Summary: There are three stages in the spiritual growth of believers and they can be labeled by the three abiding things that Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 13, namely: Faith, Hope, and Love.


1 John 2:12-14 & 1 Cor. 13:13


The three stages of the Christian Life is seen in the three abiding things that Paul mentions in First Corinthians 13, faith, hope, and love. Is it not true that to the new Christian, faith is the pre-eminent thing he is concerned with? It is the elementary factor in Christian living, believing God and doing what he says. But as the Christian goes on, hope lays hold of his heart. He sees the possibility of fulfilling all that he dreamed of being and doing. He realizes that, in Christ and by means of the life of faith, there is a way of entering into all the promises of God, and that hope makes him strong, as a young man should be. But as he goes on he discovers that the one thing, above all that marks him as Christ’s and fills his own heart with satisfaction making him easy to live with, is the pouring forth of love. "So abides faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love," {cf, 1 Cor 13:13 RSV}.

I. FAITH STAGE (vv.12,13c).

A. All Believers are God’s Spiritual Children (v.12).

1. There are two different Greek words for "children" in this passage. In v.12 the word is teknion, a common word referring to a child. It could be literally translated "birthed ones." Jesus said to Nicodemus in Jn.3:3, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

2. We are all God’s children because our "sins are forgiven for His name’s sake." It is by Jesus that our spiritual birth occurs.

3. Even though we are in different stages we are all God’s children. Some of you have adult children but they are still your children even though physically they are adults. We are all God’s kids.

4. The first memory of salvation is the forgiveness of our sins. Do you remember that wonderful feeling of having the guilt of your sin removed? It was like a load off my back. I will never forget the delicious joy of knowing I was free from guilt and penalty of sin.

B. Some Believers are Spiritual Infants (v.13c).

1. A different word for children is used in v.13. Paidion means an immature child, "a child under instruction." It can refer to infancy through pre-adolescence. Teknion refers to relationship being in the family, paidion refers to subordination, being under the training and discipline of the family.

2. In The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village who walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked, "Were any great men born in this village?" The old man replied, "Nope, only babies." We are all born again as babies!

3. They have "known [have come to know] the Father." The first expression of a child is the recognition of his parents.

4. When my kids were infants, they didn’t know much. They knew when they were hungry. They knew when they needed new diapers. What endeared me to them the most was that they knew me. They said, "Dada." They say "Dada" we say "Abba Father!"

5. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit causes all God’s kids to know him. Gal 4:6 says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!" (Cf. Rom.8:15-16). Jesus taught His disciples to pray, saying "Our Father in heaven…" (Mt.6:9).

6. When you are an infant it is perfectly appropriate to only be able to say, "Dada." However, a 21-year-old who can only say "Dada" is a tragedy. A Christian who has not matured beyond just the ABC’s of the faith is a tragedy too.

7. When a child is born he already has his arms, eyes, tongue, nose, ears. He doesn’t get them later. He just has to learn to use them! If you have been saved for a long time and you are still a baby, it is your fault. When you were born again, God gave you everything you needed to grow and be all He wants you to be.

8. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "You cannot go on being a good egg forever. You must either hatch or rot."

C. Five Characteristics of Spiritual Children.

1. First, both physical and spiritual babies are NEEDY. They can’t help others because they themselves need so much help. Heb.5:12 is a parental rebuke for some Christians who should have grown in the Lord but remained babies, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

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