GrowingBigInGod

Teaching, Helping and Encouraging Spiritual Growth

Principles of Spiritual Growth 6

Good evening! Over the last five sessions we have studied what it takes to grow into a mature, complete disciple of Jesus. Through the  process of adding goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance to your faith, God has crafted you into a piece of His workmanship. In this process you have been  trained, proven, and tested with the purpose of fully equipping you to be a strong, trustworthy and faithful servant to “do the good works God prepared in advance for you  to do.” 

Hebrews 10:36 AMPL For you have need of STEADFAST PATIENCE and ENDURANCE (PERSEVERANCE) so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God.

God says that you need the spiritual qualities of perseverance, patience, steadfastness and endurance to be equipped to fully accomplish His will and do His good works. Perseverance is the level of spiritual growth where you have been transformed into the “new creation” that God promised. Your spiritual DNA has been changed. You have been transformed. This transformation has changed the way you live. You have become a godly person.

What is GODLINESS?

Godliness is seen in those believers who have gone through the process of change (caused by adding to your faith goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance) that transitioned them from their original state of being controlled by their sinful human nature into a new creation that is controlled by the nature of God. A godly person totally embraces God’s ways and lives them out and at the same time totally rejects the ways of this world. A godly person is one who has conformed to the likeness of Jesus and is in position to effectively minister to their brothers and sisters and those who are not believers just as Jesus did. There are several characteristics of a godly person that are a part of their new make-up.

The word “Godly” means, “piety, holiness, godliness, and the gospel scheme” (Strong’s Concordance), A godly person is PIOUS. A pious person is devoted to living the same holy and godly life as Jesus did and is committed to their Christian duties. You know a pious person because you can see the evidence of God’s control in them. You see a life of holy living. You see a life of commitment and service to the Lord.

Godliness is a critical part of God’s plan to reach the lost with the message of the gospel. Part of the definition of the word “godliness” is it is the “gospel scheme.” Godliness is God’s careful and systematic plan for making the gospel known to the world. God’s plan is for His people to be participants in presenting the gospel to all people by living godly, holy lives. This is your role in God’s plan to reach the lost. How Does This Work?

1 Timothy 4:7 NIV Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales: rather, train yourself to be godly. You have to train yourself to live a godly life.

The word “train” has a special meaning. It means, “to practice naked (in the games), to train like an athlete, and to exercise.” Living a godly life takes commitment. In the days when the Bible was written athletes practiced naked. They did not want anything, including clothes, to weigh them down or hinder them in any way. They were so committed to reaching their full potential that athletes practiced naked. This is a picture of how we are to train ourselves to live godly lives. God wants His people to work at being godly.

God tells us that we are to “train ourselves to live a godly life” by stripping away any weight or hinderance that might impact your progress in becoming the best possible disciple of Jesus. (See Hebrews 12) How are you trained?

You are trained by adding to your faith goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance. These qualities equip, train, enable and qualify you to be godly and stand-in for Jesus and do His ministry. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost”, and this becomes your purpose as well. Just as Jesus brought the light of the gospel into a dark world, so should you as disciples of Jesus.

Matthew 5:14-16 NLT You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

This is God’s plan to bring the “light” of the message of the gospel to a very dark and lost world. As you live out the good deeds or works of God’s grace, you show your world who Jesus is and what He is like. In this way you introduce your family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances what the love of God looks like as you live out a godly life. Consider what people “see” when you are living out the excellence and goodness of Jesus’s character and attributes and living out God’s Word. They see LIGHT! So, godliness ministers to those who do not know Jesus and presents to them the gospel message that can save them in person.

There is a second part of GODLINESS. Godliness is also about ministering to the church family. Godliness ministers to your brothers and sisters on behalf of Jesus. This is done through SPIRITUAL GIFTS. Every believer has their own unique set of spiritual gifts. These gifts were given to you the moment you were born into God’s family, just as your natural gifts were given to you when you were born into this world. It is through these special spiritual gifts that God is able to minister to His people through His people.

It is important to understand that when you combine all the individual spiritual gifts given to the church you get a complete picture of the full ministry of Jesus that was designed for the church. If you are to conform to the likeness of Jesus (as an individual and a church), then you must minister in spiritual ways to your brothers and sisters just as Jesus did. God has divided the spiritual gifts and distribute them to His children as He sees fit in order to accomplish His purposes. God did this so that the full complement of the ministries of Jesus can be seen and experienced in His church. This is why believers have different gifts. Your selection of special gifts complements the gifts God has given other Christians so that all the spiritual needs of the church can be addressed and met.

