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Just as we have stages of development in the physical, we also have stages of development in the spiritual. An understanding of the various stages of development will help us to ascertain our growth levels. If you are a minister, you must know whether your members are growing or not. If you don’t understand the various stages, you cannot monitor their growth neither will you know the diet to give them. So, today’s teaching is important and needful for every Christian.

Every stage of development is identifiable by some traits and also has critical needs.
There are 5 distinct levels of growth in grace which are expressed in Greek words in the New Testament. We will now go through them one after the other.

• They are fresh in the Lord and they smell of the world
• In fact, sometimes there is not much difference between them and unbelievers. They can still be behaving as unbelievers
• This is the level where the wheat is just like the tares, no fruit yet.

Critical needs:
• They need an assurance of their salvation.
• They need the word of truth to build them (James 1:18)
• They have to be given foundational teachings. Eg how to have a quiet time, giving, the need for holy living, how to study the bible, the need for prayer, how to witness with your lifestyle, the importance of Christian gatherings etc.
• They need a lot of encouragement and affirmation. As a pastor, you have to be there for them always. Go into their lives. Honour their funeral invitations etc.
• Its very easy to offend them.
• They need close marking and monitoring.
• They may need deliverance from tormenting spirits etc.

2) NEPIOS (A YOUNG CHILD): 1 Cor 3:1-5, Eph 4:14, Heb 5:11-13, Gal 4:1)
The second stage of development can be seen in the scriptures above. This is the stage where the individual has a sense of belonging. He is introduced to BETHEL the house of God. He knows he is part of the Body of Christ.
At this point for instance he is a member of a local church family. He knows the programs of his church. He understands Christian jargons and is generally familiar with the things of God.

Common Traits at this point:
• Strive, envy, jealousy (1 Cor 3:1-3)
• They don’t know how to honour men of God without worshipping them (1 Cor 3:4)
• They have the tendency to run after the latest ‘man of God’ in town
• They are blown by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14)
• They are unstable, up today, down tomorrow
• They speak before they think (1 Cor 13:11)
• They are easily overwhelmed by the charisma of a man of God and not his substance
• They are legalistic and can be very dogmatic on certain pet doctrines of their church
• They cannot instruct others in the faith
• They are not yet faithful in basic things like personal devotional life, tithes, service etc.
• They lack insight about their rights as a child of God (Gal 4:1)
• They are self-centered in the application of their faith. They want to call fire to burn their enemies like James and John (Luke 9:54), instead of heaping coals of fire on their heads by loving them (Rom 12:20)

Critical needs at this stage:
• Discipleship
• Systematic teaching of biblical doctrine
• Exposure to the word of Grace to build them (Acts 20:32)
• Teaching on growing together with other believers (Eph 3:1-19)
• They should not be given leadership positions but can be made to understudy other leaders.

3) NEANISKOS (A youth, young man) …1 Cor 13:11, 1 John 2:13-14
This is the stage of the young man, spiritually speaking. This may be perhaps the most exciting part of the journey. This is because at this point, you know many things and you are discovering things. But this stage is far from the ultimate.

• He knows about his rights as a child of God
• He has been introduced to the Word of Faith.
• He has strong consistent fellowship with other believers
• He has discovered his ministry and is exercising his spiritual gifts
• He can lead others to Christ and can even disciple them
• He is growing in the fruit of the Spirit
• He has greater strength over the flesh.

Negative traits that may manifest:
• He thinks he has arrived
• He thinks being able to preach or operate spiritual gifts qualify him to start his own ministry
• He can be proud especially when gifted and find it difficult staying under authority
• He can be presumptuous, going beyond his boundaries sometimes.
• He can see the gifts of the Spirit as toys and not tools.
• One of the problems we have in the 21st century Church is when Neaniskos start ministries because they are gifted or have been to Bible school. They cause a lot of hurt to the Body. They become insecure, selfish leaders who cannot nurture and tolerate gifts under them.

4) TELIOS (2 Tim 3:16, Eph 4:13, James 3:2)
This is a complete, matured Christian able also to reproduce after his kind. This is the stage of fatherhood in the Body.
Three main things found at this stage are wisdom, meekness, authority. This is when you have been walking with God through the changing seasons of life.
• At this stage, you can raise people from the scratch, teach them, mentor them into maturity
• Full of knowledge and yet humble and teachable (James 3:13)
• He has passed the 1 Timothy 3:1-7 tests.
• This is the place of maturity.

5) HIOUS(SON); Rom 8:14, Heb 2:10, Rom :29
When you become a Telios, you are on your way into SONSHIP which is a different thing altogether. Sonship is the last stage of development. I will talk about sonship later. The Greek Word is HIUOS.

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