Summary: Sunday Morning Sermon on Discipleship about growing downward so that we can grow up and grow strong.
Growing Deep; Growing Strong
The word, “sanctification” is one of those 10-cent theological terms that is often preached about, but rarely understood by the general population.
In general to sanctify someone or something means to set that person or thing apart for it’s specific use as intended by its designer. Take eyeglasses for example. They are sanctified when they are used to help improve a person’s eyesight.
It is used in the Scriptures as setting something or someone apart for the purpose that God has intended. Therefore a sanctuary is sanctified when it is used as that place of gathering where people can worship God and learn more about Him for their lives.
On a human level, we are sanctified when we live our lives in accordance with God’s design and purpose.
Now the word in the Greek language literally means to be holy. Therefore to be sanctified is to be made holy, that is separated from the world and it’s intentions and to be used by God to fulfill His kingdom purposes.
And so the sanctification process begins when we enter through the narrow gate, that is Jesus, by becoming born again, which works itself out in this walk of faith we take through life until we reach the gates of heaven.
It is this very process that has lead me to the phrase, “Growing Deep, Growing Strong.”
When children first begin to stand, one of the first things most parents do is to stand them up next to a doorframe, and mark off their height at different stages of their life.
That is how most people judge a person’s maturity and age. It’s by something that can be physically seen and marked.
But when it comes to our spiritual development, it isn’t that easy. First, our spiritual growth doesn’t begin when the other growth factors begin. We begin our physical, mental, emotional, and social growth at the time of conception. But our spiritual growth doesn’t begin at conception, but at conversion. That is, at that point that we turn to Jesus Christ, making Him both Savior and Lord of our lives.
But at that moment, growth isn’t measured on an upward scale; rather it is measured on a downward scale. Now, this may sound a little odd, especially in our culture where we encourage people to grow up.
We all tell our children how much they’ve grown. And as they grow if they don’t start acting their age we tell them to grow up.
We speak the same way about our spiritual lives. We speak of growing up spiritually. The reality, however, is that our spirituality has nothing to do with our growing up; but rather it has everything to do with our growing down.
And here’s the point, we can’t start growing up, until we first start growing down. God literally built this into nature and the growth curve of plant life. The height of a plant is directly proportionate to the downward growth of their roots.
This is how God explained it in a believer’s life through the prophet Isaiah.
“And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.” (Isaiah 37:31 NKJV)
To understand what the prophet is saying is to understand what was going on at the time. It was during the reign of King Hezekiah, around 700 B.C., when the Assyrian army invaded Judah and conquered almost all of their fortified cities, and now they’re camped outside Jerusalem.
Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, had sent his field commander to Jerusalem to encourage them to surrender. And so in the hearing of all of Jerusalem, the commander presented what some would say was some pretty compelling arguments.
• First Egypt, whom Jerusalem was hoping to come to their aide was in no position to help
• Second, that looking to the Lord God, in this commander’s mind was no good.
o First because Hezekiah had destroyed most of the high places, where they consider God was to be worshipped
o Second, because none of the other gods of the nations they had conquered saved them, so why would Israel think that the Lord God would save them.
Upon hearing these words, and Sennacherib’s letter, Hezekiah humbled himself and went into the temple to pray and seek an answer from God. He also sent for Isaiah the prophet.
In response to his prayer, God answered and revealed the outcome, which was that Assyria would not conquer the city and would, in a way, voluntarily leave. And then to assure Hezekiah of its accuracy, He gave to Hezekiah a sign through the prophet Isaiah.
First, that for the next two years God would provide for all their needs. Second, God promised that the remnant would come back and, according to this word, take root downward and bear fruit upward, that is, they will again be established in the land and would be fruitful.