Growing In Christ – Part One

              People holding hands to form a circle
                  The New Testament teaches that a Christian’s spiritual life is a process.  When one obeys the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that person is “born again” (John 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:22-23).  This is not a physical rebirth, but rather a spiritual one (Rom. 6:3-6).  In other words, a man can be physically one hundred years old, and yet only one day old spiritually.  Peter wrote that first century Christians should “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).  The “milk of the word” is something that should be “ingested” by those who are young in the faith.  The writer of Hebrews explained, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness:  for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).  With that understanding, let us turn our attention to some of the things that all Christians should do in their growth as a child of God.

              The same Peter that wrote of the need to “desire the sincere milk of the word”, also explained some of the things that those first century Christians needed to do.  He wrote, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:  Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing:  but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.  For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:  Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Pet. 3:8-11).  In like manner, if we will follow these simple truths, then we will aid our development as a Christian.

            First of all, there is the need to be “of one mind”.  God does not want his people to be divided into factions.  This basic fact utterly destroys the idea that denominationalism can be a good thing to God.  The church in Corinth is an example of what can happen when a congregation is not “of one mind”.  Paul wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided?  was Paul crucified for you?  or were ye baptized in the name of Paul” (1 Cor. 1:10-13)?  Notice that by inspiration, Paul begged for the brethren to be unified.  This falls right in line with what Jesus prayed while on the Earth.  “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:  that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:20-23).  In no way did Jesus and Paul want Christians to be divided into different bodies.  On the contrary, Paul made it clear that “There is one body…” (Eph. 4:4).  He even went so far as to identify what the one body is.  Speaking of Jesus, Paul indicated, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).  One body equals one church.  Paul further taught this in his letter “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” (Col. 1:2).  Again, when referencing Jesus, Paul wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church:  who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).  It is truly sad to realize how many times mankind has ventured away from God’s design.  The fact that any denomination exists is an affront to Jesus and His body.  Jesus does not have multiple “brides”.  On the contrary, according to God’s design, Jesus has one “bride”, which is His church (Eph. 5:22-33; Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2, 9).  Christians must never be advocates of sectarianism, but rather we should advocate for unity.  (to be continued…)
~ Corey Barnette