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                           "SPIRITUAL GROWTH"

                       The Need For Perseverance


1. In our studies on spiritual growth, we have stressed these essential
   a. Making the choice to obey God's command to grow - 2 Pe 3:18
   b. Believing we are capable of growth with God's help - Ph 4:13
   c. Setting behavioral and functional goals
      1) Striving to develop Christ-like behavior - 2 Pe 1:5-8
      2) Seeking to determine and develop our function in the body of
         Christ - Ro 12:3-5
   d. Developing habits that help us obtain such goals
      1) Habits that change our behavior (Bible reading, prayer, etc.)
         - 1 Pe 2:2; Ph 4:6-7
      2) Habits that utilize our functions in the body of Christ
         (assembling, participating) - He 10:24-25; Ro 12:6-8
   e. Maintaining a positive attitude about the value our efforts - 1 Co

2. Another crucial element in spiritual growth is perseverance, or
   a. Which the Hebrew Christians needed to have - He 10:36
   b. Which is part of the Christ-like attitude we are to develop - 2 Pe
      1:6; cf. He 12:1-3

3. The Greek word for perseverance is hupomone, which is defined as:
   a. Steadfastness, constancy, endurance
   b. In the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his
      deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the
      greatest trials and sufferings (Thayer)

[As our purpose is one of spiritual growth, let's first review some
reasons why we need the virtue of perseverance...]


      1. Time to grow is implied in He 5:12
      2. It takes time to learn
         a. To learn the Word of God
         b. To learn what is expected of us
         c. To learn what areas of service may be open to us
      3. It takes time to develop
         a. To develop a Christ-like character
         b. To develop our function(s) in the body of Christ
      -- Unless we persevere in our efforts, there will not be adequate
         time to grow!

      1. Repetition is implied in the principle of sowing and reaping
         - 2 Co 9:6
      2. It takes repetition to overcome mistakes
         a. Mistakes are common when one is starting
            1) We are spiritually "babes"
            2) We can expect to stumble frequently as we learn to walk
         b. Repeated efforts help to determine whether one is suited for
            a particular task
            1) Are my mistakes due simply to inexperience?
            2) Or might I be better suited to serve in a different
      3. It takes repetition to hone skills
         a. Sharpening our knowledge and use of the sword of the Spirit
            - cf. Ep 6:17
         b. Sharpening our abilities and functions in the body of Christ
            - cf. 1 Pe 4:10-11
      -- Unless we are persistent, we will never progress with the help
         of repetition!

      1. Regression is implied in Jesus' words to the Ephesians - Re 2:
      2. We can regress by simply failing to grow
         a. Such was the case with the Hebrew Christians
         b. Who were reproached for their need to be retaught - He 5:12
      3. We can regress by going back into the world
         a. Such was the case with false teachers
         b. Who were described as entangled in "the pollutions of the
            world" - 2 Pe 2:20-22
      -- Like physical health, spiritual health requires persistent
         exercise or we will regress into spiritual sickness

[The need for perseverance should be clear.  What can we do to maintain


      1. Note the close relationship between self-control and
         perseverance - 2 Pe 1:6
         a. Self-control must be exercised one day at time
         b. Self-control exercised daily produces perseverance over the
            long haul
      2. We display self-control daily as we...
         a. Engage in daily habits that lead to our goals (e.g., Bible
            reading, prayer)
         b. Take the small steps that lead to our destination (e.g.,
            serving in our function)
         c. Keep trying again and again after apparent failures
      -- Perseverance is exercising self-control one day at a time, day
         after day

      1. Who are striving for similar goals, through similar habits
      2. Who understand the need for perseverance in their own lives
      3. Who don't get discouraged, who will encourage you likewise
         - e.g., He 10:36-39
      -- This is why frequent assembling with other Christians is so

      1. With a clear vision of your ultimate goal
         a. This was Paul's secret to his perseverance - cf. 2 Co 4:
            16-18; Ph 3:12-15
         b. It was also enabled Jesus to endure - cf. He 12:1-3
      2. With an appreciation of the daily habits
         a. How Bible reading produces spiritual growth - 1 Pe 2:2
         b. How prayer leads to freedom from anxiety through the peace
            of God - Ph 4:6-7
         c. How encouraging one another protects against apostasy - He
      -- We shall persevere as long as we remain focused on our ultimate
         goal and what it takes to get there!


1. In The Parable Of The Sower, note the difference between two soils...
   a. Rocky soil - receives the Word with joy, but endures only
      temporarily - Mt 13:20-21
   b. Good soil - keeps the Word and bears fruit with patience
      (hupomone) - Lk 8:15
   -- The difference is found in who has perseverance!

2. If spiritual growth is to occur...
   a. A good beginning is not enough
   b. Progress in the past is not sufficient
   -- We need the virtue of perseverance, today and tomorrow!

   For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the
   will of God, you may receive the promise:

   "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will
   not tarry.  Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws
   back, My soul has no pleasure in him."

   But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those
   who believe to the saving of the soul.
                                                - He 10:36-39
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