We cannot read the Bible without sensing that the kingdom is on the advance. Where there is seed, there will be growth; and if growth, there should be fruit. Or, those who remain elementary warrant rebuke. Even in the Old Testament, God tells Habakkuk to write the vision so the one on the run can read it without slowing.
Progression. Advancement. Movement. Growth. Momentum. Faith propels us forward and higher—not necessarily faster…just forward.
But This Is No Game
What do tug of war, a swim obstacle race, and plunging have in common? They are all discontinued Olympic sporting events. No, they were not played in the ancient Games; instead, they all were played in the early 20th century.
In our spiritual practice, however, all the “events” that were begun long ago—of disciplines, spiritual gifts, the fruit of the Spirit, and more—they continue and none are retired. They all build the work of Christ on earth. And although we may enhance and mature, as we ought, the Spirit’s bestowals never expire or become outmoded, for they are the fountains of the very life of God.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop!
So the patriarchs of the Church urge us in our progression. Peter compels us to continually add onto our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-9). He tells us to desire the Word of God as a baby desires milk (1 Pet. 2:2). Likewise, Paul exhorts us to stir up the gift of God within us (2 Tim. 1:6) and advises us to ponder every spiritual virtue (Ph. 4:8-9). He commands that we keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).
And what is the result of our compounding efforts, personally and as the Body? Well Paul sums it up well:
“We all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming…we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:12-15).
One More Thing
I write these words in “Crossing Over: Lesson 1”: “God has placed the finish line in this Christian race where we never expected it. It doesn’t await us in Heaven; it is right here on earth. You crossed that line when you chose Christ. It was a finish line to sin’s dominion over you and a starting line to eternal life…you race toward no more ribbons but rather God himself.”
Thus, we pass through this life with Christ’s victory in tow. Yes, dark powers do persist and war against the Church; however, we overcome them by Christ’s strength until the victory of Christ is realized.
Spiritual progression ultimately leads us to act as our Father does by making fallen things match his splendor. And the kingdom of this world gradually becomes the kingdom of our God.