Are You Mature?

October 28, 2012

Heb 5:11-14
11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV
World expects different even though they entice and get mad when you are not different.

I am convinced that much of the problem within Christianity is based upon the immaturity of Christians. Indeed, we seem to be bunch of Jeshuruns just kicking all we can. The fallout is that unbelievers look at us and are not very interested in joining our day care centers.
There are two versions of this immaturity that are not bad in themselves for we all have to go through periods of growth. The problem comes when we get stunted in our growth and never mature. If we see a baby in diapers we have no problem with them crying and being mostly affected by their emotions. If we see a person who is twenty-five in diapers and acting the same way we are wondering what we can do to help them. We expect to see maturity as children become adults.
Sadly, much of the failure to grow comes from the pulpit. Because immaturity can be a real asset to some degree to a pastor there seems to be a reluctance to bring saints to maturity. Kids are usually easier to manipulate than adults. As I said, there are two levels of immaturity. One is the new birth immaturity and then there is an adolescent version.
When a child is born it must be cared for continually and told what to do at every turn. You spend a lot of time and effort telling him no and answering why questions. A new Christian is pretty much in the same situation. When coming out of ignorance or even a very religious background a new child of God needs a lot of attention and direction. Like the Ethiopian eunuch, he needs someone to explain everything to him from basic Scripture to life changes or habits.
George Mueller relates a story where a couple was won to Christ and then had to immediately return home so that Bro. Mueller could not disciple them. A year later they returned to visit him and relayed all that they had done based upon their study of the Word and asked what else they could give up for Christ. That is an awesome attitude of children who wish to please their Father.
This is good for awhile, but there comes a time when things have to get past being told what you can and cannot do. To go on for too long can make a child too dependent and unable to discern the Word and will of God without the input of the pastor-teacher. It can also lead to thinking their particular level of maturity is what Christianity is all about making them judgmental and legalistic being bound in rules and regulations rather than free in a thriving relationship with Christ. Though free in Christ, they are just as bound as if they were in a dead religion or a form like the Galatians. They judge Christianity by the exterior dos and don’ts while things of the heart like gossip and envy are often overlooked in the spirit of the Pharisees.
Some Christians spend their whole life in this level. Other saints become like adolescents or teenagers and start to question their teachers and some of the restrictions and rebel against the legalism promising themselves freedom in their interpretation of grace. They may end up in what some have called sloppy agape.
This form of immaturity goes from being obsessed with what they can’t do to an obsession with finding what they can do that pleases them. All taboos are up for grabs and any indication that something might need to be restricted or banned brings accusations of being a Legalist upon the pastor-teacher who considers what they want to do sin or at best unprofitable and dares to tell them his observations. They become very “spiritual” and more often than not feeling oriented versus regulation ruled. They fear being dogmatic.
They believe that exteriors do not count near as much as the interior thus one must be careful about judging someone because we do not know their heart even if we see them doing things we once saw as sin. “Thou shalt not judge” becomes a motto or battle cry. They go to the other extreme becoming so wrapped up in trying to avoid legalism that they tend to become carnal or seeking to see how much they can get away with or what worldly habits they can keep and still be saved. Their freedom is often just old rebellion wrapped up in pretty language and rationalizations with no real Scriptural foundation.
They interpret Romans 14 and 15 as the basis of gray areas theology when in actuality Paul was saying that the meat eaters were right and that the feast days and such were no longer mandated, but since the others were weak in the faith the strong should sacrifice their liberty for the sake of the weak rather than flaunt their liberty. Ouch, that hurts many in the second level of immaturity because they are all about their liberty and cannot see why they would have to sacrifice their liberty if they are right.
They have trouble discerning between good and evil because they do not want to be judgmental or offend someone by calling something a definite sin unless it is clearly delineated like murder or theft. They have trouble applying principles and even more trouble getting much more than history or moral lessons out of the Old Testament though they would affirm that all Scripture is inspired and profitable.
Basically, level one maturity is all about what I cannot do and others cannot either. Level two is about what I and everyone else can do. Both are all about me or self-centered. They are just two sides of the same coin. Both would say that they are being spiritual and in many ways they are seeking to practice Biblical correctness. They just miss the mark.
The mature saint sees that the heart is the chief thing, but also knows that what will or will not hinder the ministry and their witness is more important than personal desires, preferences or even valid liberties. It understands that the letter of the Law kills but the Spirit does not lead us into lawlessness or carnality. It understands that while something may be lawful it may still be very unprofitable and liberty should be sacrificed for the cause of Christ as often as it needs to be sacrificed since we are called to be living sacrifices not self-indulgent saints. It seeks truth, which is black or white, not gray . Gray is a mixture of black and white or light and darkness. A shadow is what appears when light is blocked. God is light and in Him there is no shadow so how can we rest in an issue where there is an indication of mixed light and darkness or the light is being blocked causing a shadow? If we cannot see the whole truth of an issue then maturity and logic would dictate that we should flee the hint of a lie until we can see the truth. When in doubt, don’t would be the mature thought whereas when in doubt, do it would be the immature response that is more concerned with self than witness.

