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Spiritual Growth

by Wade E Taylor

“Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And Jesus said to them, Come you after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.  And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him.”  Mark 1:16-18

Jesus spoke to Andrew and Simon with words that they easily understood.  In effect, Jesus said, “You will continue fishing, but I have called you to a higher vocation.  Rather than fishing for fish, you will be fishing for men.”  Simon and Andrew were about to be lifted from one dimension of life into a higher one – His calling and purpose for them.

The Lord may also speak to us with words that we commonly use, rather than with King James vocabulary.

Years ago, while a farmer was working in his field, a heavy rain began to fall and he entered a small shed to wait out the storm.  While looking at the rows of corn, the Lord quickened him to consider the nature of corn and opened his understanding regarding the spiritual message that is portrayed by corn.  Then, the Lord told him that he was to leave the farm, and teach all that he had come to understand, concerning corn.

Corn is golden in color.  Gold speaks of the “divine nature” that is to be formed within the earthen vessel that we are.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  II Corinthians 5:17

When we confess our sin, repent, and accept the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, we become justified and are declared to be righteous.  As a very important part of our redemption, through Holy Spirit regeneration we receive a new nature.  Having become a new creation, we are made partakers of His divine nature(gold).

“Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  II Peter 1:4

We begin our salvation experience as a spiritual baby, and then we are to grow toward becoming a spiritual adult.

“As newborn babies, desire the sincere (pure) milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”  I Peter 2:2

Salvation is a free gift, but spiritual maturity must be earned.  Jesus compared our “divine nature” to a seed that is sown into fertile soil.

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  Matthew 13:23

Just as we have this “treasure” of His “divine nature” hidden within our earthen vessel, golden corn is hidden within a covering.  As we, corn also has a tassel (hair) on top.  There is a distinct gradation in ears of corn.  Not all ears of corn (nor we) come to the same level of growth, or maturity.

As this farmer waited for the rain to stop, while in a small shed at the edge of a large field of corn, the Lord made known to him that our spiritual growth as a Christian follows the same progressive development as corn, with comparable results.

Behold, a sower went forth to sow.”  Matthew 13:3

The intention of the sower is for the seed that has been sown to come to full maturity so there will be an abundant harvest.  The condition of the soil (our environment) has much to do with the harvest.

Some of these seeds fell by the wayside and birds ate them.  Some fell in stony places and were unable to take root.  Others fell amongst thorns and were choked out.  However, the seed that fell into fertile soil produced a harvest that was either thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.

So also, as being a spiritual baby, the Lord “sows” His divine nature within us, intending it to develop to full maturity.  He uses this parable to teach us that our “inner attitudes and desires” (good soil), along with the “things” that we permit in our life experience (wayside, stony places, thorns), greatly affect our rate of spiritual growth.

If the tomatoes in our garden are still green when the first frost comes, they can be picked and placed on a window sill where the sun can shine on them.  They will gradually ripen and turn bright red.  However, if some thirtyfold corn that has not fully matured is placed on the same window sill, it will become dry and hard, and remain as it was.  The thirtyfold corn will not become sixty, or a hundredfold corn.  So it is in the life of a Christian.

Spiritually speaking, we are not tomatoes.  Rather, we are as these ears of corn.  Our spiritual development must take place while our “roots” are in the ground of our present environment.

Many have the mistaken idea that they will be changed on the way up.  They imagine that they will depart from this earth realm as a babe in Christ and arrive in heaven as a matured saint.  However, once our life has been lifted from the soil of His dealings, no further maturing is possible, as it is too late.  Like the ear of corn, no further change will take place.

There is a limited time for this process of our coming into spiritual maturity to be completed.  Just as the ear of corn must come to maturity during the growing season while it is attached to the root that is within the soil, so also, during our lifetime, there must be a proper response to the workings of the Lord within us.

Jesus qualified for His place in the throne with His Father by overcoming the hindrances that were in His path.

“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered, and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him”  Hebrews 5:8-9

Now He is able to say to us, “You are to overcome in the same way that I overcame.”

In using the terms of their vocation to speak to Simon and Andrew, there was the danger that they would not hear as Jesus intended.  He did not say to them, “Follow Me so you can learn how to fish for men.”  Rather Jesus spoke to them of a process that would qualify them for this higher vocation, “Come you after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Notice that Jesus did not say “Go.”  Rather, He said “Come.”  The “call” is to first come to Him.  We must “come” (our attitude and desire) to the “place” (good ground) where He will be able to bring about the changes within us that will qualify us to fish for men, rather than fishing for fish.

The seed that fell into “wayside soil” missed the furrow in which He works.  The “good ground” is where the divine plow turns the soil.  This plow overturns our ways and exposes all that hinders our spiritual growth.  Unless we are careful, we will step aside when we see this plow coming our way.

The problem with the “divine plow” going down the furrow of our life experience is that it turns every thing upside down.  This enables the Lord to get at the inner problems that are buried deep within us.  Now, He is able to change us at the very root of our being.   If we will rightly respond and cooperate, that which grows into full maturity will bring forth an abundant harvest; thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.

For we are His workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10).  Our new nature, grown to full maturity, is the product that the Lord desires to harvest out of the good soil into which we have been sown.

Then, that which others should be able to see, is a fully developed example (as the hundredfold golden ear of corn) of the nature and character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are disappointed when we go to the store, and pull away the covering from an ear of corn and find it to be only thirtyfold in its development.  We usually put it back and look for a different one that is more fully developed.

So also us.  When we are lifted by the Lord from our present circumstances of life into union with Him in the outworking of His higher purposes, let us make sure that what He sees will be a hundredfold representation of His divine nature – His life being lived within and through our lives.

Now we are ready for the next step, our being “made ready” to enter and function in the Millennial Kingdom of God.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

All that Jesus did through a single body in His first coming, He will again do through a corporate body in His second coming.  At this present time, there are those who are being called apart to die to the outworking of their self-life, so Jesus might live His life through them.

May each of us who are being called apart, as was this farmer from his vocation, be separated from the husks of the earthly, that the life of Jesus might again be seen.