GrowingBigInGod

Teaching, Helping and Encouraging Spiritual Growth

Principles of Spiritual Growth 3

Hello, again! In this session we are going to focus on the importance of adding knowledge to your faith. What does the word “knowledge” mean? When knowledge and goodness are combined, what does this produce? Adding goodness and knowledge together produce incredible spiritual growth in you. These two additions to your basic belief transform you, step-by-step, into a new being. Instead of remaining the same you change. You become incrementally more like Jesus as you continually live out the goodness of Jesus and live out the knowledge found in God’s Word.  This dynamic combination is the engine of spiritual growth that produces real change in you. I hope you find this helpful and encouraging! God bless, Dick

We have been studying God’s plan to produce change in us. What have we learned so far? We have learned that God has done His part in preparing each of us for our role in His plan to reach our families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and others by equipping us with His divine influence, which is grace. It is God’s grace that equips, enables, motivates and empowers you to do the good works that were planned before time for you to do. These good works are an essential part of God’s plan to change you and reach the lost in this world. (Session 1)

We learned that the first thing necessary to become a mature disciple of Jesus is to commit yourself to add to your initial faith the goodness of Jesus. Adding goodness to your faith means making a conscious effort to live out the goodness and excellence of Jesus. This “goodness” is seen in your life as you live out the virtues and values of Jesus. This is adding “goodness” to your faith. (Session 2)

Even though you have made a commitment to be like Jesus and live out His virtues and values, you still need to know what to do. Where do you get the instruction that will guide, direct and teach you the things of God and His ways?
This needed KNOWLEDGE comes from God’s Word. The knowledge you need to grow up in your faith comes directly from Jesus.

John 1:1 NLT In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.
John 1:14 NLT So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

These verses tell you that JESUS IS THE WORD. The “Word” in these two verses means, “divine expression, doctrine, communication, speech, preaching, reasoning, works, reckoning.
The written Word is:
• The divine expressions of Jesus
• The doctrines of Jesus
• The communications of Jesus
• The speech of Jesus
• The preaching of Jesus
• The reasoning of Jesus
• The works of Jesus
• The reckoning of Jesus
The Word comes directly from Jesus.

John 16:13- 15 NLT (Jesus is speaking) When the Spirit of truth comes, he (the Holy Spirit) will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you about the future. He will bring me (Jesus) glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said. ‘the Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’

This teaches that the Holy Spirit received the words to be written down from Jesus. When the Holy Spirit received the words to be written down from Jesus, He inspired certain men to write them down. These words are found in the Bible. So, the Scriptures are the divine expressions, doctrine, communication, speech, talk, preaching, reasoning, work and reckoning of Jesus, regardless who physically wrote the words down.

Jesus’ words reveal His personality, will, desires, feelings, intellect, knowledge, standards and principles for living, along with His love. Through the words of Jesus men and women can fully become acquainted with Him, and know Him, and acknowledge Him as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. These written words of Jesus enable you to really know and understand Jesus in a very personal way and show you how you are to live in order to be like Him. This is the knowledge you need to be fully acquainted with Him. Therefore, conforming to the WORD is conforming to Jesus.

The definition of this word is specific. It means, “the act of knowledge or knowledge put into practice.”
There are two parts to this word. The first part is knowledge itself. The knowledge that your find in God’s Word reveals the fulness of Jesus. It reveals all the teachings and doctrines of Jesus that feed your spiritual being that you need to grow spiritually and grow deeper in your faith.

Reading and studying God’s Word teaches you what God’s ways are and how God wants you to live. God’s Word is your roadmap or GPS system that provides you with the direction and guidance you need to weave your wat through the avoid pitfalls and detours that life throws at you, and helps you do the good works of God and lovingly share your faith with others.
This takes you to the second part of this word. The definition of this kind of knowledge is, “the act of knowledge or knowledge put into practice.” This kind of knowledge is more than just the gathering of information for intellectual purposes (“head knowledge”). It is the gathering of knowledge that is applied in your life that brings changes in you and conforms you to the likeness of Jesus.

You are to put the things you learn from the words of Jesus into practice. You are to live out His words and live like Jesus. This is the purpose of knowledge. Knowledge that translated into acts bring about real change in you. Knowledge that is practiced in your daily life causes great spiritual growth and produces maturity in your faith. Practicing the teachings found in God’s Word is where the spiritual food and nourishment come from that feeds your spiritual being.

1 Peter 2:2 NLT You must crave spiritual milk so that you can GROW UP IN YOUR SALVATION. Cry out for this NOURISHMENT as a baby cries out for milk.

In order to “grow up in your salvation” and become a mature disciple of Jesus, you must eat food that has proper nourishment to feed your spirit. God’s Word feeds your spiritual being. It’s like milk to a baby. Babies need the nutrients that are found in milk that gives them what they need to grow.

In the same way, believers receive the nourishment they need by feeding on the Word of God. This “food” brings the spiritual growth needed to “grow up in your salvation.” Without the nourishment that comes from knowing and practicing God’s Word, there is no spiritual growth or growth in your faith or growth in your salvation.