Eph 4:11-16
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. KJV

Notice that the reason for pastor-teachers and such is to perfect or mature the saints. Why? For the work of the ministry, not for the personal gratification of the saint, but for the edifying or building up of the saints or Church. What is a sign of that happening? It is the unity of faith. That unity would include as Paul tells us in Philippians that we should all say the same thing without divisions.
That unity and no divisions should happen as we grow up and become perfect/complete/mature men and women in Christ. That comes about by knowing truth and speaking it in love. Speaking truth is speaking doctrine and the doctrine is to be the same for all since there is only one truth. Truth can be applied in many ways, but the truth is the same in all applications.
That is why there really is no such thing as secular and sacred to the Christian for all things are to be done for the glory of God hence all things are sacred. They are sacred for they are grounded in truth. If they are not grounded in truth then they are not sacred and thus evil. This is why God says that even the plowing of the wicked is sin because while the activity in itself is not evil it becomes evil because those doing it are not walking in the truth of God hence it is not sacred, but rebellion and iniquity. Much that is called worship and Christian service is in the same situation. That is why many will be cast out as workers of iniquity as we are taught in Matthew 7.
We are called to be one, but we are not because of the immaturity of Christians that have allowed themselves to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine and deceitful men. There should not be denominations or even non-denominations. There should be one church with one Lord, one faith, one baptism and thus one truth. There should not be six Christians with thirteen opinions. They should have one truth on all things. Instead, we have itching ears and numerous doctrines. Some are doctrines of immaturity or ignorance thus doctrines of men and some are doctrines of devils. Are you mature enough to discern the difference? Sound doctrine is essential to spiritual growth and maturity, but experience and a false definition and practice of grace is paramount in current Church life.

