We Believe in Christ. We Belong to Christ. We Serve Christ.

Growing in Christ

by Mark Ottaway on January 21, 2019

Most sincere believers in Christ have the desire to grow spiritually, and there are many paths on which this might take the Christian. We all make resolutions to possibly pray more, study more, listen to Christian music, have a greater commitment to church and ministry, deepen our friendships with other believers, or pay more attention to our lifestyle. These are all important pursuits and are an advantage to us in our Christian walk. Yet at its beginning, the desire to grow spiritually means becoming more like Christ. So the real question for the believer who desires to grow is how does a person become Christ-like? This would necessitate having a better understanding of God. In other words, to become like Christ, would mean to know better the character of Christ; and to know better the character of Christ, would require that we know God better.

So how does one best understand God? Is it through the description of Him by biblical writers, as the Old Testament writers had much to say about God and His attributes? Or is it through the action of God in His relationship with Israel? Or is it through the life of Christ, as the divine God came to earth in the flesh? Or do we come to understand God through the lives of other believers? It could be argued from the Bible that there is no such thing as a true believer who does not have the personal goal of understanding and knowing God, and therefore becoming more like Christ (Ephesians 2:10). However, the reality is that this will be a battle for the believer as he fights against his old nature, as even the Apostle Paul experienced (Romans 7). It would seem to be a waste of one’s life to miss a relationship with God and therefore to miss the purpose of God in one’s life.

The process of biblical study is likely the best means of gaining a greater experience with God. Depth of knowledge is not something that happens overnight, but through a long growing relationship, just as in a marriage or with a friend; but even more so in this case, because of the enormity of God. There is also the influence of godly lives of others who strive to live like Christ, but only as they too have been influenced by the Word of God. The Reformers helped us with this as they looked to the written Word “to come to a living awareness of both God’s being and his power…true theologia could only be a theology of the Word (logos) by which God entered into a covenant fellowship with his people.”[1]

When studying the Bible it is important to understand the overriding plan of God. God, who is the Creator, the God of Israel, the God who has kept His promises to creation and to Israel, and then His plans for the nations. This stresses a much deeper relationship than our modern-day churches present, not necessarily catering to earthly desires, but fulfilling the eternal plan of God for His people. This reminds us of the bigness of God, and then be overwhelmed by the amazement that such a God would desire to have a relationship with us.

Ultimately, the church grows as individual believers grow in Christ, as iron sharpens iron (Psalm 27:17). Therefore, just as we have the responsibility to be an example to our spouse and children, we are also to be an example within the body of Christ. To gain the wisdom and knowledge of Christ is greater wisdom than all humanity combined. It is also important to show proper submission to such a great God, by being submissive to His established leadership within the church. In conclusion, my personal spiritual growth is dependent upon a better understanding of God, desiring the character of Christ, learning from strong Spirit-filled believers within the church, being an example to others, and submitting to church leadership.   

 

[1] Gerald Bray, ed., The Doctrine of God: Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), ch 1.