What does it mean to “grow” from a Christian standpoint. Many people think that to grow spiritually means that we must do more, or have more head-knowledge; to know more facts about God or to be able to memorize more of the Bible. However, is this what the Bible actually teaches? Is this what growing in Christ actually is?
Today in this study, we will be examining what the scriptures say about true spiritual growth. (hint, it may be quite surprising!) and that true spiritual growth is exactly the way Jesus describes it, as a tree. As you see these truths, you will realize how amazing the work of God in you really is, and how simple He has actually made things for you.
Let’s begin today with Mark 4:26-32:
“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how.
For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:
But when it is sown, it grows up, and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.”
So here we have Jesus using a parable to describe the kingdom of God. He is teaching us how the kingdom of God grows in us. If you want to know how spiritual truths in the kingdom of God operate, it is vital that you understand this principle being shared by Jesus here.
You see, we all have been given seed. Now please don’t misunderstand me here because modern day Christianity has perverted the meaning of seed to mean money, but that is absolutely not what Jesus is describing here. Jesus says very clearly in verses 30 and 31, that the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed. To even hint that the seed you have been given is your money, is a gross insult to the kingdom of God!
There is power in seeds, there is life in seeds, and Jesus has given us the entire kingdom of God, and it is in the form of a seed. Many times, I see believers praying and begging God for things – asking Him to move on their behalf or to give them things, all the while not realizing that He has already given them everything. God has given you everything already, He has already moved on your behalf. And what form does it initially take? A seed. We see again in verse 31 that it starts out small… so small in fact that most believers do not even notice it when it comes. I can’t even begin to tell you of all the times I have seen believers literally get sprayed with miracle-working seeds, and they miss it because they weren’t paying attention. They were too distracted with other things to notice the seed that was just tossed their way. Jesus mentioned about this phenomenon in another parable regarding the seeds and different types of ground a few verses above starting at verse 14 and we have entire study on that particular subject.
The tragedy is that God gives us this precious, vital, miraculous seed of the kingdom of God, and we never truly grow it on the inside of us, and we live a life devoid of blessings because of nothing more than foolish ignorance. Please forgive me for being blunt, but these are not my words, but the words of God Himself. In Isaiah 5:12-13, God says that the people will go into exile for “lack of understanding” because they do not pay attention to what He is doing, or the work of His hands. And this is a key point here. Because it makes a note of the fact that it is God’s doing – it is God’s work.
So you might be wondering then, “if it is God’s work, why then do I need to worry about the seed?” Well stick with our scriptures in Mark, because this is where everything comes together. Look at verses 31 and 32 now. You will notice the phrase used in both verses when it is sown; do you see that? Here is the phrase is referring to seed that is received, While with the “good ground” from Jesus’ other parable in our previous study it is referring to seed that is given or scattered on the ground. You see, the sower sows the word. This word is the word of the Kingdom of God, this word is the word of Jesus Christ. The sower will give you the seed, but you must receive the seed that is given. How do you receive it? Turn to 2nd Peter 1:2-4:
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Notice what the scripture says right in verse 2, Grace and peace is multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I’m going to stop right here for a moment because there are details here that we need to see. This does not just say “knowledge about the Bible”… there are many people who have great Bible knowledge, they can quote entire chapters or even whole books of the Bible from memory, they can tell you the historical timeliness of the prophets and the ancient dates and times of events in the Bible, and all of that is really very cool…
Yet all of that is not worth two bits if you miss the main point here: Look again at what the verse says: Grace and peace, the unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor of God, in multiplied in your life, how? Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is not just general Bible knowledge, this is not just Bible facts or trivia… this does not say knowledge about God or about Jesus, this says knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. You see it is entirely possible to have plenty of knowledge about God and about Jesus, but not have any direct or personal knowledge of Him. So what’s the difference? Read on to the next verses 3 and 4:
His divine power has given (you see it’s already been given) to us all things that pertain to both life and godliness, again through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby, (this is how it happens) we are given (again it’s already given) exceedingly great and precious promises: that by these, you might be the partakes of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And just as an aside, go ahead and take notice that you already have escaped the corruption of the world – you are not trying to escape, your escape has already been accomplished though Christ.
So here it is. Seed comes to you in the form of the word of God, we know this from our previous verses, but it’s not just any word. There are many people who search after this bit of knowledge or that bit of knowledge, and they run from one thing to the next thing, to the next with no discernment – not realizing that there are many people out there using the Bible, but not actually giving the real knowledge that can save. We see here from these verses that the real knowledge that multiplies Grace and peace into our lives is the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Just because someone knows the scripture does not mean that they know Jesus or have knowledge of Him. Jesus said to the Jews that began to believe on Him that if they continue in His word they will be His disciples and that they would know the truth and the truth will make them free. Now these people were Jews, they knew the Law since they were four years old. But the truth of Jesus was a different truth than the Law of Moses. The Law was truth, but it was not the truth that would make them free. For that, they needed the truth of Jesus. Anyone can learn verses of scripture. But only the truth of Jesus will make you free.
We see from our verses in 2nd Peter, that the real knowledge of God and of Jesus is about what He has done for you, and what He has given you, and about what you have in Him. You have been given all things that pertain to life and godliness… you are not trying to get them, you have been given them already! His divine power has given them to you… so no force can ever stop that delivery truck! You have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, so that you would also be partakers of His divine nature! Try to wrap your brain around all the benefits included in that package!
This is yours because the corruption of the world is no longer on you… I know that many believers think that the corruption of the world is still on them whenever they sin and what-not, but look at what the verse says again: having escaped the corruption… You escaped the corruption the moment you received Christ. You are in the world, but you are not of the world any longer (John 17:16).
So as you read your Bible, or hear sermons and pay attention to scripture you are constantly having seed scattered on your field…. Now take heed, because not all seed is good! Only seed, that gives you knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is good. Only seed which broadens your horizon about who you are in Christ, and what He has done for you is actually the good seed. The seed that tells you of the exceedingly great and precious promises. The seed that builds you up and gives you an inheritance as mentioned in Acts 20:32. That is the good seed.
The bad seed is any seed that says you must qualify for your blessings by your performance. The bad seed says that God doesn’t work miracles anymore, or that the reason He hasn’t done it for you is because you haven’t been good enough, or you haven’t obeyed enough, or there is unconfesed sin in your life. These seeds are not of God, and you should not receive them!
True growth in Christ is not you thinking that you are stronger in God in order to perform better or do more. Instead, true growth in Christ is an increasing awareness that everything has already been done for you by Christ and your only job is to freely receive what He has already done!
And as you receive and believe the truth of what Christ has done, what started as a small and seemingly insignificant seed, maybe one verse or even one word, will sprout inside of your spirit, and it will become the great and mighty tree, that will give shade and shelter to not only you but also to others as well (Ezekiel 17:23, Ezekiel 31:6).
This is exactly why Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, ad all these [other] things will be added to you. You see, all those other things come when you have received the truth of the righteousness of Christ. Notice that it is His righteousness which you are to seek, not your own. It is His righteousness on you and not your own. And it is His righteousness which qualifies you for every blessing, and not your own. Every good thing is yours, all wrapped-up in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His truth, His completed work for you. Meditate on this, receive this, baptize yourself in this, and never let anyone steal this truth away – and I promise you , from the great divine power that God has placed on the inside of you, from the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that same resurrection power will cause a harvest of new life to spring forth from that once tiny seed!
This is the power of Christ, worked on the inside of you. Believe it, receive it, live it!