Statement of FaithCurrent TeachingTeaching Index
Spiritual Growth - How to achieve it!
August 2015 - Part One

Philippians 3:8-17

The Apostle Paul after many years of following Christ and who was now nearing the end of his life wrote the words found in Philippians 3:8-17.  Paul knew that no matter how he felt about the depth of his relationship with Christ there was much more.  He called this deeper relationship the “excellency of the knowledge of Christ” (Philippians 3:8).  He then commanded us to be followers together with him in obtaining that prize.  This attitude of Paul and his desire to obtain it along with his desire for us to seek after it, forces us to consider how to achieve it for ourselves.  So we ask the question, “How do we achieve spiritual growth?” 

We grow spiritually by reading and studying the Bible.  Bible knowledge is to our soul what food is to your body. One must eat in order to live!  Therefore; one must have spiritual sustenance!  “As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1st Peter 2:2).

A baby must have milk often, or the baby will die or be sickly. We must eat of spiritual food every day in order to be a healthy Christian. Therefore, have a set time each day – make time, take time for Bible reading and study. This is the one thing the devil will try extremely hard to steal from you, if he can.  The devil is smart, he would rather keep a young Christian from growing strong, than to fight a strong Christian. He will keep us from getting a fair start in our Christian race. This spiritual strength and growth is not gained overnight, one must be consistent in our partaking of spiritual nourishment.  It takes time to build spiritual strength.         

So if Bible reading and studying is so important we must ask the question “Where do I start in the Bible? A good place to start is the Gospel of John.  The Gospel of John is the fourth book in the New Testament, Read it at least three times through in order to get acquainted with the Gospel story.  Then continue in the book of Matthew found at the beginning of the New Testament and read the New Testament through to Revelation.           After reading the New Testament through several times read else­where in the Bible as you feel the Lord is leading you.  Do not be concerned about portions you do not understand, just pray, ask for revelation as you mediate on the por­tions that you do understand, because as you grow and develop spiritually the deeper things will become and the more you will understand.  The New King James or the New American Standard are very good translations for a new Christian to read. Remember it is not how much you read and study each day that is important, but the fact that you do read and study it every day, while applying it to your own life. In other words read it as a personal message from God to you. It is meant to be just that for; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God might be, perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (1st Timothy 3:16-17).

Earlier it was said that the devil would rather keep a young Christian from growing strong, than to fight a strong Christian.  Unfortunately many Christians young and old have not learned the value of studying God's Word.  You might be wondering if you are really in a fight with the devil or if that is just an exaggeration in order to convince you of the importance of Bible knowledge.  The answer is a resounding YES we are really in a fight with the devil over spiritual growth!  In a Christian’s fight against evil and sin, your weapon is the Word of God; you must hide God's Word away in your heart by memorizing it, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). ‘It is written’ or ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ are the only effective weapons that you have against Satan. Satan is not afraid of you, but he flees or runs at the quoting of the Word of God.  In every trial, temptation or discouragement, if you will quote the Word of Cod, you will gain victory; your battle will be won by the Word of God.  Jesus quoted Scriptures to Satan when He was tempted of Satan (Ref. Matthew 4:1-12).  Memorize God’s Word, be able to quote it, know your weapon and use it; “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  Every soldier knows his weapons; it is the same with God's Word, one must have a solid and extensive knowledge of the Bible. You need not defend the Bible, just use it, it works, for it is your ultimate and undefeatable weapon against the devil's attacks. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; (5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2nd Corinthians 10:4-5).  

Start your memorization right away, choosing one Scrip­ture, e.g. John 3:16, read it over several times, and then start repeating it.  Repeat the verse over every morning and evening and every spare moment that you may have until it becomes a part of you, then as you mem­orize other verses be sure that you repeat all verses learned once every so often so as not to let them slip from your memory. Be sure you put your reference (where the verse is found) at the beginning of the verse when memorizing it because if you learn a Scripture without the reference it would be like having a friend in a distant big city but not knowing the address.  If you cared to visit your friend, you could not for lack of knowing the address. The reference of a Scripture verse is very important to you when you want to find the verse. Type out or print the verse you want to memorize on a small card and carry it with you or put it in a handy place so you can refer to it as often as possible.

