October 24, 2008 by Michael Dewalt
There are often times a Christian comes in contact with an individual who is searching and is in desperate need for the gospel; or that the young or non-converted asks a mature Christian the question, “where do I start?” When an individual has come to the faith, repenting from sin and following Christ, they often ask questions about what they should learn, where they should go, how they are to grow, and what they should do in order to live out their new faith. Similarly, there are times in the life of the non-converted when the Holy Spirit brings them inches from the gospel but it seems the fear of ‘what to do next’ overwhelmingly haunts them. One of the reasons that unbelievers never come to the gospel is because they are honestly afraid of how they would live out a different lifestyle that would change their minds and their hearts in a way that they would live fully for Christ. R.C. Sproul’s Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow outlines the most crucial areas of a believer’s life that must grow no matter what stage they are at in their life. Whether you are young in the faith, have no faith at all, or are a seasoned believer, Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow aids tremendously in the spiritual journey. As R.C. Sproul expresses in his introduction, no matter if you are beginning the race or near the end of the race, every Christian must continue to grow. However, it is clear in the book that this fact is not merely a skill given to the individual but “it is a living, vital relationship with the God of the universe, a relationship that begins when a person becomes a new creation in Him and receives Jesus as Lord by faith.”
In this short 135-page book, Sproul gives five particular areas that are easily regarded as areas in which every Christian needs to grow, yet are often overlooked in their depth and full importance. What I mean by this is that, yes, every believer knows he needs to read his Bible, but Sproul takes that further and details what that looks like and how it is played out so that the Christian can enjoy growing. Whether it is in Bible study, prayer, worship, service, or stewardship, Sproul suggests why these are the areas of every Christian that must be lived out. In each of the five things, Sproul begins with short stories that bring the reader to see the importance of the particular subject and how it is played out in life. One thing I appreciated most was that Sproul’s framework was not the same for each focal subject. He does not give the same format and the same subtitles for every area, but deals with all of them differently in the way each individual one needed.
Brief summaries of the five areas are as follows:
1. Bible Study- Here Sproul deals with the fact that Bible study is something that believers must continually grow in, no matter where they are in their faith. He makes this clear by showing that the Word is a conversation that every believer should want to talk about, and shows how the Word helps an individual grow. One of the many reasons that this book is a great tool for the young Christian is because Sproul explains how the believer can start their own Bible study and move from milk to the meat substance that every believer should be feeding off of. Sproul then finishes by giving a few important tools that can be helpful when studying the Bible.
2. Prayer- On the subject of prayer, Sproul answers a number of questions for the Christian to see its connections in the ‘whys,’ the ‘how-tos,’ and the means of the Christian life. Sproul makes it clear that God’s people have always been called to a life of (and to the duty of) prayer. Sproul also brings forth prayer as a privilege for the Christian, and that the importance of this privilege is not merely an exercise of mysticism. Rather, he explains the communion of prayer as a process that enables spiritual growth with the heavenly Father, God Himself. Not only does he show the duty and privilege, but also shows prayer as a means in which to bring about God’s plans and the growth of the Christian. Sproul ends this section with showing how the believer is to pray, through the example that the Lord has given us in Luke 11:1-4.
3. Worship- Sproul brings forth the case that worship is regulated by God. He gives a quick introduction that illustrates how during the Reformation a number of disagreements had occurred about this, then moves quickly to the point that the Christian serves a jealous God – One that is to be worshiped and One that is to have nothing else placed above Him. Sproul then moves on to show how the Christian worships God in spirit and in truth. This is how the believer worships their Father correctly, in honoring Him in who He is. One area that is often overlooked in dealing with worship is the preparation. Many times the Christian may awake from his sleep, shower and shave, and head out the door with just minutes to spare before they sit under the preaching of the Word. Even more so, the Christian may be rushed for time, so he may pick up his Bible and read a chapter or two then close his Bible and move on as if he has spent his time with the Lord for that day. This is one of the main areas that Christians struggle with, as they live in such a fast-paced society. Preparation for getting around, doing one’s daily job, or for an outing, barely ever goes undone. However, preparation for worshiping one’s Lord, Savior and Father in heaven, is not made a priority. This is what Sproul deals with in this topic, in order to convey the absolute importance of the Christian properly worshiping Christ. He then ends with a few guidelines to help the individual glorify God in word and deed through/in worship.
4. Service- This area may not be on everyone’s top five list of things every Christian needs to grow. Man’s nature would rather be served than to grow and live out serving. However, Sproul deals with an important area of service in which many Christians never end up growing because they never grasp the full knowledge of the body of Christ. To explain this, he gives a number of different roles in which Christians could serve in the body of Christ. There are unprofitable servants, productive servants, and faithful servants – all looked at here. Sproul also clarifies and makes the point that not everyone is seen in the act of serving, nor should the growth of a Christian be based on his popularity or his reputation in his service.
5. Stewardship- Stewardship always requires sacrifice, and that is exactly what Sproul lays out in this book. Stewardship goes hand-in-hand with worship. Sproul takes what he had spoken about previously – that worshiping God is done in spirit and in truth – and then shows how sacrificing one’s self is a fundamental nature of worship. Here he outlines the tithe in the Old Testament, what is the storehouse and the best investment. Sproul ends with the best investment – challenging every believer to invest in eternal returns. That is, investing in areas that are in the Lord’s kingdom and for the sake of the Lord’s name, and not their own. In this, the eternal investment will be seen within a person’s family and ministries, by the grace of God.