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Donald Whitney on Spirituality

Donald Whitney on Spirituality December 27, 2011

What Whitney says here is precisely how all spirituality, and kingdom talk, needs to be focused:

I’d like to see a bit more about the creative power of the Spirit and freedom, but his emphasis on spirituality being Christ-shaped and -focused is right.

How do you define and understand “spirituality”?

As you’ve surely noticed, everyone is “spiritual” today. I saw a USA Today survey that found even a majority of atheists consider themselves “spiritual” people. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard anyone say, “You know, I’m just not a spiritual person.” Perhaps for many, spirituality simply means spending time occasionally in personal reflection. For others, maybe it means consciously trying to live by certain principles or attempting to be thoughtful on important issues such as the environment or homelessness.

However, the common perception of spirituality is not the biblical one. I’m writing from the perspective that spirituality includes — but transcends — the human spirit, and involves the pursuit of God and the things of God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with God’s self-revelation (that is, the Bible)….

So how do Christians practice a gospel-centered spirituality? First, practice the right disciplines — those personal and interpersonal spiritual disciplines found in the Bible. A gospel-centered spirituality is a sola scriptura spirituality. For individual practice, the most important personal spiritual disciplines are first, the intake of Scripture, and second, prayer; all the others relate to these two. The interpersonal spiritual disciplines we’re to observe are primarily those biblical practices related to life together in a local church.

Second, practice the right disciplines with the right goal. Consciously practice these disciplines with Jesus as the focus — pursuing intimacy with Christ and conformity (both inward and outward) to Christ. To put it more succinctly, seek to be with and like Jesus by means of the biblical spiritual disciplines.

Third, practice the right disciplines the right way. Emphasize the person and work of Jesus in each one. Through them learn from, gaze upon, and enjoy who Jesus is and what He has done. Let your faith be restored through the truths of the gospel. Engage in the spiritual disciplines given by God in Scripture so that you are continually shown your need for Christ and the infinite supply of grace and mercy to be found by faith in Him.

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