Growing Up in Christ

MEMORY SELECTION: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” —II Peter 3:18

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:12-16; I John 4:13-21

IN OUR previous study we discussed what it means to be in Christ. It involves a full and unreserved consecration to God on the part of the individual. But everything hinges upon God’s acceptance of that consecration. If it is accepted, then the individual is justified by the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:9) and begotten of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of God in giving the Holy Spirit to those who are in Christ is to reveal to them spiritual truths. The Apostle Paul expresses the matter thus: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”—I Cor. 2:12,13

Growing up in Christ involves growing in spiritual knowledge and then the application of that knowledge in the Christian’s life. (Matt. 7:21; Luke 11:28) Our Lord, in his wonderful Sermon on the Mount, gave us many elements of a truly mature Christian character. Some of these facets of Christian maturity are humility, compassion, a love of righteousness, mercy, a love of peace, a willingness to suffer for righteousness, a desire to proclaim the Gospel, a supreme love for God, and an unfeigned love for the brethren.

The Apostle Paul tells us that these qualities are not admired by the world (I Cor. 1:25-29); and because of this, if the Christian manifests these things he will receive persecution. Jesus stated: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. … But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.”—John 15:19-22

The entire matter centers around the point that Satan is the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4; John 14:30) and that because of this the world is in darkness, and the darkness hateth the light. (John 3:19,20) The world hates the light, because their evil works are made manifest by it.—Eph. 5:13

The Apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus and his experiences during his ministry of letting his light shine in a dark place, stated: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: and being made perfect [mature], he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Heb. 5:8,9) The thought is that Jesus became mature, or full-grown, as a new creation by the things he was permitted to suffer under difficult and trying circumstances.

The Heavenly Father has so arranged that in the school of Christ the footstep followers of the Master must also let their light shine in the darkness of this world. The experiences that result from this ministry will provide the means of exercising the Christian principles propounded in the Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Through use, these principles finally become fixed in the character of the Christian. He becomes mature, or grown-up, in Christ as he learns to appreciate the purpose of suffering for righteousness’ sake. “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”—I Pet. 2:19-21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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