Spiritual Disciplines

I am involved in a Lenten study on prayer. Having the discipline of a daily time of prayer and conversation with God is essential to our Christian Walk.
But there are other spiritual disciplines, that we must embrace if we are to be true disciples of Christ.

One of these is: study scripture & guidance
A disciple is one who subscribes to the teaching of a Master and assists in spreading them. But not only that, but who seeks to relive Jesus life in the world. Discipline for the Christian is to train ourselves to allow the Spirit to train us to “be like Jesus”. How does the Spirit “train us”? By leading us to study Jesus and His ministry, to read and study the scriptures and by listening to his guidance. Romans 12: 1-2 basically says
“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, which is good and acceptable and is perfect.”

Another Spiritual Discipline is: confession
The primary need for confession is simple: that we might experience forgiveness We need to confess every time we come before God either in prayer or in worship. We need to confess because as fallible human beings. we continue to Sin. Christ died on the Cross for our sins, past, present and future but we must acknowledge those sins and his loving forgiveness .

A fourth spiritual discipline is submission
Ephesians 5:21 says “be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ.” Christ is the perfect example of submission none more than the Last Supper when he washed his disciples feet. He then said, ” you say that I am Master and Lord and you are right but now I bow to wash your feet. You are to do as I have done for you.”

Another Spiritual Discipline is solitude
The obvious is that Solitude is being alone. It doesn’t mean living a monastic life. It means that we are to ponder who we are , what life is all about, where we are in our quest for meaning. It can take the form of prayer, silence, listening for God. We must focus on what is being said and its meaning for us.

The final Spiritual Discipline is generosity
Jesus is very hard on us as far a possessions. Are we willing to give it all to Him? What does that really mean. It doesn’t mean that we have to give all of our property away. It means that we first need to give to God and then give to others.
And giving is not just money, it is our time and talent to better this world. When people finally get the concept they will say to me “pastor, it seems now the more I give the more I get!” Gods wonderful plan.

I encourage you to go deeper into each of these spiritual disciplines so that your walk with Christ is as strong as it can be. I bless your journey.

2 Responses to “Spiritual Disciplines”

  1. parsonsipe Says:

    Bill, as you and I are at different places on the doctrinal continuum, I will refrain from entering into a theological debate. I will, however, mention a couple of things only for the simple purpose of driving some thought.

    Since I am deeply immersed in doctoral research, I have repeatedly discovered that words have incredible power, and there are occasions when we use certain words or phrases with nothing but good intent, but the words themselves may be pulled into colors of meaning that should not be painted on them without generating confusion.

    Your second sentence alludes that the disciplines you are about to discuss are “necessary” if we are to be “true” disciples. Spiritual disciplines can be both genuine means of deepening our relationship with Christ, as well as expressions of the sincerity of our journey. To suggest that some are necessary in order for us to be legitimate disciples is assuming an imperative that scripture simply does not offer. It comes across as if you are saying that “if you do not do these things, you are not a true disciple.” I anticipate you would respond that you did not intend that meaning, but it can be read that way.

    Secondly, I would disagree that a number of the activities you mention can be rightfully labeled as “disciplines.” Certainly the study of scripture and solitude are genuine disciplines. However those are the only two that I think purely qualify.

    Generosity and submission, in one way, could be seen as disciplines, but I think they would more rightfully be biblically viewed as expressions of a believer’s character. One part of the purpose of a discipline is to deepen and vitalize a believer’s relationship with Christ. Submission and especially generosity honestly have much less to do with that as they are outward expressions of the Christ character that is present in the Christian. That is not to say that there is not an aspect of discipline present, but that intending them ‘as’ a discipline is a biblical stretch.

    The one I disagree with most is confession, and strictly based on how you explained it I would disagree on two levels. First, confession is not a spiritual discipline in the traditional sense. It is an act of worship. Secondly, and far more importantly, the way you phrased your statements on confession could lead someone to believe that believers must continue to confess in order to be forgiven of sin. That is a serious error that I have noticed is epidemic in the American church, and is unfortunately a symptom of current evangelical Arminian theology.

    When one repents of sin and makes an honest and serious profession of faith in Christ, his sins are forgiven. The word of God clearly teaches that ALL of our sins have been paid for by the shed blood of Christ. All sins, past, present, and future. The word teaches that we are “covered” by the righteousness of Christ, and that righteous is not temporally based. He does not just cover our past sins, but all our sin. There is biblically and logically no other possible option. Since God cannot allow even the smallest sin into his heavenly eternity, all of our sins must be cleansed. It is abundantly clear that we are still sinners and we obviously still sin. There is no possible way that we could recall every sin of commission and omission that we fall into every single day in order to remember to confess. According to Romans we are embroiled in sinful desires, thoughts, and actions. That circumstance is not eliminated through salvation; if it were there would be no need for sanctification and we would be glorified immediately upon our legitimate profession. We are no longer in “bondage” to sin and have the means (this is where the disciplines come into play) to minimize sins’ power against us. But we still sin, and in numerous ways we are never aware of. Our right standing with God is completely and utterly rooted in the righteousness of Christ, and that righteousness is imputed to us through salvation.

    If you give believers the impression that they must confess regularly in order to receive forgiveness, you are belittling the genuine work of Christ on the cross and condemning every child of God to a life of fear and horror as they attempt to recall everything that they have done so that they can confess it.

    Confession is an absolutely necessary aspect of our walk with Christ. In the church and denomination I adhere to we corporately confess and hear the words of affirmation every Sunday. But when we confess it is not to receive forgiveness. That has already been freely given. We confess to acknowledge our sin before a holy God, to encourage a lifestyle of repentance, to recognize the work of Jesus accomplished for us, AND to bring restoration to our relationship with God. In the same way I know that when I sin against my wife she is not going to just divorce me because of my failure. I also know that my sin drives a wedge between her and me and by confessing that sin to her and asking forgiveness, I bring healing and health to the relationship. It is similar with God the Father. Confession with God, for the believer, is not about forgiveness, but about relationship.

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