Key Practices of the Christian Life

2 Sep

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on

toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

                                                                             Philippians 3:13-14

 

       This summer, as I have been preaching from the book of Philippians, I have come to see more clearly than ever the necessity of spiritual determination. If we want to grow spiritually, we must aim to grow, even as we know that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot grow, no matter how consistent our spiritual practices.          We want to understand and live what Paul said in Philippians 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” We understand that apart from the power of God we can do nothing but that at the same time we are called to walk in definite ways which most powerfully open the way to the work of God in our lives. It is to those ways, those Christian practices, that we will turn in the series of posts over the next several days.

In writing about these practices, I will be very specific, because if we do not have an aim we are likely to fall short of the things God calls us to and empowers us for as Christians. At the same time, I want to be clear that my specific ideas are not the only way to pursue Christian maturity. For some, the methods I describe may be just what they need to really get on the pathway of growth. For others, they may not be helpful at all. Either outcome is fine. The important thing is that you think through what will work for you and make a plan and seek to stick to it. If you don’t have a plan for spiritual growth that you are actively pursuing, the likelihood that you will grow is very small. This is true not because God lacks power but because God calls us to participate in our growth in grace. We do have a role in our growth and that role is to depend on God’s power to change us and use us by walking in the practices He’s given us to mature us as followers of Jesus.

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