Q & A: Stages of Spiritual Growth – 1 John 2:12-14

What is the spiritual growth process of the new Christian?

1)    Unbeliever – Spiritually dead             Eph. 2:1-3

  • This person does not know Jesus and has not accepted Him as Savior.  He is unbelieving and rebellious toward God.

2)    Spiritual Infant – Focused on self                 1 Thes. 2:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:1-3 

  • This person has accepted Jesus as His Savior and is connected in a relationship environment for the purpose of Biblical Discipleship.  He is dependent on others for learning God’s Word.

3)    Spiritual Child  –  What can I get?      1 Jn. 2:12a,13c; 1 Thes. 2:10-12 

  • This person connects with other Christians. He is learning discipleship. Yet, life is often about him in what he wants to learn, how he worships and who he is around. He is often self-centered, prideful, idealistic and has either a high or low view of self because he lives by pride or emotions.

4)    Spiritual Young Adult – Willing to serve       1 Jn. 2:13b,14b; Gal. 5:13-14

  • He is moving from self-centeredness to God- and other-centeredness.  He recognizes his part in the body of Christ.  He is becoming equipped for service and mission by interdependence. He learns to push on when discouraged. He is learning faithfulness and responsibility.

5)    Spiritual Parent   – Reproducing                    1 Jn. 2:13a,14a; 2 Tim. 2:2

  • He can be counted on in ministry and thinks in terms of reproducing.  He can feed himself and intentionally recruits people for personal growth and reproducing disciple-makers on the church team.

(These stages are not based on a person’s amount of Bible knowledge, but on growth toward making disciples)

Message Based Discussion Questions

In what physical stage of growth does someone have the most joy? 

  • Some will say that the young adult has the most joy, because of the freedom obtained, but he has a lack of responsibility.
  • The real joy is in the spiritual parent stage, because the spiritual parent gets to be involved with a disciple who is transforming before the Lord from one stage to another.  Those are miracles that fill a parent with overwhelming joy.

Digging Deeper:

What happens when children do not grow up?

  • They remain in their spiritual stage of childhood, but become callused by depending on their physical maturity.  Their physical maturity dupes them into thinking they are spiritually mature.  
  • When children do not grow up, they may continue to study and become “brains on a stick.” (Someone who knows biblical truth, but do not apply it in discipling others.  
  • But “brains on a stick” are only good for becoming puffed up, proud and self-righteous. 
  • They often become critical of others, because they compare what they know to how others act. 
  • They fool themselves by their knowledge and continual learning, but they lack godliness of serving and discipling others who are discipling others.

How would you help a person to understand the blessing of being a parent? What are some of the challenges of being a parent? How are those overcome?

  • I would help them see the blessing of physical parents and the joy of raising children through the stages to parenthood.
    • I would relate my own experiences of discipling people to help them realize how they can do it also.  
    • I would take them through the outline to help them understand the academic outline of growth through the spiritual stages.  
  • The challenges of being a parent are numerous.
    • The parent must be faithful and responsible regardless of how he feels.
    • He must always think of the best interest of the child first before his own.
    • He must tend to the child, even when the child is rebellious and indifferent.
    • He must care for the child in the midst of other troubles in life, always putting the child first.
    • He may have to sacrifice his wants in order to meet the needs of the child.
    • He looks to the future growth of the child, rather than to the present problems of raising the child.
  • These are overcome through dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • The parent will continue to abide in Jesus and soak up His Word.
    • The parent will labor with others and be open to encouragement along with the others.
    • The parent will stick with a growing church where the disciples can grow and learn how to grow with other believers.
    • The parent will continue to be filled with God’s Spirit instead of depending on his flesh.

Why is it important to understand the spiritual needs of each stage?  What are the needs of spiritual infants and children?

  • It is important to understand the needs, so that you do not put unrealistic expectations on others
    • It is important to accept where a person is.
    • It is important to know how a person may be thinking to help him in future thinking.
    • It is important to know what a parent should do to provide for those needs.
  • Note the needs of infants and children on the article from the Spiritual Stages of Growth.

Application of the message to life:

What are differences between a child and young adult? 

  • A child is focused on himself, more than others, while the young adult is learning to help others more than be concerned about himself
  • The child is learning at a rapid rate, but is not always faithful in applying what he learns, while a young adult is learning to apply what he learns so he can become dependable and faithful.
  • The child readily complains when things are not going his way, while the young adult is learning that he must adjust to the needs of the entire group rather than demand what he wants.
  • The child has many highs and lows, while the young adult is much more stable, but still wanders off at times.

What are at least four things you could do to ensure you are growing up spiritually?

  • Be consistently in God’s Word to grow in relationship with Jesus.
  • Be urgent about conviction of sin in pursuing the holiness of God.
  • Be dependent on God’s Spirit rather than self in taking risks to move ahead in serving and looking for recruits.
  • Be upwardly focused on the things above rather than on the things below.

If you want to be considered spiritually mature, what needs to be true?

  • If I am going to be spiritually mature, I must be discipling those who are discipling others, or at least discipling others with the view that I am preparing them to disciple others.

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