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“Steps to Spiritual Growth"

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“Steps to Spiritual Growth"
Jude 20 -25
Introduction:
John Maxwell has identified four levels of maturity for Christians. They are given in progressive order with the least mature viewpoint listed first:
(1) I'm going to do what I want, regardless of any thought for God;
(2) If God gives me what I want, then I will give him what he wants;
(3) I will give God what he wants, with faith that he will give me what I want; and
(4) I will give God what he wants, regardless of any thought for myself.
Many Christians spend the balance of their life at level two or three but the greatest joy is found at level four.

I- Make a Conscious decision to pursue growing in Christ. (Jude 20)

Jude 20 NLT
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
A- Growing in Christ is a conscious personal decision (Jude 20 a).
Jude 20a NLT
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
1- "build each other up" is “ἐποικοδομοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς” (build up, to build upon, To finish the structure of which the foundation has already been laid, to give constant increase in Christian knowledge and in a life conformed thereto.)
a- Each of us must build upon the foundation of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-17).
1 Corinthians 3:10–17 NLT
10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. 16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
b- Building a house or a temple has never been done accidentally.
2- But you, beloved, in your most holy faith = (Ὑμεῖς δέ, ἀγαπητοί... ἁγιωτάτῃ ὑμῶν πίστει).
a- each must strive to grow in the faith. (2 Peter 3:18) .
2 Peter 3:18 NLT
18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.
Illustration: Dr. Bonar once said that he could tell when a Christian was growing. In proportion to his growth in grace he would elevate his Maker, talk less of what he himself was doing, and become smaller and smaller in his own esteem, until, like the morning star, he faded way before the rising sun.
B- Growing in Christ involves a purposeful prayer life (Jude 20 b).
Jude 20 NLT
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
1- "Praying in the Holy Spirit" =(ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ προσευχόμενοι).
a. To do so requires that we be walking "in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25).
Galatians 5:25 NLT
25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
b. Praying while walking in the Spirit assures us of praying properly.
c. Praying while walking in the Spirit leads us to obedience.
1) This leads to growth.

II- Make God's love and grace the Primary focus in your life (Jude 21)

Jude 21 NLT
21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
A- Focus on God's Love for you (Jude 21 a).
Jude 21a NLT
21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
1- This is not any indication that we can lose the love of God (see.Rom. 8:35-39).
Romans 8:35–39 NLT
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
a- It is impossible to be separated from his love.
2- This refers to live with that love clearly in focus (1 John 4:19).
1 John 4:19 NLT
19 We love each other because he loved us first.
a- Like the bride who basks in and responds to the love of her husband. She does not give love to him in order to avoid losing his love, but simply because he loves her. We do not live in fear of losing Jesus' love, but bask in and respond to his love for us.
B- Focus on the ultimate end of his grace (Jude 21 b).
Jude 21b NLT
21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
1- Always keep the ultimate end of his mercy in view (John 14:3; John 17:24)
John 14:3 NLT
3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
John 17:24 NLT
24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
a- The ultimate goal of a groom is to have his bride with him through life, sharing everything he is and has with her. The ultimate goal of our groom is to have us with him throughout eternity, sharing all he is and has with us.

III- Compassionately reach out to others in order to Save them from destruction (Jude 22-23)

Jude 22–23 NLT
22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
A- Love people to Jesus (Jude 22)
Jude 22 NLT
22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.
1- Some are led to Jesus (or led back to him) best by a gentle, loving spirit (Jas. 5:19-20)
James 5:19–20 NLT
19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
2- It is possible to correct someone in a loving way (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
1 Timothy 5:1–2 NLT
1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
a- Note the words:
1) epiplhssw = to chastise with words, to chide, upbraid, rebuke
2) parakalew = to admonish, exhort, to beg, entreat, beseech
B- Do what ever is necessary to keep men from destruction (Jude 23).
Jude 23 NLT
23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.
1- οὓς δὲ ἐλεᾶτε ἐν φόβῳ = and others save with (through) fear
2- οὓς μὲν ἐλεᾶτε διακρινομένους σώζετε ἐκ πυρὸς ἁρπάζοντες = and others snatching them out of the fire
3- μισοῦντες καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς σαρκὸς ἐσπιλωμένον χιτῶνα.= hating even the garment defiled by the flesh
a- example: The Apostles were harsh with Simon (Acts 8:9-24).
Acts 8:9–24 NLT
9 A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. 12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” 20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.” 24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

IV- Keep your focus on the right person (Jude 24-25)

Jude 24–25 NLT
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
A- Keep your focus on the one who keeps you secure eternally (Jude 24).
Jude 24 NLT
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
1- It is Christ who keeps us from falling (1 Peter 1:5).
1 Peter 1:5 NLT
5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
2- Keeping focused on Christ and his keeping power changes the way we view our circumstances.
a- Note Paul as he writes from prison (Phil.1:20-21; 3:1; 4:4)
Philippians 1:20–21 NLT
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
Philippians 3:1 NLT
1 Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.
Philippians 4:4 NLT
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
B- Keep your focus on the only one who has the wisdom and power to get you through life (Jude 25).
Jude 25 NLT
25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
1- He has the wisdom and power to handle any and all circumstances (Matt. 28:18; Romans 11:33; Colossians 2:2-3) .
Matthew 28:18 NLT
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.
Romans 11:33 NLT
33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
Colossians 2:2–3 NLT
2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
2- Keeping your focus on him takes away all fear (Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7).
Romans 8:15 NLT
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Conclusion
There is a very odd tree in an orchard in one of the Midwestern states. It is an old apple tree that was planted many years ago, with its limbs in the ground and its roots in the air, and which still lives to bear an occasional apple and sprout branches where roots should be--a curiosity to beholders. The farmer was induced to produce the oddity through an old German legend, in which such an inverted tree played a prominent part. But although it still lives, and occasionally bears an apple, it is only a curiosity and bears no fruit of any respectable amount. The people who try to live Christian lives without being planted in Christ, and letting their roots run down into the responsibilities of the Christian life are very much like that inverted tree. The Christians who really bear fruit are those who are rooted deep and solid in their relationship with the Lord.
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