Francis Schaeffer was unique, a Reformed theologian,
who, along with his wife, Edith,
formed L’abri (meaning shelter) in Switzerland:
a place where individuals could come and discuss truth, God, and the meaning of life.
This ministry has multiplied all over the world.
Schaeffer was considered a prophet in his time.
Though he lived before Roe vs Wade was a reality,
he looked ahead and predicted what most living then
could not even imagine: the coming holocaust for the unborn.
(60 million lives taken in the U. S. since Roe vs Wade:
10 times the number of lives lost in Hitler’s holocaust.)
A little book of his that impacted me profoundly was his:
It is based on Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17,
Schaeffer said that unless true believers
show unity, love, and grace to one another,
the world has a right to judge that they are not Christians.
For Jesus prayed:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
This is also the message of Galatians 2.
Paul rebukes Peter for not eating with the believing but uncircumcised Gentiles,
telling him: “You are not walking in line with the truth of the gospel.”
What does that mean?
Peter is not walking in the grace he has been given
he is not walking in love toward other believers.
Peter, wanting the approval of the false teachers, is adding to the gospel,
telling the Gentiles they must be circumcised according to the law.
Furthermore, he won’t eat with them while they refuse to be circumcised.
This may sound strange to us, but the principle should be clear:
We are saved by faith alone — not faith plus…
Therefore we are one with those,
who though they may be different from us in many ways:
in race, culture, socioeconomic class, or preferences in peripheral issues,
are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And we are to love them, give them grace,
as we have been loved and given grace.
If we don’t, the world has a right to judge us as not being Christian,
for we are not walking in line with the gospel.
Schaeffer clarified that it is possible to be a Christian and not walk in grace and love, but the world will then not be drawn to Christianity, will not believe that God sent Jesus. (John 17:21)
Below, is a picture of the first L’abri, and then, Schaffer speaking from the alps
on how Christianity differs from manmade religions. (See Galatians 1:11-12)
1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
2. Do you have any familiarity with the teaching of Francis Schaeffer or his wife Edith? If so, how has have they impacted you? Be specific.
Monday: Clarifying the Gospel
3. Read Galatians 2 slowly and:
- Note anything that stands out to you and why.
- Describe the incident that Paul describes happening in Antioch.
Tuesday: Grace means we accept anyone in Christ, regardless of other differences.
Read again Galatians 2:1-5.
4. What was Paul’s mission according to Galatians 2:2 and 2:7?
5. Who brought up the matter of circumcision and why? (verses 3-4)
6. What stand did Paul take and why? (verse 5)
People have different views on the many Christian denominations — some feel that having so many is not a good testimony. I actually think the diversity can be beautiful, like the beauty of different races, if we can give grace to those who have different preferences. I like, for example, a worship service that is sedate and orderly, but I think I do, in part, because that was my Scottish heritage and my family. A liturgical song like Is He Worthy? moves me to the core.
So though I may feel like a fish out of water in a rambunctious charismatic black church, I realize they are moved to the core by their kind of music — and that is so good. I love them and am so thankful for styles of worship that move each of us. I am speaking at just such a retreat in Pennsylvania next October, and I pray they will accept this sedate and orderly sister. And though I am not charismatic in my theology, I will often go to a charismatic sister or brother when I’m in need of prayer, for they are passionate in prayer.
And when we disagree on peripheral differences, can we just do as Romans 14 urges and let every man stand before God on his own and not judge one another? This doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for the core gospel, for we must, but on peripheral issues, let us give grace.
7. What is your view on our our many diverse denominations? How good are you at accepting those who have different preferences?
8. What is the danger of raising preferences or traditions to non-negotiables? (Such as preferences in music, dress, or Bible translations?)
9. How could speaking against another church over a negotiable cause listeners to dismiss Christianity? Have you done this?
10. Indeed, though we may have differences with other believers in the area of preference, Tim Keller makes the point that we have so much more in common with a Christian brother in Mongolia than we do with an unbeliever on our street who may live in a similar house, drive a similar car, and whose children go to the same school as ours. Can you share a story of experiencing deep fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ who was quite different from you in many ways?
