Growth In Christ
Have you ever planted anything? A garden, a crop, a flower? Ever try to watch it grow? I remember as a child planting a flower in the ground and then going out regularly to see if the flower had grown yet. Honestly, it was a torturous experience for a small child. However, I remember one morning noticing something very interesting as I made my way outside, a shoot. There was a small green sprout sticking out of the ground. At once I began jumping up and down and yelling for my parents and sister to come see this miraculous wonder! It was my plant! With childlike wonder, I kneeled and examined every part of that little green shoot that was coming out of the ground. All I wanted to do was watch it grow more…..but it stayed the same little sprout that day. Over the coming days, I watered it, gave it plant food and took care of it, with the help of my parents of course. I watched in awe as that small shoot grew, until it became a beautiful flower. How does this apply to our Christian life? Our faith is like that seed planted in the ground. We start off small as we begin our journey with Christ but then, with care, persistence and much grace, we start to grow. At times, that growth comes arduously and still in other seasons of life it seems to come quickly. Throughout scripture we find this imagery of growth in Christ and the Christian life. We even read in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (ESV) So, we find that this growth is something that is commanded. If we are in Christ, this is not only a command to obey but a joy. A joy filled and joy abounding command that we seek to obey. Even with that said though, as a pastor, one of the top questions that I have received over the years is some form of, “how do I grow in my faith?” It is a good question. I want to spend the rest of this article highlighting five (5) streams that God has given to us that causes us to grow in our faith.
This may seem obvious but, to grow in Christ, read the Bible! We cannot know, express, explain or worship God apart from the Bible. It is in the Bible that God has perfectly revealed Himself. In the Old and New Testaments God is progressively revealing Himself until we see the ultimate culmination of God giving Himself visible expression in His Son, Jesus Christ. Even in acknowledging this truth though, we cannot know Jesus apart from the Bible. This is not to say that creeds, confessions or catechisms are to be shunned, instead, as those who embrace the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), we recognize that the Bible alone is sufficient to teach, without error or fault about saving faith and obedience. While it is true that nature reveals certain attributes about God and the way He providentially governs the world and leaves people without excuse, nothing but the Bible is sufficient to give us the knowledge of God and what is necessary for salvation. Things like confessions of faith, catechisms and creeds supplement our faith and helps us to systematically organize our thoughts about scripture all the while they are to be in submission to scripture.
Again, this may seem obvious. I remember growing up in the local church and in a pastor’s home and prayer was a way of life. We prayed before meals, before bedtime and even before we pulled out of the driveway. It was, what we did. It wasn’t until much later though that I really understood the why and the importance of prayer. If you were to ask most people inside of the local church why we pray I am sure that we would hear some variation of, “that’s what we’re supposed to do”. However, that is simply not enough of an answer. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we pray because of who God is and what He has done in Christ.
- The Ordinances
Often, this category is one of the most overlooked components to the Christian growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, at least among Baptists. We often think of Baptism and the Lord’s supper as a good idea and divorce it from its meaning in the New Testament. While neither baptism nor the Lord’s Supper imparts saving faith, it is the Word of God made visible. Because the ordinances are divinely instituted they aid, encourage and strengthen our faith. Thus, we receive spiritual blessings in keeping these ordinances.
All of life is worship (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; Ephesians 4:1-3). Whether that is a new concept or not let that sink into your heart and mind! Such a statement does not mean that there is no such thing as the need for corporate worship, instead, it transforms our thinking and life to conform with the teaching of Scripture. What is worship? Probably the best and most concise statement concerning worship is, “meeting with God”1. Corporate worship then is the people of God meeting with God to praise, honor and admire Him. Within the context of the corporate gathering of worship what can we expect to find? While Scripture does not give us a specific formula for worship in general terms it would include; “Read the Word, Pray the Word, Sing the Word, Proclaim the Word, Receive the Word (Ordinances)”
- Make Disciples
When the gospel takes root in a person, it creates a fundamental change of identity. A Christian’s new identity in Christ can is an identity that is rooted and grounded in the gospel. Individually, as disciples, we seek to make and multiply disciples in our sphere of influence but as a local body of believers we seek encourage and equip believers to make disciples as well as corporately engage our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The local church, whatever context she may find herself, is called upon to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to their nation, region, state, etc. Paul said to the Church at Corinth, “Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34). Every local church has a part to play in this mission.
So, the command to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ is not automatic. It is a grace filled command that promises the necessary mercy when we apply our hearts and minds to this task but it is a command none-the-less. May we be ever diligent to grow that God may be glorified.