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Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | Comments (6)

The need for spiritual growth is apparent in the life of every believer. We must be transformed, refined, and sharpened if we’re going to break our old, wicked patterns and grow in grace and godliness. The pursuit of holiness is a lifelong battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, in pursuit of Christlikeness.

However, the means of that spiritual growth is the subject of much debate. Is Scripture alone enough for my spiritual growth? What’s the Holy Spirit’s role in my sanctification? And are there activities and disciplines that will stimulate and advance that growth?

During a recent recording session, we asked John MacArthur about the biblical model for sanctification and the rising popularity of intuitive and mystical methods of spiritual formation. Here’s what he had to say.

Scripture is the source of all sanctifying truth. It’s the vehicle through which the Holy Spirit does His refining, sharpening work to make us more like Christ.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the steps in that process.

In the meantime, what’s wrong with taking a more mystical, subjective approach to spiritual growth? How does that contrast with the biblical approach John described in the video?

GTY Staff


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#1  Posted by E English  |  Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:26 AM

What about a pastor of an evangelical Bible church serving as a "spiritual director" of the Methodist run "Walk to Emmaus"? Should I be trusting him to pastor me in the truths of God if he engages in the weekend spiritual formation retreats? His sermons say the right things, but I wonder why the Scriptures are not sufficient for spiritual growth--what does he get or give at a WTE retreat that faithful preaching of the Word cannot supply?

What about the church obsessed with Beth Moore studies as the trusted source for women to learn how to apply the Bible to their lives? The fawning over her is idolatrous and they will tolerate no criticism of her interpretation of Scripture.

All of the churches in my small city are full of this stuff and I struggle with the command to be a part of the local church but none of the 13 churches that we have visited/been a part of, have a solid commitment to the sufficiency of the Word of God. All of them are immersed in the Beth Moore and WTE stuff.

If it weren't for the decades of the GTY ministry, my husband and I would be totally confused and chasing rainbows and looking for harbingers.

#2  Posted by Gregory Musgrave  |  Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 7:01 AM

Thank You for that explanation! It makes so much sense to me, and I can't understand why people in the academic circles find it so necessary to teach all these 'mystical' approaches to our sanctification. These mystical approaches are 'self' empowered, they detract from truth, and make us the center of what can change our sinfulness, not allowing the the Word and Spirit to do the work God intends in our sanctification. The lighting of candles, the emptying of our minds and 'centering' of our inner energies, cannot bring us into the presence of God as is being taught by so many of these different ideas. I find that repenting of sins, coming to God in reverance, thankfulness, and seeking to be holy like our Lord Jesus Christ, asking for the Spirit to penetrate every part of my being (expose any unconfessed sin, and continually convict me of change that is necessary to grow closer) allow me to understand the truth of Scripture, by the power of the Spirit, is the only method I see that is necessary to grow spiritually.

I am so thankful for the teaching of Grace to You, this is where the real "protein rich" teaching for each week comes from! I thank you also Pastor MacArthur for your dedication to bringing Truth to so many for so many years, God bless you and this ministry.

#3  Posted by Molly Biscan  |  Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Amen Gregory! Well said. This stuff is deception at it's finest. The Word of God is the source for ALL santification.

#4  Posted by Stephanie Cellucci  |  Friday, September 14, 2012 at 2:21 PM

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#5  Posted by Alex Kelley  |  Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Thank you... our Bible Church is moving towards this Spiritual Formation with Willard's book and "Lectio Divina". The men's discipleship groups are to be reading "The Good and Beautiful God". Smith, the author was influenced and discipled by Willard, Foster, Manning and Nouwen. I am very"grieved" over the move in this direction. The elders (10 or so) have agreed to this move. They are going to use a company to "help" them in this...check out the site and share what you think. I have been praying and trusting the Lord as I seek to speak to the teaching pastor next. We went to the same seminary. His pulpit messages are right on but this plan for the church is going to bleed through in his messages. Pray for me if you would. Here is the sight: Check it out and give observations if you would. Thank you John for remaining faithful to God and His Word.

#6  Posted by Molly Biscan  |  Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 6:41 PM

I second Stephanie with her suggestion to visit Tim Davis and his wife have done a stellar job of comparing these false doctrines with Scripture. Every pastor should be reading this comparrison as this is creeping into Churches at a rapid rate. It is very subtle and seductive.