But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
We’re looking at the things a plant must have in order to grow — like good dirt, water, light and protection — and think about how that applies to us. Last week we thought about the good, rich dirt and how our church can be that nurturing environment. But that dirt can only get you so far. If it dries out, the plant is not going to last long. Oh, it will fold in on itself for a little while and try to survive, but it can’t.
The New Testament mentions water a few times so we’ll lean on those verses as we think about what is critically important to our growth. The first one comes as Jesus sits on the side a well in the Samaritan city of Sychar, talking to a woman who has come to draw her day’s supply of water.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
Then a little later, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), Jesus announces:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:38-39
So what does that tell us. First we can’t expect to grow as believers if we are not genuinely saved. If we have simply embarked on a Christian-ish program of self-improvement, we won’t see any more more transformation than I would see if I swore off M&Ms.
Birth must precede growth.
We have to come face to face with the reality that our sin offends a holy God and we are hopeless to ever make amends. However, perfect, sinless Jesus Christ has been judged for our sins, in our place, and God will accept that judgment and the death sentence that was carried out. Jesus’s resurrection is proof that God approved of Christ’s death on our behalf. Of course, this is not a global, general thing. It has to be an individual transaction. That’s why we use the term “personal” savior.
The Holy Spirit helps us grow.
How do we know that we are really born anew and not just messing around? If we understand how offensive our sin is to God and that horrible price it demanded for redress … we commit our lives to living in a way that pleases that holy God, even if we fail sometimes, the trajectory of our lives is clearly aimed at being like Jesus. That is accomplished not by us promising to do better but by the Holy Spirit living in us. The Holy Spirit Jesus was talking about in John 7:38-39.
The Word helps us grow.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. Ephesians 5:24-25
Paul adds another dimension to that water that we need to grow. He uses a theological word – sanctify. Sanctification is the process we go through that takes us from newborn babies who just believed in Jesus to fully mature saints in the very presence of God. (Hint: We won’t finish the process in this life.)
He says Christ cleanses us with the word. What “word” does Paul mean? Jesus is called the Word at the beginning of John’s gospel. The gospel is called the word (as in, preach the word). The Bible is called the word. You could make a case for all three. Jesus does the cleansing by His death on the cross. The gospel lets us know that we can’t do anything on our own, but we need Jesus for everything. (John 15:5) And as we learn about Christ and His ways through scripture we conform to it.
Immerse yourself in the Word. Soak in it. Read. Think about. Memorize. Study. Hear it taught and preached. Discuss it.
That’s how you grow.
Next week: Light.