What ingredients are necessary for spiritual growth?
Everyone wants to grow in life. We look at human babies and do everything we can to encourage them to grow up and not remain infantile in their actions. The growth process is long and often arduous, but the joy of maturity and wisdom is something everyone rejoices over. As a child grows up and becomes a parent, the cycle repeat itself and a new generation is born.
God designed us to grow spiritually also. There is one focus in growth. Peter commanded, “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:18) What does that look like?
This article will focus on the ingredients for growth, not the stages of growth.1 There are three ingredients for growth. The first ingredient is the Word of God. The Bible is the sustenance we need for growth. Jesus said, “It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.‘” (Matt. 4:4) The Word of God is to spiritual growth as bread is to physical growth. Peter declared that we should long for the milk of the Word as babes, “…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby…” (1 Pet. 2:2) Why should we long for it? “The Word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). David wrote,
- 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
- 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
- 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
- 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psa 19:7-10)
Jesus said very plainly, “Sanctify them in truth, Your Word is truth.” John 17:7
In fact, the Word of God is tested, pure and sufficient,
- 5 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
- 6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Pro. 30:5-6)
If you hide God’s Word in your heart, you will not sin against the Lord, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You! (Ps. 119:11) Yes, the first ingredient for spiritual growth is God’s Word.
The second ingredient for spiritual growth is God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit is necessary to guide us into the meaning and application of God’s Word. John wrote, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13) That is He will teach and guide us in how to live it out.
Without God’s Spirit we would not be able to understand God’s Word. Paul addressed the immature Corinthian church saying,
- 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
- 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
- 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:12-14)
This is not referring to new revelation, but the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to enlighten what is darkened by sin. It is the Spirit that sheds light on God’s Word, so we can understand God, know Him and enter into an intimate relationship with Him.
In fact it is the illuminating ministry of the Spirit that is necessary to understand the depth of Scripture as Paul prays,
- 18 the eyes of your understanding1 being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
- 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (Eph. 1:18-19)
For it is the Spirit of the Lord who removes the darkness and gives us liberty in the light,
- 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
- 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
- 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
- 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Cor 3:14-17)
The second ingredient for spiritual growth is the Holy Spirit.
The third ingredient for spiritual growth is your faith. Faith is your choice to depend on the Lord rather than yourself. Faith is trusting in God’s will rather than your own. Paul said, “…for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23) The writer to Hebrews described faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Faith is knowing that Jesus is God’s plan for salvation and the Savior of the world. It is agreeing that Jesus is your Substitute, who paid the penalty for your sin on the cross. And faith is trusting in Jesus as the only Savior and means of salvation. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Faith is necessary for salvation, but it is also necessary for sanctification, that is everyday living. Paul wrote, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Col. 2:6) In fact, it must be a moment by moment faith that rests in the Lord’s working in your life. The writer to the Hebrews pictures this moment by moment faith-rest in Jesus as He diligently works through us.
- Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
- 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
- 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
- 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Heb 4:1,2,10-11)
Our faith keeps us from working and allows Him to work. It is interesting that Paul describes his labor. Paul writes, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” (Col 1:29) Notice, Paul’s “work” is according to God’s working, which works, so that it is no longer Paul who works.
When I trust in His plan by faith to implement His Wordby means of His Spirit, I will grow spiritually. A future article will reveal what happens if one of the ingredients is missing.