First Baptist Church of Howard City
Let's Talk About Spiritual Growth
  • This may feel jumbled at first.
    I will repeat ideas several times.
    I’m going to be transparent or up front with you.
    We will often be challenged to match our lives to what we are learning.
    Ric Garland defines discipleship as “teaching others to be what you already are.”
    Colossians 2:6–7 NKJV
    6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
    We assume nothing.
    It is going to help you immensely to think of physical life.
    Our Theology determines our practice.

    What is spiritual growth?

    The process of growing spiritually.

    The process of becoming more like Christ.

    Your spiritual journey.

    Discipleship

    Spiritual maturation

    Sanctification

    Spiritual formation

    Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with years of salvation.

    Don’t be fooled by perceived spiritual maturity.

    It could be a case of spiritual malnutrition.

    Someone that was talking about spiritual maturity while not being spiritually mature.
    We have constantly left spiritual babies fend for themselves.
    We haven’t been good parents.
    James 1:2–4 ESV
    2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
    Perfect and complete: 3d object

    What does the Bible say about spiritual growth?

    1 Peter 2:2 ESV
    2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
    Ephesians 4:14 ESV
    14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

    Spiritual growth begins with being spiritual babies.

    John 3:3 ESV
    3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
    17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    Galatians 5:19–23 ESV
    19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    The works of the flesh are “evident”: public in a baby believer.

    enmity - being hostile
    strife - debating/argumentative
    dissension - create division
    Ephesians 4:15 ESV
    15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

    Babies are not expected to remain babies.

    Hebrews 10:24 ESV
    24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

    Spiritual growth is difficult and requires the help of others to be consistent.

    1 John 2:12–14 ESV
    12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
    This scripture clearly shows 3 stages for spiritual growth.
    The stages of spiritual growth John mentions.
    Little children.
    Young men.
    Fathers.
    What we find is that there are actually 4 stages of spiritual growth.

    John writes to spiritual infants. (vs. 12)

    “Teknion”: infant

    Infants are characterized by their sins being forgiven.

    This is simplest the Christian life gets.
    This is the most basic thing can be said of a child of God.
    Maybe not even baptized yet.
    John adds an important phrase - “for His name’s sake”
    This newborn baby not here on any merit of their own.
    Simply to the glory of God.
    1 John 3:1 ESV
    1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
    What we learn is that babies can stay babies longer than they should.
    1 Corinthians 3:1–3 ESV
    1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
    What should we know about babies?
    How do we take care of them?
    How often do we feed them?
    It is interesting to note that they saw themselves as mature, but Paul did not.
    Pauls says this is not ok.
    Why do we let it be ok?
    Understand that the baby stage is ok.
    The baby stage is good!
    Every church needs baby Christians.
    If they don’t have them, they aren’t doing what they are supposed to.
    They add a special life and joy to the church.
    But these stages are not meant to be permanent.

    John writes to spiritual little children.

    “Paidion”: (half grown, small child) - under construction

    Little children are characterized by their knowledge of the Father.

    This is still elementary.
    The have progressed to parental recognition.
    Romans 8:15 ESV
    15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
    They know who their daddy is and they respond to him.
    They have an attachment to the father.
    The bond is strong.
    This attachment is influenced more by trust than understanding.
    Ephesians 4:14 ESV
    14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
    1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV
    20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

    They are vulnerable.

    They are weak.

    They are undiscerning.

    They need discipline and guidance.

    Little children need someone to follow.

    Ephesians 5:1–2 ESV
    1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
    1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
    1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

    What does the Bible say about spiritual infants and children?

    They are consumers, not contributors.

    1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
    11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
    Are you more of a consumer of the spiritual life of the church and those around you or a contributor?

    They get upset over small things.

    Romans 15:1–2 ESV
    1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
    They don’t see them as small things.
    Are you often upset about small things?
    Or things that seem big but should be small things?

    They are still worldly.

    1 Corinthians 3:1–4 ESV
    1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

    They often need to be retaught the same things over and over.

    Hebrews 5:12 ESV
    12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

    They are unskilled in God’s Word

    Hebrews 5:13 ESV
    13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

    There is little discernment between good and evil.

    Hebrews 5:14 ESV
    14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

    They are easily distracted by false teaching and other things.

    Ephesians 4:14 ESV
    14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

    They are unable to teach others.

    2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV
    15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    A spiritual child should NEVER be placed in leadership.
    A spiritual should always be under the watchful and loving care of a more mature Christian.
    If they have led someone to Christ, they should then bring them into their existing Bible study.

    John writes to spiritual young men.

    Young men are characterized as having overcome the evil one.

    1 John 5:4–5 ESV
    4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
    They have passed the test.
    This is an obvious and visible fruit.
    A faithfulness to Christ and the church.
    A shift of priorities.
    While most people in the world are chasing the lusts of the world, these people are chasing Christ!
    Leaving behind the old life.
    Though still not perfect.
    1 John 1:8 ESV
    8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
    They are now consuming solid food!
    Hebrews 5:14 ESV
    14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

    Young men are characterized as being strong.

    These are the backbone of the church.
    Our frontline soldiers.
    Carrying us forward with energy.
    They are able to deal with difficult things.
    They are able to withstand attacks from the enemy.

    Young men are characterized as having the Word of God abiding in them.

    John identifies the source of their strength!
    John 15:4–5 ESV
    4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

    John writes to spiritual fathers.

    This characteristic is different than an infant.
    Titus 1:9 ESV
    9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

    What does the Bible say about spiritual young men?

    They still need to guidance from more mature Christians.

    2 Timothy 2:2 ESV
    2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

    They are eager to serve.

    Ephesians 4:11–16 ESV
    11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

    They are intentional with their Bible study.

    Psalm 119:6–8 NKJV
    6 Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments. 7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly!

    They faithfully attend church.

    Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV
    24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    There is visible life change.

    Ephesians 4:22–24 ESV
    22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    They understand the gospel.

    Galatians 1:8–9 ESV
    8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
      • Colossians 2:6–7ESV

      • James 1:2–4ESV

      • 1 Peter 2:2ESV

      • Ephesians 4:14ESV

      • John 3:3ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 5:17ESV

      • Galatians 5:19–23ESV

      • Ephesians 4:15ESV

      • Hebrews 10:24ESV

      • 1 John 2:12–14ESV

      • 1 John 3:1ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 3:1–3ESV

      • Romans 8:15ESV

      • Ephesians 4:14ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 14:20ESV

      • Ephesians 5:1–2ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 11:1ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 13:11ESV

      • Romans 15:1–2ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 3:1–4ESV

      • Hebrews 5:12ESV

      • Hebrews 5:13ESV

      • Hebrews 5:14ESV

      • Ephesians 4:14ESV

      • 2 Timothy 2:15ESV

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