her own universe, to acknowledge that they need a Savior. They will quickly acknowledge that they need a guide, that they need help, that they need greater technical expertise. But Paul wants them to see that they need a Savior.
But now you have become the redeemed portion of humanity, the humanity that is returning to the purpose of its creation.
When people throw away the God of truth, all truth is gone. All that is left are sets of opinions, and personal gods and pleasures.
If you follow true rationality and true morality so that you are truly human, you will turn back to God.
The lie that mankind has believed (Rom 1:25) is such a total lie that everything in life, the most beautiful things of life, are twisted. The things that should give the deepest contact of personality with personality on the human level are destroyed.
We are to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This is to be a present experience, because it is a reality. We have returned to the purpose of our creation.
Just as faith was the instrument of our receiving justification, so also faith is to be the instrument of our present Christian living.
I must remind myself of the infinite value of Christ’s blood to cleanse me of all sin.
What can shield us from Satan’s “fiery darts”? The shield of faith. And what is this faith? It is the same faith that was involved in our justification. It is believing God on the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.
God has promised such things as peace and joy to those who have believed Him, but unless we are united to these promises on the basis of Christ’s finished work through faith, they’re not real to us. Faith links us to the promises of God for the present life, just as it did for our initial salvation.
It’s the objective reality of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, applied to our present necessity in day by day, moment by moment cleansing.
If there is to be a reality to our fellowship with God, there is a price to be paid. In order for Jesus to be alive to God, He had to die. In order for us to be alive to God in our daily walk, a daily death is needed. We must die daily to selfishness, to self-centeredness, to self-sufficiency.
The biblical view is that there is a truth, a reality, in the universe, and that it is possible to state this truth in words that humans can understand. The Bible claims to give, and in fact does give, sufficient answers to the basic questions about life in the real world.
But in the present life I am not perfect, and the battle continues. I am still a rational and moral creature. I am called to love God. Sometimes I do love Him, and sometimes I don’t.
Having accepted Christ as our Savior, we are united with Christ, not in a vague or unproductive sense; we are united with a resurrected, living Christ, and as the bride of this living Christ we have the high and wonderful calling of bringing forth fruit to God.
We can live the Christian life only through the power of Jesus Christ. We need the power of the resurrected Christ. He is not the dead Christ. He is the living, ascended, and glorified Christ, and it is only through His power that we can live the Christian life.
The Spirit who indwells us is our point of contact with the resurrected Christ. Paul has shown us the need for this power of Christ, whereby we might bring forth fruit to God.
If we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we will never have to face the prospect of eternal condemnation.
But if salvation is going to have any reality in my everyday life, I must think also about walking according to the Spirit. We have seen over and over again that the Bible does not deal with us as machines. We have significance. We have choice. We must have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit does not then make it automatic. There is a conscious side to sanctification.
We are always “minding” something, and the minding is produced either by the flesh or by the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as neutrality where our relationship with God is concerned.
We still feel the weight of the Fall in terms of sickness and in terms of our bodies getting older. We must say we have seen some victory, but we long for more. We still “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23), not just in the area of sickness, not just in the area of physical death, but in the area of being all that we should be. We long for the day when Christ will be completely honored and praised in our body as well as in our mind and spirit.
Yes, if you have believed on Jesus as your Savior, go ahead and pull back the curtain. Dare to look ahead. Look ahead to the day when your body will be resurrected, when with your resurrected eyes you will see the glories of the redeemed, restored creation. Look ahead to the day when, free in your glorified state from the very presence of sin, you will live with your Lord forever.