RSS

Tag Archives: growth stages

The Walk of Maturity

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the final post about the stages of spiritual growth. In my last post I talked about the frustration of an immature believer wanting a quick, easy way to the blessings of maturity.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
Galatians 4:1-3

This is a truth that many have missed. Our position in Christ is not enough for us to experience the manifestation of His power. If you’re a spiritual child, you have the position of righteousness and holiness. But you’re still in slavery to the principles of the world.

Spiritually, you own everything that Christ has purchased for you on the cross. But practically speaking, you’re living out your life never experiencing the reality of it because you’re a child. We have to come to the realization that position only gets you into the presence of God. When it comes to the power of God, you need the freedom and authority of adulthood.

As spiritual children, we’re still under the supervision – literally the guardianship and training –of the law. I think you’ll be surprised by this aspect of childhood.

In the Faith Movement, we were taught the importance of trusting the Word of God. As a result, we learned that the promises of God could be embraced and applied to our lives. This was when we started to submit to the guardianship of the law of God.

We learned how to follow the requirements of the promises. For instance – if I tithe, then God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a financial blessing upon me. Make no mistake about it. Even though this was a fundamental part of our growth process, it was still a part of our childhood. This is how children are trained to obey.

“If you’ll take out the trash every week, I’ll give you an allowance.”

“If you’ll tithe, I’ll open up the windows of heaven for you.”

Living on the level of “if you do this, I’ll do that” is the childhood phase of our walk. We all must go through it, but we’re not meant to stay there.

When I was a child, one of my chores was to put out the trash every week for pickup. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be free of my parents’ rules.

I’m now an adult with a family of my own. Actually, I’m still putting the trash out every week – but there’s a difference. I don’t put out the trash because I’ll lose the privilege to use the car. I put out the trash because THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO. I’m not under a law that tells me that I have to do it to receive a blessing. I do my chores because I’m an adult.

I still give a tithe of my finances to the Lord, but, with an adult mindset. God blesses my finances because I’m His son. I tithe because that’s what mature believers do. Spiritually speaking, I’m in my Father’s family business. I get my salary from Him. I know that it would please Him if I reinvest 10% back into His business every week. Why would I refuse? He’s never failed to provide for me.

Since I’ve started to look at God’s kingdom from this perspective, I’ve had more peace and freedom than I’ve ever known before. I’ve seen more answered prayer than I ever have before. My prayer is that I can apply this to more and more areas of my life.

The Lord is looking for His people to rise up to this level of maturity in Him. We need a revelation of what sonship is all about.

Question: What’s the next stage in your spiritual growth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Prayer, Revival, Sonship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Adulthood

Lion2This is a continuation of a series about the spiritual growth stages in the life of the believer. Today I’m talking about adulthood.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This word, perfect, also means to be mature and complete. This is God’s desire for His people. That we attain to the same level of maturity as Christ.

The unfortunate thing is that many teach that this is impossible. Over and over we are told that to walk like Jesus is beyond our reach. I don’t buy into this type of reasoning.

When I see the lives of the Apostles in the book of Acts, I don’t get the idea that they’re immature. I see the same signs and wonders that were performed by the Lord. I see thousands of people drawn to, and changed by, the Word of God. If it was possible for them, then the same is true for us – if we’re willing to walk the same road they walked to get there.

One of the key ingredients to us reaching this level is the ministry gifts God has given to the body of Christ. In talking about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Paul said that they were given as gifts to the church. They have a very clear purpose.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13

The goal of the five-fold ministry is the maturing of the saints. The level of that maturity is beyond question. It is that we would live and minister as the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write these words if it were not possible? We need to stop making excuses, and start working towards the walk of maturity.

Paul understood this aspect of his work as an apostle of Christ.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:28-29

That’s the goal of the ministry. We are here to present everyone – not just a select few – perfect and mature in Christ. This requires supernatural strength and wisdom. We cannot hope to perform this on a merely human level. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this great task.

The belief that this is impossible to achieve in our lifetime only serves to undermine the Lord’s goal for us. We need to recognize where He’s leading us to, and cooperate with the Lord’s program for our development. After all, He’s bringing us on an incredible spiritual journey.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

In the book of James we are shown the path it takes to get to maturity. The final piece he talks about is perseverance. But I want us to see the result of this work. What happens once you reach this mature walk?

James clearly states, from the Holy Spirit and his experience, that when you walk in maturity you lack nothing. Lacking nothing – that’s what the church is striving for in this generation.

If we’re going to operate at this level, then we need the spiritual walk of maturity.

