Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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The Development of Discipleship
Steps of Spiritual Growth
Terry R. Baughman
“In the same way that nursing infants cry for milk, you must intensely crave the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word. For this ‘milk’ will cause you to grow into maturity, fully nourished and strong for life — especially now that you have had a taste of the goodness of the Lord Jehovah and have experienced his kindness” (1 Peter 2:2–3 TPT).
In the words of a song performed by Hillsong United, entitled As You Find Me, there is a phrase that says, “Your love’s too good to leave me here.” After setting the conflicting actions of purity and sin, perfection and disappointment, and commitment and abandonment, there is still a grace that reaches beyond our mistakes and failures. God’s grace is a demonstration of His love. The song goes on to say, “And I know I don't deserve this kind of love. Somehow this kind of love is who You are.”
Jesus reaches us in the pit of our sin and the depth of our failures. His grace restores us to relationship and He calls us to become disciples. He is still calling, “Follow Me, and I will make you …” (Matthew 4:19). There is an expectation of change in the challenge, I will make you. His plan is change. His purpose is discipleship development. His process is to stage events that will result in maturity and spiritual growth. He loves us too much to leave us in our past or even here in the present. He has a future picture in mind of what we can become!
Our instinct for self-preservation is to resist external influences for change. We are more comfortable with the familiar existence of the present. Change is uncomfortable and growth creates the need for adaptation. The stress of maturity is not of our own initiative, but discipleship demands that we accept the challenge of change and willing submit to this new influence in our lives.
God holds the blueprints and designs the schedule of completion, but we must be willing to embrace His plan and follow His direction. Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, “I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6 TPT). When we trust the Master we can take courage in His ability to complete what He has begun in each of us.
Beyond the casting of the seed in the Gospels and the birth of the church in the Book of Acts, we are given many Epistles that instruct believers in how to follow after Christ. Through the letters to believers in various cities where Paul traveled, individuals who Paul mentored and trained, other writings written to Hebrew Christians and written by Apostles we are encouraged to grow. The whole body of writing in the New Testament give guidance for believer to become more like Christ. Paul maintained that, “These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness in the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed in the abundance of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 TPT).
May we hunger for more of His Word, passionately follow the calling of His Holy Spirit, and grow more strongly in Him day by day. That is our calling and His desire.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Romans 5:12).