God wants you to grow in your faith. Here are some important steps to ensure spiritual growth.
1. Be a Witness
Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
Notice that Jesus didn’t say “you will go witnessing” but rather “you will be my witnesses.” Witnessing is not merely something we do, as Christians it is who we are! It is something we are to be. And so if you’re a believer the question is not, “Are you a witness for Jesus Christ?” but rather, “What kind of witness are you?” Are you a good witness or are you a bad witness for Jesus Christ? As believers we are witnesses. Our lives either tell others that Jesus is worth knowing or that he doesn’t make much difference.
You are a witness for Jesus by your words and your actions. You don’t have to have all the answers before you can tell someone what you know and have experienced, just tell others what you know you about Jesus and how you have experienced God’s love and forgiveness through him. Don’t argue with people, share with them.
2. Read & Meditate on Scripture
A healthy baby has a healthy appetite. If you have truly been “born” of the Spirit of God, you will have a healthy appetite. The Bible says:
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)
Feed yourself every day on the Bible. Job said:
“I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12)
Each day, find somewhere quiet, and read the Scriptures. There may be times when you read through its pages with great enthusiasm, and there may be other times when it seems dry and even boring. But food profits your body whether you enjoy it or not. The important thing is not how long you read the Bible each day but that you do it consistently each day.
Not only is it important to be fed daily by reading Scripture, it’s also important to meditate on Scripture.
“Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1,2).
Meditation in the Biblical sense means to rehearse and think about God’s Words over and over in your mind. You could liken meditation to marinating meat. When you marinade meat, you let it soak in a sauce until the flavor of the sauce is worked into the meat. And that’s a bit like what biblical meditation is like. You let your mind sit in God’s word and soak up its truth. Meditating on God’s word is not just reading the Bible. It’s reading it and thinking about it, and pondering it, and sitting on it.
Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7–8).
Why should we pray when God already knows our needs? Clearly, we do not pray to impress God. He’s not more impressed if we say longer prayers using Shakespearean language. We also do not pray to inform God. He knows everything already and we can’t tell him anything he doesn’t already know. So, if we don’t pray to impress God or inform God, then why do we pray? We pray to invite God. We invite him into our lives when we pray. There are three big reasons why we invite God into our lives through prayer:
(i) The Fellowship factor
2 Cor.6:1 says that we are God’s “co-workers,” and when we pray, we join with him in his work. Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). During his ministry, Jesus would often get away from the crowds to pray (see Mark 1:35) so he could maintain his fellowship with his Father. God is at work in the world. He is at work in the lives of the people around us, and as we pray we are better tuned into his will and the way he is working, so that we can join with him in what he is already doing. It’s not about doing work for God; it’s about doing work with God. We are his “co-workers” and prayer keeps us in fellowship with him.
(ii) The Development factor
There is nothing that will grow you as a Christian more than prayer. Have you ever wondered why God often doesn’t answer your prayers immediately? The answer is that he wants to grow your faith and trust. Perhaps there is some sin he wants you to let go of before he can answer that prayer. Or maybe you’re trusting in yourself and your own resources and he wants to bring you to a place of trusting in him alone. As we pray, we grow and develop spiritual muscle.
(iii) The Dependency factor
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Prayer brings us to depend on God more fully. Prayer helps us to abide with Christ. There is no other way to bear “much fruit” apart from prayer. There is no shortcut to bearing fruit. It is the overflow of a life dependent on God, cultivated by prayer.
4. Join a Church & Get involved
It is not God’s Will that you live the Christian life on your own. A Christian who isn’t connected to a local church is like a child without a family. 1 Tim.3:15 and Eph.2:19 refer to the church as God’s family. God doesn’t want his spiritual children growing up in isolation from each other, so he created a spiritual family on earth for us. True believers in Jesus make up Christ’s Church (Matthew 16:18). He is the head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Church is his Body (Ephesians 1:2-23). Find a local church where the Bible is taught as God’s Word, where believers worship with gladness and joy, and where there is an atmosphere of love. Avoid a church where you never hear the name of Jesus or where you are never encouraged to bring or open a Bible. Find a church that has small groups where you can meet other Christians and grow together.
Jesus demonstrated that the most influential life is a life of sacrificial service. In the words of Mark’s gospel, Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Likewise, we believe that we will influence the world for Christ, when resting in, and motivated by His great love for us, we extend that love through our own hands and feet in acts of service to others. We are saved to serve and service happens when each person uses “whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
5. Get Baptized
(i) What is the Meaning of Baptism?
The word baptize is a translation of the Greek word ‘baptizo’ which means “to be immersed.” Immersion was the normal New Testament mode of baptism. And the mode of baptism tells us something about the meaning because baptism depicts outwardly what has happened inwardly when a person becomes a Christian. When a person goes down into the water it pictures how, upon repentance and faith, their sins are dead and buried in the grave of God’s forgiveness. And then, when they come up out of the water, it pictures their new life—indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So, water baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our death, burial, and resurrection with Jesus. That is why it demonstrates outwardly what has happened inwardly. The apostle Paul taught, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3-4).
