Talbot Talks: Spiritual Formation with Dr. John Coe

Talbot Talks: Spiritual Formation with Dr. John Coe


[upbeat music]>>Hello, and welcome to Talbot Talks. My name is Steve Jin. I’m the manager of outreach here at Talbot School of Theology. And Talbot Talks is where
we address key issues in kingdom ministry. Now today I have the pleasure
of welcoming Doctor John Coe. Doctor Coe is the program director of our ISF Institute
for Spiritual Formation and our Spiritual Formation Program. And he’s done some great
work, revolutionary work, I would say, in allowing
all of Talbot’s programs to be pervaded by this idea
of spiritual formation. So Doctor Coe, welcome today.>>Yeah, good to be here, Steve.>>So I just introduced our
audience to spiritual formation, but I want you to give our audience now some background information
or basic information about what is spiritual formation? And you often use a term,
also, spiritual theology.>>Yeah, at Talbot School of Theology and Institute for Spiritual Formation, our task is to really kind of make sure all of
our students understand something of spiritual theology
and spiritual formation. So spiritual theology
is that part of theology where we train them in how to understand the process of spiritual
growth or spiritual formation and then to help students
actually in their growth. So in spiritual theology,
we teach the students, which is really pastoral theology, so that with God in their heart
and now scripture in hand, trained in the scriptures, their task is to go into the church to answer the real questions of how do we actually grow in the spirit? So when we’re preaching and we
preach on walk in the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit,
put off anger and wrath, somebody in the audience
is gonna have the question, “Well how do I walk in the Spirit? “How do I put off anger?” And that’s right where spiritual theology, or pastoral theology, picks up, because it wants to
address those questions of how do we grow? So spiritual formation,
then, is kind of the goal of understanding spiritual theology. And spiritual formation,
it’s really the kind of God-ordained way of how the Holy Spirit actually develops us and grows
us into the image of Christ as we cooperate with Him. So there are, today, many different kinds of spiritual formations, and many false spiritual formations. We really believe that
there is a God-ordained way, that there’s a way that
He puts His stamp on, and that’s from the word
of God and from truth that we can understand in nature. And so the task of the students is to understand that
process and to realize that we wanna grow in God’s way. But a second element of
spiritual formation is that we don’t grow ourselves. And so one thing that we wanna make clear about Christian spiritual formation is that the Holy Spirit
is the agent of change. We’re not the ones who change ourself. It’s our process to
rather open and cooperate in obedience to His work. And the whole goal of
formation is to be conformed to the image of Christ. And that will be the fruit of the Spirit as the Spirit of God is opening our life and living His life through us. This is what the reformers
called participation in the life of Christ. And that’s what spiritual
formation is all about, is letting the ministry of
the Spirit form Christ in us as we cooperate in obedience.>>Now Doctor Coe, as you mentioned, just some broad definitions
of what spiritual theology and spiritual formation is,
at least from my perspective, it seems very biblical. It’s in line with our orthodox tradition. But it seems like, for some reason, that spiritual formation
has been misunderstood by the church. And I think you kinda
touched upon it a little bit. So why do you think spiritual formation has been somewhat misunderstood
by maybe the church recently or as it has come up?>>Yeah, I think that
in our culture today, in this technological
and scientific culture, I think there’s real spiritual
hunger that’s in people and in the church. And one of the results is, is that there has been such a turning to many spiritualities
and false spiritualities. And so if you go into
any kind of bookstore, you will see a section on spirituality, and you’ll find pop psychology
or New Age mysticism or books on Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam. And so as the world is turning to these, what we would think of, as
false spiritualities biblically, some of this is also, unfortunately, been creeping into the church. And I think that there is such
a desire for people to grow. And I would have to say
that I think part of this is because some of the people
that, in our tradition, have not necessarily been trained in a deep spiritual theology so that they can bridge the gap from their understanding of the scripture to spiritual growth, which
is spiritual theology. How do we understand
the process of growth? And so I think there’s a
gap in some people’s mind, and they’re running to
these false spiritualities, even in the church. So they don’t have the discernment. And so I think there’s
been a part of the church that’s been very concerned about that. They see this going on, and they want to address this biblically. We want to ground spiritual formation in our life in Christ. This is not a self-help psychology. This is not something we
can do on our own power. We need the redemption of Christ. We need the ministry of the
Spirit who transforms us. And so we want to know biblically
how do we help the church understand this biblical
process of spiritual formation, and how it’s grounded in the cross, and how now we can learn to walk in the ministry of the Spirit? The two things that we
wanna keep in mind there is that two of the main agents of change in our Christian life, it’s
