October 22, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, How to Be A Growing Christian.
You can only be young once, but you can be immature for a long time. Are you a growing Christian, moving toward maturity?
Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
Perfect here does not mean sinless; it means mature. How do you measure a ministry? Not by the size of the buildings, the offerings, or the Sunday School attendance. Are you becoming more and more like Jesus?
Sanctification, spiritual growth, is a lifelong process, not a hundred-yard dash. Nobody is instantly spiritually mature.
I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
Little babies are so wonderful. Oh, the joys and thrills when God brings a baby into a home! But here is a fact about these wonderful little babies: they are the most selfish creatures on Earth. They are crude and rude. They burp in your face and think nothing of it. They just lie around the house—they don’t cook, clean, or bring anything in. They are totally inconsiderate.
Imagine if someone looked at a baby and said, “If that’s a human being, I don’t want to be one.” So don’t go find a baby Christian and say, “If that’s a Christian, I don’t want to be one!”
No matter your age, when you first get saved, you are a babe in Christ. What is the main thing a new Christian thinks about? “Your sins are forgiven you…” (See 1 John 2:12.) Thank God my sins are forgiven! I’m on my way to Heaven.
Do not think that a great church is one where everyone is a mature Christian. That’s a failing church—like a home with no children or grandchildren. There is a legitimate childhood stage of Christianity, and we need to make new believers feel at home.
So thank God for born-again baby Christians! But they have to grow up.
The Church is, in one sense, a maternity ward. The problem is that some stay in the infant nursery for far too long. When you could be mature, but you are still a baby—not growing, not working, not serving, having to be served—may God have mercy upon you.
I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one….I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
No longer milk bottles, but mighty battles. These Christians have moved to become workers and warriors.
Are you a servant, or are you still being served? Maybe you come to church on Sunday and think you have done God a favor. You are saved, but you are not in the battle. Delayed growth is a shame to Almighty God.
This is how you grow in Jesus Christ: you move to the next stage, where John says the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God has made you strong, and you have overcome the wicked one. Is the devil afraid of you? Are you any threat to Satan’s kingdom?
Are you a victor, or a victim?
I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
This is where growing in faith is leading us.
A father is someone who has come to mature wisdom. He has moved even beyond building and battling. He has been with the Lord so long that his life is beginning to manifest the likeness of God.
John is not talking here about chronological age or gender. If you are a woman, this can apply to you. If you are a young person, this can apply to you.
A father is somebody who has children. Do you have any spiritual children? Paul called Timothy his “son in the faith.” (See 1 Timothy 1:2.) You can have spiritual grandchildren and great-grandchildren—people you have won to Jesus go and win other people. Are you going to go to Heaven empty-handed, or will there be spiritual children there when you stand at Jesus’ feet?
A father is known for his ability to give. When you become a father in the Lord, you will want to give to these little babes in Christ, to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
God is not saying that you can substitute manhood for childhood and fatherhood for manhood. A father is a composite of all of these things. Never lose the wonder and sweetness of childhood—remember when your sins were forgiven. When you get to be a father, don’t step out of the spiritual warfare. Just add things until you become a full-grown man, really mature in the Lord.
To fail to grow in Christ is a sin. If you do not love Jesus more today than you did yesterday, you have backslidden.
John calls new Christians “little children” twice in 1 John 2:12-13. He uses one word which simply means “born ones,” and, and another word which means “children under discipline.” Don’t try to grow up before you get born. You must to be born again as a child of God in order to grow.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The word “desire” means “to crave.” You are commanded to crave Bible reading!
Some of you say, “Pastor, I’m not winning any battles, my prayers aren’t answered, nothing is making sense. I’m discouraged.”
How is your Bible study?
“Oh, well…I go to church on Sunday morning—if company doesn’t come and it’s not raining.”
That is like giving a newborn baby four gallons of milk on weekends. It’s not going to get spiritual growth done. You have to be feeding day by day on the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God.
Spiritual growth takes time. There are no shortcuts. Keep plodding along, and you will find out that you will grow. You can grow fast if you saturate yourself in His Word.
It takes discipline and exercise to not be a flabby Christian. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Do you want spiritual maturity? Get a job—that is, find something to do in the Church. There is a place of service for you. Maybe you can’t teach, but you can help in the dining hall, in the office, in the gym, in the prison ministry. Get busy for the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:12-14; Ephesians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:14
Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.