Salvation is not the goal of the Christian life. Salvation is the start of the Christian life. Once you become a believer, that’s when your journey of spiritual growth begins.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Coming to Christ is turning onto the right road and the next thing to do is to walk on it.
We are headed into a season of spiritual growth at Rock Brook with a new small group semester and new sermon series called Not So Far Fetched. As we head into this amazing season of spiritual growth you should be warned that you will face predictable resistance.
We have a Savior in Jesus Christ, but we also have an enemy in the Devil. Just as Christ wants you to grow during this season, the Devil wants to stunt your growth.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)
Yes, we get eternal life when we die and go to heaven, but Jesus also offers us a full and abundant life right now.
At Rock Brook we’re not just concerned with getting you into heaven. We want you to live a new, full, productive life right here on earth. You don’t have to wait till you get to heaven to enjoy Christ.
The Devil is working overtime to keep you from experiencing that new, full life that Christ offers you. Once you’ve trusted Christ, the Devil can’t keep you out of heaven. If the Devil can’t keep you from trusting Christ, he will try to keep you from living for Christ.
“The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy…” John 10:10 (NIV)
The thief will try to:
- Steal your identity with shame
The Devil lures us into sin and then heaps shame on us when we succumb to it. The Devil tries to get you to focus on the shame of your past. If he can get you to find your identity in the sins of your past, then he can freeze you in that sin. Jesus Christ frees you from the sins of your past.
Our spiritual growth is rooted in our new identity in Christ, not our issues from the past.
- Kill my potential with guilt
Too many of us live with the guilt about our past. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t done. The Devil is all about your past, Jesus is all about your potential. It is essential for our spiritual growth that we get our eyes off our past and focus on our potential in Christ. You won’t find the new, full, abundant life Christ offers you by looking in the rear view mirror. Address and confess those old sins, hurts, habits and hang-ups and let Jesus Christ forgive and forget them.
- Destroy my hope with fear
We all struggle with fear at some level. There’s fear of the future, fear of failure, the fear of dying… So many people struggle with the fear of man. We can be driven by the desire to please other people. The Bible says the fear of man is a trap. It’s a fear that drives us to make bad choices. But God does not want us to live in fear; He wants us to live in hope.
God offers us the hope of heaven, but He also offers us hope for the here and now.
Don’t let shame, guilt and fear rob you of your opportunity to grow. Instead, take your next step of spiritual growth and replace shame, guilt and fear with:
your identity in Christ.
your potential in Christ.
your hope in Christ.
Taking Next Steps
How do we take another step on our spiritual journey?
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
These next steps are about taking off the old and putting on the new. Taking next steps isn’t just about you. Don’t do it to just start ticking off boxes and complete a to-do list. If that’s all you are doing, you are missing the point.
A couple of weeks ago we posted about how to have Gospel Conversations with the people in our lives. Take a look at that post and the chart that explains how sharing the gospel isn’t just about getting someone saved. Everyone is in a different spot in their spiritual journey. Salvation is only the beginning of the Christian life. A gospel conversation is anytime you encourage someone to take ONE STEP from where they are, to where God wants them to be.
Once you understand this roadmap to spiritual growth, not only can you apply it to your own life, you have a pathway to encourage other people to follow.
When you start doing that, you unlock the power, purpose and potential God has for you. That’s when you begin to live a new, full, abundant life that Christ offers. You might think your spiritual life is an individual journey, something private and personal, but that is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.
We are in this thing together. We are a family, a flock and a body. We are an army of God fighting this battle together.
Here are four areas you can start taking next steps in.
1. Declare God’s salvation
Some people believe that your relationship with Jesus is personal and private. But the first act of obedience that Jesus calls a believer to do is a very public event, your baptism. When you ask Jesus Christ into your heart, that’s a personal decision. Then, Jesus commands you to go public with that decision. The Devil wants you to hide it or keep it to yourself. That’s not what Jesus says to do. Jesus says… “Let your light shine before men!”
Why do people face such a spiritual struggle over getting baptized? Because there is something very powerful about making a public declaration of our faith in Christ.