going to be the ministry of the Spirit, where in Romans 8, it says that the Spirit is actually
within our very spirit, praying for us always with
utterances too deep for words so that we would be conformed, that we would be perfected
into the image of Christ. So the Spirit is leading this process. But then there are other
people in our life, who, these are all the one-another passages, who are gonna be used by the Spirit to help unlock the heart of people, because in the new covenant it is clear in Jeremiah and Ezekiel
that the new covenant is about the transformation
of the heart, is that, as Jeremiah says, “And I’m
gonna write a new covenant. “And in this covenant, I’m
gonna put my Spirit in you, “and He’s gonna write the
Torah,” the will of God, “on the heart from the inside out.” And so in this process
of spiritual formation, what we’re trying to help individuals do in their own life in prayer, in their life with the word of God, and then in their life with one another, is to how to begin to open that heart, to peal back that heart, so
that the Spirit and others can begin to teach us,
can begin to love us, can begin to provide,
especially by the Spirit, to provide forgiveness in those areas where we really have injured others and we have violated the Lord in this way. And so it turns out that
the Spirit indwells us at the very core of our spirit where our sins and our vices are. He knows all of them. He’s praying for all
of them with utterances too deep for words. And so our life is going
to be a slow unpacking, kind of like a suitcase,
unpacking our soul and to begin to share it with the Lord so that He can begin to teach us, that He can begin to love us, forgive us, so that we can now begin this process of opening this, what would it be now to be transformed in this? And if I can’t do that in prayer, then that’s the place
where the one-anothers are, so that somebody can come alongside and in conversation begin the process to teach me how to pray, as I begin to share my heart with them, as they begin to teach me in this process, so that we can then begin to develop certain patterns in the person’s life where they now can be in
this process of training with the Spirit.>>Wow, so Doctor Coe,
what we wanna end with, it’s always, it’s the
hallmark of Talbot Talks, for the audience out there
that’s seeing this video for the first time, what’s
a step that they can take to undertake their initial
journey into spiritual formation or spiritual theology? What can they do right now at this point to kinda engage this process?>>You know, one thing they could do is, just when it comes to
understanding spiritual theology, they could actually go
kind of online to Biola, there’s Open Biola. There’s also, I think it’s
Biola.edu/spiritualformation, they could download
about 12 hours, for free, of spiritual theology just to… That doesn’t do all the
work of transformation, but it begins to open the horizon of what would it be to take
my spiritual life seriously, to understand something of the process, and then to go at this? I think other things that they
could begin to do now is… I’ll encourage a couple things. One is to begin to take the Psalms and, although the Psalms were
actually corporate prayers that were sung in the Hebrew community, but even personally now, this is how the church has
used it throughout its history, is to begin to take the Psalms and daily go through
these different Psalms. And as you read them, don’t
just read them devotionally, but actually pray those Psalms. As the psalmist is angry about something, you might ask, “God, is there something “I’ve been angry about?” Or if he’s lamenting and
complaining about something, you might ask, “God, is there something “that is in the depths of my soul “that I’ve been complaining about “and that I’m bothered
about or worried about?” And then share those with God. So this is so simple, but
you can just take the Psalms as a place to begin to learn how to pray. Another thing that I would
do, this is very simple, is I’ve been doing this in my own life for about seven years, is I notice that every time I
would get up in the morning, my mind immediately
rushes to all the worries and the problems of the day. And I decided, it was
about seven years ago, “Lord, I don’t wanna do this anymore. “I wanna start with you.” And so what I’ve been doing each day is, right when I wake up,
right when I’m in bed, I just take about two or three minutes and I put in practice Romans,
chapter 12, verse 1 and 2, where he says, “to present yourself “as a living sacrifice to the Lord, “pleasing and acceptable, which
is your reasonable service “and don’t be conformed,” don’t
let other things conform you and mold you and print
you, but allow the Spirit to transform you. And one thing that has
really impacted my life is when I wake up in the morning now my heart still wants to fly to
all the problems and issues. And I feel like I’m pulling
back cords of my heart, and I say, “No, no, first things first. “First things first, before
I think of those things “I need to take care of:
budget, financial problems, “whatever, I present myself to you.”>>Yeah, excellent, excellent point. So Doctor Coe, I wanna thank
you for joining us here today. For those of you in the audience,
as Doctor Coe mentioned, there is a six-week lecture
material that you can download from our website, it’s
Biola.edu/spiritualformation. It’s a great resource
material for you personally as well as your church. And if you have any questions or if you need any other resources regarding spiritual formation please feel free to contact me in the information on the screen. And thank you for joining us today. Have a blessed day. [upbeat music]

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