Spiritual Growth

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 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.

We may fail to recognize the voice of the Lord because He speaks to us with words that we commonly use, rather than with a King James vocabulary.

Years ago, while a farmer was working in his field, a heavy rain began to fall and he went into 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. When we confess our sin and accept the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, we become justified and are declared to be righteous. Through Holy Spirit regeneration, we receive a new nature.

"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

Having become a new creation, we are made partakers of His divine nature (gold).

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

Being a spiritual baby, we are to grow into becoming a spiritual adult. Salvation is a free gift, but spiritual maturity must be earned. Jesus compared this "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, it has a tassel (hair) on top. Also, 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.

Our spiritual growth as a Christian follows the same progressive development as corn, with comparable results.

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

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 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 one-hundredfold.

So also, the Lord "sows" His divine nature within us as a spiritual baby, 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 are 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 hard and remain as it was. The thirtyfold corn will not become sixty, or one-hundredfold corn. So it is in the life of a Christian.

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

There is a limited time for this process of coming to 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 within the soil, so also, there must be a proper response to the workings of the Lord within us during our lifetime.

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 did."

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 and 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 1:17b).

Notice that Jesus did not say "Go." Rather, He said "Come." The call is to 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 own 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 lives is that it turns every thing upside down. This enables the Lord to get at the inner problems that we buried deep within us. Now, He is able to change us at the very root of our being. Then, that which grows up into full view will bring forth an abundant harvest; thirty, sixty, or one-hundredfold.

"For we are His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10a). 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. That which others see us to be, is a fully developed example (as the one-hundredfold golden ear of corn) of the nature and character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are disappointed when we pull away the covering from an ear of corn and find it to be only thirtyfold in its development. When we are lifted by the Lord from our present circumstances of life, into union with Him in His higher purposes, let us make sure that what Jesus sees will be a one-hundredfold representation of His divine nature.