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- Published on Monday, 27 April 2015 00:07
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What is maturity of the Believer in terms of the Church?
This question is important for two reasons:
First, we as believers would like to have a goal to head towards.
This may not be entirely possible since the Bible, every time we read it, reveals new truth to us. Not contradicting itself, but refining the message and challenging us as we are ready for the next step. At the same time some goals are well spelled out. One goal would therefore be to be willing to understand and obey new revealed truth.
Second, the church as a whole tends to be measured by numbers and by the maturity of believers. It is interesting to note that when Jesus judges the churches in Revelation there is no mention of numbers.
So, having said that - what of maturity of the Believer as spoken of in the Bible?
First, we do have many verses that mention maturity specifically:
"The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity." Luke 8:14 NASB
"until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." Eph 4:13 NASB
"Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God." Col 4:12 NASB
"But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." Hebr 5:14 NASB
"And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:4 NASB
"Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;" 1 Cor 2:6 NASB
"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phlp 3:14 NASB
And a summary could be written of these verses:
If mature - then you don't worry, aren't greedy, are not stuck on pleasures, are one with your brethern, are trying to be Christlike, are standing firm in God's will*, are fully assured, are distinguishing good from evil, are facing trials with joy, are recieving God's wisdom, and press on toward the goal forgetting the past (of our previous forgiven sins)
Second, there are many verses with indirect reference to maturity:
-Love (confront in love also):
"But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor 13:13
"but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ," Eph 4:15
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Tim 2:15
"An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach," 1 Tim 3:2
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good," Titus 2:3
-Tithe? money and time and talents?
"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9“You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. 11“Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts. 12“All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts." Malachi 3:8-12
Parable of the Talents - Matthew 25:14-30
"But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way." 1 Cor 12:31
"rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer," Rom 12:12
"in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us." Titus 2:7-8
-Doer of the word (obedience is greater than sacrifice):
"But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25
-My body not mine:
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" 1 Cor 6:19
-Encouraging vs gossip (what really is gossip? Saying something that you should be saying as truth in love in confronting the person)
"not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebr 10:25
Third, there are common lists that could be taken to connote maturity:
Deacon and Elder list of qualifications
Evidence by fruit of the Spirit
Operating in the Gift(s)
Wear the Armour of God
Follow the Ten Commandments
Fourth, there can be an attempt to arrive at levels of maturity:
Confessing one's salvation
Taking care of own family (1 Tim 5:8)
Fruit of the Spirit/Abide/Presence/Dwelling
Overcoming by the Blood of the Lamb / Advancing / Coordinating
Overcoming by the Word of our Testimony
(The order here of increasing maturity could certainly be debated).
Lastly, We all want to hear "Well done, My good and faithful servant".
So, how to measure maturity. That is the $64,000 question. God alone through Jesus judges that. We can try to compare how we are individually and corporately with how the churches were judged in Revelation. That I think is the bottom line. The other scriptures can be guidelines in how we are to get there.
* What is the will of God?
"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men." 1 Peter 2:13-15
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:15-17
"Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Eph 6:5-6
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27
"Prayer to hear God's will needs to be in a position to hear from God. The position is being ready to do what you thought best as well as being ready to do the alternative of which you can think and being ready to hear a third option" - Wesley Steinbrink
The Church, the called out ones, Christ led body of believers:
What is the Church supposed to be? How is the church to be of effect on the world? How is the church to measure what the success of the church is? I cannot add much to these books so here they are. Here are three books that speak volumes to those questions:
Reclaiming God's Original Intent for the Church
by Wes Roberts
Good ideas Good Priorities - you may have to pray and research to find the right methods.
What was God's Original Intent for women in the Church?
I think the Biola professor is right - the literal of I Cor 14 must be weighed with the literal of I Cor 11. They both cannot be literal at the same time. Prophecy from women and silence from women does not make sense. One has to be figurative or have a temporal, area, or other restriction placed on it.
Some pertinent sources:
Egalitarian - with a view of the history and the Greek:
A teacher from Biola, a Christian college who gives an overall view
while mainly siding towards egalitarian:
And another who while we do not see the complementarian as
from the pit, we can understand some frustration:
A statement for many languages:
Just to be fair, here are proponents of both viewpoints:
Complementarian (man and woman complement each other) viewpoint is espoused by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Egalitarian (man and women are equal value) viewpoint is espoused by Christians for Biblical Equality and Margaret Mowczko has some good material on an overview of egalitarian views.
What is the overall truth in church, home, and society? Where does your understanding fall in these three areas?
-- most of these links were supplied by Guy Coe who is a good friend and brother in Christ.
Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith
by A.W. Tozer and James L. Snyder
"His writings impress on the reader the necessity to abandon worldly comforts in favor the deeper life that comes with following Christ. Living out this simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, Tozer and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, he signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need"
- A.W. Tozer - Alliance
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
by David Platt
"Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, 'You won't want to put it down.' I can't say that about this book. You'll want to put it down, many times. If you are like me, as you read David Platt's Radical, you'll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You'll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you'll find another Way, one you know to be true, because you've heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call 'Follow me.'"
-Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Can a Dying Church Find Life? Six Radical Steps to 'Yes'
by Thom S. Rainer
"In a blogpost earlier this week, I presented the findings of my "autopsy" on a church that just closed its doors and died. I knew the church well because I had been their consultant ten years earlier. The only surprise I found was that the church kept its door open five years longer than I had anticipated. Read more