Conformed to the Image of His Son

The topic of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship is something I’m very passionate about. And it seems to me, in my experience anyways, that it isn’t something many churches talk about or do. I feel that the Church today focus too heavily on evangelism. Now, don’t get me wrong, that is quite important, but the lack of discipleship is hurting many.

I attended a Christian school and was surrounded by great Christian men and women, but even after I was baptized I felt I was kind of left on my own to figure things out. The biggest trouble was not having a spiritual director or mentor. Yes, I learned quite a good deal about the Bible, but I still needed that guidance. Maybe it is my fault that I didn’t seek someone out. Not to put blame on any of those great folks at MMS for they have given me more than enough in this life, and I’m indeed grateful.

But even still today I feel like I don’t have that guidance or one-on-one with a older, wiser Christian with whom I could be discipled. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We see that Christ doesn’t want us to merely baptize people and then leave them on their own. We are called to MAKE disciple. We are called to disciple and be discipled.

So I listened to one of my favorite professors at JBC give a sermon on the topic of Spiritual Formation. And I mention Discipleship because often it is something we chose for ourselves to undergo. And Dr. Gupton gave an amazing sermon on some ways to have Christ spiritually formed in you so much so that you are conformed to the image of His Son. And that’s the point of discipleship and spiritual formation. That you be made to look like Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I listened to Dr. Gupton’s sermon and took notes on it. And I wanted to share those notes with you on here so that maybe the Body would be edified. I hope you can take something from them:

Conformed to the Image of His Son
Dr. Gupton on Spiritual Formation and Discipleship

“Spiritual disciplines are activities we do to cooperate with God’s work to transform us into the image of Christ.” -Dr. Carlus Gupton

I John 3:2-3- “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Romans 12:1-2-“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 8:28-29-“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Each of us lives between two realities. We live between who we are and who we long to be. We say to ourselves, “I am what I am.” We are insecure about our ordinariness. We want to distort who we really are. We change, but not that much. The second reality is: “I am not yet what I shall be.” The truth is underscored by Scripture, I John 3:2-3. In between these two realities is the process we call transformation or spiritual formation, growth. We are not the ones who do the transformation, but we are to cooperate with God in that transformation. Transformation=metamorphosis. God works to conform us to the image of His Son. Spiritual formation is the life-long process of being conformed to Christ for our good and that of the world’s.

How do we do this?

We must discuss the spiritual disciplines and practices. Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline is an amazing book on this subject.

Spiritual Disciplines:
1. They are put forth as overwhelming
2. Jesus warns heavily on putting the spiritual life out of reach of people (Matthew 23:4)
3. Spiritual disciplines are not a measure of spirituality. They are SUPPOSED to help us become more like Christ! Spiritual practices don’t help us at all unless they make us like Christ.
4. They are activities we do to cooperate with God’s work in transforming us into Christ’s image.

Spiritual Practice of Prayer:
-Principle 1- Simplicity. Jesus’ prayer. When you pray say these words. Do this. The prayer captured the major tenants of Jesus’ teaching. To learn what is important to Jesus then unpack those phrases. Kingdom is so much bigger than Church. It’s about our response to God and how we bring Heaven to earth. Kingdom encompasses so much of God’s grand vision for the world and how we participate in that vision. The prayers are simple, repeated throughout the day. Acts 2:42-devoted to Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. They prayed at 9 AM, Noon, and 2 PM. Breaking of bread alludes to Eucharist. Eucharist was about that remembering and that transformation. Consistent participation in God’s work of transformation.

-Principle 2-Regularity. Jesus gives us these as simple, but as something done regularly. I Thessalonians 5:16-18, pray continually. Alludes to praying 3 times a day. Early Christians borrowed the tradition from the Jews.

The 3 Times of Prayer:
The Morning Light- Psalms 88
The Midday- Psalms 92
The Nightfall- Psalms 92

Remember those times so you pray and you honor the presence of God in your life. Reminder that God is in the work of changing you and you want to participate in that work.

1. The Prayer of Morning Light

John Stott’s Morning Trinitarian Prayer

Good morning heavenly Father,
good morning Lord Jesus,
good morning Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence
and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen

2. The Prayer of Midday (can be any prayer)

St. Francis’ Prayer for Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.

Mark the time that we say to God that we are walking with God. And that He is working in us, let us cooperate with Him.

3. The Evening Prayer (Prayer of Examen)

5 Practices at End of Day
1. Become aware of God’s presence
2. Review day with gratitude
3. Ask Spirit to see ourselves honestly-reflection
4. Pray about one event of the day
5. Look forward to tomorrow

4 Questions When Reviewing the Day:
-What went well?
-What went poorly?
-What gifts did I receive?
-What needs healing?

Prayer can be simple and regular. By this we participate with God in the process He is engaged in and that is transforming us into His image.


About Joel

Joel is a 32 year old currently residing in the southeastern United States. His interests lay in philosophy and theology. He is a writer for The Christian Watershed.

3 thoughts on “Conformed to the Image of His Son

  1. Not sure how I know you, but here is my response:"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Uncomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved." -Saint Athanasius

  2. Jonathan, I first saw you on FB. I am starting to understand you better, I think, reading your blog, and I would like to "friend" you. I am not as well grounded on Catholic/Orthodox perspectives as you appear to be, and would enjoy the interaction.Much of what I see on FB tends towards adversarial relationships, and I am growing weary of the constant clashing under the guise of "Truth-telling." If I said anything that offended, I apologize, and offer "The right hand of fellowship" to you.

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