November 8, 2015

A Few Thoughts on the Spiritual Life


"We are not called to choose between a Christian life based on truth and doctrine or a life filled with spiritual power and experience. 

They go together. 

I was not being called to leave behind my theology and launch out to look for 'something more,' for experience. Rather, I was meant to ask the Holy Spirit to help me experience my theology."    Tim Keller

I love this quote. We shouldn't choose good works or doctrine over spiritual growth, and we can't choose spiritual maturity over knowledge of His Word... They go together.

We experience God through His Word.

In R.C. Sproul's book 'The Holiness of God' he quotes Jesus here:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Matthew 23:23-24

R.C. Sproul then says:

"Jesus rebuked the scribes and the Pharisees for neglecting weighty matters and overemphasizing minor matters. He saw this issue not as an either-or matter but a both-and matter."

In other words, Jesus wants us to both keep His Word (doctrine) and grow spiritually mature in our experience with Him. The Pharisees were focused on the doing and neglecting the growing in the fruit of the spirit, which are:

"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23


R.C. Sproul later goes on to say:

"To be conformed to Jesus, we must first begin to think as Jesus did. We need the 'mind of Christ.' We need to value the things He values and despise the things He despises. We need to have the same priorities He has. We need to consider weighty the things that He considers weighty.

That cannot happen without a mastery of His Word. 

The key to spiritual growth is in-depth Christian education that requires a serious level of sacrifice.

That is the call to excellence we have received. We are not to be like the rest of the world, content to live our lives with a superficial understanding of God. We are to grow dissatisfied with spiritual milk and hunger after spiritual meat."

Now when he says 'christian education' I don't think he means we all need to go to Bible college, but rather that we need to dive deeper into God's Word.

If we long for Christ, we will long for His Word.

That is the key to growing in Christ. (in truth, doctrine, good works and spiritual power)

We need both doctrine and spiritual growth. They go together. As Tim Keller said, 'we need the Holy Spirit to help us experience our theology.'

The book of James has a great example of this.

It says here:

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27

This teaches good works and holy living, that both are essential in the Christian life.

We should never pick and choose from God's Word. It is all to be learnt from and all to be experienced as we grow in Christ. 

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

When Jesus came to the beloved disciple John, on the island of Patmos to dictate His letters to the 7 churches, what did John see?

He saw a two-edged sword coming from the mouth of Jesus. 

"He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength." Revelation 1:16

He is the Living Word of God.

Something to ponder.


*Note: Quote by Tim Keller from his book 'Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God'

12 comments:

  1. Spirit and Truth do go hand-in-hand. There are a lot of good truths in here! #RaRaLinkUp sister :)

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  2. I love all the quotes and verses you've shared here.
    It's easy to get caught up in church and ministries and forget how important it is to be reading the Word of God. I really appreciate how you've emphasized the importance of Scripture.

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  3. I always try to ask myself if I'm showing fruit. If not, then I'm probably out of balance. It's much easier to be fruitful when I'm aware of the truth of God's word and then living it out.

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  4. You have chosen two of my favorite authors to quote (Tim Keller and R.C. Sproul). It is far too easy to neglect the spiritual disciplines we need for what you share to occur in our lives, but your words serve as a challenge to keep them ever in focus!

    Pam

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  5. Such good truths here! Spiritual truths walking! You are so right - you cannot pick and choose what to believe in the bible!

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  6. Such solid truth and reminders - love it all! Thank you - next to you this morning on Thoughtprovokingthursday - i'll send that first one on to my eldest. Food for thought never hurts as long as i don't try to preach at my grown kids! (doesn't work, anyway...) sue

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  7. You made some great points! You really can't have spiritual growth without good doctrine and good doctrine isn't worth much if you never grow by living it! Blessings!

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  8. We experience God through His Word. Every belief should line up with His word. I agree true spiritual growth occurs when we have true doctrine that we discover as we read God's Word.

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  9. PS Thanks for linking up with us at Literacy Musing Mondays.

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  10. Thank-you all for your comments! It's encouraging to hear that others are getting into the Word! : )

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  11. The Holiness of God by RC Sproul was very instrumental in my life when I read it in college. Thanks for reminding me of such great truths today! Thanks so much for linking this up at Booknificent Thursday this week! (By the way, you've left out the "r" in Sproul's name throughout your post.)
    Tina

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    1. Thanks for letting me know Tina! I've corrected it now. : )

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Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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