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Summary: This message is designed to prepare believers for ministry, to promote spiritual growth, to see that they become like-hearted and to help them find what their gifting is and use it for the glory of God and the building up of His church.

Growing Up and Building Up

Intro.: "Why does the church exist? What is our purpose?" In Acts 2, the church began with 3,000 members, by Acts 4 it had grown to 5,000 men plus women & children. The Lord added to the church daily "those who were being saved." Their concern was, "How do we take care of these new Christians?" People come to the Lord & we rejoice. But then comes the responsibility of bringing these baby Christians up in the Lord. Who is going to nurture, teach & pray with them? Who is going to counsel & encourage them?

The early church evidently did a fairly good job of that. These early Christians "continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching & fellowship, in the breaking of bread & prayers." Part of our purpose is to nurture and build up believers, to help them be all that they can be in this life.

READ: Ephesians 4:11-16

I. It is vitally important to “build up” and “grow up”

A. A growing Christian is less vulnerable to temptation.

B. Jesus told a parable about wheat & weeds

1. A farmer went out & sowed good seed

2. That night the evil one came & sowed weeds

3. A servant suggested, "Let’s pull up the weeds."

4. The master said, "No, let them grow side by side until harvest. Then we’ll separate the two."

C. Until Jesus comes, good & evil will grow side by side

D. Here’s the point, "If Christians are going to survive, good seed must be healthy and growing in our lives. If not, the weeds will choke it out.

II. It’s vitally important to grow, because growing Christians are full of joy.

A. If you grumble & complain it’s a strong sign you’re not growing in the Lord.

B. Growing Christians are excited about what God is doing

C. Growing Christians are willing Christians

1. The growing Christian says, "Sure, I’ll be…”

2. “Sure, I’ll help with…”

3. “I’ll be glad to do whatever needs to be done.”

D. Finally, growing Christians have a faith that doesn’t collapse in times of crisis

III. Basic ways to grow as Christians

A. By studying God’s Word together

NOTE: If you’ve been a Christian for years & only have a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible, then you’re still a spiritual baby and it’s time to grow up!!!

B. Through close fellowship with other Christians

1. You can go to church, sit in a pew & casually know a few people, but…

2. But fellowship grows deeper & stronger as you build relationships with other believers

C. Thirdly, we grow by using our God-given gifts.

1. One of the dangers in a church is that people sometimes think that they’re not needed

2. But that’s not true. There are many ways to use your gift & you have a meaningful ministry here. There are opportunities to serve, & we encourage you to do that

D. Each one of us has some measure of at least one of the gifts listed in Eph. 4:11

1. These gifts function on three distinct levels:

a. The spiritual “office” of the gift

b. A “resident” gifting – readily and regularly evidenced

c. A spiritual “inclination” that the Lord draws out and matures

2. This is also true of the “motivational gifts” of Romans 12:6-8

III. Some Evidence of Spiritual Growth

A. Pastor/Laity relationship becomes co-laborer (ministry) friendship

1. If a church is going to grow and mature, multiple ministries and ministers must be in place

2. Paul says we’re to "build one another up, so that each can do his or her part"

B. When we are mature, we can worship the Lord, regardless of who the preachers or leaders are

C. You’re growing if you’re a “regular”

1. Many peoples attitude toward church is far too casual

2. For many, it’s something we do if it is convenient

a. If the weather is conducive

b. If there aren’t any other conflicts

3. We’ve failed to grasp the importance of three things

a. This place

b. The One who meets us here

c. What’s going to happen when we gather

4. We have a divine appointment with God

a. And even if I was up late last night, I’m going to be here because this is a top priority in my life

Concl.: So, why do we exist? What is our purpose?

1. To prepare believers for ministry

2. To promote growth among fellow believers

3. To become like-hearted with each other and ultimately with Jesus

4. To personally grow up and take our places in the Kingdom of God

5. To determine our spiritual gifting and live it out

I want to prepare you for ministry, to promote spiritual growth, to see that we become like-hearted and that we find out what our gifting is and use it for the glory of God and the building up of His church.

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