Schaeffer on the Spirit

Francis Schaefer on Life in the Spirit:

“Teaching about the Holy Spirit and His indwelling must never be solely a theological concept. Having the proper concept—that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we are saved—we must press on, so that the Spirit’s indwelling can bring forth results in our lives. If we want tongues of fire, our first step is not only to stand by, complacently thinking the right theological thoughts. We must have a genuine feeling of need.

Furthermore, this feeling of need is not to be once and for all. A Christian can never say, “I knew the power of the Holy Spirit yesterday, so today I can be at rest.” It is one of the existential realities of the Christian life to stand before God consciously recognizing our need.

The publican illustrates that justification requires humbling. Christians must humble themselves to know the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. To the extent that we do not humble ourselves, there will be no power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is the Lord’s work in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the power of the flesh.

“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.

We can sense what this means in practice if we view the statue of Napoleon at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris. As he stands there with his hand in his coat at his breast, he is a personification of I DID THIS. The sculptor has caught the attitude, the attitude of the great man of the world, the one who says in all three tenses, “I did this; I do this; I will do this.” This attitude as shown forth so well in the statue personifies the flesh.

In contrast, we can think of the Lord Jesus Himself in the quiet of Gethsemane. As we see there the eternal Son of God who in the Incarnation is now also true man and as we hear His words, we perceive no sign of Napoleon’s massive egoism. To the contrary, the Lord Jesus said to the Father, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Unfortunately, we Christians can and often do take Napoleon’s stance, but what a contrast to the Lord Jesus Himself!”

Excerpt From
The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way
Francis Schaeffer