An explorer discovered an ancient sundial. Recognizing its value, he restored it to its original condition and put it in a museum where it would be shielded from the elements including the sun!  Although he valued it, he never used it. Unfortunately, many Christians do the same with the Bible, but for different reasons. They see the Bible as valuable, but requiring a lot of effort to understand and apply it.  Also, they often feel they are reading about a time long ago and far away; and for interest, they think the Bible cannot compete with Time or Newsweek, so they place it in their own personal museum where it can be seen and treasured but not used.

God is your friend He knows you perfectly and completely.  The Bible helps us to come to know God in a greater way.  But as a friend He wishes more than for you to understand who He is.  He desires to communicate with you and wishes you to communicate with Him in order to enhance even further your growing relationship.  You do this through PRAYER!  By prayer you converse with God.  So what is Prayer?  Prayer is an honest conversation with God.  It is not flowery words repeated from someone else; it is the expression of the soul.  God does not listen to your words only but He sees the sincerity of your heart. You are a new born child in God’s family; He loves to hear the simple prayer coming from the newly born child, even as a natural mother or father loves to hear the first syllables, words or expressions uttered by their child.  As you express your thanks, your desires, and needs to God, you soon learn to commune and fellowship through a warm relationship that will grow and develop. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew. 26:41). Your praying and Bible study should go hand in hand. Take time for both early in the morning if possible, this is best.  If early in the morning is not possible, then make some time during the course of the day. Do not limit prayer to your prayer time only, you should be able to lift your heart in silent prayer as often as you feel the need and have opportunity to do so during the day.  "Pray without ceasing" (1st Thessalonians 5:17).

It is also important not to allow others to influence your prayers.  That means you must pray in front of others no matter what the situation.  This is just another step for you to take in order to grow. Praying aloud before others is important in your spiritual growth and it is best accomplished in your family worship, as you would feel more at ease with your own family.  In addition to your own “quiet time” of Bible read­ing, study and prayer, you will want to establish a family worship time.  If you have at least one other member in your family who is a born again Christian, find a time either at breakfast, dinner or during the evening when both of you can get together and read and study the Bible and pray to­gether. Take turns in praying for the family needs, for missionaries, your church and for unsaved friends.  Family worship can be with just two persons or it can include all members of the family.  Family worship should be for the whole family but do not let disinterested mem­bers keep you from this blessing, gather with those who are interested.  If you are a parent then you should insist that the children be present. Nothing else will bring as good a relationship in the family as family worship. Family love and unity will grow, even for the unlovely and unsaved members in your family.  Love and prayer are your greatest weapons in soul winning.  Your family worship time will do much to save the unsaved ones of your family circle.  Daily devotional books are also available in your Christian Bookstore.

If you are considering, due to the dislike of confrontation, keeping your new found life in Christ a secret, do not do it!  For if you realize that this new found life is, as the Apostle Paul put it, “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”  you will want to share this won­derful new joy, this new step, this new decision, this new life with others.  Not only will you want others to know that you have at last found reality and a sense of being in this life through Christ your Savior, but sharing it with others means spiritual growth and strength for you as well. “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb (Christ), and the Word of their testimony . . .” (Revelation 12:11).  Jesus said, “. . . Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee. . .” (Mark 5:19).  Jesus said, that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the Father in heaven (Ref. Matthew 10:32).

You are a new creature in Christ, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new” (2nd Corinthians 5:17).  You are no longer a slave to old evil habits and desires; you are a new creature with everything new!  It is like new sap flowing back into the dormant tree, it produces new foliage, and the old leaves that may still remain are pushed off by the new life flowing through the branches.  Let Christ’s eternal life flow through you and the habit that may have been a problem will drop away and bother you no more. “Now are ye clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).

