Study 3 BECOMING A REALLY STRONG CHRISTIAN
BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Exodus 16: 14-30)
This study is based upon a historical note which Luke gives us in Acts 18:23, where we read that one of the Apostle Paul’s greatest tasks was that of “strengthening all the disciples”. Paul was on a great missionary journey and we learn here of his concern wherever he found Christians that they should be strengthened and established in the Lord and in their own faith. It is significant to notice that the apostle was always doing two things: he had a two-fold task:-
- 1. To get people converted. This was Paul’s life’s passion! Wherever he found himself he testified to the grace of God and made known “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). He did this in prison, in the palace, in the open air; he did it amongst Jews and Gentiles (Acts 20:17-21; 26; 22-23; 1 Corinthians 9:16).
- 2. To get converts built up in the faith; his concern was for spiritual growth.
The task of the Church is not only evangelism but consolidation. It is not only that of reaching out and preaching the gospel to the unsaved, and of bringing them to the Saviour, but it is the task of establishing the converts, of seeing that they become robust, healthy Christians. What a great thing it is when people are truly saved! But how sad when they do not grow up spiritually to become strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10)! It is one thing to have life, but it is another thing to have abundant life (John 10:10). What advice should be given to young Christians in order that they might be strengthened, that they might be built up in the Christian faith? There are four simple secrets of spiritual growth.
1. You must eat plenty of good food
No-one can grow without eating, and how necessary it is to eat a sufficient quantity of the right kind of food. As Christians we need our daily portion of heavenly sustenance which God has provided for us in His Word. Yesterday’s intake will not sustain us today. We must have a fresh supply every morning (Exodus 16:21); we must be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11); we must feed on the Word of God like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16); we must find milk in the Word and also meat (Hebrews 5:12-14); and the reason we must feed upon the Word of God is that the Word itself is life-giving. It is God’s live wheat-germ (John 6:63). There is no substitute for it – see what Jesus said about this in Matthew 4:4, and compare Joshua 1:8-9 and 2 Timothy 2:15.
2. You must breathe plenty of fresh air
We need to take this air into our lungs, and if the food we are to eat is the Word of God, the air we are to breathe speaks of prayer, which is “the Christian’s vital breath”. We only have to read through the gospel records to see how frequently our Lord Jesus Christ withdrew into a quiet place so that He might be alone in prayer to His heavenly Father. This emphasis is also brought out in the letters of the New Testament, especially where we read of the Apostle Paul who was truly a man of prayer. Christian biography also makes this emphasis. All who have grown up into Christ and have become mighty for Him have known what it is to breathe plenty of fresh air. They have been men and women of prayer. The place or posture are not important, because we can pray anywhere, in any position and at any time, but it is good to have a place – look up and read about Daniel (Daniel 6:10-11); Peter (Acts 10:9); and the Lord Jesus (Matthew 14:23).
3. You must have plenty of healthy exercise
This refers to the exercise of Christian service. If we are to grow, regular exercise is essential; there must not be an over-balance of exercise, but there must be just the right amount and the right kind. The field of Christian service is broad and wide and there is work for all. Some people serve God publicly and are engaged in great tasks; but the majority serve Him behind the scenes in work which is vitally important. Some are involved in preaching the Word, in visiting the sick, in working amongst women, amongst the elderly or the young; some work at home, others abroad. What spiritual exercise goes on all the time as thousands of God’s people around the world serve Him faithfully and humbly! Have you a God-appointed task, a specific work you are engaged in?
4. You must get plenty of quiet rest
The reference here is not to laziness but to the importance of having regular, relaxed rest and sleep. If we are to be really healthy and fit we must be able to sleep; and in order to grow spiritually we need to cultivate peace of mind, a restful trust in the Lord and a quiet confidence in Him (Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 11:28-30; Philippians 4:6-7). Fears and anxieties will stunt our growth, but the Christian need not be like this; there is a way of deliverance (Matthew 6:24-34).
Let us pray that we may grow in grace so that we may really come to know our Lord in a deeper way (2 Peter 3:18); that we may grow in the knowledge of His will, and that we delight to do those things that please Him (Colossians 1:9); that we may grow in love and communion with Him (Ephesians 3:19); that we may grow in humility (2 Corinthians 12:11); and that we may grow in faith and quiet trust in the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
But before anyone can grow in the Christian life he must be born again. Have you been born again? If not, look up John 1:12.