Our teaching series until the end of this year is on the Spiritual Disciplines. We're using Richard Foster's classic book on the subject, titled Celebration of Discipline.
Foster describes the 12 main disciplines used in antiquity (including the worshiping life of Israel) designed to develop life-giving habits in the practitioner. Foster is quick to point out that the disciplines in themselves are of no value, they are only doorways or means to an end. The place we step into through the disciplines - the end to which the disciplines are aiming - is freedom in Christ. The disciplines are aids to coming before God seeking the change only he can affect.
One of the reasons we are doing the series is because the typical evangelical church has lost touch with the benefits of the disciplines, fearing they are too much like law, and not salvation being a matter of grace through faith alone, and faith itself being a gift.
The disciplines are not matters of salvation in Christ, but rather a matter of living more and more the kind of life we are saved to. There are two key reasons we are looking at the disciplines:
- We do a good job of avoiding God in our busy lives. These disciplines do a great job bringing us into the awareness of our need for God and his presence to help. We may be saved, but that doesn't mean we are living out the life of freedom Christ has saved us for.
- In all areas of life we expect results from training, not just trying hard. No matter how hard I try, I cannot fly a helicopter, because I have no training. With training though, I could. Paul uses training for a marathon as an illustration of the spiritual life, and encouraging all disciples to do the same. The spiritual disciplines are training exercises so the life of grace flows more readily in us.
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