The next step in the “Life Essentials” series is Progress. We have spoken about the first two life essentials as being Peace and Position. Today we will discuss the necessity of spiritual growth for us as Christians and the vital necessity of maturing in our faith.
As we go through life, we achieve many milestones as people; as babies we first learn how to crawl and then walk. Then we become adolescents and begin to learn how to ride a bike or strap on a pair of roller skates. This all translates into our being able to learn how to drive and then ultimately be teachers to the next generation. This is a natural process and one that if it is not taken with great consideration can lead to catastrophic consequences. What has taken place in this sequence is simple; we make progress in life whether it is with walking and driving, school and college, growing from young adulthood into being grandparents. The key to life is growing and learning from its experiences as to avoid the pitfalls of the future and to make better more sound decisions as they come.
Let’s take a moment to overview what the Bible has to say about progress and its vitality to our effectiveness as Christians.
III. PROGRESS (VS 3-5)
• 1 Peter 2:2: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
• The natural progression for children is to begin life on a steady diet of milk and then graduate to soft foods and ultimately begin eating the things that we, as adults, are able to eat
• Living life as a Christian is no different; we must first seek the simple things of the Christian life and then move on to the weightier matters.
• What are the keys to effective progression in the life of the Christian?
a. A Strong Foundation
b. Steady Growth/Building
c. Seeding for others
• Let’s evaluate each one of these steps in detail
1. A STRONG FOUNDATION
• When building a structure, the key to that structures longevity is the base upon which it has been built
• The structure, no matter how large or small must have strong ‘legs’ in order to stand in the midst of the storms that might come
• The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy is going to fall. Scientists travel yearly to measure the building’s slow descent. They report that the 179-foot tower moves about one-twentieth of an inch a year, and is now 17 feet out of plumb. They further estimate that by the year 2007 the 810-year old tower will have leaned too far and will collapse onto the nearby ristorante, where scientists now gather to discuss their findings. Quite significantly, the word "pisa" means "marshy land," which gives some clue as to why the tower began to lean even before it was completed. Also--its foundation is only 10 feet deep!”
• The leaning tower has been a spectacle for many years, the unfortunate reality is, however, that as intriguing as it is, the building is going to fail
• What is the reason for its failing? Its simple:
a. Poor planning/research
b. Poor location
c. Poor foundation
• We must avoid these pitfalls if we are going to progress as God wants us to
• The Bible is very clear as to how we should build regarding our Christian lives
• Luke 6:47-49: “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
• Jesus stated that we must build upon Him, which is building our temple upon the rock that never fails
• When we build a strong foundation, we allow for limitless growth in our spiritual lives
• Growth is absolutely necessary to maintain our obedience to God
• Matthew 13:4-9: “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
• When God sows his word in us, is it upon the stony ground that produces nothing or the ground that produces much fruit?
• 1 Corinthians 3:11: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
• The foundation is critical when it comes to the building that will abide upon it
2. STEADY GROWTH/BUILDING
• In Christian service we must continue to seek God’s message for us during a specific time and place
• Just as Esther was called into the palace of the king at the appointed time, you have been called to this place and in this time
• Esther 4:14: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
• Growth is essential to a healthy relationship with God, just as we must mature through life to survive, we must mature with God to please him
• 1 Peter 2:2: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
• That we may grow!! What a substantial comment by Peter, let us not forget that Peter was the disciple to deny Christ during the hours of crucifixion but through grace and growth was able to become a powerful disciple, continuing to touch lives today
• How do we grow and build upon our foundation?
a. 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
b. Study allows us to become familiar with the ability of God to provide, deliver and prepare us for service
c. When we weather the storms of life and allow God to bring us through we become more in tune with His provision
i. Romans 5:3-4: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”
• God allows trials in our lives, trials are pressures. When trials arrive, the pressure is on. God allows these things to educate us on patience and endurance. We can’t, however, learn these things unless we have troubles and trials. Endurance teaches us to keep on working and progressing in spite of the obstacles.
• After all, souls hang in the balance
• 2 Timothy 4:5: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
• “The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.”
• Patience leads to experience and experience is “proven character.”
• God allows tribulation so that our Christian character can be developed or “progress”
• When we respond properly to trials we ‘grow up’ or learn our lives progress through trials and temptations
• 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
3. SEEDING FOR OTHERS
• The process of Christianity is a simple three step process:
• Salvation is obvious, we must be redeemed by the blood of Christ
• Service is using what God has gifted us with in order to accomplish the work of the kingdom
• Seeding is ministering in the name of Jesus in order that the lost and undone of the world find their way to repentance
• This is the very heart of the gospels, Jesus saves, and we serve and through service we lead others to Christ
• It is also commissioned in Matthew and Acts
• Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
• Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
• The point is simple, we must grow and through that growth we ultimately lead others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
• Romans 10:13-14: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
• We know that the love of Christ is open to all who are willing to receive it, how then shall the word get out unless we take it ourselves?
• Luke 14:23: “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
• God successfully brings us through trials in order to be pictures of his grace and mercy. We must, however, not be ashamed of that fact and share the experience with others
• We can’t know the joy and greatness of God’s love until we experience the burden of life’s trials.