Summary: This sermon helps us evaluate our preparedness and understanding of spiritual growth.
Introduction: Do you remember, as a child, the anticipation of growing taller? I remember my brother and I would stand beside a doorframe in our home and use a ruler to mark our growth. We would mark a spot above our heads and then measure down to get our height. I do not know that we had any particular height in mind. We were merely excited to be getting taller. Could I ask you an important question? Do you desire to grow spiritually? Do you want to know God better? Do you want to know about spiritual truth? I believe that within the heart of every person there is a desire to find answers that would draw you closer to God. That desire creates eagerness. If so, what should I do? What do I need to know?
I. If you are to be prepared for spiritual growth the condition of your heart must be right. We are in the middle of hurricane season. When conditions are right there is a possibility for the development of hurricanes. Even so, right conditions must be present for spiritual development to take place. In our text I see three conditions that must be right for spiritual growth to occur.
A. To grow spiritually you must be a part of God’s family. Peter addresses the believers as the beloved. That is a general term for the followers of Jesus Christ. You must know Jesus Christ to be a part of God’s family.
Illustration: Several years ago my grandmother Patrick called me to her home. She said she had something to give me. It was my grandfather’s New Testament. He was given this New Testament during WW I. It was given to him in 1917. Obviously, this was a precious gift for me. She gave that to me because I held a special place in her heart. She would not give such a gift to a total stranger. The gift came because of a special relationship.
Even so, spiritual growth occurs in the life of a person who has a special relationship with God, through His son Jesus Christ. Let me ask a couple of rhetorical questions.
Suppose I want to plant some snap beans in my garden. However, unknown to me, the seeds I purchased are no good. They are dead. Would those seeds sprout and grow even if I water and pamper them?
What if I go into the woods and dig up an oak tree? I want to plant the tree in my yard. You generally plant such trees during the winter months when they are dormant. However, unknown to me, the tree I dig up is dead and not dormant. Would that tree grow even if I water and pamper it? To grow spiritually you must be a part of God’s family.
B. To grow spiritually you must have a desire. In verse 18 we read where Peter gives a rather strong word of instruction. He commands us to grow. You and I will not grow unless we desire to grow. This is a heart issue.
At Faith we utilize three primary resources to facilitate growth.
1. Our worship services are a spiritual growth resource.
2. Our Sunday school teams are a spiritual growth resource.
3. Our CLASS process is a spiritual growth resource.
Let me make a couple of important statements concerning this process.
First, no worship service, Sunday school class, or seminar will help you grow unless you have a desire to grow. This is a heart issue.
Second, in addition, you will not desire to benefit from any of these resources unless you have a desire to grow. This is a heart issue.
Illustration: I went to Louisiana to visit my mom this week. On Wednesday I helped her cut the grass on her property. She owns about 7 acres. Due to the size of the property you have to use a tractor and bush hog. Let’s imagine that I am preparing to bush hog and begin by fueling the tractor. However, I am unaware that the tractor has a clogged carburetor. It will not crank because the carburetor is blocked. Nothing will change that situation until I get the carburetor unclogged. Even so, nothing will change your spiritual life until the heart is unclogged. To grow spiritually you must have a desire for growth, based upon a thirsty heart.
C. To grow spiritually you must show a spirit of consistent determination. In the context of this passage, Peter discusses the danger of false teachers leading people astray. He says "beware lest you also fail from your own steadfastness." Many things will sidetrack your spiritual development. False teachers will sidetrack you. The pace of life will sidetrack you. Church issues will sidetrack you. Satan will send distractions to sidetrack you. The uncertainty of life will sidetrack you.