the truth of the gospel

"What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:15-18)

In the previous post I gave some excerpts from Francis Schaeffer's talks with students in Lausanne in the 1960s. Crossway published these in 1998 as The Finished Work of Christ. I have enjoyed reading through the Epistle to the Romans, using this easy-to-read commentary. Here are a few more excerpts from his discussion on Romans 6:15-18... 

The believers in Rome had been slaves of sin, but then they had obeyed God "from the heart." Theirs was a true profession of faith, a true conversion, and it was because of "that form of doctrine which was delivered you," or, in the more literal sense of the Greek, "that form of doctrine whereto you were delivered." What was it that broke our absolute slavery to the devil? It was a certain "form of doctrine" that did so. Today there are great efforts to tone down the content of all religions, including Christianity. The resurgence of fundamentalism in reaction to this trend notwithstanding, we face a loss of content, clarity, and truth claims. This is one of the hallmarks, perhaps the hallmark, of our age--thinking of religious things as merely meeting psychological needs and therefore having no real content.

This is not the biblical view. 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. I'm not saying for a moment that we can ever exhaust this truth or understand any part of it completely; but we can understand it truly. It is the content of the gospel, this truth about God, mankind, and history, this "form of doctrine," which saves us. This is why Paul could so boldly proclaim to people of all intellectual levels in his day, "I am not ashamed of the gospel" (1:16). The gospel has content. It is not merely something to meet psychological needs.

Our slavery to sin was broken by the truth of the gospel. And it was broken when we "obeyed" that truth, that "form of doctrine." It wasn't just believing the gospel that saved us, but also "obeying" it. Salvation involves an obedience to the truth. It is not just obedience to God. It is also obedience to the universe as it is. When a man isn't a Christian, he is trying to live in a universe that isn't there. There is a truth in the universe, and when we accept Christ as our Savior, when we bow before the God who is there, we obey the truth of God, which is also the truth of the universe.

-- Francis Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ (Crossway, 1998), p. 164. 


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