Monday, January 28, 2008

Ten things on Christian spirituality

1. The essence of Christian spirituality is communion with the Triune God. It springs from the communicative love of the Father, who has elected us for fellowship with himself through the sacrificial death of the Son and the sanctifying presence of the Spirit.

2. Christian spirituality is in fact Spirituality with a capital "S". The Holy Spirit is the agent of true Spirituality. He brings those who were dead in sin and cut off from the life of God to new birth by his sovereign and gracious power. The believer has been made holy to God by the definitive action of of Spirit. This leads to a Spirit-empowered life of holiness, characterised by the mortification of sin and the vivification of righteousness, in obedience to God's commands. Christian spirituality is holy Spirituality.
3. Christian spirituality is rooted in the believer's union with Christ. We participate in the fruits of his atoning death and mighty resurrection. In Christ, we are forgiven and put right with God. The believer has been crucified with Christ to the old life of sin and raised with him to the new life of holiness. The risen Christ dwells in the hearts of his people by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's task is not to draw attention to himself, but to glorify Christ and communicate his life-transforming presence. The goal of Christian spirituality is that the believer should be conformed to the image of God's own Son.
4. Christian spirituality is sustained by constant prayer. Through the blood of Christ, we are given access to the Father by the Spirit. Prayer involves worship, praise and communion with God as well as petition and supplication. The Father is pleased to answer the prayers of his people in Jesus' name, in accordance with his abundant mercy and sovereign will. The believer should make time each day for sustained prayer and meditation.
5. As God's authorised self-revelation, the Scriptures play an essential role in Christian spirituality. The Spirit who gave the written Word bears witness to the truth and authenticity of Scripture in the mind, heart and life of the believer. The Scriptures disclose the Triune God of the Gospel and reveal the basis for Christian spirituality in his saving acts. The Word of God read and preached is a means of grace that promotes the development of spiritual growth and maturity - Psalm 1. There can be no true spirituality apart from Scripture.
6. Christian spirituality develops in the context of the communion of the saints. It is not a privatised quest for self-fulfilment, but is expressed in love for the people of God. The Church exists to foster a spiritual life of compassion, service, witness and worship. She does this by exercising the ministry of the Word and prayer, and administering baptism and the Lord's Supper. Any spirituality that sidelines involvement in church life is a travesty of the Gospel.
7. Many versions of spirituality are focused on self-realisation and self-discovery. Not so Christian spirituality, which is primarily concerned with self-denial and the realisation of God's glory. An encounter with the Holy One will bring us to see the wickedness of our selfish pride that refuses to let God be God. Authentic self-awareness will bring us to cry out, "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner." Only those with a humble and contrite spirit will really be able to appreciate God's amazing grace. Such will give him all the glory for saving us from sin. Soli Deo gloria.
8. The spiritual life is shaped by biblical doctrine and theological reflection. But true Christian spirituality is also deeply experiential. As the old hymn put it, "True religion is more than a notion/ something must be known and felt." The Spirit of truth makes us existentially aware of our sin and need of Christ. God's love is shed abroad in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us. By the Spirit, we cry "Abba, Father", as we sense God's fatherly love embracing us. We have assurance of our adoption as the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. We know Jesus Christ as a living reality. He is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Though we have not seen Jesus, we love him and believing, we rejoice with glorious and inexpressible joy. Communion with the Triune God means having distinct, experiential fellowship with each person of the Trinity. Now, our union with God in Christ is constant and fixed, while our communion with him is subject to change and fluctuation. But experiential Christian spirituality will be content with nothing less than being strengthened by the Spirit, that we may know the love of Christ that passes knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.
9. Christian spirituality leads to practical action. The most "spiritual" Christians, like William Wilberforce, have also been those who have done the most good for their fellow human beings. Christians have been saved to serve by doing good works for the glory of God. Our faith works by love. Yes, that primarily means love for the saints, but we are to show love and practical concern for all men, even our enemies.
10. Christian spirituality is eschatological. Our communion with God in this present world is an anticipation of our fellowship with him in glory. Even now we have been raised with Christ to newness of life. The Spirit is the "earnest" or down-payment of our inheritance. We hope for the coming of the Lord, the resurrection of our bodies and the renewal of the universe. We look forward to being rid of all vestiges of the sin that mars our communion with God. Then we shall be made like our Lord Jesus and he will be glorified in us. The distinction between heaven as God's dwelling place, and the earth as our home will be rendered void as God comes down to dwell among his redeemed people. He will wipe all tears from our eyes. We will rejoice in the Spirit and see the Lamb in all his glory, world without end.

9 comments:

Dave Moody said...

Amen and Amen.

Thanks Guy

Viola said...

Guy,
Just to let you know I linked to your post over at www.naminghisgrace.blogspot.com and there are a couple of good comments there. They should have come here. Thank you for your posting. It is very helpful.

Exiled Preacher said...

Thanks Dave and Viola for your comments & for the link!

Alan Davey said...

no. 6 so important...

How is Ethelred ? We never see him any more ...

Oh, he's reading his Bible every day and praying. He's going on with the Lord.

Really ?

Exiled Preacher said...

Cheers Alan, but who is Ethelred?

Edward Sim said...

I think that Alan meant to use the Ethelred example as an example of a privatised, isolated from Church kind of spirituality. He reads his bible and prays everyday, but one never sees him in church. :-)

Exiled Preacher said...

I kind of realised that, Edward. Trouble is, when I act dumb, people find it all too convincing.

Edward Sim said...

Well,

I am the dumb one. Because I kind of really had that question in mind when I first read Alan's post. Got round it after maybe nth thoughts. And a proud one too, since I went on to think that you were thinking along similar lines =)

regards
Edward

Exiled Preacher said...

Edward,

I know Alan of old and am used to the twists and turns of his labyrinthine mind.