Personal Spiritual Growth – Seven Stages of a Deepening Faith

Spiritual growth is directly linked to the depth of a one’s faith. When a person’s faith is shallow then God seems small and struggling to do much in that person’s life. When a person’s belief and ascent is deep then God grows in their sight; they trust him more, believing that he can positively affect their existence. Through the narrative of the Christian Bible, the watchful reader can detect at the very least seven stages of faith. This short article will briefly discuss those seven stages.
Stage One – No or Contemptible Faith
The first stage of faith is no faith or contemptible faith. It is the type of carnal acknowledgement that will not really believe God exists but plays alongside others in order to manipulate a situation because of their favor. This is the type of faith demonstrated by the Pharaoh of Egypt when God sent Moses to provide the Israelites from captivity. When God sent plagues on the people of Egypt, Pharaoh would try to placate Moses and Aaron by acquiescing to the very thought of God. When the effects of each plague would subside, Pharaoh would harden his heart and reject God.
Stage Two – Faith on One’s Own Terms
The second stage of belief is faith on one’s own terms. This can be a kind of faith demonstrated by Jacob. In the story of Jacob within the book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible), Jacob is sent away from his family because his older brother Esau really wants to kill him. Along the way out of Canaan (modern day Palestine), Jacob has a dream about angels ascending and descending a ladder connected to heaven. In the dream God promises to bless Jacob like he blessed Jacob’s grandfather Abraham and father Isaac. However, Jacob sets up conditions that must be met if God is usually to be Jacob’s God. Jacob agrees to allow God to be his God only if God leads him safely back again to his father’s home. Jacob ties his faith to God’s faithfulness to meet Jacob’s needs according to Jacob’s terms.
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Stage Three – Faith Associated with a Vision and a Tangible Promise
The third stage of faith is belief predicated on a tangible promise. This kind of faith is exemplified by Abram (later renamed Abraham). Abram lived with his parents and extended family in the land of the Chaldeans (also referred to as Babylon or modern day Iraq). Abraham has been described in the Bible as a pal of God and the father of faith. However, Abraham’s faith came together with a vision of God and a tangible promise that God gave him. Once the Lord commanded Abram to leave his friends and family to go to a land he previously never seen before, God also promised he would bless Abraham and his offspring greatly for doing so.
Stage Four – Faith without Seeing
Another stage of faith is belief without seeing. After Jesus had resurrected and seemed to a few of his disciples, another disciple named Thomas refused to simply accept the theory that Jesus had risen from the dead. He stated emphatically that the only path he would believe is if Jesus appeared to him and he could touch Jesus’ scars in his hands and his side. A week later, Jesus fulfilled Thomas’ request and appeared to him at which time Thomas fell to his knees and declared Jesus to be “My Lord and My God.” (The Holy Bible, John 20, NIV). To this Jesus commented that Thomas had to see as a way to believe and then said, “Blessed are those that believe and yet have not seen.” In the same way the Apostle Peter praises believers in Asia Minor for continuing to whether persecution even though they had never seen Jesus nor had a vision of God.
Stage Five – Faith When Things AREN’T Going So Well
Psalm 73 in the Bible’s Old Testament was a lament compiled by royal court composer Asaph. The top level songwriter of his day, Asaph appeared to write this psalm when he was at a low place in his life. He wonders aloud why the wicked seem to prosper in this life, while the righteous know nothing but continual hardship. After he’s got finished his rant, Asaph finally realizes that the success of the wicked is but a slippery slope and altogether temporal. Then he confesses his folly and acknowledges that when he’s got a relationship with the Lord Almighty, he has all he needs. Asaph declares: “Whom have I in heaven nevertheless, you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Asaph has faith that, even if he cannot see how, God provides for his well-being.
Stage Six – Faith Even though God Does Not Choose to Provide
In the book of prophecy bearing his name, Daniel recounts the occasion when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon erected a huge golden statute in his likeness and ordered all of the peoples of his kingdom to bow right down to it. Once the time came for the people to prostrate themselves before the idol, three of Daniel’s Israelite compatriots, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused and were thrown in prison. The king was incensed by this and had a furnace ready to burn them alive. Before he through them in the flames, the king gave them one more chance to comply. To the the men answered that they did not have to response to the king and that they had confidence that there God would deliver them. They added these words: “But even if [God] does not, we want one to know, O king, that people will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have setup.” (Daniel 3, Holy Bible, NIV). The sixth stage of faith is the undying belief that sticks even if God chooses never to intervene and provide salvation. God is God and he could be not bound to serve us. Instead, we have to believe because he exists and humbly accept his will for the lives whether favorable or not.