Spiritual formation  is the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being,   that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.

In Luke 6, he points out that “there is no good tree which produces bad fruit…. Men do not gather figs from thorn bushes….” (vv. 43-44) It is the inner nature of the tree that determines its outward product. Likewise, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (v. 45)

The progression of spiritual formation is spelled out in 2 Peter 1: “Now since you have become partakers of the divine nature, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” (vv. 4-7)

 Dallas Willard says we  need  to understand  what is our and what is God’s part in this transformation, and take care of our part that God may be able to work with us in bringing us to be the kinds of people that we need to be and He wants us to be.

Spiritual formation could and should be the process by which those who are Jesus’ apprentices or disciples come easily to “do all things whatsoever I have commanded you. The” great omission from  the great commission” is the fact that Christians generally don’t have a plan to  do everything that He  commanded. We don’t as a rule even have a plan for learning this , and perhaps assume it is simply impossible. That explains the yawning abyss today between being Christian and being a disciple. We have a form of religion that has accepted non-obedience to Christ .

 When it comes to life in God it is about the re-formation of the whole self in co-operation with God. Will is not exactly character, but is formed into character as it becomes habitual and automatic.  We think of spiritual formation as formation by the Holy Spirit.  That’s essential.

 Here lies the deepest challenge to the very idea of obedience to Christ in our times. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is also something that is done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities/ disciplines which we voluntarily undertake to grow into the character of Christ.

Spiritual formation in Christ would, then, ideally result in a person whose reflective will for good, fully informed and possessed by Christ, has settled into their body  to such an extent that their natural responses were always to think and feel and do as Christ himself would. Their  responses are then those of Christ.  When Christ is there within, even the social context is one where the reflective will for Christlikeness understands what’s happening, makes the right choice, and in faith sees it through, with love and joy and peace and longsuffering and gentleness and goodness and kindness and faithfulness and self-control. The fruit of the spirit in the inner person expresses itself in that way.  It is not about perfection, it is about connection with Christ.

Spiritual formation is  becoming transformed through an inter- active relationship with the Living .

If the Vision of this glorious kind of life is there, then the next step is Intention. I must decide that I will live that kind of life. And then, finally–and this is the area of what we call “spiritual disciplines,” undertaken in the effort to actually obey Christ–we have to have a Method.

 We have to get real with all these matters. I have to be able to learn what it is within me that keeps me from being able to do all that and to do something about it. And perhaps it is that I have not devoted myself sufficiently to being alone with God, or to the taking in of his Word, so that I can actually trust Him.  I have  to find the methods–through which I can build my confidence in God’s goodness, and  the power of old habits in me is broken .

So we have to spent time in solitude and silence, in service, as well as in worship, in prayer, as well as in study; and we have to plan our lives around this objective of fulfilling the vision that the intention has set before us. That is how spiritual formation in Christ is done: vision, intention and method, in that order. In this way we succeed, as Paul says in Romans 6:13  ” passionately answer Gods call to keep yielding yourselves unto God as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for His pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose ” It can be done. It can be yours and it can be mine. 

Dallas Willard

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Financial support

The ministry is operated on faith based principles and dependent on voluntary donors who believe in our vision.

Project leader:
Mr Ritz de la Batt
Email: ritz@vdslegal.co.za

Auditors:
FHBC, Wellington
Email: info@fhbc.co.za

Donations can be made to:
Visarend Trust, ABSA Paarl.
Branch code 632005
Account number : 922 799 6908