Introduction – What Is The Spiritual Continuum?
The new Christian needs to become a mature Christian, and this is a long process of refinement. This book is about understanding the path to spiritual growth and the journey toward Christian maturity until the believer is: perfected in love, mature in faith, and fully in the image of God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
The Christian life is much, much more than “getting saved”, then waiting around on earth, then going to Heaven. There is a lot of growing up to do as well! Here are some bible passages about Christian maturity:
Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Ephesians 4:13-15 ..until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
I have called this short book The Spiritual Continuum. Here is a dictionary definition of “continuum”: A continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct. This book is about the entire spectrum of the Christian life!
There is a huge difference between the immature, carnal or fleshly Christian and the mature Christian saint, so the extremes are quite clear-cut. However, the believer’s daily progress seems to be in small steps. The Christian life is a long series of small steps. It is continuous discipleship. Or, as someone has said, “a long obedience in the same direction”. The saint is just someone who has diligently taken a lot more of these “tiny steps” and so has travelled much farther along the Christian path.
This book teaches just eight important steps along this spiritual continuum. Which are:
- Be born again; be born of the Spirit.
- Set your mind on the things of the Spirit in a decisive way.
- Be filled with the Spirit and with the Word and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- Worship in the Spirit, with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs and a heavenly language.
- Walk in the Spirit; and you will not be able to fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
- Be led by the Spirit into the will of God and into the adventures of faith.
- Be taught of the Spirit whenever you encounter troubles, difficulties and crises of faith.
- Love in the Spirit and thus fulfill the law of Christ and all the commandments.
You normally do these practices in order. The first step is to be born-again by placing your faith in Jesus Christ, because you simply cannot live the Spirit-filled life if you are not born-again.
Once you are born-again you have to decide that the Holy Spirit will now be in charge of your thought-life; and make a firm decision to set your mind on the Spirit and on things above. Once you do this, it will be very easy for you to be filled with God’s Spirit and God’s Word.
Once you are filled with the Spirit and the Word you will have supernatural joy, which will lead you to willingly and freely worship Jesus in the Spirit, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. As you do this, you may find the wonderful fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, faithfulness etc.) rising up within you and changing the very nature of your soul to be more like Jesus.
As the Holy Spirit fills your life you will have a strong impulse to carry out God’s will, which is walking in the Spirit. As you do this, you will live a Christian lifestyle and make wise Christian decisions out of obedience to your heavenly Father. Once you are walking, then you can be led somewhere! At this point God will lead you and show you the way. The Spirit will lead you into exciting adventures of life and faith to the glory of God!
God’s adventures sometimes take us into mystifying circumstances and into crises of faith where we cry out to God for a solution. It is at these times that the Lord will show up as our divine Teacher and we will be taught of the Spirit. We will learn a lot more about this later.
The main commandment of God is “love one another”, and we cannot do this except by the power of the Holy Spirit. He will teach us how to love others with the love that is from God.
Some of these stages almost slip into each other which is why I have called the process a continuum; for instance, being filled with the Spirit easily slides into worshipping in the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit easily slides into being taught of the Spirit. So please do not get bogged down in hair-splitting definitions of each stage, which is totally beside the point.
The usefulness of these discrete stages is in helping you to know where you are at spiritually and what you need to do next in order to make spiritual progress. They also help you to understand the process as a whole and to be confident that God is at work in you in a very systematic and faithful way that you can easily cooperate with by faith.