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Spiritual Maturity

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Spiritual Maturity

The Worthy Life - Part VII

July 18, 2007

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” Eph 4:15-16

1. One goal of maturity means that we are no longer like children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (V. 14)

2. Another goal of maturity is what we would call “Christlikeness.” It is what Paul is speaking of in the phrase “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” In other words, it is not only that we are to have an experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ and his ways. In addition we are to become increasingly like him through such fellowship.

3. A third goal of maturity for the church is truth; without truth there is no real maturity. Paul writes “Rather we are to be “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped.” (V. 15-16a) “Truth becomes hard if not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle calls us to hold the two together.” John Stott

4. Yet it is not truth in isolation, as if we only needed to bombard people with facts. Truth is important! But we also need to speak the “truth in love.” Love is the fourth and last of these specific expressions of maturity. Indeed, Paul emphasizes love. A more literal translation from the Greek other than “speaking the truth in love” would be “truthing [it] in love.” The combination means both speaking and living the truth in a loving manner.

5. Six marks by which the church is to be recognized are: joy, holiness, truth, mission, unity, and love (John 17:13–26). Each of these is important. But love is most important, which can be clearly seen either by subtracting it from the other marks or by expressing it in every way possible.

6. Subtract love from joy. What do you have? You have the kind of hedonistic reveling found in the secular world, the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake. Joy is distorted. Take love from sanctification. The result is self-righteousness, the kind of thing that distinguished the scribes and Pharisees of Christ’s day but allowed them to be filled with hatred, so that they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ when he came. Sanctification is destroyed. Take love from truth. The result is bitter orthodoxy. Truth remains, but it is proclaimed in such an unpleasant, harsh manner that it fails to win anybody. Take love from mission and you have colonialism. In colonialism we work to win people for our denomination or organization, but not for Christ. Take love from unity and you have ecclesiastical tyranny, in which a church imposes human standards on those within it.

7. But if instead of subtracting love, you express love—for God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible, one another, and the world—what do you have? You have all the other marks of the church, because they naturally follow. Love for God leads to joy; nothing is more joyful than knowing and loving him. Love for the Lord Jesus Christ leads to holiness; as he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). Love for the Word of God leads to truth; if we love the Bible, we will read it and grow in a knowledge of what the Word contains. Love for the world leads to mission. Love for other believers leads to unity.

8. Maturity results when “each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (V. 16b)

Assurance

What a wonderful thing it is to be sure of one's faith! How wonderful to be a member of the evangelical church, which preaches the free grace of God through Christ as the hope of sinners! If we were to rely on our works, what would become of us? — G. F. Handel

GracePointe Baptist Church

2209 N Post Road

Oklahoma City, OK 73141

Phone: (405) 769-5050

http://www.gracepointeonline.com

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