Principles for Progress – Introduction


In this series of articles, we are going back to basics for individual and corporate Christian growth. Most intelligent young believers accept that local assembly testimony is much weaker than it should be in the United Kingdom. There are exceptions, for which we give God thanks, but, in many places, ground has been lost in terms of love for God and His word, evangelical witness, and general commitment. Things do not need to be like that. However, recovery starts with each of us individually!

I want to begin with what might seem a strange question. Do you pray that God will be glorified in seeing spiritual development in the assembly? You see, it is possible that we are sadly comfortable in a materialistic Christianity and do not want the commitment that progress will require.

While a desire for spiritual progress is evidence of the new life, 1 John chapter 2 verse 3 teaches that an evidence of salvation is keeping the commandments of Christ. The spiritual development of an assembly requires individual saints to take responsibility for their own personal development. Responsibility will vary with age, experience and the purpose God has for a particular believer. However, even when we are young it will certainly involve taking responsibility for our personal walk with God. We cannot expect the assembly to be in a healthy spiritual condition if the believers in fellowship are consumed by materialism, worldly ambition, sport, pleasure etc., or anything else that is governing their lives rather than living for eternity. In Hebrews chapter 11 verses 13 to 16, we see an example of saints who did live as ‘pilgrims and strangers’.

Problems in assembly life are not just the result of the rejection of truth, although, sadly, in some places they are caused partially by a failure to obey the word of God. Instead, assembly development and progress have often been stymied by believers unwilling to put God first, and, instead, having selfish priorities. This can be seen in practice in 1 Corinthians chapter 3.

What are you like?

The local assembly primarily has a two-fold role according to the Bible:

  1. To offer spiritual sacrifices, worship and service to God. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 5 teaches us that we function as Holy Priests in that connection; and
  2. To testify to God’s greatness and glory, and the salvation available through the Lord Jesus Christ, to the outside world. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9 teaches us that we function as royal priests in that connection.

The function of both roles is to fulfil God’s purpose, that as saints we become more like Christ. That is the primary fruitfulness that God is looking for in my life. Galatians chapter 5 verse 22 gives a nine-fold description of the fruit of the Spirit.

Topics to be explored

I genuinely believe from the word of God that every individual believer can make a difference to the fruitfulness and progress of the assembly. In this series of articles, we will consider six areas where an individual, and particularly a young believer, can, by taking their responsibility seriously, enhance local assembly testimony.

  1. The reading and studying of God’s word;
  2. Praying;
  3. Attending and participating in the assembly gatherings;
  4. Worshipping;
  5. Giving; and
  6. Evangelizing.

We will see that all these topics have individual responsibility at their heart. Perhaps you are genuinely disappointed at the apparent lack of life and fruit in the assembly where you are. Perhaps the saints have let you down. I want to encourage you, from the Bible, that if your personal relationship with God is right it can have a really positive effect on the spiritual health of the assembly of which you are a part.

Am I more interested in what I can get out of the assembly, or am I prepared to build into the assembly? Please read the rest of 1 Corinthians chapter 3 and take responsibility for your spiritual progress! We will be discussing these issues in more detail in later articles.