Christian Growth
Author: Wendy Goubej
Publish date:
Summary: Like a tree that can only grow when fed by water, sunlight, and nutritious soil, we can only grow in Christian life by feeding on God's Spirit, His love, and His Word.
 
 

In a previous article, we explored what faith is. We learned that another word for faith is trust. And we learned that we begin to trust God by reading His Word, praying to Him, and trusting Him with our life.

Source: Katie Sayer on Flickr.

Are you interested in growing spiritually? The key is that you cannot grow by focusing on growth. Probably nothing is more detrimental to spiritual growth than constantly checking yourself for fruit.

There is one sure way to tell whether you are growing: look at whether you are eating. Isn’t the way to grow spiritually to partake of the Bread of Life?

Growth and Grace

What does God expect of me? What part of the process does God play and what part do I play?

In the Christian life, we are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

We obtain the grace we need from the throne of grace. We are invited to come boldly to ask for mercy and grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

We obtain the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the Word (1 Peter 2:2-3). It is through personal study of Scripture that we come to a fuller understanding of the knowledge of Jesus.

Through these two avenues, we are able to grow in faith and love (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Our faith must grow in its dependence on God. Peter was a good example of our situation. His eyes were only on Jesus as he stepped out of the boat and onto the water to be with Him. But once he took his eyes off Christ and began to depend on himself, he begins to sink. It’s not unusual for us to waver like this in our faith as well.

Abiding in Christ and His Love

John 15:4 tells us that we can only grow and bear fruit if we abide in Christ. Just as a branch needs to stay connected to the main trunk of the tree in order to receive life-giving nourishment and sustenance, so we need to stay connected to Jesus. Growth in the Christian life is learning to depend upon God more and more.

Dependence upon God is an all or nothing proposition. There is no such thing as a partial trust or partial surrender. You are either surrendered to God at any given moment or you are not, and are instead depending upon yourself.

Romans 8:35, 38-39 tells us that there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God. Therefore, if we fall and fail, we don’t need to wait for God to “cool off.” We don’t give up and decide that we’ll never make it to heaven. We don’t try to “make things right’ On our own, and then come back to Him. We can come to Him immediately, confess our sin, and our need of Him. Through it all, our relationship with God continues. When we think of the wonderful words of Romans 8, we realize that God will never separate from us. The only time separation can occur is when it’s us doing the separating.

Matthew 26:41 tells us that the “spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” We are naturally weak. We want to do the right thing, our intentions may be good, but we fail short in the actuality of doing. But God promises us that His grace “is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We must realize that as Christians, we don’t grow by becoming stronger and stronger. We grow by realizing anew each day how weak we are and how dependent we are upon God’s grace.

The secret to growth in the Christian life is repeating the first conversion experience on a daily basis. Colossians 2:6-7 admonishes us, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught...”

You continue your Christian experience, you abide in Christ, “in the same way as you received Him at first...you gave yourself to God, to be His wholly, to serve and obey Him, and you took Christ as your Saviour. You could not yourself atone for your sins or change your heart; but having given yourself to God; you believe that He for Christ’s sake did all this for you. By faith you became Christ’s and by faith you are to grow up in Him—by giving and taking. You are to give all—your heart, your will, your service—give yourself to Him to obey all His requirements; and you must take all—Christ, the fullness of all blessing, to abide in your heart, to be your strength, your righteousness, your everlasting helper—to give you power to obey” (Steps to Christ, 34).

Christ is the Author

Hebrews 12:2-3 gives us the secret to Christian growth:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevents the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life’s cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or our own faults and imperfections—to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind (Steps to Christ, 34).

When we stay focused on Jesus, we will bear much fruit and we will have victory (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13). Many people have the mistaken idea that spiritual birth comes from God, but that spiritual growth is their own responsibility. It is simply not possible to grow in grace by our own feeble efforts. Growth is a gift from God, just like repentance and forgiveness and eternal life. And we continue to receive the gift of growth as we ask Him into our lives each day.

Discover more of the gifts God is waiting to shower on you as His child

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