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.

Looking for direction?

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 12; Psalms 97–98; Isaiah 40; Revelation 10

June 8th, 2016

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. – Isaiah 40:3

One of the most peace filled promises our God makes to us is to provide us direction. This life is filled with choices and consequences. We desire to know our future holds an improved state today, yet we live in a fallen world. God promises direction amidst the wiles of the Devil. From the beginning the prophets had clear direction.  Isaiah 40:3 is a prophecy of John the Baptist. If you went down to the Jordan river to see John the Baptist this is what you would hear:

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Matthew 3:2b

Throughout scripture the prophets came, Jesus came and then the Holy Spirit came and they all brought with them the truth and it pointed in one direction. This prophesy is no different. The prophets, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all brought a message of repentance, identification that it was needed and to highlight a way to it and with it redemption with God. Here Isaiah is paving the way for John the Baptist who paved the way for Jesus the Christ who died on the cross, rose from the dead in three days and went to heaven. Jesus thus paved the way for the Holy Spirit who brought to remembrance all truth Jesus spoke to the disciples and now we have the divinely inspired New Testament (John 14:26). From the beginning there was direction. Everything pointed to the cross. Which is where we should still be looking and headed today. Clear direction.

All truth points to the cross. The Word is truth (John 17:17). The Word became flesh (John 1:14) and the truth helps the lost find their way (Luke 19:10). It reveals and indicts (John 3:19). Jesus pardons those who believe on Him and confess with their mouth (Romans 10:9). The love of the pardon’s heart pours out in obedience to their Master (John 14:15). They love the LORD their God with all their heart and soul and mind as they begin to calibrate with their eternal citizenry in God’s kingdom. The works are evidence of the belief (James 2:17). Works do not save (Galatians 5:4). Faith saves (Romans 5:1-2). The works bring forth a testimony of salvation (James 2:18). The works belong to God (James 1:17). Do you feel God working in your life? Are you sure you truly believe?

From Isaiah 40:3, the word translated as ‘make straight’ is ישׁר. It means to please, to be straight, smooth and right. It is the same word that is translated several other ways, one other way is ‘direct’. It’s translated as ‘direct’ three times in the KJV, one of these three is in Proverbs 3:6:

In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.- Proverbs 3:6

The word translated as acknowledge is ידע, it means to know, notice, hear of, learn; to reveal, be/become known; to realize. The idea here is simple to understand. By God’s grace may we observe it and truly believe. God is worthy of all our trust. All of it. He has provided a way through the cross to salvation. Acceptance of this way brings with it abandonment and repentance from all and every attempt to attain salvation or reconciliation with God by our own strength or wisdom. Realize this truth. Do not forget it when you walk in the way. When you go out and come in. Carry it with you. Make use of it. All the time. When you are deciding left or right, go or stay, this or that; realize. IF you truly believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is the LORD, your future is already made perfect. You have already been purchased. You are a child of the light. Bring this truth with you to all your decisions and go in peace. There is one way. There is one path. Their is one direction. It is narrow and strait and it is headed to the cross. Are you on it?

Morning worship: Lead Me to the Cross

May God bless you all today and give you a single eye for Him. Amen.