February 16, 2023

How Can We Grow in Our Relationship with God?

Nathan W. Bingham & Harry Reeder
How Can We Grow in Our Relationship with God?

On the journey of the Christian life, God has provided all the tools we need in order to walk closely with Him. Today, Harry Reeder teaches on how we can grow in the knowledge and grace of God day by day.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Joining me live at Ligonier’s 2022 Birmingham Conference is Dr. Harry Reeder. Dr. Reeder, Beau called in and asked us, “How can we grow in our relationship with God?”

DR. HARRY REEDER: Well, it’s not a magic formula. It’s very simple, actually. And if I can just give it in a sentence and then just give a few thoughts about the sentence itself: the way you grow by God’s grace—I love the way the Apostle Peter says it—we “grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” I like the way Paul says it: “We are disciplined by the grace of God.” In other words, here’s what we do: we don’t grow for grace; we grow in and by grace.

So, where does grace come from? Well, it comes from the love of God, through Christ, delivered by the Spirit. So, we are Trinitarian Christians. In creation, the Father authored our creation, the Son accomplished it, and the Spirit oversaw it, superintended it. In our redemption, God the Father has authored our salvation. God the Son has accomplished it. God the Spirit has applied it. So, we are Trinitarian Christians who focus upon the glory of God through the preeminence of Christ—our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

Now, how do you stay dependent upon Christ? How do you focus upon Christ? Well, God has given us the means to do that. The Word of God and the Spirit of God. So, we love the Word of God. We love the preaching of the Word, the praying of the Word, the singing of the Word. We love the meditation upon the Word.

So first of all, be embedded in a church. The church can’t save you, but the church nurtures you through and in your Savior and what we call the means of grace. Honor the Lord’s Day. On the Lord’s Day is the collection of the means of grace—prayer, Word, worship, sacrament, fellowship—so that every day, you can have the scattered worship of lifestyle worship: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And on the Lord’s Day, you are equipped and encouraged with gathered worship as discipleship is initiated in your life from the pulpit, in prayer, in gathered worship, with fellowship, the display of the Word in the sacraments, the preaching of the Word, the singing of the Word. And so you immerse yourself in the Word.

Some people say to me, “Well, Harry, even as a Christian, I know who I am in Christ and the perfections of Christ’s righteousness, but I’ve still got sin living in me.” Absolutely. You don’t live in sin any longer. It no longer has dominion, but you’ve still got sin living in you. So, how do you kill sin and put on loving obedience to Christ? Well, you stay in the Word, and you’re surrendered to the Spirit. Don’t grieve the Spirit, and be in the Word, and make sure the Word is in you.

Here’s the way I like to put it. This about the means of grace. This is the way you view it: I am a broken vessel. I acknowledge that. Perfect legally in Christ, being perfected by the Word and the Spirit for Christ. Christ’s work for me saves me. Christ’s work by the Spirit in me is perfecting me.

Now, what does that mean for me? What does that actually mean for me? That means I need to stay in the Word. I need to have myself and my family in the church that is faithful to the means of grace; the preeminence of Christ; the glory of the gospel of God; the work of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in my life; and I need to be in that and then I need that in me.

So, what do I need to do? I need to immerse myself in the means of grace. If you’ve got a broken vessel, if you’ve got a broken bowl and you want to fill it up but it keeps leaking out, how do you fill up a broken bowl? You immerse it. That’s the way you fill it up. So, immerse yourself in the means of grace. That fixes your eyes on Jesus and builds the Word of God under your life, in your life, and through your life. You can know the Word of God and not know the God of the Word, but you cannot know the God of the Word without the Word of God and the Spirit of God. That means the means of grace.