Stages of Our Christian Growth

Tall trees

We Are A Book


2 Corinthians 3:2, 3
2Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men. 3Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

We may never write a book, but as the apostle Paul says, “We are a book,” written and read by all men and all who know us. Are we known by our love and kindness to others or have our lives been lived to please ourselves?

The Christian life is not an event; it is a process. It is a journey. It has a beginning, and the truth is it never has an ending because once you and I leave this life as the children of God, we will be walking forever and forever in the way of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When God saved us, He had a purpose and plan for our lives and one of those plans was to grow us up…that is, to grow us up in the likeness of His Son. So, all the days of our lives, you and I should be growing, becoming more and more Christ-like in every aspect of our lives.

And I believe there are stages in our Christian growth and stages in our spiritual walk yet to be achieved. Having talked about the coming of the Lord, and the things that will be happening in those days, Peter then said,

1 Peter 3:10-17
10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror neither be troubled; 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
2 Peter 3:17-18
17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Now the natural, normal course of a believer once they are saved, is to begin to grow in their Christian life; that means we grow in our understanding of how to live the Christian life. Many people will be saved and somehow, either because they are untaught or that no one encourages them or that no one admonishes them, they think just trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and then there you are; that’s where you stay.

But that was never the intention of God. His plan and His purpose were that you and I continually grow spiritually all the days of our lives.

1 Corinthians 3:1
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

This letter that Paul is writing is to the Corinthian church that is having a very difficult time in lots of ways and he sort of identifies what part of the problem is. He told them he could not speak to them as spiritual, but you’re walking in the flesh. I would like to tell you many things, but you’ve not grown in the Lord.

So, therefore, I cannot give you the meat of the Word because you cannot understand it. Hebrew 5 is a warning concerning our spiritual growth, and is an important one because it is the intention of God that not only we be saved, but that we also grow continually in the Lord.

Hebrew 5:13, 14
13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

When we are growing in the Lord we should be able to understand the deep things of God because older Christians that have been saved a long time and are mature should be able to “eat the meat” of the Word of God. There are several ways that we can grow in grace. One is we want to grow in the knowledge of Our Lord and to walk in His ways so that we can have peace, joy, contentment and the fruit of the Spirit and success in whatever God calls us to do.

What would we say? Do you and I know where we really are in our walk with the LORD? In God’s Word, it tells us we are no longer to be children, carried about with every wind or doctrine. We are to grow in a balanced way.

You know, if we give all of our life to service, service, service, and have no understanding of God’s Word, and if someone should say, “Are you a growing Christian?” or “What’s going on in your life?” could you describe what you are learning that you didn’t know before?

How is our life counting to impact and influence others for good when it did not do that before? Most of us have been saved a long time but how much have we grown in the Lord? How rich are we in the things of God? That is the thing that no one can take from us: hiding His Word in our hearts.

Just being saved and coming to church and giving a little money is not enough. The Christian life is a school. There’s a whole new journey out there from the moment we’re saved until the moment we die.

I doubt our church is any more spiritual than it was ten years ago because God’s people are too satisfied and don’t have enough deep hunger for the things of God. Tell me. Is there anything more valuable than to know the ways of God? It doesn’t mean that every Christian will progress in the Christian life at the same rate. It doesn’t mean that we are to look at others and say, “I know I’m more mature in the Lord than that person.”

We’re talking about our own spiritual growth, the life that we will be judged by when we stand before God. After we’re saved we must have spiritual dependence. He never intends for us to do anything to which He has not called us, apart from Him. Think about the disciples who had been taught by Jesus; no school could match that training. Before He left, He said,

Luke 24:49-51 (Jesus speaking)
49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. 50And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

In spite of everything they had seen, they were not sufficiently ready for their future tasks. They needed the Holy Spirit to indwell them.

