There is no one-size-fits-all formula for growth in the Christian life. No one can give us “10 Steps to a Successful Christian Life”. So how do we grow from living on milk to devouring meat?
The process of growth in the Christian life is often referred to as sanctification. What this means is that while we are declared to be righteous at the time of our salvation, because Jesus’ righteousness has been credited to us, we are not actually righteous. Sanctification is the process which God uses to grow us more in righteousness. Or in other words, we grow to look more and more like Christ and we behave in ways that He would act. Yet there are many different ways that God uses to grow us.
One way we grow is through our intake of the Bible. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (emphasis mine, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV) We grow through the regular reading and studying of God’s Word and applying it to our daily lives. It’s not enough just to read it. We have to put it into practice. There are many ways that we can increase our intake of the Bible. While having a regular time of personal Bible reading and study is important, we also grow in our Bible intake through the preaching of God’s Word at a local church. Which leads to another way that God grows us.
We grow through community with other believers. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (emphasis mine, Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV) We grow through meeting with other Christians and encouraging each other in the faith, challenging each other to love and obey God. We share what we are learning through the Bible and pray for each other.
And so, another way we grow is through praying. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV) We grow in our dependence on God as we bring our requests to Him in prayer. Our faith in Him grows as He answers our prayers. As we learn more about Him, we praise and thank Him in our prayers. God speaks to us through His Word (the Bible) and we speak to God through our prayers. That is how our relationship grows.
There are many other means that God uses to grow us. We’ll talk about some of these in future blog posts, things such as suffering. While we participate in growing in our Christian life, ultimately it is God who grows us. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV) “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV) As we read our Bibles, meet with other Christians, and pray, God works in us to bring about growth so that we become mature and more like Christ. Sanctification, the process of becoming more Christ-like, is an ongoing process between us and God.