Chapter 9 of AWE: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do by Paul David Tripp
A Review by Pastor Aaron Adame
This week, in our readings, the topic was on Christian growth. I personally have never met a Christian who didn’t say they didn’t want to grow in their faith. When you are young, you don’t want to grow up (Wasn’t that a Toys R Us slogan?). But when you are a new Christian, you don’t want to stay new. On some level, you want to be able to understand your Bible more, discern God’s will more, resist temptation, and grieve sin more. You want to be able to share your faith confidently with others, eventually. Again, I have never met a Christian who didn’t say they wanted growth.
But with that said, I have met a lot of Christians who haven’t grown. Five, ten, fifteen years into their walk with Christ, they are still dealing with the same issues—still reflecting on their past mistakes and even finding some sense of identity in them. They aren’t serving, aren’t sharing, aren’t committing, and aren’t growing in their faith and obedience to God.
Where is the disconnect?
I think this book is giving a clue to the answer, particularly this chapter. It isn’t because they are transgressing some lawof God, but because they are failing in their awe of God. The tension Paul describes in Romans 7 of doing the things he doesn’t want to do and not doing the things he wants to do is the personal testimony of every Christian. And the issue is because our awe is still being stolen by the temporal and not the eternal, by the creature and not the Creator.
But here is the good news! God is more committed to your growth in Christ than you! Never forget—God has set His love upon you as you are. But He loves you enough not to keep you that way. He has sanctified you in Christ, even though you were a broken sinner, and He is sanctifying you in Christ—making you pure, holy, and more like Christ today than you were yesterday. God is committed to your growth even when you aren’t.
A great quote from the chapter said this:
“You see, God hasn’t promised you a good job or great kids. He hasn’t promised you an easy marriage and a comfortable place to live. He hasn’t promised you physical health and a good church to attend. He hasn’t promised that you would experience affluence and be surrounded by things that entertain you. What he has promised is that he will complete the work that he has begun in you.”
How does God grow you? There are three indispensable methods.
His Word! I get the privilege to talk to people about the Bible every week. But I remember as a brand new Christian being in AWE of the Bible. The content, of course, was amazing. I loved how the Bible revealed to me a God who made me and saved me in spite of me. But the beauty and wonder of the story also captured me. It wasn’t just what God did, but how He did it that I loved about Scripture. But what I also loved about Scripture was what it was doing to me. As the living Word, it was affecting me in ways I couldn’t describe or quantify. But I was growing. Studying the Bible is God’s indispensable way of growing His people. A Christian who doesn’t study the Word will never grow.
Circumstances! The Bible gives us faith, but circumstances exercise it. We know from the whole of Scripture—and specifically in James—which also correlates with our experience, that God uses the circumstances we encounter every day to test, stretch, and grow our faith. Everything you went through last year was designed by God for you—not to destroy you, but to grow you!
The Church! I loved how the chapter brought out how godly growth produces the fruit of the spirit and eliminates the works of the flesh. What Tripp pointed out is that without faith in Christ, we are self-centered, self-indulging, self-righteous, and self-promoting people. And we get angry and upset when we don’t get what we want. We covet, we steal, we lie, we do all manner of evil. Why? Because life is all about me! But in Christ, life stops being about me. As I grow, I realize that life is about the two greatest commandments: loving God (first) and loving people (second). The point is this, you won’t grow without the church.
I remember when I was a new Christian, I was reading my Bible, going to church, praying often, and even listening to worship songs in my car. But I hit a wall. I was growing so fast, but eventually, old habits were creeping back. I wondered why I wasn’t growing. What happened was that God intervened and someone invited me to start serving in the church. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was exactly what I needed. Life was all about my personal growth, but faith is never only personal—its communal. Think about it, all the fruit of the Spirit is designed for others. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, self-control. These aren’t just for you to enjoy, but for the sake of others to enjoy. You won’t grow without relationships, and your growth is for those relationships. People need you, and you need people. Not to mention evangelism. If your faith was only for you, then how would anyone be saved? The church needs you! The world needs you! And you need them if you are going to grow.
In what areas have you seen growth in your life this past year? Or have you seen any growth? If you haven’t, why not?
If you have grown, what methods has God used to grow you?
How have those closest to you seen your growth?
How has God used the church to grow you as a believer?
We’ve all seen those gym rats who work out their chest and arms, but their legs are weak. We don’t want to be disproportionate Christians in our faith. What areas of your life still need to grow?