Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Francis Schaeffer on Comprehensive Salvation

Ephesians begins in such a majestic manner with 1.3-14.  We are given rich and glorious things in Christ.  All the blessings of the heavenly realms (1.3) are mediated through Christ Jesus (1.3-14). All of human history is moving toward God's great goal of "the summing up of all things in Christ" (1.10). It's important to keep this in mind for it keeps us from pushing small versions of the gospel. God's global gospel designs encompass the renewal of all things in the created order. In particular, forces arrayed against God and his kingdom either are brought into renewed relationship with him or brought under Christ's kingly subjection (see 1.20 for Christ's ruling over the "powers"). In Christ or under Christ--but it will be Christ at the center reigning forever!

So Christ's salvation has cosmic implications and applications, but what does that have to do with us now? Our living in Christ, both individually and corporately, is to be a manifestation of Christ's kingly reality put on display before the world (and the heavenlies! see 3.10). Francis Schaeffer in his book True Spirituality has an appendix entitled 'The Dust of Life." In this short piece Schaeffer outlines the depth of the fall and the majesty of God's redemption. In speaking of the fall into sin he speaks of the various kinds of separation that have been wrought by the fall.

1. Man's separation from God; his alienation from his Creator due to sin.

2. Man's separation from himself. Think of sickness and ultimately death (the separation of the body from our spiritual portion of being). But also think of mental illness. Schaeffer says it this way:
But also in the present we are each one separated from ourselves psychologically. Each of us is to some extent "schizophrenic." There are degrees, but this present psychological separation is true of each of us.
3. Man's separation from others. Think of Adam and Eve hiding themselves from each other. Think, also, of institutionalized racism and the horrors of genocide.

4. Man's separation from nature. The created realm groans under the weight of the fall of man (Romans 8.19-22) and feels the effects of the curse (Genesis 3.17-19).

Schaeffer's point is that every one of these separations will be overturned by Christ's comprehensive gospel of the kingdom. Listen to Schaeffer's wonderful words from "The Dust of Life."
[W]ith this biblical understanding of an enlarged comprehension of salvation, our calling is enlarged. It is our calling now (looking to the living, resurrected Christ moment by moment, for our strength and understanding) to as far as possible help to heal all the abnormalities at the present time. At the present time (as far as possible), we are to bring life instead of death into people's relationship with God through their acceptance of Christ as Savior, and then they and we increasingly to practice this relationship at each present moment. To (as far as possible) bring life instead of death in this abnormal world into the ongoing physical dying that each person is caught in from the day of his or her birth. To (as far as possible) help each person to be less separated from himself or herself, psychologically. To do all we can to heal the separation of Man from nature and nature from nature. Our calling now is to be as wide (though now partial) as the restoration of that day when the last enemy, death, will be totally destroyed, and all the other abnormalities will be totally healed.
As Christ's people we work, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for these kingdom objectives. The final victory comes at the consumation but this does not negate our role or efforts now to manifest the reality of Christ's kingdom across the full range of human affairs.

Our God is majestic and his gospel is big! Let us pray big prayers for the extension of the reign of Christ in our time!