What Seventh-day Adventists Believe About Growing in Christ
All beliefs that Seventh-day Adventists hold are taught in the context of Jesus Christ—who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing for us now.
He gives us a new life in Him. A life that releases us from burdens that dominated and oppressed us before.
To attain this freedom, a Christian goes through an experience of growth in a relationship with Jesus. This post will cover the details of what that growth entails.
Here are four things you’ll learn here:
- How to grow in your Christian walk
- What Jesus has done for us
- What Jesus does for us and in us after we’ve been forgiven
- Practical ways to grow in Christ
Jesus’ victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love.
Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds.
No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church.
We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience.
(1 Chron. 29:11; Ps. 1:1, 2; 23:4; 77:11, 12; Matt. 20:25-28; 25:31-46; Luke 10:17-20; John 20:21; Rom. 8:38, 39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18; Gal. 5:22-25; Eph. 5:19, 20; 6:12-18; Phil. 3:7-14; Col. 1:13, 14; 2:6, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:16-18, 23; Heb. 10:25; James 1:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:18; 1 John 4:4.)
How do we get to grow in our Christian walk?
It’s the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that transforms us. He transforms us from who we used to be, into new creatures in Christ. In place of fear, ignorance and vanity, we receive peace, joy, and assurance of His love.
From that point on, we continue to grow in Him daily. We grow into the character of Christ and become more and more like Him.
And how do we become like Him?
What do Adventists believe that Jesus has done for us?
Jesus died for us, paying the penalty for our sins so that we don’t have to pay it ourselves. He took on our sentence, giving us a chance to accept His ultimate sacrifice and be redeemed.
The apostle Paul states it succinctly:
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NKJV).
We aren’t reconciled to God because of anything that we’ve done. In fact, it is despite what we have done as sinful men. And it’s all because of what Jesus did for us that we are saved.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18–19, NKJV).
Because of Jesus, we are no longer condemned by God for our sins, no matter how bad they were.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, NKJV).
We are in a whole new relationship with God, and to God.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have been forgiven our sins, and stand in a whole new position before God.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 2:13–14, NKJV).
What does Jesus do in us after we’ve been forgiven?
As we have seen, Adventists believe that when a person accepts Jesus, they are completely forgiven of their past sins. They are now deemed new people in Jesus. They now have a new life in Him.
As Paul writes:
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, NKJV).
This “newness of life” is manifested in many different ways, depending on the background of a person.
For example, if a teenager raised in a Christian home and not outrightly rebellious surrenders his life to Jesus, he is likely to pursue a different path from someone who gives his life to Christ after being a member of a violent gang.
They both stand perfect, right there and then, in the sight of God, who does not hold their past sins against them (Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6).
Yet they are going to have different personal experiences and challenges in their Christian journey.
But whatever their background, they are given wonderful promises by God about a new existence as they grow in Christ.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18, NKJV).
What do Seventh-day Adventists teach about growing in Christ?
The transition between who they were to who they become in Christ takes time and growth.
This growth is what entails the work that Jesus does in us to remake us into new creatures.
Paul said that, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12, NKJV).
Indeed, only God can bring about these changes in us.
As believers, our job is to surrender to Him and allow Him to remake us into new people in Jesus.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17; see also Galatians 6:15, NKJV).
The idea is found even in the Old Testament, when Moses wrote to the children of Israel:
“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6, NKJV).
Notice that it is God, not the people, who circumcises the heart.
Of course, the heart is not literally circumcised. Circumcision is just a symbol of how God will work in us, to change and enable us to love and obey Him.
Simply put, growing in Christ is learning to love God more and more. Therefore, it means obeying and surrendering to Him so that He can transform us into His image so we become more and more like Jesus.
On that note, the Bible says:
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24, NKJV).
Restoration of God’s image in you
The Scriptures teach that we were originally made in the image of God.
So “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27, NKJV).
Unfortunately, that image has been corrupted by sin.
So the idea of the “new birth” (John 3:3) is that through the power of God, we are being recreated—being remade into the original image of what we were before sin entered.
In regard to what Jesus has done for and in us, Paul makes it clear that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NKJV).
In Greek, the word “regeneration” literally means,“born again.” And “renewing” literally means “to be new again.”
New, again? Yes, just like Adam and Eve were before the fall!
But how does this happen?
When we come to Christ, receive His forgiveness for our sins and begin to cooperate with His Spirit to help us obey His will. Then we begin to become conformed to His image.
But Satan will constantly entice us to do as we please like before, and to break our connection with God and separate ourselves from Christ.
At this point, we need to cling close to Christ and pray that He “delivers us from the evil one” (Luke 11:4, NKJV). We need to strive, purpose and pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master.
If we keep our eyes fixed on Christ and remember His love for us that led Him to die for us, He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe from temptation.
“Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the …Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 72.1).
So, the process of growing up in Christ is how this image is restored in us.
How do we grow in Jesus in a practical sense?
