Friday, October 21, 2016

The Vision (10.21.16): Healthy Growth in Christ

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

In last Sunday morning’s sermon on the Christ Hymn (Philippians 2:5-11), I noted that this passage has both a doctrinal bent (teaching who Jesus is as Christ and Lord, v. 11) and an ethical bent (encouraging believers to have the mind of Christ, v. 5). Indeed, it is never enough just to know about Jesus.  That knowledge must produce the fruit of a changed life.

In his classic work Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, Thomas Boston wrote (pp. 301-302):

….there is a peculiar beauty in the true Christian growth, distinguishing it from false growth:  it is universal, regular, proportional.  It is “growing up into him in all things, which is the head” (Eph 4.15).  The growing Christian grows proportionably in all parts of the new man.  Under the kindly influence of the Sun of Righteousness, believers ‘grow up as calves in the stall’ (Mal 4.2).  You would think it a monstrous growth in these creatures if you saw their heads grow, and not their bodies; or it you saw one leg grow, and another not; if all parts do not grow proportionably.  Aye, but such is the growth of many in religion.  They grow like rickety children, who have a big head but a slender body; they get more knowledge into their heads, but not more holiness into their hearts and lives.  They grow very hot outwardly, but very cold inwardly, like men in fit of the ague [fever].  They are more taken up about the externals of religion than formerly, yet as great strangers to the power of godliness as ever….

The branches ingrafted in Christ, growing aright, grow in all the several ways of growth at once.  They grow inward, growing into Christ (Eph 4.15), uniting more closely with Him; and cleaving more firmly to Him, as the Head of influences, which is the spring of all other true Christian growth.

They grow outward in good works, in their life and conversation…..

They grow upward in heavenly-mindedness, and contempt of the world; for their conversation is in heaven (Phil 3.20).

And finally, they grow downward in humility and self-loathing.  The branches of the largest growth in Christ, are, in their own eyes, ‘less than the least of all the saints’ (Eph 3.8); ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Tim 1.15); ‘more brutish than any man’ (Prov 30.2).  They see that they can do nothing, no, not so much as ‘think any thing, as of themselves’ (2 Cor 3.5):  that they deserve nothing, being ‘not worthy of the least of all the mercies showed unto them’ (Gen 32.10); and that they are nothing (2 Cor 12.11).

May we indeed, experience growth in Christ that is “universal, regular, proportional.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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