Monday, June 8, 2009

Who is Spiritual (Part 5)

(This is the fifth and concluding post of a blog series begun last Thursday. I preached this material at Vineyard of Jackson during yesterday's services)

Paul saw that good works come from secure relationship and knowledge of acceptance, not as acts to gain acceptance. This leads to inner transformation and progress in righteousness out of gratitude, not need for control. All control is His.

He learned from grace to press on toward the upward call: as he said “because Christ has made me his own.” (Vs. 12). To worship God in the Spirit is to act out Paul’s own prescription form Romans 12:1- "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

An understanding of grace leads to efforts to live right in gratitude for grace, which leads to struggle and failure because of the deceitfulness of sin, which sens us back to the cross, once again. There we again give up confidence in our own ability and rejoice in the work of the Jesus on the Cross. And the growth cycle begins again.

Here's a quote from Tim Keller in The Prodigal God (page 121):
"All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel re-structures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting.”
And as Keller said in another place:
“In every other religion the indicative flows from the imperative. Which means, ‘because I do, therefore I am… because I do this, therefore I’m a child of God.’ But only in Christianity does the imperative flow from the indicative. ‘Because I am in Christ all these things, therefore I obey.’ Exactly the opposite.”
So in summation, the two spiritual alternatives normally considered in our culture (religion and spirituality) are really the same thing, two sides of one coin, two forms of IF I THEN GOD . True spirituality, the real alternative, is the Gospel response of GOD HAS THEREFORE I. The three steps to applying the Gospel to your spiritual life are (1) Put no confidence in the flesh, (2) glory in Christ Jesus, (3) worship God in the Spirit. Then, as they say in the shampoo commercials “RINSE AND REPEAT.”