In the New Testament, water baptism so closely followed someone’s conversion, or baptism with the Holy Spirit, that they could practically be considered one and the same event. For example, the very moment that the 3000 people accepted the message of the Gospel preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost, they got baptized. Acts 2:41 says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
At conversion, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is called being baptized with the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:13). This inward spiritual baptism is in essence pictured outwardly by water baptism. I have found the analogy of wearing a wedding ring to be helpful. In our culture, when a person gets married, they begin wearing a wedding ring as an outward symbol that they are now married. Merely wearing a wedding ring doesn’t automatically make you married. But if you are married, the ring is significant because it is a visible sign of your marriage commitment. Likewise, when a person is baptized, the act itself doesn’t wash away their sins magically. Rather, in baptism they are visibly identifying themselves with Jesus Christ. They are saying, “I belong to Christ. I am united to him by faith. I am cleansed and forgiven and I have a new life.”
(ii) When should a person get baptized?
Once you have personally come to trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you should be baptized. The Philippian jailor’s story illustrates this. He asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” … 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. (Acts 16:30-34). The jailer and his whole house had come to believe in Christ. That is why they all got baptized. Some have thought that since his whole household got baptized, it must have included babies also. But this would be unlikely because verse 34 emphasizes that he and his whole household had come to believe, implying that everyone was of an age where they could personally believe in Christ.
(iii) Why should a person be baptized?
One of Jesus’ final commands to his followers, before he ascended to heaven was to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20). Baptism, therefore, is a command for every subsequent follower of Jesus to obey. It is a demonstration of our obedience to Christ. It isn’t a sign of maturity. It isn’t something we should put off until we’ve overcome all our sins and reached some higher level of Christian maturity. No. We are commanded to get baptized as a sign that we belong to Christ, that we have been cleansed and forgiven, and that we have a new life in Christ.
6. Give Generously
(1) Remember that it’s God’s money, not ours
It’s helpful to put Paul’s specific words about giving into the overall big picture of giving.
Psalm 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
That means all the money and possessions we have actually belongs to God. He is the owner: It’s not your car; it’s not your home; it’s not your money. It’s all Gods. And we are merely managers or stewards of God’s stuff.
(ii) Remember to give proportionally to your income
The apostle Paul instructed the Christians in the city of Corinth to set aside money each week to give to their local church.
1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”
Paul says they should set aside an amount of money in keeping with their income. In other words the amount that we give as Christians should be proportional to what we earn. If you earn a considerable amount of money, your giving should be higher than it was when you were a struggling university student. Paul says that it’s a good plan to set this money aside on the first day of the week (Sunday).
A lot of Christians ask, “How much should we give? Should we give 10% (a tithe)?”
The concept of tithing was laid out in the Old Testament. There are few key passages which give specifications about the tithes: Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-29; and Deuteronomy 12:6-18; 14:22-29. When you take these passages as a whole they command that every Israelite set aside a tenth of their produce. There was to be a three year cycle where in year 1 and 2 the tithe was brought to Jerusalem to be used to celebrate feasts and festivals as well as to support the Levites, the Old Testament equivalent to full-time Christian workers. In year three the tithe was gathered in the towns and stored for distribution to the Levites and the poor for that year and the following two years.
Some Christians say, “tithing is legalistic. It was for Jews under the Old Testament law, and as a believer in Christ we are no longer under the law, and therefore no longer obliged to tithe.” But, here are a few points to consider about tithing.
a. Tithing was taught and practiced by God’s people before the Mosaic law was even given.
For example, Abraham tithed (Genesis 14:18–20) and Jacob tithed long before the Mosaic law was given (Genesis 28:22).
b. Tithing was taught by Jesus in the New Testament
What’s interesting about the teaching of Jesus is that he never explicitly abolished the idea of giving a tithe. You won’t find him saying in the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, give 10%, but I tell you the truth, 5% will do.” Now, although you won’t find a “Thou shall tithe” verse in the New Testament, Jesus does endorse it. On one occasion Jesus commended the Pharisees for being so diligent to tithe, but he rebuked them for neglecting the more important things like practicing justice and fairness and showing mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
c. Tithing was taught by Paul in the New Testament as the guideline for the church
In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminded the church that the Levites who worked in the Temple lived off the tithes brought to the temple. And Paul says that as a preacher of the gospel he was entitled to similar support, even though he didn’t insist on it.
1 Corinthians 9:13–14 – “Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
The least Paul is saying is that those who spend their lives in the service of the Word of God (pastors, missionaries, etc) should be supported by the rest of the body of Christ. But since he draws attention to the way it was done in the Old Testament as the model, it seems likely that tithing would have been the early Christian guideline, if not mandate, especially since the early church was largely made up of Jewish converts.
The fact that we are not under the law as Christians is true. But do you think it means that because we are not under the law and under grace we do less then the law? Jesus never revised the law downwards. If anything he had a higher standard. He said things like, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment,’ but I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will subject to judgment…and anyone who says, ‘You fool’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21–22). If anything, Jesus shows us that the law of grace is higher in its demands than the Mosaic Law.
So, one can make a good case arguing that the principle of Tithing was taught before, during, and after the law. Abraham started it. Jacob continued it. Jesus commended it. Paul reinforced it. Who are we to cancel it?
If you put these six steps into practice, and you continue to maintain these spiritual habits in your life over time, you will grow spiritually and it will be evident not only to you but to others.