The Relation Of Christlikeness To Spiritual Growth -- By: Henry W. Holloman

Journal: Michigan Theological Journal
Volume: MTJ 05:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: The Relation Of Christlikeness To Spiritual Growth
Author: Henry W. Holloman


The Relation Of Christlikeness To Spiritual Growth

Henry W. Holloman

Most evangelical Christians know that they will be perfectly like Christ at His coming (1 John 3:2), that they ought to live like Christ on earth (1 Pet. 2:21) and that they should grow spiritually (2 Pet. 3:18). But understanding precisely how Scripture relates Christlikeness to spiritual growth is not so obvious for many Christians.

To clarify concepts, we may define Christlikeness as “a Christian’s relative similarity to Christ’s perfect character and conduct exemplified in His earthly humanity.” Spiritual growth1 means that “God transforms Christians into greater Christlike maturity by His Spirit and through their biblical obedience.”

The rest of this paper will present three propositions to show how Christlikeness relates to spiritual growth and then finish with some summary conclusions.

Christlikeness Is The Goal Of Spiritual Growth

The first and most obvious relationship between these two concepts is that Christlikeness is the goal of spiritual growth. Biblically informed Christians generally do not dispute this point. So we may readily agree with Bouwsma that “conformity to … Christ is the goal of human development.”2

If it is rather evident that the goal of spiritual growth is Christlikeness, then why further investigate this truth? First, increased understanding of Christlikeness as the goal of spiritual growth helps us to more clearly focus upon it. Second, the better we understand Christlikeness, the better we can understand how to attain it. In other words, the goal of Christlikeness and the means to Christlikeness mutually inform each other. Third, if we can determine the relative emphasis that Scripture places upon the Christian’s goal of Christlikeness, then we can give it appropriate place in our doctrinal system and Christian living.

Biblical Evidence

The support for Christlikness as the goal of spiritual growth comes from primary New Testament evidence and related New Testament teaching.

Primary New Testament Evidence

The primary New Testament evidence for Christlikeness as the goal of spiritual growth may be

developed in six arguments which somewhat overlap and interrelate with each other.

First, God has purpo...

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