One fact about Christianity that often gets overlooked is it doesn’t end with accepting Jesus as savior. Salvation is the beginning of a journey toward becoming more like Christ—a journey of spiritual growth, of discipleship where God increases, and we decrease.
But what does that mean? Where do we start? Here are what some of the best Christian thinkers and teachers have said about spiritual growth, quotes that encourage while showing the way forward. At the end are some practical tips on spiritual growth that you can start practicing today.
Classic Quotes about Spiritual Growth
1. “The disciple of Christ desires above all else to be like him…” — Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines
2. “A lot of times when we look at people we admire spiritually, we think they have arrived at this place where they cease to be tempted. The reality is, our faith may grow stronger over time, but the temptations never go away. It is hard for me to imagine that I will still feel tempted at 60, but when I was 20 I couldn’t imagine I would feel such strong temptation as I do at almost 40.” — Rich Mullins, interview with Jim Long
3. “As followers of Jesus we are called to live before one audience, the audience of One… there is only one judgment that matters, and one word of approval that counts in the end: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.” — Os Guinness, The Impossible People
4. “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree cut down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
5. “Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspirations but also strong determination. A spiritual life requires human effort. The forces that keep pulling us back into a worry-filled life are far from easy to overcome.” — Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New
7. “We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when his command, his call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
8. “Jesus tells his followers to seek first God’s kingdom, ‘and all these things will be added to you.’ We are to trust and obey God, and to follow his call in every inch or our lives, in every second of our time, and with every gift with which we have been endowed. And we are then to leave the result as well as the assessment to God.” — Os Guinness, Renaissance
9. “This surely is the way we turn to Christ: to desire nothing but him.” — Richard Rolle, The Spiritual Flame
10. “Do not despair over every relapse, which the God of patience has the patience to forgive and under which a sinner certainly should have the patience to humble himself. No, fear nothing and do not despair; he who says ‘Come here’ is with you on the way; from him there is help and forgiveness on the way of conversion that leads to him, and with him is rest.” — Søren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity
11. “God, in his word, greatly insights that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and that our hearts by engaged vigorously in our religion: ‘Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord’ (Rom. 12:11)…” — Jonathon Edwards, Religious Affections
12. “A spiritual life cannot be formed without discipline, practice, and accountability.” — Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction
13. “What God asks of us is a will which is no longer divided between him and any creature. It is a will pliant in his hands which neither seeks nor rejects anything, which wants without reserve whatever he wants, and which never wants under any pretext anything which he does not want. When we are in this disposition, all is well, and the most idle amusements turn to good works.” — François Fénelon, A Will No Longer Divided
14. “If you do not obey him, you will not know him. You will tell me some of you, that I am always beating that anvil, that obedience to Christ is Christianity. Let me die insisting upon it. My Lord insists upon it.” — George MacDonald, “Know Christ”
15. “We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new.” — Henri Nouwen, Here and Now
16. “When you are reading God’s Word, it is not the obscure passages that bind you but what you understand, and with that you comply at once. If you understood only one single passage in all of Holy Scripture, well, then you must do that first of all, but you do not first have to sit down and ponder the obscure passages.” — Søren Kierkegaard, For Self-Examination
17. “Hope in God, who is not the God of the perfect only, but of the becoming.” — George MacDonald, “Hope”
18. “By inviting God into our difficulties, we ground life—even its sad moments—in joy and hope. When we stop grasping our lives, we can finally be given more than we could ever grab for ourselves. And we learn the way to a deeper love for others.” — Henri Nouwen, Turn My Mourning into Dancing
19. “While you are competing admirably in the divine race along the course of virtue, lightfootedly leaping and straining constantly for the prize of the heavenly calling, I exhort, urge, and encourage you vigorously to increase your speed.” — Gregory of Nyssa, Running the Race
20. “We are God’s own; to him, therefore, let us live and die. We are God’s own; therefore let his wisdom and will dominate all our actions. We are God’s own; therefore let every part of our existence be directed towards him as our only legitimate goal.” — John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life
21. “Disciple (mathētēs) says we are people who spend our lives being apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman.” — Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
22. “It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a ‘living sacrifice’—to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God.” — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
23. “God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, he offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness. The wise believer learns this truth early and becomes proficient in extracting available benefits from the gospel each day. We extract these benefits by being absorbed in the gospel, speaking it to ourselves when necessary, and by daring to reckon it true in all we do.” — Milton Vincent, The Gospel Primer
24. “We are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37). The Great Commandment actually repeats ‘with all’ over and over again to remind us that nothing is worthy of our whole self but God alone. Discipleship, then, is about a redirection of loves to the One who is lovely. The next curriculum, the next conference, or the next community group will only help you grow deeper in your relationship with Christ insofar as it attempts to reorient your love toward the Triune God.” — J.T. English, Deep Discipleship
25. “To some, the pursuit of holiness sounds like legalism and man-made rules. To others, an emphasis on grace seems to open the door to irresponsible behaviors based on the notion that God’s unconditional love means we’re free to sin as we please. Grace and the personal discipline required to pursue holiness however, go hand in hand. An understanding of how grace and personal vigorous effort work together is essential for a lifelong pursuit of holiness.” — Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
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Practical Tips on Spiritual Growth
“Are you growing? Here are some ways you can tell.
What do you think about?
One of the first signs that you are growing in Christ is that you think about what Jesus has done on your behalf. You reflect upon it and you praise Him for it. Your sins are forgiven and you’re on your way to heaven. What a glorious thought!
What are you doing with your life?
You’re saved, but you don’t stop there. You develop muscles and become a strong warrior to the glory of God. You become an active member of the Lord’s army. Let me ask you: Is the devil afraid of you? Are you an overcomer or are you overcome?
If you are saved and still sitting on the sidelines, shame on you! Indeed, shame on all of us if we’re not exhorting and encouraging one another to lay down our lives to get into active service for our Lord!
Are you evangelizing and discipling others?
A father is one who has children. Do you have any spiritual children? This is a mark of a growing Christian—that you are multiplying yourself (what God did in you) by sharing it with others. When you appear before the throne of God, will you be standing there alone? Or will you be standing with children you have “parented” in Christ?
Do you know why we have so many flabby Christians? They come down the aisle of the church, get baptized, then come Sunday after Sunday and just sit, soak, and sour. They do not exercise. They don’t have daily quiet times; they’re not sharing Christ in their communities and neighborhoods; they’re not ministering in their church.”
Taken from “How To Be a Growing Christian” by Love Worth Finding Ministries (used by permission).
This article excerpts quotes from the following articles:
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G. Connor Salter is a writer and editor, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing from Taylor University. In 2020, he won First Prize for Best Feature Story in a regional contest by the Colorado Press Association Network. He has contributed over 1,000 articles to various publications, including interviews for Christian Communicator and book reviews for The Evangelical Church Library Association. Find out more about his work here.
This article is part of our larger Inspiring Quotes resource meant to encourage and strengthen your faith. Visit our most popular quotes by well known Christians and theologians to find more inspiration. Remember, the Holy Spirit can work through us when we have faith and share it with others! Please pass along any quotes that touch your heart because you never know light you’ll shine on someone else’s dark day!