How many times have you heard someone described as a “very spiritual person?” You have likely heard it often, because this kind of jargon is very common in our culture, especially in Southern Bible-Belt culture. But what does it really mean to say someone is “spiritual?” I mean, a devoted Muslim can be a very spiritual person; so can a devoted Hindu, a devoted Mormon, or even a devoted Satanist.
Even in christianized culture, this label can mean many different things. Someone can be classified as a very spiritual person if they have an ardent belief in God and if they live a very moral life, yet they may never pray, never attend church, and their ideas of God and religion may not even be tied to the Bible. Conversely, someone may be called a very spiritual person if they attend church regularly and serve in leadership, if they speak all the proper Christian cliche’s, and if they send their children to a Christian school. Yet that same person may rarely pray, may never read Scripture, and may be indulging a whole host of hidden sins. In spite of outward appearances of spirituality, such a person does not love God.
In our culture, the word “spiritual” is generally used to reference personal devotion and adherence to any religious ideology. But as biblical Christians, we really need to recover and reinstate a more biblical meaning for this word. “Spiritual” should be a term used to denote someone who is literally “of the Spirit of God.” Among the members of the Trinity, God the Spirit is particularly the agent of our spiritual regeneration (our re-birth in Christ), and He is also the originating agent of God’s revealed Word, the Bible. Thus, to be “of God’s Spirit” necessarily means that a person is “of God’s Word.” To state it another way, a truly Spiritual person is a thoroughly Scriptural person.
So how exactly do we define “Biblical Spirituality?” To answer that question, I would like to provide a perspective given in a book I am currently reading. It is a book by Peter Adam entitled “Hearing God’s Words: Exploring Biblical Spirituality.” In the first chapter of his text, Adam gives us four points that compose the shape and structure of biblical spirituality (pages 44-45). They are:
1. Biblical Spirituality’s content and focus is God in Christ — It shows us God’s great plan of creation and salvation, how God revealed Himself in His deeds and words, how He spoke through law, prophets and wisdom, as He pointed forward to Christ, and how Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s plan by His saving death and resurrection, and will finally complete God’s saving plan at His return.
2. Biblical Spirituality’s practice is hearing the Word of God by faith — It is how God speaks to His people and His world today, as He addresses us with words He spoke long ago at the time of His revelation leading up to and in Christ and His messengers, and has preserved as His personal, powerful, effective, universal, relevant and sufficient Word to us, to be heard and obeyed by faith.
3. Biblical Spirituality’s experience is that of meeting God in His Spirit-given words — As we read the Bible, we hear the voice of God. We are challenged to change our world-view, our lives, our relationships, our desires and our actions; we are comforted, enriched, enlightened, given hope, stretched, empowered and changed by the living and enduring words of the living God.
4. Biblical Spirituality’s result is trust in Christ and our heavenly Father — As we grow in trust, thanking and praising God for His grace in Christ, praying to Him and obeying Him, loving His truth and His people, growing in the fruit of the Spirit and in godliness, serving God in His church and His world, using the gifts He has given us, bringing glory to Him and waiting for the return of Christ.
I know this is a lot of detail for a definition to contain, but such detail is given to protect right understanding. True spirituality is a biblical spirituality — a spirituality grounded in and grown by a knowledge of God that is given by His Word. To be the people of God or to be children of Christ means to be a people of “the” book, to be a people characterized by fidelity to Scripture. Thus, let us cultivate this area of our devotion. Love God’s Word, drink deeply of His truth, be nourished by His Word. I love you all dearly!