3 Stages of Christian Growth (and how to avoid them)

Quenching and grieving the Spirit is the topic today, but first a little context on the role of the Spirit in our growth as followers of Christ.

We learned from Philippians 1:9-11 that there are 5 essentials in Christian growth.  We also learned that what sets this growth in motion is the Christian’s focus on God’s glory.  Lastly, we learned that what aids this growth is the Spirit.  If God’s glory is our focus, the Spirit will be at work in us – helping love abound in us, producing spiritual excellence in us, establishing personal integrity in us, and empowering genuine good works in us – all to God’s glory.

Simply put the Spirit’s work in us is to move us along a path to holiness.  Holiness means separate.  His work is to separate us further and further from sin, from temptation, from a preoccupation with the things of the world and thus closer to God.  This is the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Today’s reading issues a warning not to retard the work of the Spirit.  (1Thessalonians 5:19)  Today we will cover three things with a quick summary of each: 1.) the three stages of Christian growth, 2.) quenching the Spirit and 3.) stoking the Spirit.

The 3 Stages of Christian Growth:

  1. Babes. Babes in Christ know the name of Jesus.
  2. Young Men. Young men in Christ are strong. They know the Word and use the Word (the truth) to overcome the deceiver.
  3. Fathers. Fathers in Christ know God.

12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.  I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.  15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. – 1John 2:12-16

Quenching the Spirit:

1Thessalonians 5:1-11 and 1Thessalonians 5:6-22 give us instruction on Christian living.  In this instruction, there is a warning not to quench the Spirit.  Throughout Scripture, the Spirit is revealed to us as fire.  When a believer quenches the Spirit, the Spirit is grieved. (Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30)  When the Spirit is grieved it slows the Christian’s growth.  It is as if the Christian says “I’ve got this” to the Spirit by ignoring it and tosses a bucket of water on the fire.

Stoking the Spirit:

Stoking the Spirit is a term to illustrate the opposite of quenching the Spirit.  Here are three simple steps to stoke the Spirit.  The three steps for the recovering Christian:

  1. Read the Bible. (reading the Bible feeds the Spirit.)
  2. Listen to the Spirit. (quiet your life to be able to hear the still small voice and test what you hear against the Word.)
  3. Obey. (Luke 11:28, James 1:25, if there were a fourth step it would be: rinse, repeat.)

Stoking the Spirit is valuing the Spirit.  It is recognizing the Spirit as the source that empowers us to glorify God.  The Christian’s heart seeks God’s Glory, the Spirit sees it through. 

God, we need You.  Fill us with Your Spirit LORD.  May You reign in our hearts and may our eyes be Yours and Yours alone.  Amen.

Apostasy

Today’s reading Hebrews 5 and Psalm 13

The theme of spiritual growth has been a focus in In the last three readings I’ve been assigned.  Today is number four.

  1. Three posts ago was, The 5 Essentials for Christian Growth from Philippians 1:9-11;
  2. the next post was, The 3 Stages of Christian Growth (and how to avoid them) from 1 Thessalonians 5; where the topic was grieving the Spirit.
  3. the last post was, Be Strong from 2Timothy 2:2-6, wherein Paul gave us four relatable examples of what we should grow into, the teacher, the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.

Hebrews 5 closes with a warning against apostasy. Having heard enough to be teachers of Christ, there were those in this congregation that were turning back to Judaism. (Hebrews 5:12)  The Jews identified with being teachers, leaders of the blind, but here the writer rebukes them, essentially saying, you need to go back to the essentials.  You need to start again at the beginning with the basic things.

We know from 1John 2:12-16 the three stages of Christian growth:

  1. Babes. Babes in Christ know the name of Jesus.
  2. Young Men. Young men in Christ are strong. They know the Word and use the Word (the truth) to overcome the deceiver.
  3. Fathers. Fathers in Christ know God.

In my estimation, the writer was essentially saying, you think you are on stage three but you are obviously failing stage two (you are deceived).

This statement is made to the whole congregation as a preface to what the writer is going to share. In paraphrasing, he is saying, ‘I’m getting ready to go deep here.  Get ready, and know that some of you aren’t going to get it because you’re self-deceived.’  The beginning of chapter 6 then wraps up the warning to those that have heard the truth and been led astray down paths of false doctrine.  It is horrifying.  

 

God, may we all grow in You and You alone.  May we grow in Your Word and be strong, able to discern the truth and overcome the deceiver.  God would you give each of us all a thirst for your Your Word?  We need You LORD.  Amen.