WHAT IF A PERSON GETS SAVED BUT DOES NOT ADD GOODNESS AND KNOWLEDGE TO HIS OR HER FAITH?

The church is filled with born-again believers who are negligent in making a conscious effort to be like Jesus and live out the knowledge found in God’s Word. Instead of living out the Word faithfully, they are lax, lazy and even indifferent to God’s urging and instruction. They take their salvation for granted. Because of this, they remain immature in their faith and weak spiritually and are still controlled by their sinful nature.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ.

(Paul is speaking to spiritually born-again believers.)

I had to feed you milk, not solid food because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature.

(What does this tell us? It tells us that these Christians had not advanced in their spiritual growth and were still controlled by their sinful nature.)

You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like the people in the world?

Paul was dealing with believers who had not grown up spiritually. Their commitment to live out the goodness of Jesus’ character and virtues was weak and they were not living out God’s Word. Because of this, they were weak spiritually and had not grown up in their faith or their salvation. They were still controlled by their sinful nature.

In this version of the bible it refers to these immature believers as “unspiritual Christians.” The King James Version refers to these immature believers as “carnal Christians.” The word “carnal” means “worldly.” These “carnal” or “worldly Christians” were believers who were saved but remained spiritual infants. Even after being saved long enough to have grown in their salvation, these Christians in Corinthians were still controlled by their sinful nature and still lived like people in this world. There was little or no change in them.

These early believers are an example to us today. This explains why some believers struggle in their Christian walk. They don’t have a solid base. They lack a commitment to be like Jesus and to live by His Word.
Because of this, they remain spiritually weak and vulnerable to the devil’s temptations and the trials of life. Their faith is not strong enough to fight off the assaults of the devil. This is a dangerous place to be. What is their problem?

They “hear” the Word of Jesus but they do not “do” the Word of Jesus, and this leads to self-deception. They think their relationship with Jesus is good, but they are only fooling themselves. Here is how the Holy Spirit inspired James to put it:

James 1:22-24 NLT But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourself. For if you listen to the Word and do not obey it, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you are like.

God likens the Word (the Bible) to a mirror. A Christian who just listens to the Word but does not take it to heart and obey it is characterized as merely glancing at their face in a mirror. There is always conviction when you encounter the Word of God, even if only for a moment (like glancing into a mirror). For a moment this believer sees a picture of their true spiritual condition and is convicted, but it comes to nothing. They walk away and forget their true spiritual condition. They do not follow through on what they need to do to address their spiritual need and get things right with God.

As a result, they remain in their weak and vulnerable spiritual condition, believing they are OK in their relationship with God when in fact they are not. As James said, “They fool themselves into thinking they are okay because they “hear” the Word, yet do not “do” the Word.

The message here is that you are not to merely glance into the mirror of the Word and then forget it, but you are to keep your eyes focused on the Word and respond to it by making every effort to apply it in your everyday life. This feeds your spiritual being and develops the strength to overcome temptation and overcome trials. God’s people are to listen to His Word and make His ways their ways. This results in real spiritual growth and real change in you and a very close relationship with God as well as a deep understanding of Him. There is no real spiritual growth unless the Word is actively lived out in your life. As a child of God, you are not to be a “carnal Christian.”

You are to follow God’s plan and commit yourselves to be like Jesus and practice His Word as a new lifestyle. This will keep you from ever being a “carnal Christian.” Adding goodness and knowledge to your faith lead to spiritual growth that produces real change in you. It produces the spiritual growth, strength in your faith and resolve to put a stop to being overcome by temptation or collapsing under the pressure of trials that challenge your faith. It keeps you from being vulnerable to backsliding or falling from the faith.

2 Peter 1:10 NLT So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you are really among those that God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.

In this verse we see that your “call and election (being chosen)” are confirmed by the good works of God that produce real change in you. God says that you are to “word hard” in living out the divine influences and instruction of God’s grace in order to be like Jesus. In doing this, God’s nature begins to dominate your nature. As you continue to live for Jesus and live by His Words the power of God’s nature grows stronger and overcomes the power of your human nature.

This is how the process of transformation works. As you work hard at living out the goodness of Jesus character and as you work hard at reading, studying and applying God’s Word, there is a spiritual explosion that take place in you. You become strong in your faith and you can control your sinful urges and deal with the trials that challenge your faith.

God wants believers who are committed to living out the character of Jesus and be as much like Him as possible.
God wants believers who consistently read the Word and then make that Word real in their lives by living it out.
God wants believers who can resist the temptation to sin and who are strong enough in their faith to face trials and overcome them.
God wants believers who obey His Word and do His works and become fruitful.
All this comes from adding goodness and knowledge to your faith and enables you to be self-controlled.

If you would like to receive my posts on practical Christian living, go to my website, growingbigingod.com, and sign up. Thanks, Dick

2 Comments

  1. Thank you Dick for you faith to live out the gospel and to share your gift of Biblical teaching to the flock

    Reply
    • Thanks, John! I appreciate your kind remarks. Praise God.

      Reply

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