We may not realize it, but our Christian lives are constantly under construction. It is this point of view that will make it easier for us to deal with both spiritual setbacks and progress.
The Kingdom parables allude to the process of spiritual maturity, depicting a planted and cultivated seed becoming a sprout, eventually bearing fruit.
Fruit maturation takes time. Waiting for the fruit is just part of the story; while we wait, we must also work, including thinning and pruning.
The Western emphasis on growth has taken root within Christianity. 'Success' for a church is measured in income and membership, which are deceptive metrics.
Charles Whitaker shows that spiritual growth mimics our physical growth to maturity. If we continue in the process, we will "grow into" our potential as God's children.
Conversion must out in changed behavior, the fruit of God's Spirit accomplishing its miraculous work in us. The Corinthians provide a negative example.
Some in Antioch believed the preaching of the persecuted Christians, and they not only agreed with the teaching but also changed or transformed their lives.
Horticulture is not so easy as merely planting a seed and watching it grow. Tending and keeping implies continually watering, fertilizing, and cultivating.
The Parable of the Growing Seed is unique to the book of Mark, the most basic of the gospels, perhaps due to it being so simple and its point self-evident.
Like its physical counterpart, spiritual growth happens slowly. A newly baptized Christian will not produce the fruit of the spirit as easily as a mature one.
Ted Bowling, drawing a spiritual analogy from the growth of a pineapple, observes that it takes a long time from planting to harvest—approximately three years for the plant to mature. At first, all that matures is the foliage. The majority of the growth or maturation takes place from within. The same holds true for our …
Ryan McClure, drawing a spiritual analogy from the fascinating metamorphosis of a monarch butterfly, from a lowly larva to an aviation marvel, able to journey thousands of miles, displaying magnificent regal colors, makes a comparison to our own metamorphosis from a carnal, fleshly (relatively worm-like) existence to a glorious, …
What is perfection? Does God require perfection of us? Mike Ford defines Biblical perfection and shows to what standard God holds us accountable.
Most of our Christian lives will be spent going on to perfection. But what is it? How do we do it? This Bible Study will help explain this broad, yet vital subject.
Magic is always used as some kind of weapon, but not to build or develop moral strength or character. God chooses a life-long process of sanctification.
When God introduces marriage, the first thing He does is to put it on a spiritual plane. Our relationships should include this God-plane quality.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows the Passover. In it we see how hard it is to overcome and rid our lives of sin.
The Bible describes many men, but one of the most important is the new man, a creative effort of renewing our minds in cooperation with God.
Why should we think that God disdains requirements for entrance into His Kingdom? Spiritual growth is an intrinsic part of equipping the saints for service.
Many people fail to understand the kind of righteousness God is looking for. God wants it written on our hearts—not just a set of dos and don'ts.
Daily reflection helps to identify areas in our lives that need to be overcome. Without self-reflection, overcoming specific faults cannot gain traction.
Misguided theologians have tried to create a false dichotomy between grace and works. We do works of obedience to build character, not to earn salvation.
Like Joseph, we need to realize that God—not ourselves—is the Creator, engineering events that form us into what He wants us to become.
It is quite rare to see a person who truly hungers and thirsts after God's way, but this is the kind of desire God wants us to have.
Satan has attempted to obliterate the sanctification step from the conversion process. Sanctification is produced by doing works pleasing to God.
Spiritual maturity does not come about without difficulty, and suffering is one of God's tools to perfect us. Suffering refines endurance and character.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on an article in The Telegraph (UK), describes a cultural phenomenon known as "adolescent geriatrics"—when a senior citizen, ignoring the ravages of time, continues youthful styles, desires, and goals. Many 60s hippies have never matured, totally untouched by the wisdom of age. The …
Ryan McClure, acknowledging that self-reflection over our own spiritual progress (perhaps without seeing any progress) has potentially a negative effect, avers that we should understand self-reflection as a God-given tool to produce abundant spiritual fruit. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 teaches that God requires a …
A great impediment to overcoming our sins is self-justification. We tend to excuse ourselves for what we do, and this only makes it harder to become like God.
Without a meaningful relationship with Christ, God's people cannot possibly bear fruit. Our responsibility is to yield to God's creative work in our lives.
God calls Israel a seed of highest quality, but she turned into a degenerate vine, bearing bitter fruit, rejecting God and relying on her own resources.
In 2011, Eli Pariser, CEO of viral content website Upworthy, gave a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk discussing what he called "filter bubbles" and their impact ...
The seven Sabbaths in the count to Pentecost represent the process of the firstfruits becoming spiritually complete, that is, perfect and blameless.
Ted Bowling, reflecting on his recent participation in the 40th reunion of Frankfort, Indiana High School, recounts his initial feelings of apprehension at the prospect of being re-immersed in the culture of 40 years ago, in which jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and hot-rod enthusiasts carved out their territories and intimidated …
Sometime in their Christian lives, many people hit a plateau in their growth and go little further. Have we have overlooked the simple principle of "ask and it will be given" spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount?
What does the Bible mean when it says we should count it all joy when you fall into various trials? What is this joy we must experience, and how do we come by it?
Protestantism unthinkingly presents grace as "free." However, Scripture shows that God expects a great deal of effort from us once we receive it—it is costly.
The purpose of the ministry is to train members for service to God, edifying them, equipping them for their job, and bringing them to spiritual maturity.
To be made clean only prepares us for producing fruit. If we stand still, simply resting on our justification, the dark forces will pull us backwards.
John Ritenbaugh, using athletic running metaphors, emphasizes that we, like the Apostle Paul, must discipline ourselves, apply concentrated effort, and run with endurance to attain our reward or office (not to attain salvation, as some anti-nomian teachers have falsely charged). Sanctification is the longest, most difficult, and …
Richard Ritenbaugh, continuing his series on child rearing principles, commences by focusing on the history of child rearing in America, beginning with the patriarchal dominance of the Victorian era through the watershed period of World War I, ushering in the beginning of progressive, permissive influence, replete with Freudian …
The spirit of the law does not do away with the letter of the law; without the letter, there is no spirit because there is no foundation. Examples show God's will.
Justification is not the end of the salvation process, but merely the opening to sanctification, where we bear fruit and give evidence of God's Spirit in us.
Paul's admonition to the Corinthians to desire to prophesy has confused some due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what prophesying really is. Bill Cherry examines this command in its context, showing that it has everything to do with Christian fellowship, particularly on the Sabbath.
The Parable of the Sower and the Seed exemplifies a number things that can happen to prevent us from having a place in God's spiritual harvest.
The One who sent forth His Spirit to create and breathe life into the physical world, also breathed on His disciples and endowed them with spiritual life.
Producing fruit is not simply a matter of having Jesus Christ or being forgiven. He says we will not produce anything unless we go on growing in Him.
God is pleased to save those who humble themselves, allowing Him to perform a mighty work through them, and putting everyone in debt to Him.
In this preview of the Millennium, Richard Ritenbaugh cautions that the Wonderful World Tomorrow is not something that is going to happen because of an instantaneous miracle. God takes His time to produce both physical and spiritual changes. Because of the massive destruction at the close of the age, the survivors under God's …
God helps us to overcome our problems in an unraveling process, sometimes taking us back through the consequences of the bad habits we have accumulated.