Peter says, “In baptism we show that we have been saved from death and doom by the resurrection of Christ; not because our bodies are washed clean by the water but because in being baptized we are turning to God and asking him to cleanse our hearts from sin.” 1 Peter 3:21 (LB)
Jesus not only commanded us to do it in Matthew 28, He also modeled it in His own baptism. Maybe you have been a believer for years and haven’t been baptized. It’s time for you to take that next step. You don’t have to wait till you’ve stopped all your bad habits. You don’t have to wait till you’ve grown spiritually.
2. Cultivate God’s presence
Cultivate is a farming term that means to stimulate growth. You have to break up the soil, fertilize it, water it, mulch it. You have to disturb the status quo of the soil if things are really going to grow. There are things in your life you need to weed out.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8 (NIV)
Take a step toward God, cultivate His presence and God will show up.
Here are three ways to cultivate God’s presence in your life:
- God’s Word
[Take a few minutes to hear to a story of one man’s devotion to God’s Word, Worship and Prayer listen online. (start at 15:25)]
Those three things will cultivate God’s presence in your life no matter the struggle you face or the prison you are in.
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:28 (NIV)
Joy isn’t found in your circumstances. Joy is found in God’s presence despite your circumstances.
3. Connect with God’s people
“You are a member of God’s very own family… and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” Ephesians 2:19 (LB)
If you, as a believer, are going to grow spiritually, you need to be a member of a local church. There are 58 commands given in the Bible that you cannot obey if you aren’t a member of a local church. The way to become a member at Rock Brook is to take StepONE of Growth Track. It’s offered every first Sunday of the month. At StepONE we will lay out the 5 purposes that God has for your life and explain how being a member of Rock Brook will help you fulfill those purposes. We explain salvation and baptism. We will walk you through our Membership Covenant and put you on the pathway of spiritual growth for your life.
The world promotes independence and self-reliance. God promotes community and fellowship and belonging.
God knows that growth and health are found in relationships. That’s why He created the church, the body of Christ. That’s why He wants you to be a member of a church. That’s why you need to belong to a small group to grow.
Too many Christians are chasing information, they want more knowledge. But they don’t need more information, they need transformation. Transformation comes through relationships.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
4. Discover God’s purpose
“It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 (MSG)
If you are going to grow to be all that God wants you to be you’ve got to pursue with passion the purpose that God has for you. That’s what our Growth Track process will help you do.
StepONE become a member
This is to get you connected with Christ through salvation, declaring Christ through baptism and connecting with the Body of Christ through membership.
StepTWO essential habits
Here you will learn how to develop the essential habits of the Christian life. Getting into God’s Word every day, worshipping God every day and praying to God every day.
A disciple needs to practice the disciplines that Christ lays out for His followers. A Christ follower needs to follow the pathway that leads to purpose and joy.
StepTHREE discover your design
This event helps you discover your design, your personality, your spiritual gifts and your passion for ministry.
God has shaped you for your place in the church. You were made for this, so you need to discover your design and purpose.
StepFOUR join a team
He we get you plugged into a Dream Team. Our Dream Team are the people who make ministry happen at Rock Brook. The Dream Team is the engine that drives this church.
Which step is the next step for you?
Which step can you encourage someone else to take?
“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” 1 Peter 1:4-5 (MSG)
The key to your spiritual growth is to take your Next Step and take it now.
Check back and review what we talked about last week. Have you made a commitment to be involved in a Small Group this semester? Who can you encourage to join the group with you?
Hear the Word
Read: Ephesians 4:22-24
1. Declare God’s salvation
- Have you been baptized by immersion as evidence of your faith in Jesus Christ?
- If not, what is holding you back from being baptized?
- How can your group encourage you to take this next step?
2. Cultivate God’s presence
God’s Word | Worship | Prayer
- Which of these three have you built into your life?
- Which one do you need to work on?
3. Connect with God’s people
Join a local church | Commit to Small Groups
- Have you taken Growth Track Step One?
- Have you joined a Small Group?
4. Discover God’s Purpose
Attend the 4-step Growth Track | Join the Dream Team
- Have you completed Growth Track?
- What Dream Team are you serving on?
The key to my spiritual growth is to take my NEXT STEP and take it NOW.
Tell Someone Else
Have you had any Gospel Conversations with anyone in the last two weeks? Have you written the person’s name on a ping pong ball and dropped it in the Go & Tell wall?