A while back I was talking to a friend who attends Redeemer. I asked him, “what kind of sermon or sermon series would you find helpful in your Christian life?” He thought for a while, then responded that one of the big questions he has is how to grow spiritually amid the grind of daily life? More specifically, he said that he understood how the gospel of Jesus was to be not just the A,B,C’s of the Christian life, but also the A-Z of the Christian life. But he didn’t understand where the so called “Spiritual Disciples” – prayer and fasting, Bible reading and meditation, community and solitude, etc. – fit into the Christian life, how they contribute to our spiritual growth.
How do I grow as a Christian? What is the place of the "Spiritual Disciplines" in spiritual growth? These are questions many Christians have. The sermon this Sunday is my attempt to answer, at least in part, these questions.
As a brief prelude to the sermon let me share one suprising and encouraging truth I discovered in my study of John 15: It is the strong passion and settled purpose of your Heavenly Father that you grow spiritually, in the language of John 15, that you “bear much fruit.”
Jesus says to his disciples: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciples” (John 15:8); and “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
Think about that – it is to your Heavenly Father’s glory that you grow, that you thrive as a follower of Jesus, that you bear fruit! He has chosen you before the creation of the world to bear fruit! He has appointed you to bear a legacy of lasting fruit! So absolutely and irrevocably committed to your fruit bearing is your Heavenly Father that he sent His own Son to be the True Vine to give spiritual life and fruit to the whole world through his incarnation, life and death.
Many Christians feel that their spiritual growth is up to them: their effort, their work, their discipline, their commitment. But the point Jesus makes in John 15 is that it is GOD who is committed to our spiritual vitality and fruit-bearing far more than we could ever be! Do you believe that? Do you accept that truth? Or do you feel alone in the work of your spiritual growth and maturing?
In light of the Father’s commitment to our fruit bearing there is really only one spiritual discipline, one response, and that is this: to remain in Jesus, to abide in Jesus, to remain in Jesus’ love. But how are we to remain in Jesus? In the sermon this Sunday we will look at the five practices of this one spiritual disciple of abiding in Jesus: (1) Meditating on Jesus’ Word (15:3 & 7; Cf. 5:39-40); (2) Praying (vs. 7) in Jesus name (vs. 16); (3) Preaching the Love of Jesus to oneself (vs. 9 & 13), (4) obeying Jesus’ commands (vs. 10), (5) and loving each other in Jesus’ community (vs. 12 & 17).