Growth Is What Counts

“What we have principally to do with, in our inquiries into our own state, or the directions we give to others, is the nature of that effect which God has brought to pass in the soul.  As to the steps which the Spirit took to bring that effect to pass, we may leave them to him.  We are often in Scripture expressly directed to try ourselves by the nature of the fruits; but no where by the Spirit’s method of producing them” (Jonathan Edwards, from The Religious Affections).

Many fruit bearing seeds are planted the conventional way by breaking up ground, putting a seed into the dirt, and waiting for results. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes in my Papaw’s garden a tomato will be left on the ground, and from the seed of that tomato a new plant will begin to grow. One year I left a pumpkin out by our steps. The snow came, and the snow left, and in the spring we had a number of pumpkin sprouts. In these examples a seed began to grow, even though it was not planted in what many consider the “normal” way.

Like the natural world, so the spiritual. It doesn’t matter how the seed was planted, nor even if you know how, but what matters is true growth. You might not know when God began to work in your life or when He saved you. That’s okay because the only thing that matters is true spiritual growth, or true spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22-23). If you are trusting Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16, 14:6, Rom 3:28), have a repenting heart (Luke 18:9-14, 1 John 1:9), and are beginning to show Christian evidences (Gal 5:22-23), then it doesn’t matter if you can remember when you were saved or tell how God worked in your life. Are you trusting Jesus right now for forgiveness? Are you repenting of sin on a daily basis? Are you growing as a Christian? This is what matters.

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About Clint Adams

Hello. I am the Pastor of Double Branch Free Will Baptist Church in Unadilla, Georgia. I am happily married. I enjoy sports in general, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
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4 Responses to Growth Is What Counts

  1. Stefan Gerville-Reache says:

    Great post! Humility before the Lord is so important. Keeping short accounts (confessing as soon as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin) is spiritually vital (1 John 1:9). Reading, studying, or hearing the Word of God that leads to faith in applying God’s Word in our life is an important means of Christian growth (1 Pet 2:2 and 2 Pet 3:18). Without faith it is impossible to please God, so let us lay aside every encumberance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith (Heb 11:6; 12:1-2).

  2. jclint33 says:

    Thanks for taking time to read and respond to the post. Growth in the Christian life is what matters, not what process you went through to be converted. Everyone is saved by grace through faith, but when I use the term “process” here what I mean is more along the lines of what individual “circumstances” brought us to the Lord. Though that can be important, what really matters is the fact that one is a Christian, and one can know that they are really saved by trusting Christ alone for salvation daily, repenting of sin daily, showing more of the fruits of the Spirit, and growing in holiness.

  3. amspencer1984 says:

    Very important points here, Clint, that you are making. We often put too much emphasis on a certain “form” of conversion rather than on the actual change that is the real nature of conversion and the new birth. What I hear you saying is that it doesn’t matter so much how that change comes about (so far as many changeable externals are concerned) so long as Christ, through His Spirit, does indeed make you a new man in Christ. We can tell only by looking at the nature of our lives each day: Faith, repentance, fruit, growth.

    Some questions:

    1. If a person is kind, gentle, loving, honest, diligent, etc., but does not claim to believe in Christ, what do you make of such a situation?

    2. What do you say concerning the person who is aware of his sinfulness, regrets it and is pained about it, is beginning to try to overcome it, but has not yet been able to move beyond it. He can say that he is growing in spiritual awareness and sensitivity, but does not yet seem to find victory, so to speak, in the spiritual realm. What is this man’s condition?

  4. jclint33 says:

    Aaron,

    I have thought of this situation before (concerning your first question). I would like a better grasp on it, but here is what I think. First, if a person does not have faith in the Lord, he simply is not a Christian. Second, if this person is not a Christian then what “fruit” he has is not true fruit. Third, however, God does give common grace, and through that common grace God helps people be very much better than they would have been without common grace. There is still more depth I would like to add to my answer but that is all for now. Thoughts?

    On your second question, I would say that to some degree it depends on if we are talking about one area of life for the afore mentioned person or his life overall. Of course, even one area in a person’s life where he sees sin and is unable (at least it appears that he cannot overcome and it should only happen for a shortish amount of time, I think) to overcome, I think that person can be a Christian, though this is not a good sign.

    However, I think you are asking about a person’s total life, his practice of life. It is not enough to know what is right and to desire what is right if we constantly fail to do what is right. Now, I think all of us as Christians must confess that we constantly fail every single day to live up to God’s perfect standard. I would even say that we sin in everything we do. Do any of us love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Have any of us ever loved God like that for one second? Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t think so.

    But, with that said, we must also say if we are Christians, in one sense at least, that we are pleasing to God, that we are obeying God, that we are living a life that shows that God’s Spirit dwells within us, and, also, that we are growing as Christians. Unless these things are in our life then we are not Christians, we do not know God.

    So, for the person you described (wanting to obey God, wanting to do right, but unable) it appears that this person has most likely been dealt with by God (God is showing him truths, showing him his sin, showing him the right way to go) but this person is still not a Christian because he has not been changed. He needs repentance, which is more than a sorrow for sin and a desire to stop sinning (repentance does certainly contain these two things), but repentance also give a person a change of mind, a change of heart, that, by God’s grace, enables him to turn from sin and live more of a righteous life.

    I think at this point it is important to say this: growing as a Christian is a process that takes time. Some people grow faster than others. A plant may never reach the productivity of another plant in your garden, but it can still give good fruit. It might not give as much fruit, but it still gives good fruit. And isn’t that what Jesus taught (Matthew 13:23)? But, still, all Christians will live a holy life and bear good fruit. If they continue to not live a life that is Christian it is because they are not Christian.

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