Randy Bell | What is Spiritual Growth? (read)

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Acts 2:41-42 (NKJV)

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We find in the book of Acts the birth of Christian Life. The church was started with a big bang [the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit] and with one sermon by Peter where 3000 people were saved and added to the church. To figure out how these new Christians were matured we have to look carefully to what the apostles did in their leadership and training.

Maturing is the growing up process a child goes through to become an adult. The spiritual maturing process is similar in that it is the changing of the new born baby Christian into a a mature adult saint. This simply means a person’s character so changes that they focus on what is important to Jesus Christ their Lord. It is such a radical change that what God gets excited about, they get excited about. What makes God sad, makes them sad. This effects all our being; mind, will and emotions. It covers all our motives, thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

Babies Are Born Self-centered

A baby is so self absorbed it does not know when it is naked.  It does not know what other people think or feel. It does not care about anyone else. Instead, it wants food when hungry, warmth when cold, attention when bored, changing when wet, etc. The baby only thinks of itself.

Maturity Changes All That

As parents raise their children, one of the processes they develop in them is the change from selfishness to adult mature thinking, you know, loving and caring for others. They give them chores to teach them many character traits. They force them to help with dishes and cleaning up the house. They teach them to wash clothes and clean the garage. This same way of maturing is necessary for all Christians.

Just like good, healthy family life matures children, good, healthy church family life matures believers. This is important to understand. A family does not need fancy health and fitness training, family reunions every week with tons of relatives, super expensive vacations every month, meetings with family relationship experts monthly, or financial management training every other day to be successful. A church does not have to be a mega-church of endless programs, shows, and exciting meetings to be successful either.

For a Christian to grow spiritually, four solid commitments must be made.  This is possible in any size church and just as fruitful. Every Christian must steadfastly commit themselves to

1) the apostles’ doctrine

2) fellowship

3) breaking bread together and

4) prayer together.

The church you are apart of does not have to have Sunday School classes, youth groups, children’s church, super programs, high class music ministries, seeker sensitive services, people in fancy robes, fun-filled picnics or air conditioned buildings. The first church did not have any of these things. God was not concerned with all these things.

What He is concerned with is His process of spiritual growth. Man is concerned about the other stuff.

If you want to grow spiritually, or you want your children to grow spiritually you just need to follow the four commitments. Home schoolers have proven that you do not need all the fancy stuff to educate children, but American Christians are obsessed with the fancy stuff: big shows, big buildings, and big activities.

The first requirement is to fully commit to the apostles’ doctrine. So we need to ask a simple question, “What is the apostles’ doctrine?” Today people are even afraid of the word “doctrine.” Let’s look into the Bible for God’s will in this matter.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The apostles taught the kingdom message that was taught to them in the gospels by Jesus [Matthew – John]. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” becomes clear when you look at the sermon on the mount [Matthew 5-7]. So the first commitment is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” You become an all out, 100% supporter, worker, and ambassador for God’s kingdom. You read, discuss, and learn what God commands you to know and understand so that you can obey Him completely.

You must place yourself into the right environment that will help you grow up, begin the process of spiritual growth by working through the seven steps to spiritual maturity.

Next, is fellowship, a steadfast commitment to hanging with, working with, caring for, and supporting your new church family. You learn to be tighter than friends, and as family members, expand God’s kingdom. Teamwork is the environment God wants the family to grow spiritually through. It is so hard to get Americans to commit to this. Most want to come see and hear the show and then go home. This is disobedient and stagnating to spiritual growth. “…exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. [Hebrews 13:3]

You must be committed and involved to grow.

Thirdly, we must always meet together in communion. 1 Corinthians 11 explains the importance of this event and also shows why it is a spiritual growth tool. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (v28) We must constantly examine ourselves. Remember how a doctor examines a patient, he probes and pokes. He looks for hidden signs of problems. This same procedure is just as important for all to grow spiritually and root out sin.

Finally, without a steadfast commitment to group prayer meetings you will not reach maturity. God promises “…where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” The Father is so concerned about group prayer He makes it clear He gives special blessing to those who obey. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We all learn to depend on God as a family. The young watch the older ones.

So… now I have to ask, do you really want to grow? Well, if you do not devote yourself to firmly follow these four commitments that the early church did follow, YOU WILL NOT MATURE! You will not find yourself transformed. It is time to stop making excuses. Come follow Jesus!