Gateway Church Old Brooklyn

I Want to Grow in My Christian Faith, but How?


“Rather, train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Training is a pretty familiar concept to us. We expect training to require effort on our part, but we do so knowing the result of such training will be worth it. I can recall struggling to learn guitar for the first time more than a dozen years ago. It was not easy clumsily learning how to form recognizable chords on the strings way back then, but the joy it brings me now to be able to play is without a doubt well worth all the hours I spent in practice.

In a similar way, growth in the Christian life, as explained by the Scripture verses above, requires spiritual training so that we might grow in godliness. This training is spiritual practices (or disciplines) that Christians can and ought to do for personal and corporate growth in becoming more like Jesus.  

We have to be clear that the life of a Christian has been gained by Jesus Christ alone and, as such, can only be received through faith alone in his gospel. No amount of spiritual discipline can save us from the judgment of God. It is the grace of Jesus’ perfect life, his atoning death for our sins, and his resurrection to a new and eternal life that is given to us as a gift. This comes about by the Spirit creating our faith in this gospel which unites us to Jesus in his salvation. Salvation is not work we can achieve, but a gift we must receive through turning from sin and self, to trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Bible tells of no other way to spiritual life than by being born again of the Spirit to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:1-16). This is what Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

But then, this gaining of a new life in Christ by faith prompts Christians to grow in this life through obedience to God. Our growth in godliness is not the root reason for our salvation, but it is the fruitful result of a life joined to Jesus. This is what Paul plainly lays down in the very next verse in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We see that our gaining of new life in Christ by faith is immediately followed by a God-given desire to grow in godliness. We do this not to pay God back, but because his saving power has been forever planted in our lives. Growing in godliness is the new operating system that has been ‘downloaded’ into our lives through faith in the gospel. A Christian has been made new, and we will definitively never be the same again.

So, what spiritual disciplines can we practice to grow in godliness? Spiritual disciplines are a Christian’s Spirit-worked efforts, using God-given means, to see more of the life of Jesus formed in us. Many of these are plainly laid down for us in the Word of God, while others may be inferred from the Word of God (1): 

  • Regular intake and application of God’s Word to our lives, including repentance from sin and obedience to God’s commands (Ps. 119:11, Eph. 4:22-24)
  • Regular prayer, confession, and praise made to God (Ps. 56, Rom. 8:26-27) 
  • Regular assembly with and serving in a local body of Christians (Heb. 3:12-13, 10:24) 
  • Regular pursuit of sharing the gospel so that others would know and follow Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)  
  • Regular giving of our time, effort, and finances, to grow the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:19-21)


As you’ll see from this brief sampling, (no doubt more disciplines can be determined from Scripture) the spiritual disciplines are those things which we are not only commanded to do but have in them a spiritually formative effect for growing the life of Christ in us. So, while all of a Christian’s life from walking the dog to raising our families is to be done as unto the Lord, (Col. 3:23), and indeed can be a spiritual endeavor and experience, there is still the inherent difference between the training power that belongs only to spiritual disciplines like these listed above.

Therefore as Spurgeon recommended, “Be most in those engagements which you have experimentally (by experience) proved to draw you nearest to Christ because it is from him that all your fruits proceed” (parenthesis added, 2). And remember, as much as the spiritual disciplines are a Christian duty, they are still very much themselves a gift of grace from God for becoming more like Jesus.


1–This list is drawn in large part from Donald S. Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress, 1991.

2–Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon. Geanies House, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 664

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