As we work our way through this second part of the 4-fold vision statement of our church, to Grow in Christ, I want us to look into God’s Word for timeless biblical patterns of how this growing in Christ takes place individually and congregationally. pastorraywatchwhite

  • Acts 2.41-47 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles ‘doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (this means they were an evangelical body who preached the gospel with the lost).

I see here in verses 42-47 a biblical pattern for personal and congregational growth in Christ.

In verse 42, they grew in Christ because they continually devoting themselves to (1) the apostles’ teaching (2) fellowship, (3) breaking of bread (4) prayer. These are 4 timeless core values of growing in Christ personally and congregationally.

Paul and Barnabas told the saints at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch that living for Christ in a fallen world and with a flesh that is selfish to the core will not be easy.

  • Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Growing in Christ and being devoted to the core values mentioned in Acts 2.42 in something that takes place in every season of life, good and bad.

In verses 44,45 we see that they grew in Christ because they were a caring and sharing body of believers. When they heard about needs or saw a saint in need, they reached out to them in the Name of Jesus and met the need. What do you do when God puts a need right in front of you that you are able to meet?

In verse 46, we learn that they grew in Christ because the determined to fellowship and broke bread together daily, both publicly (in the temple courts; we would say today at 500 Main Street in ER) and from house to house.

In verse 47 we learn that they grew in Christ because they were a worshipping congregation. We also see in verse 47 that they grew in Christ because they were a gospel minded, evangelical body, The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Unfortunately, what we call “church growth” today in many places is not really the result of new converts being brought into the kingdom, but disgruntled or dissatisfied saints moving from one congregation in one location to another part of the body of another location of the same city.

Now there may indeed be biblical reasons for this, but as far as heaven goes, one member of the body moving to another congregation does not indicate an increase of the population of heaven.

Remember beloved, the goal of the Christian life is not sinless perfection, but steady, continual growth in The Lord. We not only should strive to grow individually, but congregationally as well. They continued steadfastly. This pursuit of growth must be deliberate.

  • 1 Peter 4.9-11 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen

These verses are a commentary of the thought mentioned in Acts 2.46 that provide us more timeless biblical keys for growing in Christ.

They grew in Christ because they opened their homes to one another and loved doing so. That is the idea behind hospitality without grumbling. Nobody told them that they had to open their homes. They wanted to.

Beloved, I have said it before and I will say it as long as I stand in this pulpit. Any and all genuine service unto Jesus is not a matter of having to (that’s religion), it’s wanting to, that’s the gospel. Serving The Lord with gladness.

We seek to open up the doors of our church building to provide the opportunities for us to grow in Christ through prayer, worship, Bible Study, outreach and other kinds of Christ centered events and times of fellowship.

But only YOU can open your home to others and minister to those in need. Only YOU can open your home to seek to get acquainted with others in a more meaningful way. Only YOU can open your home for fellowship or a bible study. Notwithstanding size limitations, extending fellowship to others within the body of Christ in your home is your choice.

  • 1 Cor 16.15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have addicted (devoted) themselves to the ministry (service) of the saints (the Lord’s people). Does this describe your house or mine?

Growing in Christ and kingdom hospitality speaks of being refreshed in The Lord. It means that the focus of our time together and our conversation, be it things going on in our family, or with our children, or with our relationships, or with our finances is upward and edifying. It is not sitting around and listening to one another grumble and complain like talk radio (squawk radio).

It is talking about Jesus and Scripture, not our favorites teachers or books. Husbands, how would you feel if every time you had a get together with your friends, all your wife did was talk about how much she admired and loved another man!

They grew in Christ because they were using whatever gifts, talents or resources they were given by God to serve one another. In the kingdom of God, we grow in the proportion to what we give away, not what we hoard or keep to ourselves.

They grew in Christ because they were using their spiritual gifts in their homes, at the market as well as at the temple to minister to one another and share the gospel with the lost.

Probably the most important reason for their growth in Christ was because they were motivated to do all that they did because of their love for Jesus Christ for the glory of God. My dear church family, whatever you do here at KF, be it in your home or in this building, don’t do it for yourself, don’t do it for the pastors, do it all for the love of Jesus and the glory of God.

To sum up what I have said thus far, I think we can safely say that these saints grew in Christ because they led gospel centered, Christ exalting, God glorifying and Spirit filled lifestyles. They were totally devoted to Jesus Christ, His will, His gospel and His calling. Their entire lives and every single thing that they did revolved around Him. Jesus was not a religious add on to their real life. He was their life.

As we learned last week, Knowing Christ is personal, but growing in Christ is impossible apart from deliberate interaction with other saints.

That a vital part of our growing in Christ is meant to take place within the context of community of the saints is made abundantly clear every single time we read one of the “One Another” statements written in the New Testament. Let’s look at some. They teach us things to do and attitudes to have towards one another if we intend to grow in Christ

  • John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

To grow in Christ, we must be willing to take the lowest seat and serve one another. People with a servant’s heart and servants mentality grow. Selfishness stunts spiritual growth. Apart from your own family, how much do you invest in others in the body of Christ?

  • John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

To grow in Christ means that we must love one another. Gal 5.13, we serve one another by love. Mark this down beloved; seeking to grow in Christ and be a kingdom minded person or congregation is rarely convenient. It is not always a sterile and problem free kind of a thing. There will be sacrifices, but there will also be great joy. You will get on one another’s nerves. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will get blessed and you will get burned. You will get helped and you will get hurt.

Jesus didn’t die for the perfect, but He came for sinners who know that they need a Savior.

  • Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

To grow in Christ means that we will love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. They grew in Christ because they humbled themselves before The Lord and submitted themselves on to another in the fear of God.

  • Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

To grow in Christ means that we will love one another. This love of Christ is not some pie in the sky kind of a thing. If we need a refresher on what it means to love, read 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

Okay, how many of you want this study to end right now?

  • Rom 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

To grow in Christ means that we will always seek to live in such a way that we will never make any brother or sister, young or old, stumble by letting them see you doing something he or she thinks is wrong. All things (not sinful of course) are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.

  • Rom 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

To grow in Christ means that we will warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified. We grow in Christ when we realize that in Christ there is no race but the human race. There is no educational or economic caste system.

  • Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

To grow in Christ means that we will seek to share each other’s troubles and problems. When one member suffers, we all suffer. While no one person or family can minister to every need of every person all the time, by the grace of God, all of us together can minister to one another’s need.

  • Eph 4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

To grow in Christ means that we will be humble and gentle. It means that we will be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.

  • Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
  • Col 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {quarrel: or, complaint}

To grow in Christ means that we will be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. Remember beloved, believers are not perfect.

To grow in Christ means that we will be gentle and ready to forgive. It means that we will never hold grudges. It means that we will remember that as the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Matthew 18.

  • Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

To grow in Christ means that we will encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” It means that when we see a saints floundering or turning back to the old ways of living, we lovingly warn them about the danger of being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

  • Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

To grow in Christ means that in response to all Jesus has done for us, we will seek to ignite and inspire one another to doing good works for the glory of God. It means that we will not neglect our gathering together as we are doing this morning, as some people do, but will encourage and exhort each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

Please note that these one another’s are God Inspired means of growth. Each of these one another’s, love, serve, be kind, forbear, forgive, use hospitality and exhort are verbs. Growing in Christ is exercising yourself unto godliness.

They are the overflow of our personal fellowship with Jesus Christ that spill over into the context of the daily living out of our faith in our church building, in our homes, in the market place or as we seek to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Growing in Christ is laying aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, The Author and Finisher of our faith.

Growing in Christ is always going to be the spiritual overflow of the foundation of growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him.