The Expectation of Spiritual Growth

The Bible places upon every Christian a clear expectation for spiritual growth.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. Hebrews 5:12a

In the case of Hebrews 5:12 the clear expectation, "By this time you ought to be teachers" is followed by sheer disappointment, "you need someone to teach you again" the basics.

I attended a conference that featured one of my favorite authors, Erwin McManus

Erwin planted a church called Mosaic in a nightclub in the heart of Los Angeles, California, and they were reaching a lot of people with the gospel. At the time of this conference, Mosaic was a young church that was growing rapidly. 

He shared that a challenge of their church was that it lacked spiritually mature leadership. So he prayed for leaders. 

It was not long before people who had migrated to L.A. from large cities in the Bible Belt began attending his church. Erwin initially saw this as a great answer to prayer. It seemed that God was sending seasoned Christians who had been in great churches in the South for many years. So Erwin began to call on them to lead and disciple the new Christians at Mosaic. 

His excitement soon turned into disappointment as these "should be" seasoned leaders turned him down. Instead of desiring to disciple others, these people who had long been attending churches in the Bible Belt said that they needed to be discipled. 

Erwin had a clear expectation. People who have long been attending Bible-preaching churches should be mature in their faith.

Erwin expressed sheer disappointment. Despite hearing the Bible taught and preached faithfully for years, these people had failed to grow.

After sharing the story, Erwin paused. He looked around the audience comprised of about 3,000 Southern Baptist pastors. With bewilderment, he asked, "How long does this take?"

 That moment was the personification of Hebrews 5:12. There has clearly been enough time, but there is a marked lack of maturity.

"By this time you ought to be teachers."

The Bible expresses a clear expectation for spiritual growth. "You ought to be teachers" points us to the right approach. In this context, "teachers" does not refer to gifted and called teachers, but rather to the mastery of the material. In the first century context of discipleship, you had not learned something until you could teach it.

When you hear a sermon, summarize the key concepts in your own words. Don't just read the Bible, study it. Look for Biblical concepts like salvation and righteousness and explore them. Who is the Holy Spirit? Study and create a personal set of notes.  

The expectation of Scripture is not that you would hear truth or even agree with truth, but that you would mature in your faith so that you can explain truth to others. The Bible expects you to grow. 

Bible Study

Read Colossians 1:9-14.

  • In verse 9 what are the two things, Paul prays for concerning the Colossian believers?
  • In verse 10 Paul mentions walking in a manner worthy of the Lord or living in a way that pleases God. In that walk, Paul mentions 3 qualities a person who pleases the Lord will be "bearing", "increasing", and "being." List those things.
  • In verses 12-14 Paul lists several things he thanks God for in reference to the Colossians. What has God done for them?


Use Colossians 1:9-14 as a guide for prayer for spiritual growth. Write out the prayer and include the things Paul asks for, the qualities he looks for, and the things he thanks God for. Pray this prayer over yourself AND someone else 2-3 times a day for 5-7 days. Track how God begins to answer your prayer.


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