11. How might you better give grace to true believers who have different preferences than you in worship and lifestyle?
Wednesday: Within One Body, We Have Different Callings
12. Read Galatians 2:6-9
A. How was God’s calling to Paul and to Peter different?
B. How did God confirm that within the body?
C. Why is it important that we take hold of what Christ has taken hold for us,
and not take hold of what Christ has taken hold for another?
Have you experienced the freedom of realizing the need is not the call? I have. For our Christmas Tea this year a group of women, gifted at crafts, made little prayer journals and lanterns for every one of the one hundred guests. (See the cute lanterns below on the middle of plates.) I had a fleeting thought, “I should be helping,” but then a wiser thought that “the need is not the call.” I really am all thumbs at crafts and do not enjoy it — so I could let it go! And quite honestly, I am thankful when a believer realizes that teaching or mercy or whatever is not her gift, for I would rather have someone who has the gift teach my grandchildren or be my nurse when I’m hospitalized! Part of love is realizing where you are not gifted in an area, and humbly decline. Yet we all have gifts we must use for the body to be efficient.
13. How can you lovingly encourage someone right now who has a gift you appreciate with an e-mail or text?
14. What did both of them agree they should both do, according to verse 10? (For private reflection so I don’t make you lose your reward: How do you do this in your life?)
Thursday: Not Walking In Line with The Gospel
Tim Keller’s emphasis on the phrase “not walking in line with the gospel” has been profoundly impacting to me. Keller said that Paul could have said to Peter, “Don’t be a racist,” and that would be correct, but it digs into the root idol to say “You are not walking in line with the gospel.” We have been forgiven so much, so when we cannot give grace to another, as Peter was not, we are forgetting the love of Christ, and therefore prone to sin — to want the approval of others (as Peter wanted the approval of these false teachers.) Let’s see if we can truly grasp this for our hearts, for if we do, we will better bear the mark of a Christian.
15. Read Galatians 2:11-14
A. What motivated Peter to withdraw from his fellow Gentile believers? (v. 12)
B. How did Peter’s lack of grace spread? (v. 13)
C. How do you think this might have impacted the Gentiles who did not yet believe? And why?
16. Let’s see if we can flesh this out for our own lives.
A. There is a believer in your life who irritates you or has hurt you. How could you walk in line with the gospel with him/her? How could preaching the gospel to yourself help you?
B. You really don’t like praise choruses, preferring hymns, but a large portion of your church does. How could walk in line with the gospel concerning their preferences? How could you use the gospel to speak to your soul?
C. You, through the help of God, have overcome a bad habit of (over-spending, over-eating…) and you find, in your thoughts, you are judging those who are still stumbling over this sin. How could you preach the gospel to yourself and therefore show more grace?
Keller, in his study, “Galatians For You,” makes the point that there are non-negotiables, and we do need to stand firm concerning the gospel, which indeed, Paul is doing here. We do not need to show grace to those churches that have lost their grip on the gospel, but indeed, we need to pray for their blinders to be removed, and, if His Spirit leads, to confront them concerning their error. But if we confront out of anger and not love, it is for naught.
17. How would it look to engage in loving confrontation with someone who has lost his grip on the gospel? How do you think Paul shows love here?
Friday: I Am Crucified With Christ
18. Read Galatians 2:15-16. How would you explain justification to someone who thinks Christianity is behaving morally?
Galatians 2:20 can help us live the gospel throughout the day. Meditate on this from Francis Schaeffer:
The reality of living by Faith, as though we were already dead, of living by Faith in open communion with God, and then stepping back into the external world as though we already were raised from the dead, this is not once and for all, it is a matter of moment-by-moment faith, and living moment-by-moment. This morning’s Faith will never do for this noon. The Faith of this noon will never do for supper time…To believe Him, not just when I accepted Christ as Savior, but every moment, one moment at a time: this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality.
19. After meditating on the above:
A. How would you summarize what Schaeffer is saying?
B. How would you tell your soul to apply Galatians 2:20 throughout the day?
20. Embrace living Galatians 2:20 this morning, this afternoon, and this evening — and report
21. What is your take-a-way this week and why?