We must have, and need, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There are so many things in the life of an anointed Christian of which we are not aware. Someone may come to you weeks from now and say to you, “What you said to me were the very words I needed to hear. I was so far down; those words were exactly what I needed.” That is the work of the Holy Spirit. You see it’s not my strength or my energy. It is the Spirit of God given to every believer, and no matter what we face in any given day, His grace and power will be sufficient to see us through.

What a wonderful life, not only sealing us as His children, but equipping us and enabling us to, in His favor, do His bidding and His will. When we wake up in the morning, His Spirit is there to energize us, release that energy through us, give us wisdom and direction for every single thing, no matter what we face. What a wonderful life! It is available to all who will believe.

And I think of people who live their whole life and sit in church Sunday after Sunday and are never taught about the Holy Spirit. What a joy they are missing, let alone the power that they don’t know or understand, which they need, to do God’s will.

I’ve failed enough in my life to know whether I’m growing or not, and oftentimes in our failures we know what His love is all about, how He operates. If you and I lived an absolutely obedient, perfect life moment by moment, we would soon be taking credit for it; but it’s in our failures we look to Him and say, “Lord, I want to thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me in spite of me.”

If we are growing in the Lord, I am not going to be satisfied with where I am in my knowledge of Him and His Word. I will have a growing hunger to know more about the Lord, about His Word and the relationship I have with Him. Then, if I’m growing, I’ll want to know what He has to say about everything. So, if that’s true in our Christian walk, we will spend far less time looking at TV and more time reading and studying the Word of God.

It will be amazing what we don’t miss, because what’s on TV or in the newspaper does not make any difference in my life. We don’t want to be ignorant about the news but I’d much rather be ignorant about all that’s happening on TV than be ignorant regarding the content of the Word of God. What men think changes, but God’s Word never changes. The principles of God never change. And if we are growing in the Lord, we will be aware of our failures and our weaknesses and the grace of God and, as we walk in the Spirit, those things are brought under control. The grace of God is there because God knows we are children learning to be stable in our walk with Him.

If I am not growing in grace, I will put off dealing with things in my life that should be taken care of by His grace. God is not going to deepen us and keep enriching us when He knows, this is what I want you to do, and we refuse to do it and surrender to His will. We know we are growing in grace with the awareness of our inadequacies and His total adequacy to see us through, no matter what. Growing in grace is impossible to do or to accomplish without the Holy Spirit’s help. And as you and I grow in our lifetime, God sometimes allows the battles we face, the temptations, the difficulties to become more intense because He is in the process of growing us up.

How does He grow our faith? He grows our faith by situations that come to our lives that cause us to test our capacity to believe Him and as we learn endurance, we learn to persevere when God allows us in situations and circumstances that we can’t fix, we can’t change, we can’t make it work and the battles do increase and the fire does get a little hotter; the waters do get a little deeper. We know deep down inside, if these things are happening, that means that we’re further along than where we used to be in our spiritual growth and maturity in Christ, that in the past God has brought us through something far less than this trial and God is in the process of growing us up. So, following His leadership is evidence of our growth.

Next in our spiritual growth, we are viewing trials and temptations as opportunities for growth and when we can look at these trials and temptations and not say, “Oh, Lord, don’t put me through that again” but rather “Here’s another opportunity for me to do something in my life that I’ve not done before”…then we are growing in our walk with Him.

We need to grow in our trust of God, grow in our understanding of the ways of God, knowing that He allows these things to come into our lives and because He does, we can see them in one of two ways. We can see them as tremendous barriers to what we want to accomplish or what we want to do, or we can see them as opportunities for us to grow. As a result, we don’t fight against it or resist it as much, but rather say, “All right, Lord. I don’t know what you’re trying to teach me during this trial.” And it doesn’t mean that He sends all these, but rather He allows them and if we’ve got the right attitude we’ll say, “Lord, maybe I can learn something from this experience that you are permitting in my life that I can’t learn any other way. May I live out the truth I have learned from your Word and I ask for your guidance as I seek to honor and please You.”

We need to view serving Him as a high honor rather than a burden.

If I love Him, I want to serve Him.

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan   (Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)

 

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