Growth: A New Testament Overview

Lesson 2001
Tags: Spiritual growth; Church
Excerpted from The Disciplines of the Christian Life
Related Resources: Pattern of Spiritual Growth; Spiritual Maturity through Affliction: Insights from Psalm 119 ▪ Life in the Vine: Notes on John 15:1-17

God desires growth--both spiritual and numerical.

1.     God commands us to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

2.     One of Paul’s highest aspirations for the Colossian church was that they grow in the knowledge of God, so walking worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10).

3.     We are commanded to take actions that result in growth (1 Pet. 2:2)

God is the ultimate Source of growth.

1.     Growth is referred to specifically as originating in God and being mediated by Christ, the Head of the Body (Col. 2:19).

2.     The growth of the Corinthian church is attributed to God rather than the ministers who labored there (1 Cor. 3:6-7). As a result, there is no room for pride or partisanship in ministry.

Growth occurs in the context of . . .

faithful leadership

1.     The Corinthian church grew through the planting ministry of Paul and the watering efforts of Apollos (1 Cor. 3:6).

2.     God has ordained that his Church, the Body of Christ, grow through the leadership of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers (Eph. 4:11-16).

exposure to the Word of God

1.     The expansion of the church in Acts was the result of the spreading (literally, growth) of God’s Word (6:7; cf. 12:24; 19:20).

2.     Spiritual growth is specifically linked to the consumption of the pure milk of the Word of God (1 Pet. 2:2).

3.     Spiritual leaders are to provoke believers to growth. Growth occurs as believers are equipped to replace doctrinal instability with a focus on “speaking the truth [literally, truthing] in love” (Eph. 4:11-16).

communion with fellow Christians

1.     Growth occurs as we fellowship with other Christians on the basis of truth (Eph. 4:15-16).

2.     References to growth in the New Testament uniformly presume the context of a local body of believers that pursues the will of God in unity (e.g., Acts 6:7; 19:20; Eph. 2:19-21; Col. 1:10; 2:18-19; 1 Pet. 2:2ff).


Paul prayed that the members of the church at Colosse would grow in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9-10).

a deepening relationship with Christ

1.     The key to spiritual growth is not legalistic observance of religious rituals, but connectedness to Christ (Col. 2:18-19).

2.     The growth of the Church is likened to the building of a temple, with Christ serving as the chief cornerstone of the foundation (Eph. 2:19-22).

3.     The growth of the church is expressed in terms of believers drawing closer to Christ (Eph. 4:15-16).

4.     We are commanded to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).