This is why you should be in church. You may be called upon by God to minister to someone with the spiritual gift you have been given in your own unique way, or you may need to be ministered to by a brother or sister in Christ. God gave His children spiritual gifts for the purpose of standing in for Jesus and doing the things Jesus did while here on earth. These special gifts are meant to build up the church. This is your role in the church family.

Godliness ministers to the lost in this world and the saved in the church. This is why adding GODLINESS to your faith is so important. Godliness is being like Jesus and ministering like Jesus. The next thing you see in the life of a transformed believer is Brotherly Kindness.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness… (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV)

“Brotherly kindness” literally means, “Love of brethren.” Spiritual maturity produces a mutual affection God’s children have for each other. It is a fondness for your brothers and sisters that is demonstrated by a helping hand, an encouraging word, or a timely prayer. When you add brotherly affection to your faith, you make yourself available to minister to others. You are there on behalf of Jesus to physically touch people and help with whatever kind of need they have. This is loving your brothers and sisters just as Jesus loves them. This is God’s plan for caring for His children. What is God’s plan to make this happen?

This is the message we have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11 NIV)

In this verse, the word for love means, “to love in a social sense; a family-like love.” Jesus commanded the people of His church to express their love for one another in social ways by spending time together and doing things like getting together for lunch, going to a ball game, or meeting somewhere with the kids. These kinds of social interactions change the church from a collection of independent, free-range believers, into a tight, connected, engaged, and loving family. This is God’s purpose in commanding us to love one another in the social sense.

Brotherly kindness is inclusive, not exclusive. Brotherly kindness opens its arms and embraces all the people in the church. There is no place in the church for “cliques.” Community is critically important in preparing the church to be the family of God and a place where real ministry can take place. It is God’s desire that His children are engaged socially with each other, and that they enjoy their time together. It is OK to laugh and have a great time with your Christian brothers and sisters. As a matter of fact, Jesus commanded it. God knows that your early social encounters in the church will lead to friendships and these friendships will grow into deeper, more committed and long-lasting relationships. These new relationships will open the door to productive and fruitful ministry. This is the kind of brotherly kindness, affection and love we are to add to our faith. This is the kind of church family God wants.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Encouragement

Without wavering, let us hold tight to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT)

God tells you not to neglect going to church because this is where you receive the consistent encouragement you need and regular check-ups on where you are in your walk with Jesus. You really need the church. Your spiritual family is in the church. The church is where you are equipped for service through sound teaching. It is where ministry opportunities are made available. The church is where you are ministered to and where you minister to others. Being engaged with God’s people in church, and making good friends are the foundations for brotherly affection and real ministry.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Sharing Your Possessions

The only thing that counts is faith that expresses itself through love. (Galatians 5:6 NIV)

The word love in this verse means, “affection, benevolence, and charity.” As you get to know your brothers and sisters better, they open up and you become aware of their real needs. Seeing the physical or material need of your brothers and sisters and doing something about it is brotherly kindness. This is the kind of affection that sends a message to the world that you are truly a disciple of Jesus. It is an expression of your willingness to sacrifice for your brothers and sisters, and care for them in their time of need. You are standing in for Jesus and ministering on His behalf by giving of your own resources, just as Jesus did. This is what it means to have “faith that expresses itself in love.”

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and with truth. (1 John 3:17-18 NIV)

It is one thing to talk a good game but it is something else to play a good game. Playing the good game is what people see that sets you apart as a disciple of Jesus. Brotherly kindness is God’s love in action.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Worshiping God

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your act of worship. (Romans 12:1 NIV)

Brotherly kindness is an act of worship. It is the decision of a believer to care for their spiritual family in tangible, physical ways. Through this, God is worshiped, honored, and glorified.

[Jesus said] “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)

Make every effort to add to your faith brotherly kindness and affection. You do this by engaging socially with God’s people in church, in a small group, or in a Bible study, or by helping with the toddlers or by participating in the band or playing on the softball team. The point is to be engaged with one another. As your relationships grow stronger, the opportunities for ministry increase and your opportunities to worship God multiply.

God tells you that you are the one who are to make a special effort to get involved and be connected at church. You are to stand in for Jesus and love our brothers and sisters in hands-on ways. This is how the family of God is supposed to work. When you show kindness, warm affection and love to others, you are known as disciples of Jesus. Isn’t this your goal to be a disciple of Jesus? Isn’t that what God commanded you to be? Add Brotherly Kindness to your faith!

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