Spiritual Developement

Vol 5:11 (Nov 1959)

Spiritual Development

T. G. Wilkie

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

It is interesting to trace the occurrences of that precious word “grace” in the two Epistles given to us by the Holy Spirit through Peter. In 1 Peter 5:10 we have the title, “The God of all grace,” suggesting that He is the source of it, and reminding us of His ability to supply all the strength and power needed for the daily life. In 1 Peter 5:12 we are assured that we stand in the true grace of God. In that same chapter, verse 5, we are instructed that humility is the requisite for receiving a continuous supply of grace. The word is found in other passages, but I want particularly to note some of the essentials for growth in grace.

When we received Christ as our Saviour (John 1:12-13), we received divine life. God is the fountain of that life (Psalm 36:9); Christ is the channel through Whom it flows to us (John 5:21-25), and the Word of God in the hands of the Holy Spirit is the instrument by which the new life is imparted (1 Peter 1:23). Our Heavenly Father desires that we should grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, and has made abundant provision to effect the maturity of the new life. It must be disappointing to God when our spiritual growth is stunted, and we remain as babes (Heb. 5:12-13) instead of going on unto perfection or, as it reads in another translation, “Let us advance to mature manhood” (Heb. 6:1).

I once visited a home in Northern Ontario and the mother with three children was in the room where I was received; I said to the mother.” Are all the children here?” I noticed a look of pain upon her face as she shook her head negatively and directed me into another room. I never can forget the sight that met my gaze. In a crib lay a boy twelve years old whose body was like a child of two. There had been a measure of pride in the mother’s reference to the other children, but it changed to bitter disappointment when she referred to the underdeveloped child. I left that home thinking how disappointed God must be when we make no progress in the divine life.

The first, and perhaps most essential exercise for the maturing of the new life is the study of the Word of God. A neglected Bible means a lean Christian. Just as material food is necessary for the development of the physical body, so the sincere milk of the WORD (1 Peter 2:2) is essential for the development of the new life. Job could say, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). Another Scripture to remember is, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). From our new birth to the glory, the Word of God plays an important part in the Christian life.

Paul instructed Timothy: First, to give attendance to reading (1 Tim. 4:13); Second, to meditate on what he read (1 Tim. 4:15); Third, to continue in them (1 Tim. 4:18).

One Bible teacher suggests six rules for profitable Bible study. They are listed here as follows:

Read it lovingly: “O how I love Thy law” (Psa. 119:97). “Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold” (Psa. 119:127). The Christian should love the Bible because of its revelation of the love of God to man. He should love it because of its unfolding of Christ to his soul. All who love the Living Word (Christ) will love the Written Word.

“O, Book of wondrous depths and heights,
Of wisdom ever new,
Which in ten thousand various lights
Brings Jesus into view.

O, not for wealth, nor fame, nor power,
Nor love, nor truest friend,
Would I forego the sacred hour
Which o’er God’s Word I spend.

I steal it from the hours of sleep,
If leisure be not given;
For only thus the soul can keep
In touch with God and Heaven.” (W. Blane)

Read it reverently: “My heart standeth in awe (reverential fear) of Thy Word (Psa. 119:161). “Access to the inmost sanctuary of Holy Scripture is granted only to those who come to worship” (Agar Boet).

Read it prayerfully: It has been said that one who has prayed the Bible, through turning the Word of God into supplication, is far advanced in holiness.

Read it systematically: Go through the whole Bible. The Old Testament is part of the “all Scripture” written aforetime for our learning.

“In the Testament called Old is hid the New;
In the Testament called New the Old we view;
In the pages of the Old are golden mines:
In the pages of the New the gold all shines.”

Read it meditatively; (1 Tim. 4:15). “The Holy Scriptures are to believing souls what the meadow is to the ox, what the home is to the man, what the nest is to the bird, the stream to the fish, and the cleft of the rock to the sea-bird” (Luther).

Read it resolutely: One reason is that a resolute mental and spiritual effort is involved in its reading. Bible study is an athletic exercise. To know the Bible we must sweat over it. It demands real application of the mind. If we seek the power of application from God, He will give it to us. The Great Teacher is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

As definitely as you accepted Christ as your Saviour, accept the Holy Spirit as your Teacher. He will guide you into all truth. My heart’s desire and prayer is that you will search the Scriptures and thereby your growth in grace will appear to all. God’s promise to Joshua was that if he would meditate in the Book of the Law and observe to do according to all that is written therein, “Then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). So, in order to have success and spiritual prosperity in the Christian life, we must feed in the green pastures of His Holy Word and seek grace to obey it.

***

Some fishermen had caught a boatload of fish, but they lost their freshness because they had no chance to swim, being so crowded. Another time a cat-fish was among them. It chased the others and kept them on the move, and they stayed fresh. After that the fishermen always put a cat-fish in among the others, in order to keep them alive and fresh. “I think perhaps the devil is God’s cat-fish” says Leland Wang, who tells the story.

* * *

Quiet tension is not trust; it is simply compressed anxiety.