Word Alive! © 2022 Fall Series Connected! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 8 Nov. 2022, Lesson 3, Part 1
Thom S. Rainer, Connected – My Life In the Church (Session 2)
Devotional Time: Thom S. Rainer, Connected, Chapter 3 (pp. 24-33)
Connected To Grow – We have been born into the spirit of Christ through faith. Our resolve to receive Christ as Lord and Savior is a single event (See, Ephesians 1:13-14, NLT). However, the subsequent events of our spiritual lives involve growing and maturing to become more like Christ. Growth in understanding Christ and becoming like Him is a life-long process. Similar to attaining maturity in the human realm; we grow in Christ through developmental moments, in life (Read, I Corinthians 13:11, NLT). We note the Apostle Paul described growth in sequential stages: speaking, thinking, and reasoning (or maturing). The text describes more than Paul’s physical growth; but also, is a metaphor for spiritual growth. Much of spiritual growth is not as predictable as physical growth, but the results of spiritual growth are visibly evident in the maturity of our character. The Psalmist beautifully expresses what it is to discover that there’s a change in your spiritual maturity (See, Psalm 131:1-2, NLT). We have been brought into the body of Christ, the Church, for the purpose of growth, character and spiritual maturation. We grow through learning, and engaging with others in harmony. Spiritual growth cannot occur where there is disunity, obstinance, or a false sense of pride. (Read, (Romans 12:16, NLT). there must be mutual respect and love for each other within the church, for spiritual growth and Christian formation to be effective. In his final letter to the early Christians, the Apostle Peter warned believers to safeguard themselves against false teachings. Although enticing, Christians were told not to be lured away by erroneous teachings and untrue information. Peter further admonished Christians to [continuing growing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Read, 2 Peter 3:17b-18, NLT). The word often translated “grow” in 2 Peter 3 is an imperfect verb, which means continuous action. Humans are very knowledgeable and inventive; however, our knowledge is pale in comparison to God’s wisdom and knowledge (See, Romans 11:33-36, NLT). This is why our spiritual lives must depend on the knowledge of God, and the teachings of Jesus Christ, His Son, to facilitate our spiritual growth and maturity. Also, Christ has ordained that growth in Him is accomplished in fellowship with other believes. Christian maturity in the church follows this pattern:
a. Fellowship induces discipleship (Acts 2:43-44, NLT).
b. Discipleship induces spiritual growth (Acts 11:22-26, NLT).
c. Spiritual Growth brings Christian maturity (I Cor. 13:11.
Connected To Grow, Part 2 – As Christians we are connected with each other to help us all grow and mature in Christ. God equips the church with gifts to facilitate the process of growth. Every Christian is endowed with at least one spiritual gift. Many Christians have multiple gifts. The Apostle Peter describes each gift as important to the growth and empowerment of the church. Peter said, “God has given each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (I Peter 4:10, NLT). We note that much of our growth comes from the exercise of our spiritual gifts. The Greek term charismata means “to be gifted;” or, “to be enabled for service.” Coincident to our birth in Christ is the imputation of at least one spiritual gift; these gifts are to be used to “build up” the body of Christ; the church. In addition to the variety of gifts given to all believers, there are other gifts which require greater effort and accountability. For example, the ability to reach others and impart the Gospel message to diverse individuals and groups necessitates the work of an evangelist. This is illustrated in the ministry of Philip, a Gentile- Christian who taught the Word to the African official, who needed an understanding of the Messiah as revealed in Isaiah’s prophecy (See, Acts 8:29-31, NLT). Philip often is regarded as having the gift of an evangelist. The Apostle Paul explains, the growth and maturity of the church is dependent on some specially given gifts, where the specific purpose is to provide leadership and direction so the church, all believers, can attain full spiritual maturity (See, Ephesians 4:11-13, NLT). These gifts appear in the Greek text as domata; meaning special abilities, which require more responsibilities (See, Ephesians 4:8). They are only different from the other gifts in kind, and not in any order or rank. Such gifts require a complete life-focus; or a vocational call. The gifts Paul describes here, work alongside all other gifts - where the single purpose is to bring full maturity to the body of Christ. The effects of our gifts are evident, as we grow deeper into Christ, and become the spiritually mature believers for which we are called (See, Ephesians 4:14-15, NLT). We become healthier as God’s people!
__________________________KEY IDEA __________________________
What We Believe!
“We are connected so we can grow together in Christ.”
1. We have been born into Christ Jesus to grow and mature.
2. Our growth is continuous; evolving into Christ-likeness.
I Corinthians 13:11, NLT
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
Psalm 131:1-2, NLT
“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.”
Romans 12:16, NLT
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all.”
2 Peter 3:17b-18, NLT
“Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to Him, both now and forever.”
Romans 11:33-36, NLT
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? And who has given Him so much that He needs to payit back? For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.”
Acts 8:29-31, NLT
“The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I unless someone instructs me/” And he urged Philip to come into the carriage and sit with him. “
Ephesians 4:11-13, NLT
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the Church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to unity in our faith and knowledge of God’ Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:14-16, NLT
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so cleaver they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love. Growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is head of His body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work it helps the other parts grow… so the whole body is healthier and growing…”