We must let everyone know of this wonderful miracle that has taken place in our life!  Others are seeking reality too.  Your personal recommenda­tion will influence others to come to Christ.  This is the way the Gospel is spread.  Paul said in Ro­mans 1:16 “For I am NOT ashamed (for I am proud) of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth . . .” As you witness (tell others) do not be afraid of their facial expressions, for a hardened or a disinterested look often covers a deep heartfelt need.  Be wise and sensible do not force your testimony on others; wait for the right opportunity be sure you take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.  You will find real spiritual strength and growth in telling others what God has done for you.  Be a soul winner. “... He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).  “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

The greatest soul winner in the history of man was Christ we must follow His example.  So exactly what is following Christ’s example?  Christ was baptized of John to set an example for us to follow. “ . . . Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . .” (Acts 2:38). You have already repented of your sins and you have been washed in the precious blood of Jesus.  Your sins are forgiven!  Now you should want to be baptized in water which is a public confession and testimony of what has already taken place in your heart.  By baptism you are saying, “I have buried the past in this watery grave in order to live a new for Christ.”  It is a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection. You are being a partaker by faith through water baptism in His finished work, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) Buried with him in baptism wherein also you are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).  This step should be taken shortly after conversion.  This is part of your identification with Christ. It demonstrated that you are now part of God’s family.

Another important way to achieve spiritual growth is through fellowship with other believes.  And to that end the church is the place where God’s family gath­ers. “Not forsaking the as­sembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).  It is a natural thing for a family to want to be together.  Fellowship and friendship are very important to the child of God.  Christ told His disciples to gather together on the first day of the week.  God has ordained, set aside, men to minister and preach the Word.  You are taught and inspired by the preach­ing of God’s Word; “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Your part is to form a church going habit.  Going regularly to church will not save anyone, but going to church is very vital in a ‘saved’ person’s life.  You, as a born again child of God, will find it hard to live spiritually apart from the church.  In fact, this minister does not believe that it is possible for a born again believer to grow and mature spiritually without a regular church going practice!  It is God’s institution here on earth to teach and guide His people.  He is the only good Shepherd, but He has given us pastors and ministers to guide us by the preaching His Word.  The body of Christ is made up of all true blood washed children of God out of every tongue, tribe, nation and every denomination or group who believe that Jesus is the Christ. We cannot box God into one denomination, group or church, we are expected to join and support God’s work through a local church into which He guides us. You need the church and the church needs you.

In Acts 2:42 – 47 the benefits of participation in a local church are immediately apparent.  Participation in the local church is not optional for the child of God.  It is impera­tive and yields eternal benefits.  This is multiplied 10 times when Local Churches work together in unison as one unified body or as an army (Refer Ephesians 4), with Christ as the head.

This passage records the first meeting of the first local church.  From this passage seven benefits of participation in the local church are immediately apparent:

  1. Instruction – “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine”

  2. Fellowship – and “fellowship”

  3. Observance of the ordinances – “breaking of bread”

  4. Corporate prayer – “prayers”

  5. Effective outreach – “fear came upon every soul”

  6. Common cause – “had all things in common”

  7. Mutual assistance – “divided them among all, as anyone had need”

In addition to these, four other benefits of participation in the local church are clear in the Scriptures:

  1. Worship (Acts 20:7)

  2. Discipline (Matthew18:15-17; 2nd Corinthians 13:1-10)

  3. Pastoral oversight (1st Peter 5:1-3)

  4. Obedience to God’s command (Hebrews 10:25)

Obedience to God’s command ("D" above) is the true believer’s ultimate reason for participating in the local church.  Even in the New Testament days there were those who found reasons not to participate in local church services. The writer of Hebrews points out that each member of the body has an obligation to the other parts of the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:24).  Notice what that verse says we are to provoke one another to love and good works.  Provoke (paroxusmos) which is a masculine noun and means to incite, even to the point of irritation if necessary, and to exhort one another to live consistent Christian lives worthy of God.  This, when looked at in the context of the benefits of the local church shows why we should "not forsake the gathering of ourselves together, especially as you see the day (His coming) approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

So how often should I attend Church?  A good plan to follow is one that will give you a well balanced spiritual meal.

