7. Christian Growth until Glorification: How Do I Love God in the “Here and Now”?
The Article: The Christ-Centered Life
The author says, “This study introduces us to the concept of positional truth. Positional truth has to do with who we are “in Christ” as believers. Since it has to do with who we are “in Christ,” it will also affect our self-concept. The focus, however, is on who we are in the Savior through faith in Him and how that should impact our lives as believers.”
First, we will survey numerous biblical passages which discuss the concept of being “in Christ.” Second, we will talk about what that means in terms of who, when, where, and how. Third, we will relate key concepts to the truth of being “in Christ.” These concepts will include personal growth and change, the completeness of our position in Christ (nothing can be added to our position to enhance it in any way), and immutability and eternality (i.e., it will never change throughout all eternity) of our position in Christ. Fourth, we will look at positional truth according to the wealth of benefit accrued to the believer in terms of Christ’s person and his work. Fifth, the article will conclude with a brief discussion of obedience in light of what God has done for us and our new position of grace.
1. What is positional truth? Why do we call it “positional”?
2. What is the who, when, where, how of positional truth?
3. What are some of the key concepts related to the doctrine of being” in Christ.”
4. What are various aspects of the wealth we have in Christ?
5. How does obedience relate to our position in Christ?
The Article: The Devotional Life
Eugene Peterson says in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, “Everyone is in a hurry. The persons whom I lead in worship, among whom I counsel, visit, pray, preach, and teach, want short cuts … They are impatient for results …The Christian life cannot mature under such conditions and in such ways.”1 It goes without saying, then, that the concept of a devotional life—a life of thoughtful prayer and meditation—suffers in this climate as well. All of us need to be reminded that drawing near to God is not just a privilege, it is the core value of the gospel and demonstrates whether we really believe the good news or not. Indeed, it is the very heart of our existence.
This article was designed to help you understand the importance of the devotional life as a necessary and vital aspect of living in communion with Christ. It is important for the new Christian to realize that there is a daily need to be with God in his word and prayer as well the weekly need to fellowship with other Christians. But in the development of these spiritual disciplines there needs to be an understanding of what constitutes balance and proper motivation. This article will address these questions as well as other dangers involved in living out a meaningful spiritual life.
1. What are the dailies and the weeklies?
2. What aspect of prayer, meditation, Bible study, fellowship, etc. does the word “discipline” capture? In what sense are they disciplines and in what sense are they not?
3. How does the grace of God relate to the disciplines of the Christian life?
4. What are some dangers to be avoided in living out the spiritual disciplines?
5. What area of the spiritual life is the most difficult for you? Why? How has this study helped you with this weakness?
The Article: Soul Nourishment First
George Müller was a great man of faith. He emphasized meditation on the Word and prayer throughout his Christian life. Yet he learned a few things about communion with the Lord as he grew. Though he had spent time in prayer as the first thing after dressing himself in the morning, he now saw that spending time in meditation on the Word was the first thing he should do, not prayer per se. As he puts it, his heart was thus “comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it”…“brought into experiential communion with the Lord.” Meditation on the word had a way of staying his mind on the Lord.
But Müller did not give himself to meditation for the public ministry of the Word, though it obviously influenced his public ministry. His chief end, however, in his private meditations, was the “happiness” (i.e., contentment and joy) of his own soul. It was out of his meditations on the Word that he was inevitably led to prayer for himself and others. Such a process of meditation first, and then prayer, kept his mind from wandering and enabled him to experience God’s blessing and presence more acutely. Devotions done in the morning, in this way, prepared him to meet the challenges and temptations to come throughout the day.
1. What is the significance of the Word in our daily relationship with the Lord, according to Müller?
2. Why does Müller suggest that the Word precede prayer in our daily devotions?
3. Can you think of any pattern in the Bible for having daily devotions (cf. Mark 1:35, etc.)?
4. Why is it important to commune with the Lord daily?
5. Why is it important to persist in prayer and not give up after a few minutes?