Spiritual Strength And Maturity
Achieving spiritual strength and maturity is a process. Many want to know how to get closer to God and become strong Disciples of Christ. They want to know what to do after they get saved.
They want to know their purpose in life, how to deal with the spiritual opposition against them, and how to take control of their lives. In other words, they want to know how to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might.
When asking how to become strong in the Lord many say that trust in God is key. Trust means to have confidence in God. Said another way, trust says that God is not a man that he should lie. If God made a promise, he will keep it. Trust is another word for faith. Surely trust in God is essential for developing a strong relationship, but you can trust God and still not spiritually mature. With that in mind, let’s explore some steps toward spiritual strength. Let’s start with the idea of process. I use the word process because it relates to actions along life’s journey that produces various outcomes.
Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Becoming strong in the Lord and the power of his might are great goals. To reach these goals, however, requires a right process. In our example, a right process means the application of Biblical principles in your life.
As already mentioned, developing or growing in the Lord is what we call a process. The process is a mapped-out course of action needed to achieve the desired result. We could say then that process is the necessary path needed to reach our goal of spiritual strength and maturity. Now let’s include another word, sanctification.
Sanctification is a word you might not be familiar with. Sanctification comes from two Latin words, sanctus which means holy, and ficare which means make. In other words, sanctification is a work of God, a process toward holiness.
This brings us back to process. Sanctification is the process needed for getting closer to God. It is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification can also mean a setting apart for the work of God. All of us are called to advance the Gospel. Most importantly, sanctification deals with a change of mind and a change of heart. Knowing that sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit, let’s take take a look at the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues is a great place to start your process toward spiritual strength and maturity. After the resurrection, Christ held a forty-day meeting with his Disciples teaching about the kingdom of God, the restoration of all things, what signs follow those that believe, and what happens to you after the Holy Spirit comes on you.
His disciples were full of zeal and ready to spread the Gospel. You can only imagine how it felt to be in this meeting talking to the resurrected King of kings. It should be pointed out, however, that Jesus didn't think these disciples were ready. They were missing something significant. They needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Some think they were baptized with the Holy Spirit when they were born again. (To be born again means to come out of spiritual death into spiritual life by the redemptive blood of Christ.) This might be true with some, but for most of us it wasn’t. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a different and unique experience for you after salvation. We can see that separate experience when Philip went down to Samaria after the great persecution of the early church.
Philip was having great success in ministry. He preached three things to the people of Samaria: Christ, the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus. One thing was missing in his ministry, however, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard of the great miracles in the Samaria meetings they sent Peter and John to see what was happening. When they arrived, they noticed none of the people were filled with the Holy Spirit. To the Apostles, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was critical for success in life, ministry, and the advancement of the kingdom of God.
Scripture says, “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) (17) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17).
The apostles understood that blessing, healing, deliverance, and miracles were good, but not enough. The people needed the Holy Spirit. These apostles were following Christ’s instructions, “And you shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” This takes us back to the process. To reach our goal of spiritual strength and maturity we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Notice the many times the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the following Scriptures.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (2) And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. (4) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4) (The Day of Pentecost could not fully come until after the resurrection of Christ.)
APOSTLE PAUL IN EPHESUS
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, (2) He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. (3) And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. (4) Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. (5) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (6) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6)
PHILIP’S MINISTRY IN SAMARIA
“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (15) Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) (17) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:14-17)
PETER AND THE GENTILES
“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (44) While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (45) And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (46) For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, (47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” (Acts 10:43-48)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an awesome experience. To summarize:
•After the resurrection of Christ, He held a forty-day meeting with his Disciples teaching about the kingdom of God, the restoration of all things, what signs follow those that believe, and what happens to you after the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
•The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a different and unique experience for you after salvation.
•The apostles understood that blessing, healing, deliverance, and miracles were good, but not enough. The people needed the Holy Spirit.
(C) Jonas Clark
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