Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Maturity

"...that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ" (Eph. 4:14,15). "My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you..." (Gal. 4:19) "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:12-14).

The burden of God's heart is that each child of His come to a place of maturity. It is obvious that we must be born into God's kingdom before we can talk about maturity. But so many are willing to stay in the place of a babe, just rejoicing that they are born again. We can gain some insight if we consider the natural child. Before the birth, every thought and action has the birth day in view. The focus on that day is short-lived, however, for immediately after the child is born, attention is shifted to feeding and attending to the many needs that were not there before. If the child does not grow, joy is turned to sorrow very quickly. The whole thrust from birth onward is to bring this new child to a place of maturity. This process goes on for the next 20 years or so, and even then it does not stop. In comparison to what was involved to bring forth the birth, the labor unto maturity is far greater.

It is the same in our spiritual lives. There is no question that the good news of the Gospel must be proclaimed, and the work of the evangelist is necessary. God is always reaching out to "whosoever will" and we are all called to be witnesses unto God of what He has done in our lives. The miracle of new birth in Christ is a great wonder, and a new creation in Christ Jesus is always cause for great rejoicing by all. But we must never forget that a new babe in Christ is just that--a new babe. A baby is very vulnerable. There are many needs to be attended to if there is to be healthy growth. There will be no grounding and settling if growth does not take place. It is here that so many seem to fail.

What is Christian growth? What are we looking for in our own lives and in the lives of those for whom we are responsible? What is our part in our own growth? What is our part in the growth of others? These and other questions must be answered properly in the light of God's plan in Jesus Christ if we are to realize God's purpose in our lives. The following encouragement is directed to those who desire to grow up in Christ Jesus and take their full place in God's plan.