Biblical Keys to Spiritual Growth: The Gospel
The way of spirituality: forsaking 'self'; embracing Jesus
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
One of the things that sets humans apart from other living beings is our unique awareness of spirituality. If an understanding of our humanity includes our spiritual as well as our physical and intellectual makeup, how do we assess spirituality? Today, we hear about a variety of spiritual journeys. Religious activities stretch over thousands of years, but most modern methods are aimed at self-knowledge, fulfillment and control over the troubles of everyday life. But, what does the Bible say about spiritual growth?
Not just a path, but a Person
The Bible's prescription for spiritual growth is not so much a path as a person: Jesus Christ. Christianity as a whole is centered on a relationship with Him. If one wants to understand spiritual growth from a Christian perspective, then we must go to the Bible as our authentic resource for Jesus’ life and teachings. (Luke 24:44; John 5:39; Hebrews 10:7)
Not just a starting point, but the support
The writers of the Bible make it clear that the gospel is the foundation for spiritual growth. The foundation of any structure is not only the starting point but also the primary support of the structure itself. When individuals come to faith in Jesus Christ, they recognize their sinfulness, repent of their sins, and trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. This is how people participate in the good news—or gospel—of Jesus Christ. The gospel is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1–5:
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
Not just initial belief but ongoing reliance
Author and theologian Graeme Goldsworthy summarized biblical teachings of the gospel as “the word about Jesus Christ and what He did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God.” Similarly, Pastor Tim Keller remarked that “the ‘gospel’ is the good news that, through Christ, the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us.”
According to the Bible, true spiritual growth flows from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel is not only important for beginning one’s spiritual journey, but throughout all of the Christian life. Spiritual growth finds its beginning and continuation in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As theologian
J. I. Packer once said, “The good news of Jesus is information that issues an invitation to trust and believe for all of life.” Throughout the New Testament, the Apostle Paul regularly describes the life of a Christian as “in Christ” to emphasize the union a believer enjoys with Jesus. Out of this union flows dynamic spiritual growth.
Pray this week:
Jesus, I know I fall short in so many ways when it comes to daily reliance on You. Please make me more aware of what You want to do in my life today.
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