Pattern of Spiritual Growth

Lesson 1998
Tags: Christian service; Spiritual growth; 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 2:6-9
Excerpted from Serving God: A Plan for Success
Related Resources: Growth: A New Testament Overview ▪ Life in the Vine: Notes on John 15:1-17


Biblical Texts

2 Peter 3.18

18   But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Colossians 2.6-9

6     As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:

7     Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

8     Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

9     For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Exegesis

  • Spiritual growth is the norm for the Christian life; in fact, it is commanded by both Peter (2 Pet 3.18: “grow in grace”) and Paul (Col 2.6: “walk ye in him”). Spiritual growth is mandatory, thus the use of the imperative mode in both texts. We are responsible for it, thus the active voice is used. It is to be an ongoing, continuous process, therefore the present tense is used.
  • Some things are settled in the past: Upon receiving Christ as Lord, our roots were planted in him (Col 2.6-7). Therefore, we have the proper foundation for continued spiritual growth. Growth occurs in the same direction in which our roots are pointed.
  • Growth should be an ongoing reality, as implied by the use of present participles in verse 7 (“built up” and “stablished”).
  • Spiritual growth is above all the result of a relationship with Christ. Nothing should be allowed to hinder us from focusing on him who is the God in the flesh (Col 2.8-9).

Application

  • We are responsible to grow spiritually, yet just as a plant cannot be made to grow, neither can we force the issue of spiritual growth. The only thing we can do is create an environment that is conducive to growth.
  • We should remember that spiritual growth is more a matter of being than of doing. In other words, growing as a Christian consists more of relating properly to Christ (i.e., knowing him more intimately) than of adhering to codes of conduct.

Discussion

  • When Peter said, “Grow in grace and knowledge,” did he mean that these are the means of our growth or the areas of our growth?
Note: Technically, either interpretation is grammatically possible. The Greek grammar is simple and thus ambiguous. Commentators do not agree on the proper interpretation. Following is my assessment: Grace and knowledge are to be seen as the means of our growth. As we tap into the grace that Christ offers us daily, and as we come into greater knowledge of him, we will grow. Grace and knowledge are the conditions under which spiritual growth occurs.
  • What can we do to create conditions that are appropriate for spiritual growth in our lives?
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