Principles of Spiritual Growth
by Miles J. Stanford
The aim of this book is to carefully bring out some of the more important principles of spiritual growth in order to help build on a sound biblical foundation in Christ.
The aim of this paper, in two parts, is to take each chapter and give just one paragraph to entice the reader to explore the book and the subject further.
Faith-true faith must be based solely on scriptural facts. Unless our faith is established on facts, it is no more than conjecture, superstition, speculation or presumption. Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends.
Time-It takes time to get to know ourselves; it takes time and eternity to get to know our infinite Lord Jesus Christ. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months. Rest in God’s time not mine.
Acceptance-There are two questions that every believer must settle as soon as possible. The one is, Does God fully accept me? And the second, If so, upon what basis does He do so? Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ (Rom. 5:1). The peace is God’s toward us, through His beloved Son-on this our peace is to be based. God is able to be at peace with us through our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:20). And we must never forget that His peace is founded solely on the work of the cross, totally apart from anything whatsoever in or from us (Rom. 5:8).
Purpose-God’s purpose of making man in His image is for communion, fellowship and cooperation (Rom. 8:28, 29). God has a natural law in force to the effect that we are conformed to that on which we center our interest and love. If we are attracted to this present evil world, we become increasingly worldly; if we pamper and live for self, we become more and more self-centered; but when we look to Jesus Christ, we become more and more like Him. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure: (Phil. 2:13)(see II Cor. 4:11; Phil. 1:21 and John 12:20, 21).
Preparation-God’s basic ingredient for growth is need. Without personal needs, we would get nowhere in our Christian life. The reason our Father creates and allows needs in our lives is to turn us from all that is outside of Christ, centering us in Him alone (Gal. 2:20). The true value of anything is known only when it is wanted. Watchman Nee puts first things first in saying, “God does not set us here first of all to preach or to do any work for Him. The first thing for which He sets us here is to create in others a hunger for Himself…No true work will ever begin in a life without first of all a sense of need being created…”
Complete in Him-Since we are complete in our Lord Jesus, it will not do to try and add to that finished work. It is now a matter of walking by faith and receiving, or appropriating from the ever-abundant source within. Our part is not production but reception of our life in Christ. This entails Bible-based fact-finding, explicit faith in Him and His purpose for us in Christ and patient trust while He takes us through the necessary processing involved.
Appropriation-In order to appropriate something for our daily walk in Christ, there are two essentials: to see what is already ours in Christ; and to be aware of our need for it.
Identification-see Romans 6; Gal. 2:20 Nothing more needs to be written.