Summary: The master key to spiritual growth is the glory of God. In this series on the "Keys to Spiritual Growth" I want to give many practical ways to grow spiritually. Today, I will set down two keys to spiritual growth.
Last week I started a new series of sermons titled “Keys to Spiritual Growth.” Spiritual growth is as essential to the life of a Christian just as physical growth is essential to the life of a child. Because God commands us to mature spiritually, we need to understand how that happens.
The master key to spiritual growth is the glory of God. Ian Hamilton, Pastor of the Cambridge Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, England, said at a Banner of Truth Conference for ministers that “the formative principle of the Christian life is the glory of God.” John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, has built his entire ministry on the principle that “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.”
God is supremely concerned about his glory, and the way to grow as a Christian is to focus on the glory of God.
With that in mind, let’s read the exhortation from the apostle Peter to grow spiritually in 2 Peter 3:18:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
Some years ago, during Super bowl XXXVII, FedEx ran a commercial that spoofed the movie Castaway, in which Tom Hanks played a FedEx worker whose company plane went down, stranding him on a desert island for years. Looking like the bedraggled Hanks in the movie, the FedEx employee in the commercial goes up to the door of a suburban home, package in hand.
When the lady comes to the door, he explains that he survived five years on a deserted island, and during that whole time he kept this package in order to deliver it to her. She gives him a simple, “Thank you.”
But he is curious about what is in the package that he has been protecting for five long years. He says, “If I may ask, what was in that package after all?”
She opens it and shows him the contents, saying, “Oh, nothing really. Just a satellite telephone, a global positioning device, a compass, a water purifier, and some seeds.”
Like the contents in this package, the resources for spiritual growth are available to every Christian who will take advantage of them.
In the rest of the “Keys to Spiritual Growth” series I want to give you many practical ways in which you can glorify God and thereby grow spiritually. Today I want to look at just two keys:
1. Confessing Christ as Lord, and
2. Aiming Our Lives at Glorifying God.
I. Confessing Christ as Lord
First, spiritual growth begins by confessing Christ as Lord.
In Philippians 2:5-8 the apostle Paul discussed the humiliation (Greek, kenosis) of Christ, explaining how he took the form of a man and humbled himself, even to the point of death on a cross.
Then in verses 9-11, the apostle said, “Therefore God exalted him [i.e., Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Because of Jesus’ obedience, the Father has exalted him and called everyone in the universe to confess him as Lord. That brings glory to God.
To give glory to God, we must confess Jesus Christ as Lord. That’s part of salvation, not just a subsequent act. You can’t say, “I’ve trusted Jesus as Savior, and later on I’ll make him Lord.” These are not two distinct acts. When you are saved, you confess Christ as Lord. That is why the apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Salvation is a matter of confessing that Christ is Lord.
And when you confess Christ as Lord, you become keenly concerned for the glory of God. Before your conversion you may have used God’s name in vain without giving it a second thought. But now that you are a Christian, it bothers you.
Englishman Henry Martyn served as a missionary in India and Persia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. My favorite commentator John Stott, tells us that Henry Martyn turned his back on an academic career and entered the ministry. Two years later. . . he sailed for India.
“Let me burn out for God,” he cried in Calcutta, as he lived in an abandoned Hindu temple.
And as he watched the people prostrating themselves before their images, he wrote: “This excited more horror in me than I can well express.”
When he heard a blasphemous comment about Christ, Martyn responded, “I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; it would be hell to me, if he were to be always thus dishonored.”