Growing Up in Christ

We must come to Jesus as a Child.

Our Lord expects everyone who comes to Him to come as if he/she were a child. Whether one is ninety years old or an adolescent who has just realized what sin is, GOD has established the pattern of His plan. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 18:3-4. A child will always look to his parents for guidance and this is what our Father in heaven expects from His children.

Feeding the new child in Christ.

When an infant is first born, most of its waking time is spent feeding and growing up into a child. Unfortunately many newly born Christians do not recognize that they also have many of the same needs as any newborn infant in the world. The apostle Peter readily reminded Christians how important it was to feed their spiritual life with the Word of GOD. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious" 1 Peter 2:2-3.

Unfortunately many new Christians die spiritually following their baptism into Christ because mature Christians and ministers of the Gospel do not emphasize the importance of a regular spiritual feeding on the Word of GOD. Our Lord Jesus clearly made this distinction as He contrasted the bread of the world with the Word of GOD when He was being tempted in the wilderness. "But He answered and said, 'It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" Matthew 4:4. The Lord Jesus was the living Word of GOD as proclaimed in the Gospel of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" John 1:1-2. Later in this same Gospel, Jesus explains that He is the very food of eternal life. "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, Lord, give us this bread always. And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" John 6: 33-35. Infants in the very early stages of life need to feed often, even more than an adult. Yet many Christians fail to feed regularly much less daily on the Word of GOD. The spiritual foundation of every Christian is his faith in Jesus Christ. Paul in his letter to the Romans explains from whom our faith comes. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" Romans 10:17.

Remaining free from sickness.

As in our earthly lives, for a child to grow into adulthood he/she must remain free of sickness and disease. The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. Sin in a Christian's life is just as damaging to our spiritual health as any cancer is to our fleshly bodies. All Christians must continually repent or turn away from sin in their lives. Nothing will destroy a Christian's spiritual life faster than harboring sin in one's life. The Word of GOD often describes the forgiveness of sin as 'healing.' "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness -- by whose stripes you were healed" 1 Peter 2:24. Christians are warned by the writer of the Hebrew letter how easily it is for Christians to become entangled in sin. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" Hebrews 12:1-3. GOD's Word has always explained the need for every Christian to strive to walk as Jesus walked. "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" 1 John 1:5-10. As Christians, if we walk in the light of GOD's Word and if we continue to confess that we are sinners and repent of our sins, we gain GOD's promise that He will continue to cleanse us of our sins. Part of our spiritual strength comes from our Heavenly Father's reassurance of forgiveness as we attempt to walk as Jesus walked.

Children need exercise.

Children have a need to grow up strong physically through constant exercise. The same can be said for a new child in Christ. New Christians must exercise their faith in order to grow spiritually. Jesus compares doing the will of GOD with a man who built his house on a foundation of bedrock in Luke 6: 46-48. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock." The house is a Christian's life built on a strong faith in Christ. By putting into practice what he reads and understands as GOD's will as he reads GOD's Word, he exercises his faith in Jesus. The more he reads and then puts the Word into practice, the stronger a Christian's faith grows. In James' letter he explains that GOD will bless those who put His Word into practice. "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" James 1:21-25.

Finally the apostle Peter reassures all Christians that they can make their salvation sure if they practice all the principles of Christian growth. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" 2 Peter 1:2-10.

Joe Andrasik

Published in The Old Paths Archive (http://www.oldpaths.com)