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Paul J. Bucknell
Purpose: Understanding Spiritual Growth, part 2/4 of the Discipleship 2 Establishing Hope series, gives a good overview of the whole process of spiritual growth from the beginning of spiritual growth to full maturity.
Discipleship Level 2 observes special things taking place. If they do not take place, then we are crippled to some degree. Our discussions might even reveal inadequate foundations carried over from Discipleship Level 1. Many believers never have had the privilege of being rightly mentored even at level 1. Spiritual growth is normal. We call this whole process spiritually maturing. At each level certain key things need to take place. When they do, we spiritually grow. When they do not, we do not grow as expected. Frustrations and all sorts of side problems develop if this much-needed growth does not take place.
￼"For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord abides forever. And this is the word which was preached to you." (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Spiritual life is a growth process. New life (i.e. regeneration) starts when the Spirit of God enters our life. Through the touch of the Spirit of God and faith in Christ, we repent and believe. We gain forgiveness, new life and a very important relationship with God. Jesus describes it, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
This life is poised to grow. Like a little seed, it has all it ￼needs to grow into a full grown plant or tree. This truth is wonderful to meditate on. Just like a seed that grows big and bears its own fruit, so our new life in Christ starts small but grows big. We only need to remember to nourish ourselves with the Word of God (like nutrition) and obey the Lord (like rain).
So let us now look at the whole scheme of spiritual growth and see what key things every believer should obtain at this second level. By the way, some of you no doubt are already in level 3 while others might be just entering level 2. That is fine. The lessons are the same.
The Flow chart has three significant levels, but one can be distracted from the main point if the believer is not careful. The way these three parts interconnect is more important than their individual parts. This Flow is all about what God is doing in our spiritual lives – building up our faith.
If we look at our problems or the horrible things that we hear about other believers, we might forget about the special things God is doing in us. The Flow chiefly speaks of God's purpose to bring new life into us through Christ's death and resurrection. He has committed His Spirit to flow in our lives. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus says, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." God through the Holy Spirit is working in our lives. He is causing us to grow. He is the powerful force at work in our lives.
And so when we speak of the Flow, we are primarily speaking of how God's Spirit purposes to help us live out Christ through all our daily lives and activities. God is at work. What flows? We usually think of water or air. Once there is a current, everything around it tends to move in that direction. If you have ever paddled a boat, you know all about currents. Going upstream (against the current) makes paddling so difficult.
When I was young. I would go off biking with the wind behind me. In no time at all I could travel many miles. But the moment of truth would come at the point I said, "I need to go back home!" Because I lived near the coast, sometimes a strong counter sea breeze would arise and the trip back would take several times longer than the outgoing trip. The Spirit of God's work in our life is our current that helps us along. Fortunately, we do not need to turn around! This same new life is meant to grow all through our lives.
Apostle John uses the analogy of physical growth to help us better understand spiritual growth. The growth process is the same. And so, like a parable, he instructs us on the three stages of growth: infant, teen and adult. ￼He uses the phrases little children, young men and fathers. In the infant stage the child needs a lot of one-to-one care. Feeding needs to occur often. The little one is learning all about love and gains a strong sense of security from his or her mother's constant love.
The young man is the strong one, bursting with enthusiasm, he is eager to grow and go on adventures The spiritual 'young person' (even though physically older) is learning how to overcome the evil one through the power of God's word. The father represents the older and more mature Christian. He or she has grown and now focuses much more energy on fathering or reproducing. They disciple and significantly shape the lives others.
Special things happen at each of these stages of physical growth. They also do with spiritual growth. What are some significant changes for the child 1-2 years old? ￼Growing teeth, mobility, eating solids, etc. The teen have changes associated with puberty. They are not yet adults (though they sometimes like to think so) and certainly not little children. They are full of adventure, seeking new relationships and experiences. Adults on the other hand differently utilize their energies. They have grown in wisdom, become settled in life and have started families.
Although many Christians might feel stuck in one of the two earlier stages, God intends to help them grow into a mature adult. Let me use an outline to diagram what perhaps should happen at each of these spiritual stages of growth.
Discipleship at the 2nd level
by Paul J. Bucknell
God's Word comes alive as you learn how to use it to overcome personal struggles like anxiety, depression, pride, lust and anger. God has made you strong! Many worksheets! (300+ pages). This is the full resource with all the complete and updated pages included!
Directory of Discipleship Articles
Basic Discipleship Stage
Basic discipleship stage and BFF materials.
Intermediate Discipleship Stage
intermediate discipleship stage and BFF materials.
Advanced Discipleship Stage
Advanced discipleship stage and BFF materials.
The Imperative of Discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2)
The Heart of True Discipleship (Isaiah 50:4-7)
Diagram of integrated Discipleship
7 principles on excellent teaching.
Designing discipleship curriculum
Stages and goals of discipleship
Integrates Church Growth with discipleship
Slides with explanation.
Growing the Church through Biblical Training
Explains 'The Flow'.
Learning how Christians grow
Understanding the Cycle of Decline and Revival (Judges 2)
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988