Mar5TueMarch 5, 2019
All this reading and writing about “growth” gets one sensitive to the topic. Like when you buy a new car and then see that car everywhere, focusing on this topic has my Spidey-senses tingling a lot in regards to spiritual growth. It is for that reason that when reading an article on sanctification a John Newton hymn referenced by the author jumped out at me.
The hymn, entitled I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow, opens with the following lines:
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and ev’ry grace,
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.
I think these words echo the heart of true believers. We want to grow. We want to grow in faith and love and in every other grace imaginable. So we should not be surprised at the interest and desire we have for growth. It is a distinguishing make of followers of Christ.
That is what makes a book like How to Grow helpful. It scratches an itch that true believers have. Author Darryl Dash’s teaching in How to Grow is not a collection of new techniques for rapid growth but rather a reminding ourselves of God’s revelation on growth. And what God teaches us about growth is summed up in these quotations from Dash:
“This principle [mastering the basics] applies to every area of life, including our spiritual growth. The way to grow is to master the basics—a job that takes a lifetime. To grow spiritually, focus on three core habits. We never outgrow these habits, so keep coming back to them.”
“No matter how much we grow, we’ll never grow beyond building three basic gospel habits: reading or listening to the Bible, praying, and pursuing worship and fellowship within a church community.”
I love this stuff. Master the basics. Focus on the ordinary means of grace. The Westminster Shorter Catechism question 88 asks, “What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?” Another way I think we could ask the same thing: “How do I grow as a Christian?” Certainly I hope we believe that our growth in godliness is a benefit of redemption; Christ’s atoning work is the source of our growth. But, how do we access the cross of Christ in our lives?
The catechism’s answer to the question of our means of receiving the benefits of Christ’s work is, “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” Note, Christ’s sacraments are baptism and the Lord’s Supper which are to be practiced in the context of a local church. Additionally, the Word of God and prayer are Christ’s means of communicating the benefits of redemption.
Clearly, Dash’s suggestion for spiritual growth lines up nicely with the ordinary means of grace as described in the WSC: Bible, prayer, church. And I couldn’t agree more. Back to the basics. Work the basics. We will never grow in ways that God desires us to grow if we don’t use the very means he has provided for that growth. Let’s be willing to master the basics of our faith in order to grow in our faith.