Spiritual Growth #1
The importance of this subject is seen in the fact that so many Christians today have wrecked their spiritual lives because they have fed on information, supposedly of a religious nature, that some people have put out there on the Internet, in books or in other media different in truth from the Bible.
I know of the story of a Christian lady of a local church of Christ in England, a baby in the faith at the time, who has become a victim of such material and has consequently been out of fellowship with the Lord for two years now.
Right after her baptism into Christ, she began a one-on-one Bible study with the minister of the congregation.
Her interest, fervour and sense of curiosity for the newly discovered truth of God soon became quite obvious and impressive to the preacher.
She was committed to the time and length of the study and would ask insightful and pertinent questions on whatever she studied.
But a few weeks through her study, she then began to develop an interest for online literature related to religion. She literally would scour the Web in search of information on religion.
After weeks of search, she one day made the claim, to the evangelist’s bemusement, that there was a god bigger than the God of the Bible.
The God of the Scripture, she alleged, was of a tiny size in comparison with the god she had discovered through her own investigation. And she reportedly became so upset with the members of the church she had defected, because they “worshipped a small god” as she put it, that she decided not to return to the fold.
I can only put her absurd and profane assertion down to the confusion in her mind caused by the kind of information she had fed on “spiritually.”
The apostle Peter made clear that the means by which Christians, especially “newborns babes,” develop spiritually is the word of God (1 Peter 2:2).
It is the word of God or gospel, when faithfully preached, that produces a new born Christian; it is the same gospel or word of God that brings about a grown-up Christian.
Of the birth Peter said, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1:23). And of the growth he said, “As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (2:2).
Denominations, with the fuss that they make about the phrase “born again,” have a pseudo monopoly over it, and they generally think of it as something exotic or even miraculous.
But, in John 3, when Jesus encountered Nicodemus, He spoke of being born again in these terms, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Then, when the Jewish leader stated, in a rhetorical question, the impossibility of a rebirth, thinking of it in physical terms, Jesus explained that “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
So, being “born again” refers to birth into the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, Jesus taught in His lesson on prayer in Matthew 6, is essentially a spiritual realm (vv. 9-10).
An individual that puts their faith in Christ and submits to His command to be baptised, upon hearing the gospel preached, becomes “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) in that spiritual sphere. He or she is born into the household or family of God, which is identified as the church in 1 Timothy 3:15.
God being our Father in this family (Jesus said that God was our Father about fifteen times in the Sermon on the Mount), He is naturally concerned when we are not growing.
You would if you had, say, a 3-week-old baby and noticed after a long period of time that he has not grown. I doubt it if you wouldn’t take your baby to the doctor to check what’s wrong with him.
The apostle Peter compares the word of God to milk and insists that spiritual growth is assured when a baby soul diligently seeks the Word, just like a healthy baby would cry for milk without his mother having to encourage him to suck from his milk bottle.
The truth is, a mother does not need to tell her baby that he needs milk.