Question: What would the ministry of a spiritually mature believer look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Ministry, Sonship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Adolescence

SkateboardI’m continuing to post about the growth stages of the believer. Today I’m talking about spiritual adolescence.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical. If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence. Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own. You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in. We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us. We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with. The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood. This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways. We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord. Until this happens, we will never attain to our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up. Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth. They are saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention. His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo. It’s where we get our English word morph. We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics. When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed. That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me. I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived. This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life it happens almost unnoticed. Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore. As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level. This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What stage of growth do you find yourself in right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Childhood

FallenI’m posting about the growth stages in the life of believers. Today I want to talk about spiritual childhood.

There’s a Greek word that is close to the modern word for children. They’re no longer infants, but they still need constant care and supervision. Scripture talks about this group. It’s interesting that Jesus used this word for the disciples at the Last Supper.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:33-35

As He called His disciples children, Jesus was showing that they had not yet reached their full potential. The disciples’ response to Jesus’ command to love one another in the next verse shows exactly this point.

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
John 13:36

If that’s not the response of a child, I don’t know what is! Jesus gives a very important exhortation for the future leaders of Christianity. Yet, the only question Peter comes up with is, “Where are you going?”

This is still the mindset of the spiritual child. They hear and understand what’s being taught, but they seem to zero in on the superficial parts. You can give them an in-depth teaching on the righteousness of God, and all they come away with is – “I can live however I want and God still loves me.”

The Epistle of First John gives us the greatest insight into this stage in the growth of the believer. John uses this word throughout his letter to the church. It’s obvious, because of its frequency that those he was writing to were at this stage in their walk. He dealt with the basics of the spiritual walk.

John had to remind them that their sins were forgiven because of Christ (I John 2:12) and that now they were to endeavor to live a life without sin (2:1). He also went on to show them how and why to live a repentant lifestyle where you immediately brought your failings and sins to Christ.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

In this verse we clearly see the Apostle explaining that they need to go beyond mere positional righteousness. They need to walk in the truth. This goes right along with what we saw in talking about infant believers. They are not acquainted with the teaching on righteousness.

At the child stage, you begin to understand about what the manifestation of the Lord’s righteousness should look like in us. In spiritual childhood you start seeing that there’s a difference between the lifestyle of God’s people and the world. We have victory over the world by the Holy Spirit in us (4:4) and we don’t worship the way the world does (5:21).

At this point we start to realize that we need to live differently than the world. We start to feel the Holy Spirit within us calling us to a deeper walk. At this stage we still don’t know how to follow this call, other than to live up to the rules we’ve been taught. We should desire to continue our growth in Christ.

Question: How do you deal with the spiritual children in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Infant Sons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we are saved, we’re adopted into God’s family as infants. We then need to grow into the full-fledged rights of sonship. I want to take a few posts to go through the growth stages that we find in the Scripture. We start our walk with God as infants.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1

One of the main characteristics of an infant in Christ is worldliness. They run after the things that our society says will satisfy them. They have the same mindset as the world and place importance on obtaining things and pleasures.

Unfortunately, because we are unaware of the growth process, many overzealous believers will write these people off. Sometimes in our self-righteous fervor we may even accuse them of being unsaved. That’s as foolish as telling your 5-month old that he’s not a part of the family because he never takes out the trash. Instead of condemning them, we should be there to help guide them through the growth process.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14

Spiritual infants are inexperienced in the Word. Because of this, they’re very trusting of anyone quoting a Bible verse. They tend to jump in with any new fad that comes out on Christian radio or TV.

That’s why they need to be firmly grounded in a local church where the basics of the Scripture are taught. That’s the only way they can learn to distinguish truth from flakiness.

The United States has become a hotbed for new doctrines for people to follow. Sometimes I watch Christian cable networks. I see people who use the Scriptures to convince you to take money from your wallet and put it into theirs.

Even though their doctrines and teachings are foolish, out of context from the Scripture, and, many times, illogical, Christians flock to their meetings. They rake in millions of dollars a year. Spiritually speaking, they’re “stealing candy from babies.”

But, more than anything else, the infant stage of our walk with God is characterized by the following…

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 5:13

The word acquainted in this verse literally means to test, attempt, or experience. This verse says that the infant believer has not yet tested, attempted or experienced the Word of righteousness. Yes, they are righteous by position in Christ. But they haven’t yet learned how to apply it to their daily walk.

So many American believers are living for themselves, yet they feel secure because they only know about positional righteousness.  When they read the Bible, or hear a sermon about the effects and blessings of righteousness, they think it automatically applies to them.   Little do they realize that so much of Scripture deals with the walk of righteousness rather than the position.

Because of the lack of teaching on the Word of Righteousness we have produced a generation of Christians who seem to be perpetual infants. They are continuing in their habits and sins. They follow after whatever the world offers them. Worst of all, they don’t realize their condition – total powerlessness in the spiritual realm.

It’s time for us to grow up in Christ.

Question: How do you treat the infant believers that are in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,