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Friday, October 6, 2017

"Spiritual Maturity" (J. Oswald Sanders)

TITLE: Spiritual Maturity: Principles of Spiritual Growth for Every Believer (Sanders Spiritual Growth Series)
AUTHOR: J. Oswald Sanders
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2017, (288 pages).

We grow not because of our efforts and programs. We grow because of God's grace and mercy. More importantly, we grow according to the holy character of God Himself in the Triune Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The key thesis in this book is that spiritual maturity is about growing in holiness according to God the Father; growing in conformity to the image of Christ; and growing in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Written in three parts, each part is devoted to describing the unique ways we can grow in accordance to God's Personal Character.

In Part One, we learn about trusting in God's providence; revering in God's holiness; gratitude about God's Perseverance; accepting of God's disciplines; hoping in God's ultimate deliverance; and looking forward to God's ultimate promises in time to come. Part Two reveals to us the vision of God in Christ; the humble sacrifice of Christ as Lamb; the way Christ prayed for us; the costs of discipleship; the personal pleas for us to follow Him; and learning to live victoriously in Christ. Part Three is about the ways of the Holy Spirit through the transforming power; the purging fire; the powerful outworking of God's will in gifts and signs; and the evangelization of the world. Each chapter begins with a Bible verse followed by a passage to be read. Sanders then launches into a devotional cum reflection on the Character of God as described in the passage. With vivid illustrations and powerful images of God's Personhood, Sanders does not simply show us the light to spiritual growth, he lets God be illuminated through the pages to teach us the ways of God and the path toward spiritual maturity.

Sanders is non-compromising in his devotion to the Word of God, as demonstrated in his no-holds-barred approach in setting God's ways before us, so that we can follow Him fully and willingly. Spiritual maturity is never forced but encouraged. It is not about a set of activities but always anchored on the Person of Jesus Christ, toward the Holiness of God the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian emphasis is evident throughout the book, even though the book has been structured in separate parts. There are many ways to read this book. The first way is to read it straight through, which is orderly but may be make isolated readings of the individual members of the Trinity. The second way is to read a chapter from each part at a time. This could be varied. The advantage is that we become more aware of the Trinitarian nature of God and that our spiritual maturity must be Trinitarian. The downside is that it takes some personal organization of our reading structure. The third way is to read it according to our needs. That is, we read the parts that we find most needful for us. This book allows that because each chapter is by itself. Of course, the downside is that sometimes, we may not actually know what we need. This book challenges us to grow beyond our comfort zones.

J. Oswald Sanders (1902-1992) was General Director of the China Inland Mission and has written more than 40 books. A prolific and insightful author, he is most famous for his work in Spiritual Leadership.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Moody Publishers without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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