Summary: Our whole goal is to lead people to fall in love with God. Not to make them better people or better Christians, but to help them to better know the awesome power and intimacy of God’s love, and that will radically change their hearts and lives.
Our whole goal is to lead people to fall in love with God. Not to make them better people or better Christians, but to help them to better know the awesome power and intimacy of God’s love, and that will radically change their hearts and lives.
Humor: A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it’s because they don’t know you."
Quote: The world says, The more you take, the more you have. Christ says, the more you give, the more you are.
— Frederick Buechner
We want to produce doers of the Word, not hearers only – to transform, not merely inform. You only believe the part of the Bible that you DO!
1. Spiritual growth is not automatic.
Spiritual growth does not just happen once you are saved, even if you attend services regularly. Churches are filled with people who have attended services for their entire lives, yet are still spiritual babies. Spiritual growth is not automatic with the passing of time.
12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
Spiritual growth is intentional. It requires commitment and effort to grow. A person must want to grow, decide to grow, and make an effort to grow.
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Notice that it says “work out, “ not “work on,” your salvation. There is nothing you can add to what Christ did for your salvation. Paul is talking in these verses about spiritual growth to people who are already saved. The important thing is that God has a part in our growth, but so de we. Becoming like Christ is the result of the commitments we make. We become whatever we are committed to! Just as a commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a great church, it is also the way to grow a great Christian. Without a commitment to grow, and growth that occurs will be circumstantial, rather than intentional. Spiritual growth is too important to be left to circumstance.
Spiritual growth is attainable for everybody.
Unfortunately, many Christians feel that spiritual maturity is so far out of their reach, they don’t even try to attain it. They have this mystical, idealized image of what a mature Christian looks like. Maturity, they believe, is only for “super saints. “ Some Christian biographies have been partly responsible for this myth by glossing over the humanity of godly people and implying that if you don’t pray ten hours a day, move to a jungle, and plan to die as a martyr you may as well forget aspiring to maturity. This is quite discouraging to the average believer, who feels he must be content with being a “second-class” Christian.
Spiritual growth is very practical.
Any believer can grow to maturity if he or she will develop the habits necessary for spiritual growth. Paul often compared training for the Christian life to the way athletes stay in shape.
7Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
1 Tim 4:7
Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. The path to spiritual fitness is as practical as the path to physical fitness. Anyone can become physically fit if he or she will regularly do certain exercises and practice good health habits. Likewise, spiritual fitness is simply a matter of learning certain spiritual exercises and being disciplined to do them until they become habits. Character is shaped by the habits we develop.
Spiritual growth is a process that takes time.
Just as God allowed Joshua and the Israelites to possess the land “little by little” (Duet. 7:22), he uses a gradual process of change to develop us into the image of Christ. There are no shortcuts to maturity. It is a slow process. Although we have instant coffee, instant potatoes, and now even instant weight-loss methods, there is no such thing as instant spiritual maturity.
Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by behavior than by beliefs.
Although knowledge of the Bible is foundational to spiritual maturity, it isn’t the total measurement of it. The Christian life isn’t just a matter of creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character. Beliefs must be backed up with behavior. Our deeds must be consistent with out creeds. God is not as concerned with how much of the Bible I know as He is with what I do with what I know.