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Grow in Christ

Why is it necessary to grow in Christ?
This is a question that every Christian must at some point, ask.  Let’s take a look at the Scriptures and see what we can learn about 
this topic.

I will be using Scripture taken from the Amplified Bible (copyright - The Lockman Foundation) for this study.
Please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:1,  I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service, It was likely that Paul was inspired to write this letter from Rome, where he was imprisoned for his faith. Even though imprisoned, the Gospel was not imprisoned, and the power of God was not constrained.

Believers are urged to walk worthy of their divine calling. As we read the following verses, we will watch for the things that enable us to walk worthy of our calling. Ephesians 4:2 Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.
There are a few already!  
Humility – having lowliness of mind
Meekness – being unselfish, gentle and mild
Patience – bearing with one another and making allowances out of love

Ephesians 4:3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace. Do you see another one here?
Unity - Guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit 
Peace – the binding power of peace

I am thinking… how important are these we have listed? Let’s consider what the opposites of these are:
Humility – the opposite is Aggression or maybe the hunger for power over others
Meekness – the opposite is Selfish, Rough and Course behavior toward others
Patience – the opposite is Impatience and Intolerance with others
Unity – the opposite is Division and Disharmony with others
Peace – the opposite is Agitation and Discontentment with others

These provide quite a contrast don’t they? Of which would you prefer to be a part?
Ephesians 4:4 [There is] one body and one Spirit--just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received-- 
Ephesians 4:5 [There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all. 

As Believers we are all part of the Body of Christ. We have one Spirit, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father.
We have much in common don’t we? We all have God abiding in us.
Ephesians 4:7 Yet grace (God's unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in 
proportion to the measure of Christ's [rich and bounteous] gift. The grace of God was given to us individually. We were endowed 
with spiritual gifts to be used to build up each other and the Body of Christ as a whole. In this respect, we are not all alike, but rather each of us are very special. Our differences are to be appreciated and honored. We can’t all do the same work. We are equal in importance to the Body of Christ. We need each other to do the work that lies before us in this world.

Ephesians 4:12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church),
Ephesians 4:13 [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] 
knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.

God intended that these individual spiritual gifts, given to each Believer, would perfect and equip His people to minister and build up the Body of Christ. What is His goal for the Body of Christ? Let’s list them: To attain oneness in the faith, To attain comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ, To attain the maturity of Jesus Christ’s own perfection, To attain the completeness found in Jesus Christ. This is God’s intended goal for His people. Is God asking too much of us?

Before we answer that, perhaps we should consider what we would have if we choose to not do what God has equipped us and expects us to do:
Ephesians 4:14 So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every 
shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. We would be like children who become the prey of unscrupulous men. Tossed about by false teaching and every form of trickery invented to mislead us. We would be confused and unsure of our faith and the truth. We would fight with each other and never have unity and harmony. We would never grow in knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ. We would never overcome the temptations that come against us. We would never feel satisfaction and peace with each other. We would be worn out trying to accomplish tasks that we aren’t equipped to do.

As I write this I am seeing a picture unfold before my eyes. What do you think that picture portrays? Dear God forgive us. We have desired the Promises and forsaken the Responsibilities.
Ephesians 4:15 Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 
Ephesians 4:16 For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:17 So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds. 
We can no longer coast along in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has only a little power in evidence today.  
Can we blame God for not giving us power?  We resist and deny the power God has already given to Believers through the spiritual gifts. In many cases the spiritual gifts given to Believers are unused and lying dormant. Because of this, the Church appears to the rest of the world as illegitimate and hypocritical. We know that we are to grow in the Faith. We have learned about the goals God intended for the Body of Christ.

Will you choose to grow and mature, or will you grieve the Holy Spirit, Who has put power within you to use for good? Each Believer must decide.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God's own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). 
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling 
(brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).
Eph 4:32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), 
forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.

Let us seek ways to work together in love & harmony. Let us work not in our own strength, but with God’s power & inspiration. Let us seek wisdom & the guidance of the Spirit & the Word of God. The days we are living in have become more & more dark… it’s 
gradual, but steadily advancing. Evil is real. This provides us, as the Body of Christ, to be seen in contrast to the world & it’s ways. 
Growing in Christ will produce life filled with light. Exactly what the world needs today.

Dear Father in heaven, please forgive us for clinging to Your Promises and ignoring the Responsibilities You have set before us.  
Please speak to our hearts and help us to change where we need to change. May Your Holy Spirit work a mighty work in our hearts this very night. I pray in the holy name of Jesus. Amen

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