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                           "SPIRITUAL GROWTH"

                       Goals For Spiritual Growth

INTRODUCTION

1. Thus far in our study of spiritual growth I have sought to establish
   the following...
   a. Spiritual growth is a choice that we must make
      1) Commanded by God
      2) That requires diligent effort on our part
      3) Yet we are assisted by God in our effort
      4) And we are blessed by God both in this life and the one to come
   b. Spiritual growth is too often hindered by low self-esteem
      1) Too many Christians sell themselves short, because they do not
         view themselves capable of attaining higher levels of spiritual
         growth
      2) Not believing in their God-given capability, they are prone to
         making excuses for not trying, and therefore not growing
   -- Yet because God commands us to grow, we need to have a stronger
      faith that we can grow

2. But what should be our goals regarding spiritual growth?
   a. For what are we to strive, making diligent effort?
   b. By what measurement can we determine that spiritual growth is
      taking place?

3. As with any venture, having goals and attaining them is essential to
   success...
   a. The athlete excels when he or she sets goals, and attains them
   b. The successful business man understands the importance of goals

[So it is with the Christian.  We must have goals, and measurable ways
of attaining them.  In this lesson, I want to offer some thoughts in
this regards.  First, for the Christian there needs to be what I
call...]

I. BEHAVIORAL GOALS

   A. OUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO BE LIKE CHRIST...
      1. Jesus intimated such in talking about discipleship
         a. A disciple is to become like his teacher - cf. Lk 6:40
         b. Jesus wants us to become His disciples - cf. Mt 28:19-20
      2. Paul made it clear that this is the goal of our redemption
         a. God's desire is that we be conformed to the image of His Son
            - Ro 8:29
         b. As we are being transformed, it is in the image of Christ
            - cf. 2Co 3:18
         c. We are to be renewed according to the image of Christ - cf.
            Col 3:10-11
      -- So an essential element of spiritual growth is to become more
         Christ-like, renewing our behavior to conform to the example of
         Jesus Christ

   B. THIS INVOLVES GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST...
      1. Which Peter commanded in 2Pe 3:18
      2. Not just academic knowledge, but personal knowledge through
         character development - 2Pe 1:5-8
         a. We must add spiritual graces to our faith, such as virtue,
            knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly
            kindness, love
         b. It is with the development of such graces that we are truly
            fruitful in the knowledge of Christ - cf. 2Pe 1:8
      -- These graces were best personified in Jesus Christ; the more we
         grow in them, the more we truly know and understand our Lord
         and Savior!

   C. THE CHALLENGE OF REACHING OUR BEHAVIORAL GOALS...
      1. It requires diligent effort - cf. 2Pe 1:5,10
      2. It requires sustained effort - cf. Ga 6:7-9
      -- As stressed before, such growth does not come naturally; if we
         are not careful, we may revert back to our former conduct and
         character - cf. 2Pe 2:20-22

[True spiritual growth demands a renewal of mind and character (cf. Ro
12:1-2), in which the goal is to become like our Teacher, Jesus Christ!
But as members of His body, the church, there other goals to attain.
What I refer to as...]

II. FUNCTIONAL GOALS

   A. THE CHURCH IS A BODY WITH MANY MEMBERS...
      1. In which every member is important - cf. 1Co 12:12-22
      2. In which not every member has the same function - cf. Ro 12:3-5
      3. In which every member must do its part - cf. Ep 4:16
      -- The Lord's church grows only as each member does his or her
         part in the body of Christ

   B. AS MEMBERS OF THE BODY, WE MUST GROW...
      1. We must find and develop our unique function(s) in the body of
         Christ - Ro 12:6-8
         a. For some, it may be laboring in the Word (preaching,
            teaching)
         b. For others, it may involve ministering to others (visiting,
            serving)
         c. For many, it may involve a multitude of talents and
            abilities
      2. We must utilize our gifts (functions) in the service of God
         - cf. 1Pe 4:10-11
         a. Those who speak, doing so as the oracles of God
         b. Those who serve, with the strength God supplies
      -- Failing to grow brings reproach (e.g., He 5:12-14;), for we are
         guilty of wasting what God has given us (cf. Mt 25:14-30)

   C. THE CHALLENGE OF REACHING OUR FUNCTIONAL GOALS...
      1. The challenge of determining our function(s) in the body of
         Christ
         a. Not all members have the same function; what is mine?
         b. Am I lacking in certain talents, or are they simply needing
            to be developed?
         c. Am I truly a one-talent individual, or using that
            possibility as an excuse not to develop what I am truly
            capable of?
      2. The challenge of developing our function(s) in the body of
         Christ
         a. While some skills may come naturally, others may take time
            and energy
         b. Is my lack of development the result of indifference or
            laziness?
         c. Am I selling myself short through negative self-talk?
         d. Am I allowing the allurements of the world to preoccupy my
            time and energy?
      -- We need to be honest with ourselves; indeed, the day of
         Judgment will reveal whether or not we have been honest (cf.
         2Co 5:10; Mt 25:14-30)

[Finally, a thought or two about...]

III. CONGREGATIONAL GOALS

   A. INDIVIDUAL GROWTH IS INTERTWINED WITH CHURCH GROWTH...
      1. A primary function of the church is the edification of the
         saints - Ep 4:11-16
      2. We are challenged to minister our gifts to one another - 1 Pe
         4:11
      -- As we grow individually, so we grow as a church, and vice versa

   B. CHURCH GOALS SHOULD INCORPORATE INDIVIDUAL GOALS...
      1. A congregation's goals should allow for the fulfillment of
         individual goals
         a. Providing encouragement through its educational programs
         b. Providing opportunity for Christians to serve in their
            various roles
      2. A congregation's goals will require the fulfillment of
         individual goals
         a. Does a church have a goal for growth?  It requires teachers
            and others who minister to the flock
         b. Does a church have a goal for spreading the gospel?  It
            requires preachers and those who will support them - cf. Ro
            10:14-15
      -- If we desire to grow individually, we benefit greatly with the
         help of congregational goals!

   C. THE CHALLENGE OF REACHING OUR CONGREGATION GOALS...
      1. It depends heavily upon the cooperation of all the members
      2. If we are not united in the need for spiritual growth, it is
         unlikely we will set congregational goals that will nourish
         such growth
      3. If we are not growing individually, any congregational goals
         will unlikely be met
      -- If we desire to grow as a congregation, we need to be growing
         as individuals, and set our goals to allow for such!

CONCLUSION

1. Spiritual growth requires the setting and obtaining of goals...
   a. Individuals must have both behavioral and functional goals
   b. Both individuals and congregations must have similar goals

2. As we obtain our goals as individuals and as congregations...
   a. Christ will be glorified!
   b. As disciples and as members of His body we will become what He
      desires us to be!

If we desire to grow spiritually, then we need to set and strive for
behavioral, functional, and congregational goals that will inspire us in
the right direction!
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