The Keys to Spiritual Growth: Unlocking the Riches of God
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Introduction^ We don't hear much about spiritual growth these days. Many Christians in our society have been diverted by various teachings that promise power, spiritual energy, and success without the process of growth into spiritual maturity. They look for dramatic experiences, climactic turning points, instant solutions to their spiritual problems; but real, lasting victory doesn't come through those means. God's design is that we be seasoned to maturity through a continual process of growth.^ The contemporary church's de-emphasis of spiritual growth has reaped a bitter harvest. Millions of professing Christians suffer from arrested development. Churches are filled with people who are spiritually immature, undiscerning, weak, and fragile. Spiritual underdevelopment is the rule, no longer an exception. Thousands-- perhaps millions-- are now addicted to " therapy, " evidently preferring the dependency of a counseling relationship to the rigors of true discipleship and growth in gr
Few people were ever more sincere than I in trying-without success-to find meaning, truth and purpose to life.But at the university I noticed a small group of people-eight students and two faculty members-with something different. They seemed to know what they believed and why. I wanted what I saw.Two weeks later, while I was sitting with some of them at a table in the student union, the conversation began to center on God. That bothered me, because I thought it was not intellectual. And yet I was curious.Leaning back in my chair, I said to one of the students, "Tell me, what has made you so different from others?"She looked me in the eye with a little smile and said: "Jesus Christ!"My response revealed my bias and my ignorance. "Oh, for heaven's sake," I said, "don't give me that garbage about religion!"To which she replied: "I didn't say religion. I said Jesus Christ!"My new friends challenged me to examine the claims of Christ. I thought most Christians were idiots. But these people were persistent. Finally, I accepted their challenge, out of pride, to refute them.One of the crucial areas of my research to refute Christianity centered around His resurrection. More than 1,000 hours of studying this subject showed me that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious hoaxes ever foisted upon human minds, or it was the most fantastic fact of history.Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet, claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures. He was arrested, judged a political criminal, and crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women went to His tomb and found the body gone. His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He had appeared to them and to many others at various times before ascending into heaven.In my attempt to refute Christianity, I made some startling observations about the resurrection. The testimony of history, for example. I had no idea there was so much positive historical, literary and legal testimony supporting the factuality of Christ's resurrection. But the more I investigated, the more evidence I found. I came to see why the Apostle Paul had said, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Corinthians 15:14).Jesus' foretelling of His resurrection was another of my startling observations. Prior to Jesus' death, He took His disciples aside and told them that He would be condemned to death and handed over to the Romans who would mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. And three days later He would rise from the dead (Mark 10:33-34).The more I studied the historical-biblical Christian faith the more I realized it is a thinking person's faith. As Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).But alongside the scholarly evidence for the resurrection, there is circumstantial evidence-what happened to me.Having set out to refute the resurrection and Christianity, and then having been compelled by the evidence to believe that Jesus Christ was indeed exactly who He claimed to be-and that He indeed rose from the dead, I faced a new problem. My mind was saying, "Christianity is true," but my will was saying, "Don't admit it!"It came to the point where I'd go to bed at ten and wouldn't fall asleep until four in the morning. I knew I had to get Jesus off my mind or go out of my mind.Finally on December 19, 1959, at 8:30 p.m., I became a Christian.I prayed four things that night, to establish a relationship with the resurrected, living Christ who has since transformed my life. First, I said, "Lord Jesus, thank You f
John MacArthur, the author of numerous best selling books that have touched millions of lives, is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California and president of The Master's College and Seminary. He is also president of Grace to You, the ministry that produces the international radio program Grace to You and a host of print, audio, and Internet resources. He authored the notes in the Gold Medallion Award-winning The MacArthur Study Bible. John and his wife, Patricia, have four children who have given them thirteen grandchildren.- Publisher.