Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 8: Growing Up Into Christ
Those who are just converted to Christ are, "as new-born babes," to "grow up" to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. Like the good seed sown in the field, they are to grow up and bring forth fruit.
The change of heart by which we become children
of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth.
Again, it is compared to the germination of the
good seed sown by the husbandman. In like manner
those who are just converted to Christ are, "as
new-born babes," to "grow up" to the stature of men and
women in Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15.
Or like the good seed sown in the field, they are to
grow up and bring forth fruit. Isaiah says that they
shall "be called trees of righteousness, the planting
of the Lord, that He might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3.
So from natural life, illustrations are drawn, to help
us better to understand the mysterious truths of spiritual
Not all the wisdom and skill of man can produce
life in the smallest object in nature. It is only through
the life which God Himself has imparted, that either
plant or animal can live. So it is only through the
life from God that spiritual life is begotten in the
hearts of men. Unless a man is "born from above,"
he cannot become a partaker of the life which Christ
came to give. John 3:3, margin.
As with life, so it is with growth. It is God who
brings the bud to bloom and the flower to fruit. It
is by His power that the seed develops, "first the
blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the
ear." Mark 4:28. And the prophet Hosea says of
Israel, that "he shall grow as the lily." "They shall
revive as the corn, and grow as the vine." Hosea
14:5, 7. And Jesus bids us "consider the lilies how [p. 68] they grow." Luke 12:27. The plants and flowers grow
not by their own care or anxiety or effort, but by
receiving that which God has furnished to minister
to their life. The child cannot, by any anxiety or
power of its own, add to its stature. No more can
you, by anxiety or effort of yourself, secure spiritual
growth. The plant, the child, grows by receiving
from its surroundings that which ministers to its life
—air, sunshine, and food. What these gifts of nature
are to animal and plant, such is Christ to those who
trust in Him. He is their "everlasting light," "a sun
and shield." Isaiah 60:19; Psalm 84:11. He shall be
as "the dew unto Israel." "He shall come down like
rain upon the mown grass." Hosea 14:5; Psalm 72:6.
He is the living water, "the Bread of God . . . which
cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the
world." John 6:33.
In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled
the whole world with an atmosphere of grace
as real as the air which circulates around the globe.
All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere
will live and grow up to the stature of men
and women in Christ Jesus.
As the flower turns to the sun, that the bright
beams may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry,
so should we turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that
heaven's light may shine upon us, that our character
may be developed into the likeness of Christ.
Jesus teaches the same thing when He says, "Abide
in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear
fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more
can ye, except ye abide in Me. . . . Without Me ye [p. 69] can do nothing." John 15:4, 5. You are just as
dependent upon Christ, in order to live a holy life, as
is the branch upon the parent stock for growth and
fruitfulness. Apart from Him you have no life. You
have no power to resist temptation or to grow in grace
and holiness. Abiding in Him, you may flourish.
Drawing your life from Him, you will not wither nor
be fruitless. You will be like a tree planted by the
rivers of water.
Many have an idea that they must do some part
of the work alone. They have trusted in Christ for
the forgiveness of sin, but now they seek by their
own efforts to live aright. But every such effort must
fail. Jesus says, "Without Me ye can do nothing."
Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness,—all
depend upon our union with Christ. It is by
communion with Him, daily, hourly,—by abiding in Him,
—that we are to grow in grace. He is not only the
Author, but the Finisher of our faith. It is Christ first
and last and always. He is to be with us, not only
at the beginning and the end of our course, but at
every step of the way. David says, "I have set the
Lord always before me: because He is at my right
hand, I shall not be moved." Psalm 16:8.
Do you ask, "How am I to abide in Christ?" In
the same way as you received Him at first. "As ye
have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk
ye in Him." "The just shall live by faith." Colossians
2:6; Hebrews 10:38. You gave yourself to God, to
be His wholly, to serve and obey Him, and you took
Christ as your Saviour. You could not yourself atone
for your sins or change your heart; but having given [p. 70] yourself to God, you believe that He for Christ's sake
did all this for you. By faith you became Christ's,
and by faith you are to grow up in Him—by giving
and taking. You are to give all,—your heart, your will,
your service,—give yourself to Him to obey all His
requirements; and you must take all,—Christ, the
fullness of all blessing, to abide in your heart, to be
your strength, your righteousness, your everlasting
helper,—to give you power to obey.
Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make
this your very first work. Let your prayer be, "Take
me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans
at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide
with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee."
This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate
yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your
plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His
providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you
may be giving your life into the hands of God, and
thus your life will be molded more and more after
the life of Christ.
A life in Christ is a life of restfulness. There may
be no ecstasy of feeling, but there should be an
abiding, peaceful trust. Your hope is not in yourself;
it is in Christ. Your weakness is united to His
strength, your ignorance to His wisdom, your frailty
to His enduring might. So you are not to look to
yourself, not to let the mind dwell upon self, but look
to Christ. Let the mind dwell upon His love, upon
the beauty, the perfection, of His character. Christ in
His self-denial, Christ in His humiliation, Christ in [p. 71] His purity and holiness, Christ in His matchless love
—this is the subject for the soul's contemplation. It
is by loving Him, copying Him, depending wholly
upon Him, that you are to be transformed into His
Jesus says, "Abide in Me." These words convey
the idea of rest, stability, confidence. Again He
invites,"Come unto Me, . . . and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28. The words of the psalmist express
the same thought: "Rest in the Lord, and wait
patiently for Him." And Isaiah gives the assurance, "In
quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."
Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 30:15. This rest is not found in
inactivity; for in the Saviour's invitation the promise
of rest is united with the call to labor: "Take My
yoke upon you: . . . and ye shall find rest." Matthew
11:29. The heart that rests most fully upon Christ
will be most earnest and active in labor for Him.
When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned
away from Christ, the source of strength and life.
Hence it is Satan's constant effort to keep the
attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent
the union and communion of the soul with Christ.
The pleasures of the world, life's cares and perplexities
and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own
faults and imperfections—to any or all of these he
will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by
his devices. Many who are really conscientious, and
who desire to live for God, he too often leads to
dwell upon their own faults and weaknesses, and
thus by separating them from Christ he hopes to [p. 72] gain the victory. We should not make self the center
and indulge anxiety and fear as to whether we shall
be saved. All this turns the soul away from the Source
of our strength. Commit the keeping of your soul
to God, and trust in Him. Talk and think of Jesus.
Let self be lost in Him. Put away all doubt;
dismiss your fears. Say with the apostle Paul, "I live;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which
I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son
of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20. Rest in God. He is able to keep that
which you have committed to Him. If you will leave
yourself in His hands, He will bring you off more
than conqueror through Him that has loved you.
When Christ took human nature upon Him, He
bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can
never be broken by any power save the choice of man
himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to
induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate
ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to
watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us
to choose another master; for we are always free to
do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ,
and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are
safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In
constantly beholding Him, we "are changed into the
same image from glory to glory, even as by the
Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18.
It was thus that the early disciples gained their
likeness to the dear Saviour. When those disciples
heard the words of Jesus, they felt their need of Him.
They sought, they found, they followed Him. They [p. 73] were with Him in the house, at the table, in the
closet, in the field. They were with Him as pupils
with a teacher, daily receiving from His lips lessons
of holy truth. They looked to Him, as servants to
their master, to learn their duty. Those disciples were
men "subject to like passions as we are." James 5:17.
They had the same battle with sin to fight. They
needed the same grace, in order to live a holy life.
Even John, the beloved disciple, the one who
most fully reflected the likeness of the Saviour, did
not naturally possess that loveliness of character. He
was not only self-assertive and ambitious for honor,
but impetuous, and resentful under injuries. But as
the character of the Divine One was manifested to
him, he saw his own deficiency and was humbled
by the knowledge. The strength and patience, the
power and tenderness, the majesty and meekness,
that he beheld in the daily life of the Son of God,
filled his soul with admiration and love. Day by day
his heart was drawn out toward Christ, until he
lost sight of self in love for his Master. His resentful,
ambitious temper was yielded to the molding
power of Christ. The regenerating influence of the
Holy Spirit renewed his heart. The power of the
love of Christ wrought a transformation of
character. This is the sure result of union with Jesus.
When Christ abides in the heart, the whole nature
is transformed. Christ's Spirit, His love, softens the
heart, subdues the soul, and raises the thoughts and
desires toward God and heaven.
When Christ ascended to heaven, the sense of
His presence was still with His followers. It was a [p. 74] personal presence, full of love and light. Jesus, the
Saviour, who had walked and talked and prayed with
them, who had spoken hope and comfort to their
hearts, had, while the message of peace was still
upon His lips, been taken up from them into heaven,
and the tones of His voice had come back to them,
as the cloud of angels received Him—"Lo, I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew
28:20. He had ascended to heaven in the form
of humanity. They knew that He was before the
throne of God, their Friend and Saviour still; that
His sympathies were unchanged; that He was still
identified with suffering humanity. He was presenting
before God the merits of His own precious
blood, showing His wounded hands and feet, in
remembrance of the price He had paid for His
redeemed. They knew that He had ascended to heaven
to prepare places for them, and that He would come
again and take them to Himself.
As they met together after the ascension they
were eager to present their requests to the Father
in the name of Jesus. In solemn awe they bowed
in prayer, repeating the assurance, "Whatsoever ye
shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it
you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name:
ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."
John 16:23, 24. They extended the hand of faith
higher and higher with the mighty argument, "It is
Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who
is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us." Romans 8:34. And Pentecost
brought them the presence of the Comforter, of whom [p. 75] Christ had said, He "shall be in you." And He had
further said, "It is expedient for you that I go away:
for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come
unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you."
John 14:17; 16:7. Henceforth through the Spirit,
Christ was to abide continually in the hearts of His
children. Their union with Him was closer than when
He was personally with them. The light, and love,
and power of the indwelling Christ shone out through
them, so that men, beholding, "marveled; and they
took knowledge of them, that they had been with
Jesus." Acts 4:13.
All that Christ was to the disciples, He desires
to be to His children today; for in that last prayer,
with the little band of disciples gathered about Him,
He said, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them
also which shall believe on Me through their word."
Jesus prayed for us, and He asked that we might
be one with Him, even as He is one with the Father.
What a union is this! The Saviour has said of
Himself, "The Son can do nothing of Himself;" "the
Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works."
John 5:19; 14:10. Then if Christ is dwelling in our
hearts, He will work in us "both to will and to do
of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13. We shall
work as He worked; we shall manifest the same spirit.
And thus, loving Him and abiding in Him, we shall
"grow up into Him in all things, which is the head,
even Christ." Ephesians 4:15.
Click here to read the next chapter:
"The Work and the Life"