Summary: This sermon discusses the need for spiritual growth - the challenges - and the ways to overcome those challenges
2 Peter 3:18 – Growing Up – a challenge toward spiritual maturity
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
A family from rural Tennessee made their very first trip to the big city. They checked into a grand hotel and stared in amazement at the impressive lobby… the gleaming marble, sparkling chandeliers, rich wood and polished brass.
Leaving the front desk, they stood before the elevator.
They had never seen anything LIKE an elevator before. They just stood there staring at it, wondering HOW it worked and WHAT it was for.
Just then, an elderly lady walked up to the metal doors, pushed a button and ‘DING’ - the doors opened. She got in and the doors closed behind her. 15 seconds later, a light flashed, another ‘DING!’ and out walked a beautiful young woman.
The father of the family couldn’t stop staring at this INCREDIBLE device! Without even blinking, he elbowed his son and said, “Quick, son! Go get yer mom! I want HER to try this thing!”
It would be nice, don’t you think, if as a Christian you could just get into a magic box, and DING! – all the struggles you’ve had with sin were gone and you always acted like a mature and wise believer. Wouldn’t it be great to know the Bible with clarity and to always pray with great faith, and to be able to handle life’s difficulties without stress?
“Spiritually MATURE!” - That’s what we call it.
Would be awesome to have some sort of magic device that would instantly transform us into Christ-like believers, but it doesn’t work that way.
Spiritual growth takes time. It’s a process – and depending on your level of cooperation and commitment, it can be a very LONG process :)
When a person becomes a Christian, the Bible says he IS a NEW creation. All of his past is forgiven and he now has
the Holy Spirit living INSIDE him to guide, grow, and gift him.
The Bible is there to teach him how to live.
The Church comes to his aid to equip and encourage.
Those further along in the faith - MENTOR him.
We come INTO Christianity as Spiritual Babies… infants… with very little understanding and much to learn. We are completely dependent upon the Lord and those who would mentor us to show us the way we ought to go.
AND… after time in God’s Word and walking in the Spirit, we grow.
We learn how to feed ourselves
how to make godly decisions
and before too terribly long - we can offer help to OTHERS who are new in their spiritual journey. As we grow and become what the Lord wills for each of us - we are THEN able to help others with the help we have received.
THAT is spiritual life in the family of God… at least, as it SHOULD be.
But Sometimes things don’t happen the way they should.
Think for a moment how a person would feel if they had a baby that never grew. They take their baby to the doctor for it’s regular check-up. The doctor is concerned – their baby isn’t developing like other babies their age. They want to run tests because their baby ought to be developing at a faster rate.
PARENTS would be GRAVELY concerned, don't you think???
If that happened to us or someone we know, we would do whatever it took to solve the problem. And well we should!
But why is it that we don’t have that same sense of urgency when it comes to our SPIRITUAL babies? Why is it that we show so little CONCERN when we aren’t growing or others in the congregation aren’t maturing as they should?
It is tragic how some Christians have been saved for decades but have the maturity of an infant.
They aren’t reading God’s Word.
They don’t pray.
They are dogged by bad habits
and very shallow in their faith.
The slightest difficulty and they fall apart
Like a doctor with his patient - it’s time we ‘run some tests’ to find out ‘Why they aren’t growing.’
Peter was very concerned about the lack of maturity he saw in many Christians. As a pastor in the early church, he longed for the growth of God’s people. After all, many of the problems they experienced could be traced back to their lack of spiritual maturity.
Peter himself knew what it was to be stretched and challenged by the Lord. When he first met Jesus in John 1:42, Jesus said, “You ARE Simon… but you SHALL BE Peter.” This is very significant – for the name, Simon, MEANS “sandman.” And Peter means “ROCK man.” In effect, Jesus was saying: