Summary: Christians need to let go of the world and take hold of God's word to enjoy God's grace and avoid God's wrath.
How We Grow in Christ
It’s called failure to thrive, (FTT), and it usually occurs in the first two years of life. This is a growth condition that can be fatal if it is not addressed and repaired. FTT may be organic (OFTT) meaning there is something wrong with the baby’s body that it can’t take in nutrition sufficiently to grow. Or it may be nonorganic (NOFTT) meaning that the baby is not getting the nutrients and/or care needed to grow.
Several factors are possible that would cause FTT, but the main symptoms are lack of healthy growth and loss of weight and increasing weakness.
Again: this can be a very serious condition that, if unchecked, can cause death.
God’s word tells us that we receive a new birth in Christ when we become Christians. But sometimes Christians seem to suffer from failure to thrive. When a Christian does not grow, we have a problem. 2 Peter 1:3-11 describes areas of growth that we should strive for in our Christian maturity.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, applying all diligence add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When a Christian does not grow in these Christ-like qualities, there is spiritual danger. When a Christian does grow in these, there is spiritual health. If this is true of individual Christians, it is also true of Christian families and Christian congregations.
Today, let’s look at some of the things the Bible tells us about growing in Christ and how God works in us to grow us into the image of His Son.
First of all: 2 Peter 1:3 says, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and goodness. Or as Evertt told us last week: to His own “honor” (doxa) and goodness.
Question: Has God supplied all we need for life and godliness? In other words, has God given us all we need to grow in Christ as healthy Christians? This passage says, “Yes!” We have all we need from God to be all He wants us to be.
Next he describes some of what this looks like in verse four. By these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Look at the growth here: God grants His promises, we become partakers of His nature, as we escape the corruption in the world that our lusts produce. God grows us into His nature and out of the world’s nature. God fulfills His promises in us as we hear His word and are nourished by His word and exercise His word by putting on the spiritual qualities that follow. This is reflected in 1 Peter 1:23-2:5
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.