ABCs for Christian Growth
Have you – as a Christian – ever fallen into the trap of starting to condemn yourself because you just don’t feel you’ve “grown” enough? Do you ever start giving heed to the accusations you believe are accurate from the enemy?
Do you – as a Christian – lack the knowledge of truth that actually sets us free from the problems (emotionally and mentally) that Satan uses to confound us, mentally torture us, and bring us down? The answer – as you no doubt know – is found in God’s Word. While most Christians understand this reality, it is still a difficulty when it comes to appropriating that knowledge or truth because too many of us want quick, easy answers and finding them usually means ripping things out of context. This creates problems for us in the way we understand the truth of God’s Word.
I’d like to recommend a book that my wife and I are studying through together. The book – ABC’s for Christian Growth – Laying the Foundation by J. Hampton Keathley III – is an excellent work. The book is divided into four main parts with many sub-parts for each section:
- Why We All Need the ABC’s
- The Transformed Life
- The Multiplied Life
Each main section has between 7 and 9 sub-parts that bring truths about our life as Christians into the spotlight. Keathley describes them, analyzes them, and shows what Scripture teaches about each section. The goal is to provide us with the knowledge/truth we need to know in order to understand what it actually means to being a Christian. In a day and age when the staples offered by Christian leaders ranges from learning about your best life now to how to appropriate the power of I AM, this book will be largely ignored because it essentially speaks to the Christian who is interested in walking with God as He directs, as opposed to doing whatever possible to gain from God in the way we want to walk – in ways that service our sin nature rather than submitting to Him so that His life and will can operate more freely in our lives.
The other truth to consider is this. Many Christians doubt their salvation at times. We question whether or not salvation can be lost. We wonder why – at times – we appear to act or think no better than someone who is lost. These questions and many others serve only to hamper our vital relationship with God through Christ, made possible by the Holy Spirit.
Keathley’s first section deals with Assurance of our Salvation, the gospel, eternal security, daily provision, provision for sin, God’s guidance, and eternal rewards. The second section deals with the purpose-directed life (not purpose-driven!), faith-rest life, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, Word-filled, prayer-filled, and the devotional life. Finally, the third section highlights areas of stewardship: time, talents, God’s truth, through evangelism, etc.
There is tremendous wealth here in this book because it constantly throws us back onto God’s Word. The author does not pontificate. He provides concrete contextual understanding for these truths from God’s Word.
We’ve all taken the time to compare our life today with our life from last year, five years, or ten years ago. What we are hoping to find is some improvement. When/if we see it, then we think, “Cool, I am saved and there’s been growth!” Keathley rightly points out that this is actually the wrong way to do it. We need focus on God and His Word because it is as we study His Word, we become less encumbered by the things that deign to keep us focused on this life. If we consider the fact that we could die at any moment (or that the Rapture could occur), won’t that fact change the way we think? Won’t it start to help us focus on what is truly important in life?
Keathley talks about the need for sound doctrine. This is where it all begins, which is why God gave us His Word in the first place. Keathley says, “Knowing God and experiencing Him in all aspects of life is both factual, involving an intellectual comprehension of the truth, and personal, involving a personal response to that truth by faith. And we cannot bypass this order. Faith is ultimately worthless unless it is based on truth, on that which is able, willing, and available to deliver.” 
What he says next needs to be trumpeted from the rooftops and from every pulpit in America!
Knowing God and experiencing Him in the salvation He offers us in Christ is not void of experience and the work of God in the heart or on the emotions, but it never excludes knowing and understanding the truth of Scripture.
Without Scripture, we would only know “about” God in the most general terms, through His Creation. But because of Scripture, we have intimate knowledge of God (the degree to which our finite minds can comprehend) as God stooped to provide us knowledge of Himself and an understanding of what salvation is and how it operates within us once we have gained it.
By the way, Keathley also points out repeatedly (as Scriptures do), that salvation is found in Jesus, meaning when we have the Son, we have life eternal. 1 John 5:12 states quite simply, “The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life.”
Without a proper understanding of Scripture, we cannot hope to gain a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of our salvation, our standing in Christ, and how God – through the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – works in our life with all the benefits of salvation.
Do you know that you are saved? Do you know that God in Christ lives in your heart? Do you know that God has already made your perfect and that you already have His righteousness?
This is an excellent book for those who are unsure of what the Scriptures teach on salvation, the assurance of it, our eternal security and our life as stewards of all that God has blessed us with here and now. At well over 500 pages, you won’t sit down and read through this at one sitting. In fact, you shouldn’t. You should take small sections and with an open Bible, study each section until it takes up residence within you.
Not only will you gain a far greater understanding of God’s purposes because of His truth, but I also believe that this will translate into you become a greater evangelist for those all around you who are lost!
J. Hampton Keathley III graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1966, pastored for 28 years and went home to be with the Lord in 2002.
 ABC’s for Christian Growth – Laying the Foundation by J. Hampton Keathley III, (2002), p. 11