Summary: "Growing in Grace" is a practical step by step topical teaching that encourages growth in a ’how to’ manner. Full of crisp, relevant contemporary language and illustrations. A transition to communion is included at the close.
"Growing in Grace"
Pastor Bob Hunter
As many of you know our newborn baby is 10 days old now. And it’s really quit amazing, because we can already see some growth taking place. When a newborn baby arrives, a small amount of initial weight loss occurs. In the course of a week, almost all of that weight is regained and then some. Growth is normal. We should expect growth. But funny how it is, that we act so surprised when it happens. We say things like "Wow, He’s getting so big…!" or "Look at you, your growing up so fast." Or "Oh boy, your potty trained already !" "You mean I don’t have to change your diaper forever" Wow!
Growth and development is normal. You and I are like a planted seed that needs to be nurtured, watered and given the right conditions to GROW. Under the right conditions we should expect growth and growth should be normal.
I suppose our surprise reactions to growth have a lot more to do with the newness and excitement that growth brings than it anything else. Growth is fun to watch isn’t it? But it’s not always fun to go through, growth can be difficult and painful. When a child is going through a growth spurt, there is a tendency to sleep longer, eat more and be a little more on edge. That’s because their bodies are developing so fast, it literally takes all the energy they have to keep up with it.
Well today I want to talk to you about something that is equally as exciting and challenging: SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN GOD. We are commanded in scripture to, "Grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." II Peter 3:18 Growth and development for the Christian is normal. We should expect it, and do what we can to encourage it.
I pointed out a couple a weeks ago, the necessity of growth. We’re either growing or we’re dying. We don’t have much of an opportunity to stand still. God want’s to move us off the mark, and grow us up to become more like Jesus. I regret to say, however, that in today’s church we have too many people standing still. We have far too many people that don’t understand what Growth has to offer. And when you consistently miss out on growth opportunities, you risk going downhill. Halting the forward movement of Growth is like disengaging a power train from the transmission. We call that coasting. You get to a certain level spiritually and then you just start going along for a ride. Unfortunately, there is really only one direction in which to coast, and that’s downhill!
You see, your relationship with God never stays the same, your either growing closer or drifting away. You just don’t become a Christian, and that’s it! Your relationship with God has to be maintained and worked on in order to cultivate the development and growth that enables you reach your full potential. Growth for the Christian is NORMAL! We were once spiritual babes, newborn creatures; surviving on milk and spiritual baby food. Thankfully, we don’t stay that way. By the Grace of God we become something else. We’re creatures destined to change.
Now a lot of people are confused about how growth takes place. So I’m going to take some time tis morning to clarify what growth is and what it isn’t. We need to get a better picture of what it means to grow, and how we can grow as followers of Christ. So lets identify three things that growth is not:
THREE THINGS THAT GROWTH IS NOT:
1. Learning more information.
Don’t get me wrong, more information can be helpful, but it doesn’t guarantee that growth is going to take place. You can’t equate information with growth. And for that reason, the smartest and most informed individuals are not always the most mature among us. There’s a big difference between information and application. You can know a lot about God, and even have verses of the Bible memorized. But with out the heartfelt application of truth your sunk. Information is helpful, but it is not everything.
But this is what people do when the need for growth becomes apparent. Their first inclination is to run down to the local Christian bookstore and buy a Christian book or Bible study materials. Now that’s not altogether a bad thing. But sadly all that really amounts to is a spiritual cram session with no lasting results. What we really to be awaken to is the truth we already know. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 "He who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built His house on the rock." I guess you could say Jesus was pro-application in his approach to growth. It’s not how much you know, it’s how much you practice what you know. There is a reason why the more educated among us are not always the most mature. Without application, we grow no more closer to God than someone who has all the answers. You see, information alone can’t save you. It can help you along and give you insight; but unless you apply it and internalize it your just spinning your wheels. So growth is more than just a cognitive learning exercise, it’s a daily journey of practical application. Secondly, growth is not changing overnight.