Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

03/12/2017 A.M.

 

The Road Toward Spiritual Maturity

Hebrews 5.12-6.3   Ephesians 4.11-15   2 Peter 1.3-11

 

Last Sunday... Jeff and I started a series of sermons on Seven Functions of Godly People.

 

We listed seven major functions that...

• Set us apart...

• Make us peculiar people...

• Seven functions, attributes... that declare to others that we belong to God...

 

Worship... Holiness... Community... SPIRITUAL maturing...servanthood.... Witnessing... Influence.

 

You see... Christianity is not just a doctrine to be embraced... Facts to be accepted...

• It’s life to be lived.

• A race to run.

• A course to finish.

• A faith to keep.

Christianityis a growing toward maturity.

 

Access a Worship Bulletin or Bible... And let’s read what New Testament Scripture has to say about Spiritual Maturity… We begin with the Hebrews Writer… By this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

 

Point number one... God expects us to Grow Spiritually... To Mature.

 

Then Paul from Ephesians chapter four… It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers... WHY? To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the FULLNESS of Christ. We should no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

 

Point number two... Spiritual Growth is defined as

our becoming like Jesus...

In Philippians... Paul says... We are to have His...

Heart... Mind... Attitude... DISPOSITION... BEHAVIOR.

 

Now to 2 Peter 1... Verse three beginning... His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness,knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

 

Point number three... Peter tells us what a Jesus heart looks like.

He gives us what it takes to participate in Jesus’ Divine Nature.

He lists those attributes that lead to genuine spiritual Maturity.

Come... Let’s see what we can learn about the heart of Jesus…

 

First…We note that the Greek word... Translated diligent in our King James... make every effort in the NIV... Carries the connotation of... speed... Haste.  It appears twelve times in the NewTestament... Our King James translates it...

• Diligent...

• Haste...

• Business...

• Earnest.

 

You see... Peter is saying... Do your best... Be eager... Make it your business... To cultivate... A relationship... A closeness... An intimacy... With the Lord... And do so as soon as  possible.

 

Spiritual maturity is a discipline... It’s adding these Christian Graces to our lives... So as to bring us into the image of his son... Into the likeness of Jesus.

 

First... We are to Add to our faith.

We must not relegate faith to just one step out of five in God’s plan of salvation...Faith is much more...

 

• Faith is the foundation for Christian living... The starting point for our spiritual maturing.

 

• Faith is believing God is who He says He is... And that He has done what he says He has done.

 

• Faith is a confidence... A trust in God and His promises through His Word... Regardless of what we are having to face at the moment.

 

• Faith is obeying God... Faith without works... Faith without obedience... Is dead.

 

• Faith is knowing that God is working in our lives to bring about His purpose for our benefit.

 

• Indeed… Faith is an on-going maturity in our Christian walk.

 

Galatians 3.26 says... We are all children of God... By faith... Through faith.

 

Romans 5.1 reads... Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into his grace in which we now stand.

 

There should be no doubt that Faith is the foundation for our relationship with God... Christ... the Spirit?

 

Secondly... Add to your faith virtue.

Virtue can have two meanings…

 

First... Virtue is moral excellence...

Moral excellence is our not giving in to the desires of the flesh.

 

Second... Virtue... Moral excellence... Speaks of going about doing good.

 

Galatians Chapter five has Paul contrasting moral excellence and moral decadence... Notice the contrast as I read... The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.... But the fruit of the Spirit is (HERE IS THE CONTRAST) But the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Did you see the contrast?... Something is seriously wrong with our spiritual maturity... Our intimacy with God and with one another... When we allow ourselves to be flesh-led rather than Spirit-led.

 

Virtue is also moral excellence demonstrated in Goodness done to others.

I don’t know any better way to speak of goodness than to point to Jesus.

It was Luke in Acts 10.38 who said... He went about doing good.

This is to be my life and yours.

 

God help us to walk as Jesus walked... To conform to His image… By the goodness done to others.

 

Add to your faith virtue... GOODNESS!... Moral excellence!

 

Church… Wouldn’t it be proper… If at the end of everyday we ask the question…

What good have I done today?

• What did I do that looked like Jesus?

 

Thirdly... Add to your virtue knowledge.

Spiritual maturity... Intimacy with God... Is our staying in the word.

The power to change the world today is in the word of God… It’s not in me… Not in you… Not in politics… Not in military might… But in the Word.

 

Israel’s returning remnant made some great changes in their lives under Nehemiah... But it was only AFTER they heard the Law read by Ezra at the water-gate assembly.

After the law was read... We find three things happening...

• They restored their worship —chapter 8

• They confessed their sins —chapter 9

• They restored their pledges to God — chapter 10.

There is no way we can mature spiritually unless we are a people and person of the Word.

