Spiritual Formation as a Natural Part of Salvation

April 17, 2009
Wheaton College Theology Conference

Dallas makes a significant presentation at the 2009 Wheaton Theology Conference calling on leaders and pastors to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 

This paper was published in the conference book, Life in the Spirit: Spiritual Formation in Theological Perspective (IVP Academic, 2010), and republished as chapter 26 of Renewing the Christian Mind (HarperOne, 2015).


Spiritual Formation as a Natural Part of Salvation

Dallas challenges common theological misconceptions that separate the concept of salvation from the transformative process of becoming Christlike. He explores how spiritual formation is not just an optional aspect of Christian life but an essential and natural outcome of genuine salvation. Through scriptural insights and thoughtful analysis, Dallas invites us to reconsider the role of the Holy Spirit, the meaning of true discipleship, and the impact of living a spiritually formed life. This talk is a compelling call to deepen our understanding of salvation as a dynamic journey of spiritual growth and renewal.

Spiritual Formation as a Natural Part of Salvation


  • Misunderstanding of Salvation: Dallas critiques common theological views that disconnect salvation from spiritual transformation, suggesting that many Christians view salvation merely as a ticket to heaven rather than a transformative process into Christlikeness.
  • Defining Spiritual Formation: He defines spiritual formation as the process by which one's inner self is transformed to resemble the inner character of Christ, emphasizing that this is not merely behavioral modification but a deep change in the individual's heart and mind.
  • Role of the Holy Spirit: Dallas highlights the indispensable role of the Holy Spirit in spiritual formation, clarifying that it involves both the formation of the human spirit and formation by the Divine Spirit.
  • Scriptural Foundations: He refers to scriptural bases for spiritual formation, citing verses that showcase the expectation of transformation and love as outcomes of a genuine Christian life.
  • Problem of Christian Practice: Dallas points out the disconnect between the ideal of spiritual transformation presented in the New Testament and the lived reality of most Christians, who find such transformation inaccessible and impractical.
    Clarifications on Spiritual Formation: He clarifies misconceptions about spiritual formation, insisting it's not about conforming to external religious practices but about internal change.
  • Crisis of Application:  Dallas addresses the lack of emphasis on spiritual formation within Christian organizations, which often focus on activities other than transformative growth.
    Mind and Body Dualism (Q&A): Dallas affirms his belief in dualism, emphasizing the distinct and real existence of the spiritual apart from the physical, which influences his understanding of human nature and spiritual formation.
  • Sanctification and Spiritual Formation (Q&A): Dallas discusses sanctification as a process closely related to spiritual formation, describing it as growing in holiness through increasingly reflecting Christ in one's life.
  • Academic Challenges (Q&A): He tackles the challenge of integrating faith with academic disciplines, criticizing the secular separation of knowledge from divine truth and urging for a conceptual connection between professional fields and theology.
  • Spiritual Formation in the Modern Church: Dallas stresses the necessity for churches to reorient towards true spiritual formation, advocating for a move away from superficial Christian identity towards deep, transformative engagement with Christ's teachings.
    Transformative Power of Scripture: He concludes by reflecting on the transformative impact of scripture and teaching that aligns closely with God's movement, encouraging attendees to seek a deeper encounter with God through spiritual disciplines.