Practicing the word-centered life

Practicing a word centered life is the key to spiritual formation. Theology is the foundation and direction but pragmatic principles and practices to forming the spirit into the character of Christ is a necessity. This essay proposes two ways in which discipleship can be conducted out into spiritual formation through evangelical traditions and  Scripture meditation and reflection.

God speaks to humanity in three primary ways; the written word which is found in Scripture, the living word, which is in the life and works of Jesus Christ, and the spoken word, which is humans communicating the word of God and the life of Jesus Christ to one another. This is most commonly known as evangelicalism. “In its most general sense evangelical means being characterized by a concern for the essential core of the Christian message, which proclaims the possibility of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ.”[1] This is the task of the believing community to communicate the hope that lies within each and every believer.

Evangelical traditions use the spoken word to bring about spiritual formation in the life of believers and regeneration in the life of unbelievers. “It is the spoken word of God, the proclamation of the gospel, that is at the core of the Word-centered life. The role of a word is to communicate.”[2] This communication, or proclamation, of the written and living word, strengthens the walk toward Christlikeness.

This writer was first introduced to the good news at a very young age. Regular church attendance and mandatory Bible reading was regular practice in the home and at church functions. Listening to others proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ brought about a personal relationship with the savior and was encouraged with hope, direction, and grace. These effects have had profound influences on this pilgrim in that it was taught that a close, personal relationship with Christ, on an intimate level could be attained and fostered when obedience to the word of God was adhered to

Jesus Christ speaking the good news releases the captive human soul, occupied by sin and worldly desires, to the redemptive power of salvation. A. W. Tozer writes; “A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in the relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner’s whole nature.”[3] The changed is ignited in faith by hearing the words spoken to us by Jesus’s ministry (Romans 10:17).

The Evangelical Tradition includes the written word, the living Word, and the proclamation of the gospel which greatly helps ministerial efforts and propels the spiritual formation process. By spreading the gospel, by means of the written and living word, each Christian is rightly fulfilling the will of God in his/her life according to God’s instruction: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 ESV)? Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is the embodiment of justice and loving-kindness.

Scripture Meditation and Reflection

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Intense biblical research and exegesis are crucial to sound hermeneutics . However, in certain situations, spiritual meditation, solitude, and personal reflection can be helpful to the transformation of the soul. For example; the beginning of the book of Hebrews has several extraordinary implications on the person of Jesus Christ, the life of the believer, and the implication of discipleship.

The opening of this book is a wonderful indictment into the deity and supremacy of both God and his son. The author of Hebrews is equating both the creator of all the world as also the heir of all things.[4] This speaks to the preeminence of Jesus Christ and his authoritative voice in association with the God of the Old Testament. 

This passage also speaks to the life of the believer. By proclaiming Christ’s agency of revelation; “The Son, he declared, is the par excellence vehicle for divine revelation.”[5] Therefore, this revelation that is later canonized into scripture, through the Apostles, is declared legitimate and co-equal of Old Testament scripture. This passage speaks to the power of New Testament scripture which is to be used by believers to form spiritually into Christ-likeness.

 Perhaps most importantly, this passage implies the direction and source of the Christian faith. Jesus is the source of salvation, the act of creation, and the direction of sanctification. He is the embodiment of whom Christians desire to emulate and also rely upon for means of grace in order to obtain it.

The process of spiritual formation is complex and intricate. It calls for sound theology and diligent spiritual practices. These practices take practical form in many disciplines. Two said forms rely on an evangelical proclamation and scriptural meditation. They rely heavily on living a word-centered life heavily dependent upon the power of the written, living, and spoken a word of God.

Bibliography

Grenz, Stanley J., David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee. Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Smith, James Bryan., Lynda L. Graybeal, and Richard J. Foster. A Spiritual Formation Workbook: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993.

Tozer, A. W., and Jonathan L. Graf. The Pursuit of God: with Study Guide. Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread Publishers, 2006.

Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. an Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.


Footnotes:

[1] Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 48.

[2] James Bryan Smith, Richard J. Foster, and Lynda L. Graybeal, A Spiritual Formation Workbook – Revised Edition: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 8011).

[3] A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2006), 94.

[4] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 781.

[5] Ibid, 780.


 

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