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Spiritual Growth

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Having given spiritual life to his people, God expects them to grow to maturity.

God desires the spiritual growth of his people

Mt 5:48; Heb 6:1
Matthew 5:48 (KJV 1900) — 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Hebrews 6:1 (KJV 1900) — 1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
See also 2 Co 13:9–11; Eph 1:4; Eph 2:10; Eph 3:17–19; Php 3:12; 1 Th 4:1; 1 Th 4:7; 2 Ti 1:9
2 Corinthians 13:9–11 (KJV 1900) — 9 For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. 11Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Ephesians 1:4 (KJV 1900) — 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Ephesians 2:10 (KJV 1900) — 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 3:17–19 (KJV 1900) — 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Philippians 3:12 (KJV 1900) — 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 (KJV 1900) — 1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 (KJV 1900) — 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
2 Timothy 1:9 (KJV 1900) — 9Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Christlikeness is the goal of spiritual growth

Ro 8:29
Romans 8:29 (KJV 1900) — 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
See also Eph 4:13–15; Php 2:5; 1 Jn 3:2–3
Ephesians 4:13–15 (KJV 1900) — 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Philippians 2:5 (KJV 1900) — 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
1 John 3:2–3 (KJV 1900) — 2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Aspects of spiritual growth

Growth in grace

2 Pe 3:18
2 Peter 3:18 (KJV 1900) — 18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
See also Pr 4:18; 1 Pe 2:1–3
Proverbs 4:18 (KJV 1900) — 18But the path of the just is as the shining light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
1 Peter 2:1–3 (KJV 1900) — 1Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Growth in faith

2 Th 1:3
2 Thessalonians 1:3 (KJV 1900) — 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
See also 2 Co 10:15
2 Corinthians 10:15 (KJV 1900) — 15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,

Growth in love

1 Th 3:12
1 Thessalonians 3:12 (KJV 1900) — 12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
See also Ro 5:5; 1 Co 14:1; Php 1:9; 1 Th 4:9–10; Heb 10:24; 1 Jn 4:7–21; 1 Jn 5:1–3
Romans 5:5 (KJV 1900) — 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1 Corinthians 14:1 (KJV 1900) — 1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Philippians 1:9 (KJV 1900) — 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
1 Thessalonians 4:9–10 (KJV 1900) — 9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
Hebrews 10:24 (KJV 1900) — 24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
1 John 4:7–21 (KJV 1900) — 7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
1 John 5:1–3 (KJV 1900) — 1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Growth in understanding

Ps 119:27; 1 Co 14:20
Psalm 119:27 (KJV 1900) — 27Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: So shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
1 Corinthians 14:20 (KJV 1900) — 20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
See also Ps 119:97–99; Ro 12:2; Ro 16:19; 1 Co 13:11; Eph 1:17–19; Php 1:9–10; Col 1:9; Heb 5:14
Psalm 119:97–99 (KJV 1900) — 97 MEM. O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. 98Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: For thy testimonies are my meditation.
Romans 12:2 (KJV 1900) — 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 16:19 (KJV 1900) — 19For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
1 Corinthians 13:11 (KJV 1900) — 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Ephesians 1:17–19 (KJV 1900) — 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Philippians 1:9–10 (KJV 1900) — 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
Colossians 1:9 (KJV 1900) — 9For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Hebrews 5:14 (KJV 1900) — 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Growth in holiness

2 Co 7:1
2 Corinthians 7:1 (KJV 1900) — 1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
See also Eph 5:25–26; Heb 2:11; Heb 10:10–14; Heb 12:14; Heb 13:12; 1 Pe 1:15–16
Ephesians 5:25–26 (KJV 1900) — 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Hebrews 2:11 (KJV 1900) — 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Hebrews 10:10–14 (KJV 1900) — 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Hebrews 12:14 (KJV 1900) — 14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Hebrews 13:12 (KJV 1900) — 12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
1 Peter 1:15–16 (KJV 1900) — 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Growth in fruitfulness

Jn 15:16
John 15:16 (KJV 1900) — 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
See also Mt 13:23; Jn 15:2; Jn 15:8; Php 1:11; Col 1:10
Matthew 13:23 (KJV 1900) — 23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
John 15:2 (KJV 1900) — 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
John 15:8 (KJV 1900) — 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Philippians 1:11 (KJV 1900) — 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Colossians 1:10 (KJV 1900) — 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Growth in contentment

Php 4:11–12
Philippians 4:11–12 (KJV 1900) — 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
See also 1 Ti 6:6; Heb 13:5
1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV 1900) — 6But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Hebrews 13:5 (KJV 1900) — 5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Examples of spiritual growth

In individuals

1 Sa 2:26 Samuel; Lk 1:80 John the Baptist
1 Samuel 2:26 (KJV 1900) — 26And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.
Luke 1:80 (KJV 1900) — 80And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

Jesus Christ:

Lk 2:40; Lk 2:52
Luke 2:40 (KJV 1900) — 40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Luke 2:52 (KJV 1900) — 52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Paul:

Ac 9:22; 1 Co 9:26–27; Php 3:12–14
Acts 9:22 (KJV 1900) — 22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:26–27 (KJV 1900) — 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Philippians 3:12–14 (KJV 1900) — 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Ac 18:26 Apollos; Phm 11 Onesimus; 3 Jn 2–3 Gaius
Acts 18:26 (KJV 1900) — 26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Philemon 11 (KJV 1900) — 11which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
3 John 2–3 (KJV 1900) — 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

In the church

Ac 9:31; Ac 11:26; Ac 16:5; 2 Co 10:15; Col 1:6; 1 Th 2:13; 2 Th 1:3
Acts 9:31 (KJV 1900) — 31Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Acts 11:26 (KJV 1900) — 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Acts 16:5 (KJV 1900) — 5And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
2 Corinthians 10:15 (KJV 1900) — 15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
Colossians 1:6 (KJV 1900) — 6Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV 1900) — 13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 (KJV 1900) — 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
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