by Steven Chan
30 May 2010
The Bible teaches that every Christian is expected to grow spiritually “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:13-16).
As we grow, we seek to be more like Christ – and as we seek to do that, we will no longer be like children in our understanding of the doctrine of Christ – and we will not easily “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine introduced by the trickery of men”. So, one test of the maturity of our faith is to ask ourselves whether we have an understanding of the sound doctrine of Christ such that we will not be swayed by false doctrine. Can we defend our faith against false teachers?
As we grow, the Bible expects us to be able to speak the truth in love. There are two elements here. Firstly, we need to know the truth so that we can speak it. According to John 17:17, God’s word is truth. Do we know the Word of God well enough so that we can speak it? Secondly, we are to be able to speak it in love. God does not want us to speak the truth in an arrogant, self-righteous and unloving manner; he wants us to speak it in love. Similar sentiment is expressed in 2 Tim 2:24-26: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
As we grow, we are to grow in all things into Christ who is our head. According to 2 Peter 3:18, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must grow in our understanding of God’s word but we are also expected to grow in our practice of being Christ-like.
According to Heb 5:12-14, each and every Christian needs to grow to the stage of being capable to teaching others the Word of God: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” If you feel that you are not ready to teach another person the Word of God or the Gospel of Christ, then there are still lots of room for you to grow. But we cannot stay stagnant. The exhortation in1 Peter 2:2-3 is that “as newborn babes, (you are to) desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
Finally, as we grow, we are to be so “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share that we cause the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”. Are we so connected with each other that we can function in such a way that the body of Christ will be built up and that it will grow corporately? God expects us to grow in our relationship with one another. Are we growing in our relationship with all the brethren in the congregation?
The questions we need to ask ourselves from time to time: “Am I growing spiritually?” “What must I do in order to grow spiritually?” “Am I improving in my relationship with brethren that I am so closely connected with my fellow brethren – and are contributing towards their growth as well as that of the church? May we seek to grow spiritually so that God will be glorified.