Francis Schaeffer in his sermon “The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way” found in his 1974 book, No Little People, explained what he thought the Christian life should be comprised of.

As I see it, the Christian life must be comprised of three concentric circles, each of which must be kept in its proper place.  In the outer circle must be the correct theological position, true biblical orthodoxy and the purity of the visible church.  This is first, but if that is all there is, it is just one more seedbed for spiritual pride.

In the second circle must be good intellectual training and comprehension of our own generation.  But having only this leads to intellectualism and again provides a seedbed for pride.

In the inner circle must be the humble heart — the love of God, the devotional attitude toward God.  There must be the daily practice of the reality of the God whom we know is there. . . .

When each of these three circles is established in its proper place, there will be tongues of fire and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then, at the end of my life, when I look back over my work since I have been a Christian, I will see that I have not wasted my life.  The Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.

Schaeffer is right, without humility and a love for God being at the center – the inner circle, all that our right belief and education will lead to is pride and self-righteousness.  I think back at how many times I have done the Lord’s work, but haven’t done it in His way.  When I’ve been proud.  When I’ve done the work out of duty.  Those of us involved in ministry whether it is volunteer or vocational, should never forget that it is His work, not our own.

We don’t honor Him when we do the work, but are spiritually or intellectually proud.  We don’t glorify Him if we do the work out of duty, but not love.  The two greatest commands is that we love God which is our devotional life, and also, to love others which requires humility.  If we keep that at the center then we can be assured that we haven’t wasted our life.

HT: Ray Ortlund

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  1. I’m a fan of Schaeffer, but I visualize his circles a little differently. I would place the heart content as the outer circle–that is, controlling and containing the other two concepts so that they consistently push the love of Christ out toward the world around us. It’s just harder for me to visualize the two outer circles not doing thier own thing without the controlling, surrounding influence of the Holy Spirit within our hearts.

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