Keys to Spiritual Growth
If we ask ourselves, “How does a Christian grow spiritually,” we would do well to look at the early church and observe how they grew spiritually. One of the greatest passages on the early church’s priorities is Acts 2:42ff. The early church was continually devoted to certain priorities. The words, “continually devoted” are actually one word in the Greek. It is from the root word, proskarteréō, which carries the basic idea of persistence or devotion. It is constantly and diligently attending to something. To further enhance the devotion of the early church, proskarteréō is used as a present participle. This means that the early church was continually being constant and diligent in giving attention to certain priorities.
What were the priorities that the early church devoted itself to? They were the Scriptures, Prayer, Fellowship, Witnessing, and Service.
- Perhaps these five keys are new to no one except brand new Christians. However, mature Christians will delight in them because they know that these keys were and are necessary for the spiritual growth in their own lives.
- Perhaps some might think that these five keys are too simplistic to have any real value for spiritual growth. The truth of the matter is that complexity is not a prerequisite for spiritual growth, obedience is. There are many truths in the Scriptures that are simple to understand but obviously not so simple to apply.
- The issue is, “Are you growing spiritually?” If not, it could be that one or more of these areas are being neglected in your Christian life.
The Importance of the Scriptures to Spiritual
The Scriptures Are The Word Of God (1Th 2:13)
- The first key to spiritual growth is the Scriptures. Studying, knowing, applying the Scriptures to one’s Christian life is absolutely necessary if there is going to be any spiritual growth.
- When we speak of the Word of God, it is different from any other writings, both past and present. Other writings, no matter how religious, truthful, or filled with inspiring anecdotes are only the product of man not God (2Pe 1:20-21).
- The Scriptures on the other hand are in all reality (alêthṓs) as they say they are, the “word of God” (lógon theoú). The Scriptures originated with and are the product of God (2Ti 3:16 - theópneustos - “God breathed”).
- Not only are the Scriptures God’s word, but they are accompanied with God’s power to “perform its work” (energéō - Eng. energy or energize) in believers. This is one of the reasons that the Scriptures are so necessary to spiritual growth.
The Scriptures Are The Basis Of Sanctification (Joh 17:17)
- In His High Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed for the sanctification of the believer. “Sanctification” (hagiázō) literally means to make holy and is the ongoing process whereby God works in the believer through His word to make the believer more like Christ (Phi 1:6; 2:12-13).
- Sanctification is accomplished as the believer’s thoughts, words, and actions are renewed to live according to God’s truth (Rom 12:1-2).
- What or where is truth? Jesus states it clearly; God’s word is truth and instructs us in the truth about God, about man, about salvation, about doctrine, and about duty.
- Christ has prayed for our sanctification and spiritual growth, but it cannot take place apart from the Word. How could you even define spiritual growth if it were not for the Word of God. The believer’s spiritual growth depends upon the degree of time he spends in the Word.
The Scriptures Are The Instrument Of The Holy Spirit’s Ministry (Eph 6:17)
- In Eph 6:17, the Scriptures are called the “sword of the Spirit.” The word for “sword” is máchaira, which is a small sword (or large knife) used for hand to hand combat. The context is speaking of the necessity of wielding the word of God in spiritual warfare.
- The fact that it is called the Spirit’s sword reveals that the Spirit’s ministry in the life of the believer centers around the Scriptures. This is especially true since another of the Holy Spirit’s ministry was the process of inspiration (2Pe 1:20-21).
- Furthermore, one cannot even spiritually discern the Scriptures without the illuminating ministry of the Spirit (1Co 2:12-16). Only believers have the Holy Spirit and the issue is spiritual growth. The only issue for unbelievers is salvation and new birth.
- The Holy Spirit is going to use the word of God in bringing the believer to maturity. Surely there are other ways in which He works in the life of the believer. However, to neglect the Scriptures would be to neglect the Spirit’s main instrument in spiritual growth.
The Application of the Scriptures for Spiritual Growth
Personal Commitment To The Scriptures (1Pe 2:2; Heb 5:12-13)
- Since the Scriptures are vital to the Spirit’s ministry in spiritual growth, every believer must make a personal commitment to study and apply the Scriptures daily.
- Peter tells us in 1Pe 2:2, a true believer will long (epipothéō - strong yearning) for the nourishment of the word. As he maintains a steady diet of the word, the result (hína - purpose or result clause) will be spiritual growth.
- The result of not having a steady diet of the word is stagnant immaturity (Heb 5:13 - nếpios - infancy). The goal of maturity is to move from milk (basic truths, abc’s) to solid food (deeper truths ) and even become teachers of those truths (Heb 5:12).
- Time must be set aside every day for personal bible study, memorization, and family devotions if there is going to be spiritual growth. If we were to approach our spiritual nourishment like our physical nourishment, we would never miss a meal.
Ecclesiastical Commitment To The Scriptures (Act 2:42 cp. Acts 6:4)
- When we look at the model of the early church we observe their priorities. One of the main priorities that they were continually committed to was that of the “apostle’s teaching.” The “apostle’s teaching” comes first in the list for emphasis.
- We also see that the apostles themselves were committed to teaching the Scriptures in Acts 6:4 (note the use of proskarteréō - “devote”). Therefore, the Scriptures were a priority in the ministry of the apostles and it was a priority to those who listened. The result was spiritual growth.
- If there is going to be spiritual growth in today’s church, it can only happen through a strong teaching ministry through the Word of God.
Commitment to The Defense Of The Scriptures
- If spiritual growth is so dependent on the Scriptures, then believers and churches must commit to the defence of the Scriptures. Satan’s strategy has always been to question God’s Word and attempt to remove its authority (Gen 3:1-5).
- The newest trend in the church which subverts the Scriptures is a movement called the, “Emerging Church.”
- The worldview of postmodernism – complete with an epistemology that denies the possibility of or need for propositional truth – affords the [Emerging Church] movement an opportunity to hop, skip and jump throughout the Bible and the history of Christian thought in order to take whatever pieces they want from one theology and attach them, like doctrinal post-it notes, to whatever picture they would want to draw. (Mohler)
- There can be no deconstruction or reconstruction of Christian beliefs because its foundation is based upon the inspired word of God, which is the basis for sanctification and the means for spiritual growth.
Article by Rev. Benjamin Acheampong, GBR London