The process whereby a sinful, fallen human being is transformed into the image of Jesus Christ is indeed a profound mystery. Clearly Scripture reveals that such a process exists; the details, however, are extremely scarce. Scripture tells us that God transforms people; it just doesn’t explain how, exactly.

There has been some writing done through the years on the process of spiritual formation. Most of the writing follows a predictable pattern. Usually the author’s thoughts go like this: (1) Scripture does reveal that there is a process in which human beings are transformed into the image of Christ; (2) The details of that process are not spelled out specifically in the Bible; (3) However, in my walk with God I have personally experienced this and this; (4) And when I compare my experience with what others have said about the process I find that our experiences are almost identical.

I’m not sure how to go about offering a sermon series or a series of Bible Classes on the concept of spiritual formation. Obviously, the sermons or classes cannot be expository in nature. I mean, there is not one passage of Scripture to which we can turn for a full explanation of the process. Even those passages from which we learn unequivocally that there is a process of spiritual transformation do not give us many details. So whenever I teach or preach on Spiritual Formation I make an attempt to glean insights from a variety of passages. Of course, we must always be careful that we are not taking these verses out of their larger context and trying to use them as “proof texts;” however, I always find that the outcome is worth my effort.

In addition, any time we talk about Spiritual Formation it is necessary to mention what other human beings have written on the subject. As with all writings of human beings we need to keep their thoughts in a proper perspective: the Apostle Paul was inspired; Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not. However, if you will read Bonhoeffer’s book on the Sermon on the Mount (The Cost of Discipleship) I’m sure that you will agree with me that it is a book well worth reading.

So let’s encourage our preachers and teachers to prepare and deliver a series of sermons or Bible Classes on Spiritual Formation . In fact, I  just finished a sermon series on the subject. I called it, Disciplined Dependence. I pray that it was useful to everyone. I also pray that we are all being conformed to His image.

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