If every believer in my church will one day enjoy the same blanket pardon of sin, trod the same streets of gold and worship before the same Throne, why should I be concerned about spiritual growth? If all the benefits of heaven await every believer, why does my congregation need to fight for a holier life, pursue a deeper life in God, or desire to be conformed into His image? Why shouldn’t they just live for themselves and enjoy the pleasures and amusements of this world while they have them? And why should I address their struggles, failures, and shortcomings? Are they really that big of a deal? Do they make a difference?
Consider the following benefits to pushing for growth among the people of your flock.
1. Maturing Believers Are Much Easier to Lead
When people allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in their lives, strife, gossip, criticism and sexual sin all begin to diminish. A stagnant congregation is a breeding ground for problems. On the other hand, healthy, growing Christians are motivated to serve, pray and love.
2. Thriving Spiritual Life is Contagious
In a church of vibrant believers, people want to participate in church activities. Family members sense the excitement and want to be a part of it. People start getting truly converted. There is a law of increase that comes into play once the Holy Spirit begins to move among a body of believers. Those who attempt to attract people to their churches by dumbing-down holiness and using worldly techniques are cutting themselves off from the greatest source of multiplication available to the pastor. “Set yourself on fire,” quipped John Wesley, “and the world will come watch you burn.”
3. Eternal Consequences Are Real
An even more compelling reason to stress the need for your people to truly become doers of the Word, is the eternal consequence that comes as a result of the way a person has lived his life. One day, each of us will give an accounting for our lives. All the things that seemed so important on earth will vanish and the only thing that will remain will be the virtues of grace that have been worked into a person’s life. Who can comprehend the eternal loss or gain that will be realized on that terrible Day?
4. Spiritual Growth Is the Way God Is Glorified
It is through what He is able to accomplish in us and through us that His holy nature is revealed to the world and (as Ephesians 3:10 reveals) to the “rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote: “God is going to open His last great exhibition and all these heavenly powers and principalities will be invited to attend. The curtain will be drawn back and God will say, ‘Look at them!’”
Yes, it is true, that all believers will share some of the benefits of heaven equally. But there is so much more at stake than implied by this superficial and shortsighted perspective. Believers will carry on into eternity the level of love and commitment that was theirs on earth. As a pastor, resist complacency in your church, equip and empower your congregation to fight sin, and watch as the Lord does more than you can ask or imagine.
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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