How to Grow, part 1

Faith Church August 18, 2007 Romans 6:1-14

 

Introduction:

-  We’re starting a new series today in our Worship Service:  Reaching New Heights in our Ability to Grow!

- as we study this subject in the worship service, we want to further APPLY the subject to our lives as an ABF, as families, as individuals!

- this will give you an opportunity to ask questions in response to the various passages we’ll be studying together

- it also gives us time to think through more specific application to our lives

1. One of the key principles this ministry (FBC) has tried to follow: We meet people where they are, but then we help them take the next spiritual step!

- i.e. we expect people to be growing and changing – that’s the NORM, not the exception!

* A Key Verse in this type of thinking goes back to the Psalms:

  • KJV Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

- or the NAS puts it a little differently, but the same concept:

  • NAB Psalm 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

- footsteps implies progress . . . we’re moving, we’re making progress along the way

* Key Principle: Either you are growing or you’re not growing!

2.  Christianity is a religion of ACTION!

Input:  In what ways does God’s Word reveal that statement as being true?

[various answers]

1)  God demonstrates that in Gen. 1 when He created the heavens and the earth – He DID something!

2) Then He told Adam and Eve to DO something – keep the garden, be fruitful and multiple,

- He also told them NOT to do something (eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good/evil)

- the rest is history (the whole OT is revealing God’s plan of redemption – He’s doing something about Gen. 3:15 . . . all the way up to the NT & the birth/life/death/and resurrection of Christ!)

-  We also want to begin our study of this subject by challenging you to think about this question:  

Input:  Why do we need a study on spiritual growth?  Why should we focus on this subject? [various answers]

1) It’s a natural part of the Christian life.

  • 1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

- just like newborn babies are hungry, ‘eat’ (drink), and grow – so should we!

Ill:  Jonathan/Heather Smith’s new little girl: Becca (other examples in your ABF) – if she wasn’t hungry and didn’t grow, something would be wrong

- it’s the same way with us in our SPIRITUAL lives – we need to ‘hungering and thirsting after righteousness’ like Jesus said:

  • Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

satisfied = to eat till one is full (you know what that’s like!!)

- it can and SHOULD BE that way spiritually

Q:  Why are some people are never SATISFIED?

>  they are hunger and thirsty . . . but NOT for ‘righteousness’

- instead, they long for things that pass away with time (i.e. the temporal) and things they think will satisfy them, but don’t . . . and actually can’t satisfy!

[explain the similarity with Gen. 3 – the fruit pleasant to the eyes, desiring to make one wise – but it didn’t work – Eve/Adam should have obeyed God’s Word!]

- another reason we need to be growing is . . .

2) It’s commanded by God!

- too many people think that growing is an option – you can take it or leave it

- if it’s convenient, OK – if it’s not convenient, then I’m not interested – WRONG!!

- God’s Word makes it very clear that growth is NOT like MCL Cafeteria (take it or leave it):

  • 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.

- the bottom line is, we all need to be growing in our spiritual lives if we are going to be obedient to the Lord!

- growing in grace (giving to others what they don’t deserve) and in knowing Jesus is part of our exercising our faith and growing stronger!

Note:  Similar to the series we just completed:  Reaching New Heights in Our Knowledge of God!

- you’ll never to think like Jesus or act like Jesus unless you KNOW Jesus . . .

> as your Lord and Savior and as you’re your God, but also as your FRIEND

Cf. John 15 – Jesus called us His friends

  • John 15:15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Q: What do friends do to get to know each other better?

> spend time together, communicate, show love, serve each other, enjoy each other’s company, and demonstrate loyalty and faithfulness to each other

3) It’s part of the function of the local church – especially the pastors!

- that’s really our job as pastors – cf. Eph. 4:11-16 – equipping the saints to DO the work of the ministry

  • Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

-another aspect of this passage is that . . .

4) Growing helps avoid problems.

- Review Eph. 4:14

  • Eph. 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

- as you grow in your knowledge of the Word, your relationship with Christ, you learn to solve problems

Note: Mainly because you grow less SELFISH and more you think more about pleasing God and loving Him and loving and serving others (which the opposite of that is usually at the heart of problems – PRIDES/SELFISHNESS)

  • KJV Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

- finally, one of the key reasons we should be growing/changing is because . . .

5) Jesus grew . . . so should we!

  • Luke 2:52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.

- if Jesus grew as the Son of Man, what does that say about us & our need to grow (all the more – it’s God’s desire/plan for us to be ‘conformed to the image of His dear Son!’

- if we’re going to please God and bring Him glory, we need to be like Christ . . . and GROW!

> both in the way we THINK like Christ and the way we ACT like Christ!

3.  We understand that if we are serious about accomplishing all that we believe God wants us to accomplish...then we all have to get to a better place in our spiritual lives!

- but we can’t do this on our own (totally)

- while God allows us to make decisions, we still can do ‘nothing’ without Him (John 15:5)

- let spend the remainder of our time focusing on . . .

4.  How would you match up the following terms with the appropriate definition?

[BREAK UP IN SMALL GROUPS – then RETURN and DISCUSS – this is preparation or review, depending on your ABF]

- when we talk about growing and changing, we’re talking about progressive sanctification = the doctrine of spiritual growth...

Theological Term

Definition

_F_Regeneration

A.  The action of a person in turning to Christ.  It includes repentance (renunciation of sin) and faith (acceptance of Christ).

_A_Conversion

B.  General meaning: “set apart from sin to God”

_E_Justification

C.  the final step in the process of sanctification, sometimes called Prospective Sanctification; it means completion of sanctification and removal of spiritual defects.  This occurs at DEATH or the COMING OF CHRIST when we will achieve total Christlikeness.

_B_Sanctification

D.  the process of a person conforming to the image of Jesus Christ by putting off sinful habits of thinking and action and replacing them with new habits of obedience to the Word of God.  This is a CONTINUAL practice throughout one’s Christ life

_G_Positional Sanctification

E.  God’s judicial act of declaring us righteous in His sight at salvation.

_D_Progressive Sanctification

F.  The infusion of divine life into a dead soul; the work of the Holy Spirit in creating a new life in the sinful person who repents and comes to believe in Christ.

_C_Glorification

G.  the divine act of making the believer actually holy, that is bringing the person’s moral condition into conformity with the legal status established in justification.  This is a ONE-TIME event at salvation.

5.  What does God make available to us to help us to grow in the process of progressive sanctification? [various answers]

  • His Word = directs us (commands and truth regarding what and how we should do it)
  • The Holy Spirit = enables us
  • The local church (your pastors/brother & sisters in Christ) = helps to teach/model growth
  • His wisdom = to make decisions consistent with His Word
  • His grace = to help us overcome the difficulties
  • His strength = the ability to get it done when we are weak, He helps us grow

Point:  Because of our union with Christ (our position ‘in Christ’) we have no excuse for NOT growing!

6.  These truths should impact our lives (lit. our bodies engaged in the growth process) in a very real way: .

  • Romans 6:13 - and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Faith Church