Introduction to the “Spiritual Disciplines”

On September 8, I had the opportunity to help the Hermosa Church of Christ in Artesia, NM launch their Small Groups study on the “Spiritual Disciplines.” The spiritual disciplines is a term used to describe those consistent habits every believer should have in their life in order to grow to maturity and fulfill God’s desire for us to be Christlike.

Since this was a new subject for many in the class, I created the following handout as part of my introductory presentation.

Introduction to the “Spiritual Disciplines”

Becoming a Christian means…

  1. Being born again – John 3:3, 5
  2. Becoming a child of God – John 1:11-13
  3. A new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  4. Walking in newness of life – Romans 6:4, 11-13

As a child of God, we are to…

  1. Be conformed to the likeness of the Son of God – Romans 8:29
  2. Be transformed – Romans 12:1-2
  3. Be living sacrifices – Romans 12:1-2
  4. Live a life worth of our calling – Ephesians 4:1
  5. Set our hearts on things above – Colossians 3:1-15
  6. As the body of Christ, growing up into Him – Ephesians 4:11-16

If we are to become like Jesus, then what did Jesus look like…

  1. Fruit of God’s Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23
  2. “Christian graces” – 2 Peter 1:5-8
  3. Sermon on the Mount – Matthew chapters 5 – 7
  4. A new self – Colossians 3:1-17; Romans 12:1-21
  5. Love – 1 Corinthians chapter 13
  6. “Your will be done” – John 5:30; Luke 22:42

How is this going to happen…

  1. How will “newness,” “conforming,” “transforming,” “maturing,” “growing up” take place?
  2. FIRST, by and through God’s grace at work:
    1. Word of His grace – Acts 20:32
    2. God at work – Philippians 2:13
    3. Grace teaches us – Titus 2:11-14
    4. We are God’s workmanship – Ephesians 2:8-10
    5. Grow in grace and knowledge – 2 Peter 3:18
  3. SECOND, our commitment and practices
    1. Like an athlete – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
    2. Like Paul – 1 Corinthians 15:10

What are the Spiritual Disciplines…

  1. Ways the word “discipline” is used in the New Testament:
    1. Correction and punishment – Hebrews 12:4-11
    2. Self-control – 2 Timothy 1:7
    3. Training – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  2. Common meaning in the academic world: “a field of study or expertise”
  3. “Spiritual disciplines” is similar to 1b and 1c above. It means “a consistent and habitual set of practices which help lead to spiritual maturity and Christlikeness.”
  4. The concept (if not the expression) is found repeatedly throughout Christian history:
    1. 2nd-4th Century “Desert Fathers” in Egypt
    2. 4th Century forward, the growth of monastic orders – St. Benedict, Pope Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, etc.
    3. Reformation leaders: Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc.
    4. John & Charles Wesley and the Methodist movement
  5. Most common examples of spiritual disciplines:
    1. Reading and meditation of Scripture
    2. Solitude
    3. Prayer
    4. Fasting
    5. Self-examination and Confession
    6. Worship, both personal and corporate
    7. Service
    8. Benevolence
    9. Stewardship
  6. These habits help us to grow over a lifetime into the likeness of Christ and into the mature believers we are called to be.

Recommended Resources:

  1. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, by Richard J. Foster, published by HarperOne, 2018 – $14.00
  2. Study Guide for Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster, published by HarperOne, 1983 – $13.06
  3. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, by Dallas Willard, published by HarperOne, 1999 – $13.91

 

Richard Cravy
© Copyright 2019

This article is from reprinted Richard Cravy. Please see original for comments.

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