We grow in Christ by cooperating with Him in the work of recreating us. We cooperate with Him by adopting the ways that He has provided to nurture our growth.
These ways include Bible study, prayer, thanksgiving and praise, rejoicing in His creation, and unselfish service. Let’s take a closer look at each of these ways:
We need to spend time in His word, the Bible
The Bible says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).
Notice that one of the roles of Scriptures is “training in righteousness.”
By studying the Bible, especially the life and teaching of Jesus, we can learn about Him. We also get to learn about righteousness, goodness, love, and about God Himself.
Remember Jesus said, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father?” (John 14:9, NKJV).
Paul described this process when he said, “but we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV).
And the greatest place where the “glory of the Lord” is most powerfully revealed is in His word.
In fact, Jesus Himself said, “you search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39, NKJV).
It’s the same way that if you are to grow in friendship with someone, you need to get to know them. Maybe by listening to them as you talk, observing them, reading a book they wrote or even looking them up online.
So with Jesus, the best place to know more about Him is in the Bible.
And it is the word of God contained in the Bible that sanctifies us. As Jesus prayed for us:
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, NKJV).
The word ‘sanctified’ comes from a Hebrew word qadash, which means to be set apart or consecrated. In other words, it’s the Scriptures that God uses to set us apart as His special people who are loyal to His ways.
We grow in Christ by communing with him in Prayer
This is one of those things that you can only understand by doing it.
Prayer is simply talking to God.
And by talking to Him, you learn to know His voice, and love to hear Him. This leads to an ever deepening knowledge of Him, and eventually, growth in faith in Him.
Paul urges us to pray for each and every thing when he says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6, NKJV).
One Adventist writer beautifully summed up the real essence of prayer when she said,
“Prayer is like pouring one’s heart out to a friend.
As you pray, as you talk to God, your heart will be drawn to Him, and you will grow in faith and in assurance of His love.
Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’
This is a daily matter.
Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus, day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p.23)
We grow in Christ by giving thanks and praise to God
Since Jesus has won the victory over sin and evil for each of us personally, we can rejoice in that victory and claim it for ourselves.
Paul rejoiced in this victory when he penned:
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (2 Corinthians 2:15, NKJV).
And no matter who we are, or what our trials are, we all have something to be thankful for.
We need to recount these things and thank God for them. Praise God for them. Dwell on them. Rejoice in them.
This is a powerful way to grow in God’s grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible writers who knew pain, suffering, sickness, loss, alienation, and death could still exclaim “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34, NKJV).
In fact, the Bible is filled with praises to God as seen in the following verses:
“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV).
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 146:1-2, NKJV).
And through that praise, through that outward expression of thankfulness to God, we will grow in our relationship with Him.
We grow in Christ by observing the things of nature.
It has been said that nature is God’s second book.
Though the world has been corrupted by sin we can still see the power of God and His love in the created world.
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:710, NKJV).
Even after six thousand years of sin, the created world still screams out about God’s love. Every flower, every grain of wheat, every apple tree are blatant in-your-face expressions of God’s love.
The mere fact that we exist and that this world exists is evidence of a loving Creator.
The fact that fruit grows on trees, that flowers bloom and birds sing is a miracle. A miracle that is a result of so many things that didn’t have to happen but did anyway. And the only reason why they happened is because God did it all.
Thus, rejoicing in God as creator and His creation is another way to draw near to Him and to grow in His grace.
Last, but not least, nothing can help you grow in grace more than to serve others unselfishly
As we aspire to be like Christ, we are also called to follow Christ’s example in compassionate ministry. Like Him, we are called to minister to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of those around us.
That’s what Jesus did during His time on earth.
And in giving of yourself without asking or expecting anything in return, you will be overwhelmed with the sense of God’s love, because this is what God’s love is all about.
You will also love Him back and grow in the knowledge of Him.
Paul encouraged us in this when he said:
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4, NKJV).
To give of yourself to others is a powerful way to grow in God’s grace.
It’s as if the cosmos is all gears, and by our loving and serving others, our gears mesh succinctly and accurately with the other gears in God’s creation.
Reading the Bible, praying, praising God, rejoicing in His creation, and ministering to others will help you draw nearer to God, to grow in His grace, and attain Christian maturity.
By drawing nearer to God, you will cultivate a loving relationship with Him and eventually find Him to be your best friend. A friend from whom you can learn what it means to live a perfect life.
And the best part is that He is the one who gives you the power to become like Him.
So as you grow in Christ, you have the privilege of walking with Him as your best friend in this life, even as He prepares you to live with Him for eternity!
You are welcome to start today—read a verse or two from the Bible, then tell God about it in prayer.
As simple as it sounds, that can be the beginning of the most rewarding experience of your life. The experience of getting to know God Himself as your friend.
 (Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, Review and Herald, 2000. p. 171.)
 (Gary R. Habermas; Michael Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus Kindle Locations 940-947. Kindle Edition.)
 Lyrics written by Elvina M. Hall
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