Spiritual formation is, “the ongoing process of the triune God transforming the believers and character toward the life and character of Jesus Christ- accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit in the context of biblical community” (Pettit, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, 24).
Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 5:23). It involves developing right relationship of love with God (vertical relationship) and with fellow men (horizontal relationship).
God is actively involved in bringing a sinner to Christ and consequently in the spiritual formation (sanctification process) of the infant Christian as s/he progresses to maturity in Christ.
The role of the third Person of the Trinity (Holy Spirit) in the spiritual growth of a believer is paramount.
Here are ways in which the Holy Spirit is involved in the Spiritual formation in the life of a believer:
- He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He brings sinners to salvation. So he is involved in the conversion/turning to God experience.
- He gives believers an inward assurance of salvation.
- He indwells believers to bring an inward-out change.
- He illuminates God’s truth/mysteries (Jn. 14:26) for understanding.
- He is the power that enables believers to bear witness (Jn. 15:26; Acts 1:8; Rom 8:26). He gives power and boldness required for witness.
- He intercedes for believers (high priest role) in accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:26-27).
- He distributes gifts to believers as he wills for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:11). The church is not only the people of God, and the body of Christ, but also the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- He is deeply grieved by sin in the lives of Christians (Eph. 4:30).
- The Spirit applies redemption to us (Jn. 14:26; 16:7).
- The Holy Spirit gives us regeneration or new spiritual life (Jn. 3:5-8). He is the “giver of life”; all living creatures are recipients of the life-giving principle of the Spirit of God.
- He sanctifies us (Rom. 8:13; 15:16; 1 Pet. 1:2). He is the source of holiness. Helps believers live holy lives.
- He empowers believers for service (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11).
- He produces in us the fruit of Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); that are signs of sanctification.
- He provides spiritual guidance to believers in the ways they should go (Acts 15:28).
Read here for other ways God guides believers.
Questions to ponder:
- Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13). What are some of the steps we can deliberately take to achieve spiritual maturity. What is the believer’s role in spiritual formation?
- Do believers in Christ make deliberate efforts to grow spiritually?
- Formation is the primary task of the church. Do you think the church is faithfully discharging this mandate?