Although I have mentioned this in several of my posts, I still feel I should dedicate a special article to properly explain. This is because there are so much misunderstanding bound up around this. First of all we are not talking about just any spiritual growth but the Christian spiritual growth. So how can you say a Christian is growing spiritually, is it by the gifts or powers he displays, or just the maturity of character?
"... comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1Cor 2:13-14).
Spiritual things are spiritually discern. You cannot make conclusions on spiritual things just by observing with your carnal faculties. If you are looking to see gifts, spiritual babies also have gifts of the Spirit, and that does not mean they are mature. If you are looking for character, there are atheists or people of other religion that have good morals or character, and these things are not of any spiritual origin, so they cannot be called spiritual growth. We are looking for something that is Christian and spiritual. And everything Christian springs out from Christ.
So the Christian spiritual growth must be a spiritual thing that springs out from Christ—it must be utterly and wholly Christ. Well, one thing I have learnt about the spiritual in Christ is that it comes behind its shadow. Yes, first comes the shadow, then the reality. God made it that way so we can understand the spiritual reality from its shadow.
"For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality." (Col 2:17).
"But it is not the spiritual that appears first but the natural, and then the spiritual." (1Cor 15:46).
First comes the shadows to tell us about the coming reality—a reality that is utterly Christ, constituting of nothing but Christ. The shadow is the natural, and the reality is the spiritual. So in the natural world what is growth? What determines growth? Is a child considered mature by the measure of gift he has? Would you call a baby 'a man' because he has a car or some expensive property? No, growth is not determined by gifts. There is no amount of gift you give a baby that would turn him into a fully grown man.
What about knowledge? Do you believe you can teach a child so much knowledge that he would just increase in size and height, turning into a full fleshed grown man? Yet this is the mentality many Christians carry today. They believe if they can just study enough scripture and get enough rhema then they are now mature. That is what we do, we take a man through Bible school and then declare him mature enough to be a pasture and lead the immature. This is why we often end up having the immature leading the immature.
When babies are leading babies, all you would have is child play, and then they say this child play is practicing Christianity. Yes, many of what we call Christianity today is child play—babies leading babies, and becoming so caught up in their child play that they believe that is adult life. Oh, when shall we see fully matured Christianity—mature in all the fullness of God, mature in God's full thoughts, His perfect will, His original plan?
Growth is determined by life. Yes, the life you get from eating. The food you eat contains life—life that develops in the presence of the sun through photosynthesis. This life results to a full grown plant with fruits filled with life. Then you eat this fruits or plant and draw from the life that is in it, that life is added to your life causing you to grow in life. Yes, growing in life, that is what growth is. Even if it is animal you eat, this animal had drawn life from the plant which drew life from the land in the presence of the sun, and now there is enough life in this animal to sustain you, adding to the life in you and causing you to grow.
"For in him we live and move and exist." (Acts 17:28).
"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shine" (John 1:4-5).
We live, move and exit in Christ, he is our land, and at the same time he is the light that shines, a light that is filled with life. So on this land (Christ) and in the presence of this sun (Christ), life grows, and this growth of life is what is called spiritual growth. Yes, it is the growth of a spiritual life in us as Christians. Not the growth of spiritual knowledge, or spiritual gifts. Just as the growth of natural gifts and natural knowledge is not equated to bodily growth.
The baby cannot comprehend the knowledge you are given him, or drive the car in his possession, he has not developed the faculties to do that. This is why feeding Christians with just knowledge alone would not help them. Sure they would rejoice and be excited about the knowledge, but it is not helping them. They will be excited about having a car but that car would cause them an accident if their legs cannot reach the breaks properly, and their heads is not above the stirring. Spiritual gifts have destroyed a lot of people, causing them to be filled with pride and become arrogant, hereby constructing their self-destruction.
We must learn the issue of life. We must learn how to draw life from this land, how to grow this life in the presence of the sun. It is not enough to have light, so many are pursuing light without learning how to use this light to develop life in their members. We must learn to use this light we are getting to produce life in us. There is a way you can come under light and begin to cause life to grow in you, many Christians do not know how to consciously do this. They can only do it by mistake, maybe through trial-and-error, or through a myriad of activities hoping that one of them will result in the production of life in them.
We really do not know what we are doing, we do not understand this process. Look at the natural world for example, look at how much we've achieved as a result of scientists paying enough attention to nature to understand its process and learn to control this process for the benefit of humankind. Yes, when we understand how life is produced in the presence of the light then we can consciously facilitate this process. Hereby, causing speedy growth, so that we can attain the fullness of God and walk in His glory before our time on earth is over, for the Lord wants His glory manifested in this age through His body. In fact, we need to understand everything about life, we must dive into a deep study of the life if we truly want to make progress just as we see in the natural world today.