"Be like Jesus, this my song,
In the home and in the throng;
Be like Jesus all day long,
I would be like Jesus."
Is this just a well-known hymn or can it be a well-known experience in our lives? What does it take to be a joyful, fully-devoted disciple rather than a bump-along-through-life church member?
Acts 2 gives us some important clues. At the end of his powerful prophetic sermon (Acts 2:14–36) Peter says "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," (Acts 2:38).
To begin our spiritual growth we need to repent and be baptized. This is the God-given way to admit we have been living a self-absorbed life. We now want to live a Christ-centered life and we are willing to be part of God's prophetic movement on earth. When this is done we are promised tremendous resources for our spiritual growth — forgiveness of our sins (all of them) and the gift of the Holy Spirit (all the power we'll ever need).
We learn important lessons about spiritual growth from the experience of the early believers described in Acts 2.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer ... Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved," (Acts 2:41–42, 46–47).
In this short example are several activities that will also help us in our own spiritual journey.
What did the apostles teach? They taught everything Jesus commanded them to teach, which was all the Scriptures, (Matthew 28:19–20) and in a very Christ-centered way (Acts 5:42). To grow daily we need to devote ourselves to daily Bible study, looking for Jesus in all the Scriptures (Isaiah 28:13) and asking the Holy Spirit to transform us (Romans 12:1–2) and give us wisdom (James 1:5).
We cannot really grow spiritually unless we are in fellowship with other believers — not only worshipping together but eating together, praying together and meeting the needs of other believers (Acts 2:44–45). Getting together frequently with other believers at the church and in homes (Acts 2:46) will become more and more important the closer we get to the Second Coming of Jesus (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Glad and Sincere Hearts
Life was difficult for the early believers but they were known as people who had "glad and sincere hearts," who "praised God" regardless of circumstances. We grow spiritually when we think about God and then thank Him in our hearts and with our lips for who He is, what He has done and what He has promised to do.
Acts 2 says "the Lord added to their number." The early church grew in both faith and numbers (Acts 16:5) because it was a missionary-minded church.
"Let not believers center their thoughts upon themselves. Let them go to work for others, forgetting self in the loving desire to help those around them. Let them think and plan and work for those who know not God." 1
Ellen White also reminds us "there is no greater bliss on this side of heaven than in winning souls to Christ." 2 It's at the divinely-designed core of personal spiritual growth. When we stretch beyond ourselves to reach others, we inadvertently reap a rich harvest in our own lives.
1 Signs of the Times, Aug. 21, 1901 par. 5
2 Ellen White, Evangelism, p. 333