John 16:12-14
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. KJV

Paul had to say the same thing as Christ did in verse 12 to the believers in Hebrews 5. Those folks should have been mature enough to be teachers eating meat and serving it to other saints. Yet, Paul had to send them back to milk as they had not learned how to discern good from evil. They were immature. Spiritual babes in the bodies of adults attempting to lead other babies just as we see today.
Pilate asked what is truth and it would appear that God’s people do not know. This passage in John has intrigued me for many, many years. If the Church is meant to be the pillar and ground of truth then why are there so many pillars? It is because we are not listening to the Spirit for truth, but rather to men and our flesh.
God has raised up many men over the last two thousand years to draw people back to the truth when the majority has turned away just as He did with prophets to Israel. Yet, even in the time of the Apostles there were those who went out from us because they were not of us. Paul said that there must needs be divisions so that the approved would stand out. Therefore true and complete unity will not happen until Jesus returns and straightens us all out in all things. Yet, why do we not work on getting it a bit easier for Him to do rather than making it harder? We may never achieve perfect unity with a clear line of demarcation between the wheat and tares or sheep and goats, but we should be striving for that goal.
It is because we are immature and carnal listening to men and our own flesh rather than the Word and the Spirit. The Spirit was sent to lead us into ALL truth not essential and non-essential truths. If God has spoken to something how can we call it non-essential. Non-essential for salvation, maybe, but it is still all about us, not the mission, that makes us focus only on salvation. God could have written a much thinner Book with a very brief systematic theology if all that was necessary were the things that pertained to soteriology.
We are still unable to bear the things the Spirit says because we are too immature to hear and accept truth. Why was the Spirit going to tell us the truth and of things to come? To glorify God, not ourselves or our specific group since there was never an intention for groups. Is Christ divided? Paul said no and yet, we the people of the Book and truth, are more divided than the carnal church at Corinth. That church is touted and loved by more groups today than any other and yet it was infantile, carnal and just plain fouled up. It had more problems than seemed imaginable with even an issue with immorality that the pagans found offensive. When you are doing something that even devil’s kids find offensive you are really a mess. Why the infatuation with this church? The same immaturity reigns today. It was all about them and their gifts and it is still the same today. Babies love the shiny and showy gifts whereas adults covet earnestly the best gifts and the better way.
The Spirit does not even speak of Himself, but is sent to glorify Christ. Just as Christ willingly humbled Himself and glorified the Father in His earthly ministry so now the Spirit humbles Himself in His earthly ministry to glorify the Son and through the Son the Father, though He is God and equal to both the Father and the Son. So when He receives of Christ and gives it to us how many versions of it does He give? Just one. You see, our philosophy in our fantasies like Highlander, is that there can be only one, but we tolerate and even promote diversities of theology though there is only one God, the three in One, who are unified in thought and practice. As God said in Ezekiel, we are unequal, not Him.
Is God tolerant of error? Sin is error and there is a Hell because of sin and a Cross to pay for sin so why do we suppose God would support a theology that says in essentials, unity and in non-essentials charity when to offend in one point of the Law was to offend in all? Grace and mercy abides and abounds, but that does not mean that God condones error. We may not go to Hell because of our immaturity and inability to hear truth and discern error, but we will lose rewards at the Bema for the actions or inaction that are the fruit of that immaturity but someone else may go to Hell because we were not able to lead them into truth or our actions or inaction denied or clouded the truth so that they could not see the light because of our shadows and gray areas.
So much of our ministry is in vain because God cannot empower us because we do not walk in truth and we cannot discern the truth because we are not mature. We expend a lot of energy and we may appear to have some great results yet we may find out in the end that all we had were a large gathering of tares with sickly sallow saints scattered among them. We are obviously in an age of apostasy that applauds Laodicean philosophy yet few seem to know it. They see money and buildings as proof of God’s blessing their machinations and programs. It should be easy to see from Scripture that such things are not proof, but an immature soul cannot see it.
We seem to be practicing building worship as we do not look at our churches who have twelve in attendance and wonder why when they once ran two hundred or more. I have been in a church that would seat four hundred that had twelve members. The parsonage was like Tara. Their interim pastor had been there four years and he was 80+. How did they know God was still working there? They had a $50K roofing bill that they had been able to pay and they were rejoicing in that. Does God care that much for buildings when we are the temple of the living God? I don’t think so.
There are many others that are not doing as well financially and their buildings are falling apart but the leadership will not sell it to a group that is growing and needs it. Neither will they find another church to merge with and sell the property so that the money could be used for missions. No, that church has been around for over a hundred years so it must continue. Really? None of the churches in Revelation endured so why should yours just because you have a building? Mature Christians would see that having all your resources go to maintain a building and maybe a pastor instead of ministry is bad stewardship.
They say that if something has been in your closet for more than a year and you have not worn it then you ought to give it away. What about a church that continues to shrink and is struggling financially for five or more years barely keeping the lights on? Weekly memorial services dwelling on what the church once did is not mature thinking. It is time to let go and move on. The split was years ago and no one knows why so merge asking God to revive both groups and move among them. One town with five churches of like faith is silly. Four are redundant and most likely built because some immature people could not get along or some immature preachers did not see a viable church in town because they were not of their camp or college. It is time to grow up as we live in perilous times when we need unity more than ever. One church with two hundred can do more than five with forty while giving less reasons for the enemies of God to blaspheme.
People are going to Hell. Is your immaturity helping them miss the Cross? Saints are hurting. Is you immaturity causing the hurt? Does it keep you from helping them? Are you wasting God’s gifts on a dead building instead of being a lively stone edifying people? Is it all about you or is it about Christ? Are you more in love with your dirty dozen list or your supposed liberty than you are with Christ? Can you ditch your camp or school and reach out to merge for the glory of God? What a powerful testimony that would be to the unbelieving community. Will you seek to be mature, my brethren? It is our calling to be mature sons and daughters of God. May we answer that calling soon! Maranatha!!!