Reflecting on Spiritual Growth by Jim Nelson
At New Life, the Pastoral Eldership Team takes spiritual growth of our church body very seriously. Almost everything we do is to help people grow in their faith and love for Christ. From Sunday morning when the Pastors teach verse by verse from God’s Word, to Immerse classes, Bible studies, supporting missionaries, and all the Ministry teams, all of this is focusing on growing your faith and love for Christ. God’s Word is clear about this topic, here are a few verses to study, Philippians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 10:12-14, Philippians 2:13, and Ephesians 4:11-16. Clearly, it is the expectation of all the New Testament writers that our sanctification will increase throughout our Christian lives. Scripture is clear that when we put our faith in Christ, the process of being transformed into His image starts. Justification and sanctification are truly linked together, let’s praise God and give Him all of the glory for this amazing reality. In Romans chapter 6:6, Paul argues that our union with Christ guarantees we shall no longer be slaves of sin:“Our old self was crucified with Him that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
When the transformation of salvation takes place in our lives, spiritual growth begins. The Holy Spirit indwells us (John 14:16-17). We are a new creation in Christ, the old sinful nature begins to give way to the new Christ-like nature, and we must remember that spiritual growth is a lifelong process that depends on our study, obedience, application of God’s Word and our walk in the Spirit.
You may ask then, what spiritual growth is. Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. When we place our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins the process of making us more and more like Him, conforming us to His image. Another definition is from Dr. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology; “Spiritual growth (Sanctification) is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”
Spiritual growth is perhaps best described in 2 Peter 1: 3-8:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self- control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are your and are increasing, they will keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Keep in mind the context of Peter’s letter, false teachers were extolling a system of works that leads to godlessness. Peter wants the readers to find their godliness in the power of Christ alone – not through human effort.
These verses tell us that by God’s power we have everything we need to live lives of godliness, which is the goal of spiritual growth. In verse 3, our knowledge of Him comes from God’s Word, given to us for teaching, edification, and growth. Spiritual growth is also identified by the fruit of the Spirit becoming increasingly evident in a believer’s life. (Galatians 5:19-23)
With this background, can I humbly ask each of you, including myself, a few questions about your day to day spiritual disciplines to aid you in spiritual growth?
- Are you actively reading the Bible daily?
- Is your relationship with Christ growing, are you seeking his guidance and spending time in dailyprayer?
- Are you actively serving the local body at New Life out of love for Christ vs. what people think or hoping to gain their approval?
- Are you gaining victory over your sin patterns?
Use this list as an inventory to see where you may have the opportunity to grow and ask the Lord to help sanctify you. Everything we do is for His glory.
Here’s the amazing reality of spiritual growth, God’s desire for believers to grow spiritually is clear from the pages of the Bible, a significant theme in Scripture. God has given us all we need to experience spiritual growth. With the Holy Spirit leading us, we can overcome sin and steadily become more like our Savior. The life God calls His followers to live comes through the divine power of Jesus. The Christian life is to produce a changed life so the whole world can see the character of God forming in a believer. Sanctification will bring you great joy and peace that are part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
In closing, I want to use one of my favorite’s quotes from Pastor Dr. Jerry Bridges, I’ve used this quote in some of my other ponderings. “In this life I’m and always will be imperfect, a saved sinner, seeking to grow in holiness and relating to God on the basis of grace that is mine because I’m In-Christ.”
Your brother in Christ,