June 13, 2021

Is it possible to test for spiritual growth?

No. And yes. The master of spiritual growth is the Spirit and only he can guide us. But the Spirit works through people and the OPISO people want to help position you to sense the leading and work of the Spirit in your life. We have identified some basic traits of a Christ follower and then we’ve come up with questions that reveal the extent to which those traits are being cultivated in you. Our list is not exhaustive. But, it is a start and a lot of the traits that didn’t make the list flow out of the ones that did. Get to work on these and others will follow.

One of the strengths of the list is that it is holistic. The traits are divided into three categories: beliefs, practices and virtues. Beliefs are the things we know about God and ourselves, practices are what we do as a result of those beliefs, and virtues are character qualities that pervade all our being and doing. So, for example, we’ve all known “belief-oriented” Christians who could give chapter and verse for any bit of doctrine we might ask about (and a whole bunch more we didn’t even know existed!) and yet this same person hasn’t let off a whiff of joy in the last decade, which is a virtue that is also important to God. At the same time, some Christians are so joyful you need sunglasses to look at them, but ask them why the Bible is worthy of holding authority in our lives and all you’ll get is a bunch of hemming and hawing. If we can point out these weaknesses, provide some resources and push people towards community where godly change is nurtured, then we’ve positioned ourselves to catch the wind of the the Spirit. And that’s what brings the real transformation.

Here’s how the traits in the inventory break down:

Beliefs
God
Salvation
Bible
Jesus Christ
Holy Spirit
Church
Eternity

Practices
Worship
Prayer
Bible Study
Community
Stewardship
Service
Witnessing

Virtues
Joy
Faith
Love
Humility
Patience
Gentleness
Self-Control

One thought on “Is it possible to test for spiritual growth?

  1. I don’t think you can really test for spiritual growth, except that the fact if you come to know this or that person for long periods of time. As for self-testing, yes the list above can help us know what are the facets upon what a, for a lack of better terms, what a normal Christian looks like, but the list can almost also seem legalistic. If you believe the doctrines, or do the practices, or esteem certain virtues in of itself, that will not bring you to maturity. You have to look at the undergirding condition of your heart. I know of many young Christians (old matter of fact) who loves worship but cares nothing for Scriptures (not realizing that is worship as well-see Nehemiah 18) or people who are so moral but cares nothing for evangelism. Funny thing is all the doctrines, virtues, and practice stems off the fact that you are working out your salvation in trembling and in fear as it says in Philippians. The Spirit works in and through a person as it says in John 3:21 and He (the Spirit) causes us to love, to have joy, to share our faith, to worship together, to believe things in the Bible though doubts arises from our experience.

    However, yes, with that being said, we need to ask God to help us or even surrender our fears or our pride or even our very will to bring us to the point of believing, practicing or holding virtues in our lives. That’s the practical, but the view point we must have of ourselves is that nothing good resides within us. 1 Cor 12 Paul states that God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Paul completely maximized the list above. He strongly believed in the Word of God (read Romans). His service to the Lord was, as he describes it, poured out as a drink offering to the Lord. As for virtue, as he continued to lived out his Christian life he saw himself as the chief of all sinners and I don’t believe he was speaking in false humility.

    So Christian growth has aspects of the list stated above, but the thrust of it is under girded by the direction of the Spirit in the life of the believer, a zeal or passion for the Lord or as Jonathan Edwards says Spiritual Affection, and a honest assessment of who we are in light of a Holy God, which should bring us to deep humility and dependence.

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