06: Growing in Christ – Hit the Mark
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Growing (300x186)The people did not see that coming. They were hoping for and expecting an announcement that the long-awaited kingdom would soon begin. There was no denying that Jesus was more than a normal man. It was not only the miracles He performed but His king-like bearing and an authority that none could deny.

As they sat gathered on the mountainside everyone was in rapt attention, listening to the words He spoke. In the crowd were all classes – from the lowly to the distinguished members of Jewish society. Each with their own dreams of the Jewish nation being restored.

Spell-bound they listened as Jesus began to talk about the kingdom of heaven in ways that they had not heard before. He pronounced blessings upon mourners and the meek, upon the merciful and the peacemakers.

Then He made a statement that must have turned their religious world upside down:

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20

The scribes and Pharisees projected themselves as the ultimate in spiritual attainment. With great pretense they displayed their false piety among the people. They boasted of their fidelity to the law. From fasting to the paying of tithes they appeared to be in great favor with God.

Now Jesus states that the level of their righteousness would preclude entrance into the kingdom of God. What were the people to do?

Over and over again Jesus had taught that a mere profession of godliness was worthless. The cursing of the fig tree recorded in Mark 11 was an illustration of having the appearance of substance but lacking the fruit thereof.

This week as we study “Growing in Christ,” we need to recognize the truth that a religious experience that consists of merely appearing religious without truly being submitted to Christ is folly.

Being saved is not the end goal in life. Studying and imitating the life of Christ is the aim of those who been figuratively baptized into His death. As new creatures in Christ, all must learn to walk as He walked, to talk as He talked and to live as He lived.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14 NIV

To get from where God finds us in life to where He wants us to be is the work of a lifetime. Wanting to be righteous is not enough. We each must find ample time on our knees to ask Christ for strength, grace and guidance. We must push past all of the distractions we are faced with and find time gathering the sacred manna from the Word of God. We must grow.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does “growing in Christ” mean to you?
  • How can one tell if they are growing in Christ?
  • Explain what “dying to self” means to you?
  • It is often said that sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Does that mean that I should expect a slow and gradual process of becoming like Jesus? Explain your answer.
  • What is the difference between a weak Christian and a strong Christian?
  • Is it true that faithful attendance at church and the faithful carrying out of religious duties is a sign of a mature Christian? Explain your answer.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: You cannot grow as a Christian without personal Bible study and prayer. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the familiar verses from Galatians 5. He that hath an ear let him hear:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

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06: Growing in Christ – Hit the Mark — 3 Comments

  1. I enjoy reading everything about Christ, God and the Holy Spirit and what I must do to be saved and carry the message to others that are seeking to know Jesus better. There is more to being saved than joining church and having my name on the church role. I am learning so much. I know there are other women like myself that are wondering how to break free from the control of the world. There is so much more than stopping fornication and drinking, and using drugs that I was not told about in the worlds churches. Revelation seminars was unheard of in the church I was in as a child.

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  2. The sentence, "Sanctification is the work of a lifetime", I've heard too many times out of context, as if it meant we will take a lifetime to overcome our sins. Please consider the context in the following, particularly the sentence preceding “sanctification”, having to do with perfection:
    The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the plant is a beautiful figure of Christian growth. As in nature, so in grace; there can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so is the development of the Christian life. At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God's purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in proportion to our privileges. (Christ’s Object Lessons, page 65)

    In another place, this sentence is placed in opposition to rejecting or neglecting truth:
    The work of sanctification is the work of a lifetime; it must go on continually; but this work cannot go on in the heart while the light on any part of the truth is rejected or neglected. The sanctified soul will not be content to remain in ignorance, but will desire to walk in the light and to seek for greater light. As a miner digs for gold and silver, so the follower of Christ will seek for truth as for hidden treasures, and will press from light to a greater light, ever increasing in knowledge. He will continually grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Self must be overcome. Every defect of character must be discerned in God's great mirror. We may discover whether or not we are condemned by God's standard of character. (Selected Messages, Vol. 1, page 317)

    Let us not make excuses for sin, or, in putting off the victory available through the grace of God, we may be found wanting at the close of our probation.

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  3. The authority of Jesus; It appears to me that this kind of authority goes away and today is extremely rare due to how authority becomes meaningless unless one knows a love that is unaltered by their opinion of what love actually is.
    Today the very meaning of love has been the central attack of the evil one to undermine authority and remove the core of who God is to the very point that very idea of authority is almost as repulsive as the very idea of a God. One does not have to go any further than todays headlines to view how little authority there is due to how little real love balance remains.
    Todays love has an emasculated undercurrent to it that is only relative to what we feel and has very little to do with a love that has a balance with Jesus' masculine authority - in fact I would guess that this post itself will be lucky to survive the PC undercurrent that is now pervasive in todays misconstrued Churchianity.

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