Summary: 5th in First John Series
ARE YOU GROWING UP?
INTRO: We are going to talk about Christian growth today and the stages of progress and development in the Christian life. But there is one spiritual reality that is true about every member of the family of God. Your sins have been forgiven. The word forgiven means “to send away, to put away.”
There are three stages given in these verses. 1. Spiritual Infancy. 2. Spiritual Adolescence. 3. Spiritual Maturity. Where are you today? At what stage are you in your growth as a believer?
I. SPIRITUAL INFANCY (v. 13).
Spiritual infancy is mentioned in v. 13. There are different words used in vv.12-13. V. 12 uses a word that is a general word for all believers (ôåêíßá) teknia. V. 13 uses a different word (ðáéäßá) paidia that means a person that is just born and is in the infancy stage as a babe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When a little baby is born into the world it becomes aware of a new existence and of new faces in its life. That little baby begins to see a mother’s face, a father’s face, and then it begins to learn other faces. That’s all it knows.
ILLUS: On a Sunday night, I was at home with my mother and the Spirit of God got hold of my heart. I realized that I was a lost 8-year old boy, that Jesus loved me and died on the cross to save me. So I gave my heart to Jesus, and I was born into the family of God.
You know what? I didn’t have a spiritual vocabulary. I had no spiritual teeth. I couldn’t pronounce all of the words of my new life. In Romans 8:15, the Bible says “We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” And the word “Abba” is a baby word. You don’t have to have any teeth to say “Abba” or to say “Da-da.” Have you ever noticed that’s the first word babies learn? Have you mother’s ever noticed that? It is always “Da-da.”
I didn’t understand all there was to know about Jesus, I still don’t. I couldn’t have told you what repentance was if my life had depended upon it. I couldn’t have explained what faith meant. Listen, friend, you don’t have to understand it all in order to experience it all. Some of you are in spiritual infancy. You are a newborn babe in Jesus.
Normal baby. There are several characteristics about a little baby. 1. It needs love and security. 2. A little baby is totally dependent on others. 3. Under normal conditions a little baby is able to grow.
When you come to know Jesus and become a babe in Christ, under normal conditions you have the capacity to grow. You don’t have to stay a baby. That’s the importance of a church.
There are several things that need to be if a baby Christian is going to grow. One of the things is a correct atmosphere. You don’t just take little babies when they’re born and neglect them. God intends for spiritual babies to be in an atmosphere of a loving, caring, warm church, in an atmosphere where growth can take place.
Breathing. A little baby must be able to breathe properly if it’s going to grow. Breathing for the baby Christian is prayer. Through prayer we make contact with the heavenly Father. It is our spiritual air.
Eating. You’ve got to eat properly. And that’s where the Bible comes in. But did you know the Bible talks about believers who are in the infancy stage and they’ve never grown beyond it (1 Corinthians 3)?
How do you recognize spiritual babies? Well, there’s several ways you recognize them. 1. Selfishness. You show me a believer in a church that is always self-centered, always interested in what everything is going to do for self, I’ll show you a spiritual baby. Babies are selfish. 2. Babies make messes. Did you know that? I mean babies make bad messes.
ILLUS: You got ready this morning. You put on that new suit and that tie and you were getting ready to come to church. You reached over and picked up little Hannah, put her up on your shoulder and she said, “Burrrrrrrp.” All over you. She didn’t care, it didn’t matter if it was a brand new suit. She just made a mess all over your suit. You see, babies make messes.
II. SPIRITUAL ADOLESCENCE (vv. 13-14).
The second stage revealed in these verses is what I like to call spiritual adolescence. He uses in v. 13 and again in v. 14, the term “young men.” He’s using that in a generic sense. He means young men, young ladies; he means believers who are at the adolescent stage. They are beginning to make some progress now in their lives as Christians.