Many of us have accepted Christ, but how many of us know Christ? True Christianity isn’t about religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ. The best way to have this relationship with Jesus is to grow in Him. Hopefully, if you don’t know already, when you have finished reading this article, you will know how to grow in Christ.
Why Should We Grow?
First, what is Christian Growth? Upon receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, we become born again with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual rebirth with the Spirit of God living in us. Just as a newborn baby in the natural is expected to grow, so it is with a spiritual rebirth. Therefore, spiritual growth is the growth of the life of God in us.
It isn’t solely about accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, but as I mentioned earlier, having a relationship with Him. The only way to maintain a relationship with Jesus is to know Him better by growing.
We are so encouraged about this in the Scriptures. 1 Peter 2:1-3 reads:
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
When we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, we cast out all evil behavior (vs. 1).
In verse 2, new Christians are depicted as “newborn babes” who must crave pure spiritual milk of God’s Word in order to grow into the full experience of salvation.
In order for an individual to accept Christ initially, they must have experienced the graciousness of the Lord to begin with.
Verse 3 encourages a new converter to seek more of this graciousness through growth.
There are occasions in Scripture where there is some concern over the lack of spiritual growth.
Let’s look first at Heb 5:11-14
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Here in verse 11, the writer of Hebrews, whom I and many others believe to be Paul, chastises the Hebrew followers for their immaturity. He had much more to tell them but they wouldn’t be able to hear it because they were spiritually dull.
He goes on in verse 12 to acknowledge that they had been saved for such a long period that they should have been teaching others. However, instead, they still needed teaching on the basic things about God’s Word requiring the milk of the Word instead of the strong, serious meat. They were like babies that needed milk and couldn’t eat solid food.
He pours it on stronger in verse 13 by stating that anyone who is on the milk of the Word is an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.
He wraps this thought up by stating that the solid food of the Word is for those who are mature through training and have the ability to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
So what we get from this passage is; we can be immature as Christians no matter how much time has passed since our conversion, not knowing the difference between right and wrong. Also, the Spirit desires to share with us the meat of the Word for us to grow.
Another example of spiritual immaturity is found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 where Paul chastises the Corinthians for their immaturity which caused divisions in the church. He mentioned that initially, he fed them the milk of the Word and not meat because they were carnal. But some time later they were still carnal and not ready for the meat of the Word. As a result, they were living like the people of the world—carnal.
People today are still professing Christ and living like the world (carnal). Why? Because they never grow, living on milk instead of meat. The result, a carnal individual living as an enemy of God (Romans 8:7). For more detail on carnality, please read the article series, What is Carnality on this website.
Why should we grow? Growth is paramount to a Christian. We are either moving forward or falling backward. Stagnation is fertile ground for Satan’s attacks (1 Pet. 5:8). Stagnation leads to damnation—no matter how long we profess Christ. Faith without works is dead. We must continually grow in Christ.
How do we grow in Christ?
There is a passage of Scripture that instructs us on a clear strategy for growth.
2 Peter 1:3-11
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The encouragement to grow couldn’t be any clearer than it is in this passage.
In verse 3, we have the motivation for growth. God has supplied us with everything we need to live a godly life. We received this when we accepted His Son as Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit indwelt us. When we fully recognize all that God has done, it should motivate us to know more, grow, and get closer to Him.
Verse 4 acknowledges the great promises allowing us to share His divine nature that enables us to escape the world’s corruption caused by carnal desires.
Looking at verse 5, because of what God has done, we must make every effort to respond to these promises. Faith is what puts us on the track. It is by faith that we answer God’s calling and believe in Christ as our savior. But to that faith, we must make every effort to supplement it with virtue or moral excellence. This is where growth begins.
One of the promises of God is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to overcome the world’s corruption.
To virtue or moral excellence, we must add knowledge. Think about our human relationships, the more we know about someone, the closer we get, the more solid the relationship. The more Christ-like we become, the more we know about God, the more solid the relationship.
The way we gain knowledge of God is through His Word. The Scriptures reveal the mind of God, how He thinks, and even some of His plans.
In verse 6, added to knowledge is temperance. Temperance is self-control which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit Gal. 5:23). Self-control is what keeps us from giving in to the temptation to sin.
To temperance, we add patience and to patience, we add godliness.
In verse 7 to godliness we add brotherly affection, and then, charity or love for everyone.
In verse 8 we see that the more we grow in the above, the more productive and useful we become in our knowledge of Jesus.
However, in verse 9 we see that if we don’t, we simply go backward, forgetting that we were even purged of our old sins.
In verse 10 we are advised that if we grow in this manner we make our calling and election sure. We must work diligently to be among those God has called and chosen. If we grow we will never fall away.
In verse 11 we have the reward. Our hard work will not be in vain but rewarded with a grand entrance to the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
This is how we grow, not by accepting Christ verbally with no resulting action. It is hard work sometimes and this is an ongoing process but with the Holy Spirit empowering us we will persevere.
Bottom line: Faith is fine; it is the engine that keeps us going. But it must supplemented and lead to growth. Otherwise, it isn’t genuine. Faith proves itself by works. Again— (James 2:26).
That is why Peter gives strong encouragement to make every effort to ADD to your faith. The more we do so, the more of heaven we can experience.
We must keep growing!
Please feel free to leave any comments, questions, or concerns below.