First, should be the Sunday morning worship service with the Sunday school hour pre­ceding it. Sunday morning should find you in the house of God without fail. The Sun­day school hour is the teach­ing branch of the church; there you study God’s Word in a small group with a well trained Bible teacher. No matter what your age is, you belong in Sunday school. Sunday school is not just for children as is the general mistaken idea; every new Christian needs the teaching brought forth during Sunday school.

Second, the evangelistic meeting of Sunday evening is needful for a well balanced meal. There you are inspired to bring in your unsaved friends and relatives to hear the Gospel.

Third, the midweek prayer meeting is an important tool for a spiritual uplift.  It carries you through the week to the next Sunday. A clothes line without a prop in the mid­dle hangs pretty low; you need the mid-week prayer meeting to sustain your spiritual strength through the rest of the week.  The prayer meeting is where you can become a vital part of the church. Your needs as well of those of others can be shared and prayed for when one partakes in united prayer.  "Is any sick among you?  Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:14 -15).

This mid-week service is streamlined to meet your personal needs.

Often midweek service is where you can give public testimony as to what God is doing in your own life. It is a service from which Satan would like to keep you, knowing how profitable it is for you.  If you are unable to attend all the services suggested, then by all means attend as often as possible with regularity to give you a well balanced spiritual diet. This source of spiritual food with God’s family is in addition to your personal “quiet time” with God, your personal devotions and your family worship.

As you grow spiritually and your relationship with God becomes more important to you, service to God now becomes vital.  You now need to serve God!  So the question now becomes “How can I be of service to God?”

When you love someone you want to express that love in some way.  Through service to others your love is expressed to God and for God. A cup of cold water given in His Name does not pass our heavenly Father’s notice. You may feel that you can only do so little, yet if everyone would do his part to let the love of God spread abroad, so much would be accomplished!  Before you think of doing anything, read the thirteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians. There it tells you the basis of all service. Without love for your fellow man and for God, all you do is in vain. When you have love, whatever you do is an ex­pression of that love. You have chosen to become a ‘love slave’ for the Lord Jesus because you cannot be truly happy any other way.  Because of this you will focus all your interest, your energy, all your soul and spirit in the desire to serve God.

Jesus said, to love the Lord your God with ALL your mind, heart and soul, which is the first and greatest commandment (Ref. Matthew 22:37, 38). Your best and most effective service is with your neighbors and friends and those outside the church, but you must not neglect your service to your church in order to carry on the work of God. Your faithful atten­dance and your financial support is the least you can render to your church. You will then want to use all abilities such as music, leadership or any other vocational art and make it work for God.  God needs, born again Christian business men, women, housewives, moth­ers, fathers and children to honor Him in their everyday living. Teaching Sunday school, visiting in the homes, calling on the sick are very important services you can render. The Bible in­structs you to put your talents (abilities) to work. “The world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever” (1st John 2: 17). Remember you are working for eternal gain, so all you invest in the work of God out of a pure heart of love will bring eternal reward.  Be sure that your service is done with an eye stayed on God’s Glory, not for selfish reasons or satisfaction or else you will lose your blessings and rewards. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, be­cause it shall be revealed by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abides which he hath built there upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; let so as by fire” (1st Corinthians 3:13-15).

Do not build with hay, wood, or stubble; it will not stand God’s testing of fire. God does not measure your prestige or position only your faithfulness and the attitude in your service. The least noticed places are often the most vital.  With God you do not climb a ladder; you are promoted only if you spiritually mature, and capable of shouldering greater responsibility. “ . . . I had rather he a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).  Also be careful that your service for God is not substituted for your fellowship with Him in prayer and Bible study.  There is a real danger of crowding your fellowship with Him by being too busy with other pursuits, yes, even in service to God!  Remember, God loves you for yourself, not for what you do.

More next month!  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, (25) To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen" (Jude 1:24-25).

 Back to TopPart Two

If you desire any more information or instruction on your new life in Christ or further teachings that will aid you in your spiritual growth please contact us.

Home | Statement of Faith | Teaching's Index | Kenya Missions | Contact Us

Copyright © 2007 True Light Ministries. All rights reserved.
Printable Version