Spiritual growth requires looking ahead and looking back. We will not grow in maturity if we lose focus on what God did in the past and what God will do in the future.
There are five primary resources for spiritual maturity specifically mentioned in the New Testament. Each resource is associated with verbs describing maturity.
- God’s Spirit (II Corinthians 3:17-18; Ephesians 5:18-21)
- God’s People (Hebrews 3:13-14;13:17; Ephesians 4:11-16)
- God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12; I Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:21-25; I Peter 1:23;2:1)
- God’s throne (Hebrews 4:16; Colossians 4:12; James 4:8; I Peter 5:7-8)
- God’s discipline (Hebrews 12:1-11; James 1:2-5; I Peter 1:6-8)
Two additional resources emphasized in the New Testament are hope and remembering. These are big themes in Scripture.
- I John 3:2-3 – “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”
- II Corinthians 5:9-10 – “… we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
- II Peter 1:3-9 (esp. v. 9) – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
Hope and Remembering are a kind of fuel for propelling us to spiritual maturity. They provide necessary perspective to protect us from the dangers of despair and of forgetfulness.