 

No wonder Paul admonishes… Study to be approved of God... Rightly handling the Word… WHY?

• Because it is sharper than any two edged sword... Dividing.... Discerning between the thoughts and intents of the heart...

 

• Because it is inspired of God and is profitable for... Doctrine... Reproof...Rebuke... Instructions and Corrections in righteousness... So the child OF GOD can be mature... Completely furnished unto every good work.

 

Add temperance.

Most modern speech translations render this self-control.

God has created us free moral agents... He has given us a will.

God expects His people to control their... Desires and impulses... Our anger... Lust... Our thoughts... And Behavior.

 

Temperance encompasses discipline.

Without discipline... There can be... No maturity... No obedience... No being likeJesus. Paul Faulkner was right when he said... We must grab our wanter by our willer and discipline ourselves...To become the people and person God has called us to be.

 

In Christ… maturity... Spiritual maturity... is seen in the individual who will discipline their life by the Word of God... AMEN?

 

Patience is perseverance.

Peter chooses a Greek word that speaks of our ability to deal with frustrations and aggravations in an even-tempered way... With... Longevity... Steadiness... Endurance.

 

God’s people are not to be knee-jerk reactionists... But patient and perseverant.

 

The Book of Revelation was written to say... We win if we’ll not give up... But keep-on-keeping-on… Never giving up from doing right things.

 

The book of Hebrews was written for the same purpose… Listen to their admonition that becomes our admonition... Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

 

Indeed!!...Our people of God relationship… Our spiritual maturity… Is maintained by Patient perseverance... Not shrinking back.

 

Add Godliness.

The focus of our world is... On doing... On performance.

 

We want preachers who... will do great things... Organize elaborate programs.

 

We select Elders on the basis of their business expertise... Saying they’ll get something done.

 

We want teachers who are driven to PERFORM.

 

Members are... asked... encouraged... to do...more...  More... More.

 

As a result, we have a brotherhood that is frustrated because we can’t seem to do enough.

 

We’ve robbed ourselves of our Christian Joy and Security... by this focus on doing... Trying to merit our salvation.

 

We must know that the New Testament focus is not on doing... But on being.

• Being more like Jesus.

• Having His... heart... mind... attitude... And BEHAVIOR.

I’ll tell you when we’ll have done enough... When we have the heart of Jesus... When we act and react to others and life… As did Jesus.

 

brotherly kindness.

Blood is thicker than water... His blood!

As Christian people… We are brothers... Bloodkin.

We’ve been bought with a price... Purchased by the cross… We belong to Him!

We are brothers… family… Nearly one hundred one another passages tell us this is true.

 

It was Jesus who said... As often as you do it to the least of these... You do it to Me.

 

Our Child of God status is best seen and cultivated by how we treat one another.

 

Paul says... In love... Be devoted to one another... Preferring one another.

 

Jesus said... The world will know you are Mine… When you love the brethren.

 

God help us to be more diligent in adding brotherly love to our daily walk.

 

Then there’s agape.

Agape is...

• A love of the will.

• A love of others regardless of what they think or do to us.

• Agape is a discipline.

• Agape is not easy.

a sign of our spiritual maturity is our loving the unlovable.

Our religion must be filled with it.

 

There’s no doubt that our SPIRITUAL maturity is best seen in... How we love... How we Agape... Not just one another... But all those around us... Even those we’ll never meet.

 

Then point number four has to do with

making our calling and election sure.

 

Peter concludes by saying... If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He that lacks these things is blind and cannot see. He is immature and has forgotten that he was once cleansed from his past sins. Therefore brethren, give all diligence, be eager to make your calling and election sure... HOW?... For if you add these things, you will never fall and you will receive the reward, an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our savior Jesus Christ.

 

Did you notice what Peter says are the resultS of spiritual maturity?

  • We’ll be fruitful...

  • We’ll know the forgiveness of our sins...

  • We’ll experience the assurance of our salvation...

  • We’ll be ushered into that eternal abode with God, Christ, and the saved of all ages.

That’s what I want... How about you?

 

I want to know… That I’m right with God... That I’m His person... His people... A part of His family Today... Right now... And I want to be confident of Heaven as my home.

 

Church…Genuine spiritual maturity has come a long way in my life and yours… when we know… when we’re confident… In our relationship with God.

 

Peter says... We can know if we’re diligently…

• Working toward maturity...

• Working toward having a Jesus heart...

By adding these attributes... these Christ-Like Graces… to our daily walk.

 

This morning make sure of your relationship with God... Become His child by...Faith... Repentance... and New Testament Baptism... Being born again by water and Spirit.

 

As His child... Let’s go home with a prayer on our lips... ‘Help me strengthen my relationship with You… Help the world know I belong to You because I’m more like Your Son.’

 

Let’s each respond to the lesson as we stand and sing together.