By: Charles Grisham
MATURITY (Fathers) PHASE III
A. ASSURANCE – Matthew 24:35
B. PERFECTION – Titus 2:11-12
C. PEACE WITH OTHERS – Matthew 5:9
D. GIFT OF FAITH – I Corinthians 12:9
E. ENDURING SALVATION – Matthew 10:22
MATURITY ————————————ASSURANCE OF TRUTH
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but by words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35.
We have discovered that it was truth that made us free and that if we continue in His word and truth we are disciples indeed. (John
8:31-32) and (John 15:7). However in the times of testing the true disciple must prove his armor through endurance. This alone can bring ASSURANCE OF TRUTH. God stands ready at all times to keep His word — to prove His word to give assurance.
I. MATURITY – ENDURING HARDNESS
One of the earmarks of a maturing disciple is that of being able to remain assured over a period of time. A real warrior of the cross learns well that life is not a single mountain, but rather a whole mountain range. The girdle of truth will be proven in many of life’s struggles.
It is well to remember that truth never enjoys the privilege of choosing its own battleground. It simply goes anywhere that truth is challenged. The assurance of truth is affirmed and confirmed time and time again on countless battlegrounds of spiritual conflict.
Paul instructed Timothy “Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier” (II Timothy 2:3). The continuing assurance that the girdle of truth stands true is necessary from the experience of a child to that of a mature Christian.
II. ASSURANCE — IN TIME OF AFFLICTION
Maturity expresses itself in times of affliction. Satan often attacks us at our strong points as well as the weak ones. Holy Scripture teaches us in Psalm 34:19; “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Paul was able to call his affliction light in encouraging the Corinthians. His words were those of continuing assurance when he said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. Mature disciples with abiding and continuing assurance of truth are able to see farther and further than immature babes in Christ. It is their testimony, stability, and unshakable confidence that lends assurance to those of lesser understanding and maturity.
III. ASSURANCE OF GOD’S WATCHFULNESS
The mature disciple knows well that truth is constant; it is not wavering. As the girdle lends stability to the fully armed warrior, it provides mobility for the attack into unconquered areas of conquest. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (II Chronicles 16:9). God is ever watching and in his programmed greatness on behalf of each disciple, he has already selected the next place of victory for us. He stands ready to assure us and to continually reassure us of his watchfulness. He does not want us to be tossed to and fro by any condition. His word which abides in us tells us that He has given His angels charge over us. (Psalms 91:11).
IV. CONTINUING SIGNS OF — ASSURANCE
One of the best signs of maturity is the fruit that follows a mature disciple. Mature believers are divinely endowed with the ability to reproduce themselves in the lives of others. True discipleship is not the communication of knowledge, but a communication of life. Jesus said, “The word I have spoken unto you, the language I speak to you, is not a letter word in language: it is life; it is spirit. Paul made disciples by living a life that taught others how to live. He said, “You must be like me, imitators of me.” How necessary it is that maturity be evident and apparent. Without it we would be void of a reference point for continuing faith. True Discipleship is not talking but living.
Paul in his first epistle to the Thessalonians stated; “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us
and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. (I Thessalonians 1:5-8). True discipleship results in begetting other true disciples. This is the continuing pattern of a vibrant follower – leader relationship.
ASSURANCE begets its counterpart. Mark 16:15 says: “These signs shall follow them that believe — A mature believer will not be content with a historical God. He serves a God of the NOW; a God of much assurance, and the disciples he begets will equate the written promises to NOW situations.
WE SERVE A NOW GOD OF MUCH ASSURANCE!
MATURITY —————- PERFECTION ————– IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly
lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2:11-12) “Having therefore promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1-2).
In the preceding lesson, we were told much about sanctification, the purpose of grace, and the need for being separate from the world and remaining separate and apart from everything that “smacks” of sin and unrighteousness. In this area of discipleship, we learn so much that is needful if we are to “go on to perfection”. A study of Jesus’ life reveals three ways in which he so capably taught and discipled men to himself; information, formation, and revelation. Perfection in righteousness is a process that involves a lifetime; no matter what the lifespan may represent.
In the process of informational teaching we learn how angels failed, man failed, and holy scripture declared; “There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10) Man in his hopeless plight had no righteousness to perfect, for all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah
64:6). Therefore through the sacrifice at Calvary, now, God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” (Romans 4: 6-7). In the bright light of His righteousness and His holiness, we are able to discern the areas of our lives that need perfection to attain the maturity in righteousness that is required of a real disciple. The breastplate of righteousness is more than an initial garment of armor. It is a continuing covering that we remain robed or wrapped in His righteousness. It is the covering we must maintain.
Jesus favorite method of teaching his disciples was through formation. Formation comes not by telling people things they should know, but by commanding them to do specific things. The loose life that is displayed among many so-called Christians of this world would lead one to believe that God issued “TEN SUGGESTIONS” through his mouthpiece, Moses. Before perfection in righteousness can be attained; before maturity and perfection is a reality; a FORMATION of absolutes must take place. The Lordship of Christ must take place and the unholy mixture of earlier days must be shed in the light of his redemptive power and grace. “When I was a child” speaks of immaturity…imperfection. But now Lord, “I will”, springs from the lips and heart of one who is experiencing maturity…perfection in righteousness. So many consecrations, dedications, and rededication mark the pathway of a growing saint of God. Holiness is the highest attribute of our God…”Holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
III. FORMATION BY SUBMISSION:
Here is the first law of discipleship. To be perfected we must be willing to submit to His perfection in righteousness. There’s no other way. Submission means submission, and nothing less. Once we choose to follow our Lord we are immediately on a charted course of progressive perfecting. Continued righteousness imputed through faith in His shed blood as we grow and mature and have His very life growing in us.
IV. FORMATION BY AUTHORITY:
The second law of discipleship is: one cannot submit to a person who is himself unsubmitted. You control your disciples…but who controls you? You rebuke your disciples…but who rebukes you? Paul told the Ephesians: “And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors, and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) There is a divine authority that must be adhered to in order to achieve perfection in the righteousness of God.
When one starts out to serve the Lord he is in many cases totally unaware of the snares and traps that has filled his life’s pathway, Now as he grows and matures in Christ he is strangely conscious of those things that were heretofore unnoticed. He is now able and willing to…”lay aside every weight which doth so easily beset” (Hebrews 12:1). In so doing righteousness is perfected in his daily life and maturity is achieved.
MATURITY ——————————PEACE WITH OTHERS
“Follow peace with all men.” (Hebrews 12:14).
I. PEACE – MAKERS — MAKE PEACE
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” Everyone who lives upon the face of God’s earth should say amen to that statement penned by Matthew. Here again, we see that one who would make peace must have experienced peace. Those qualities of maturity that are apparent in a
peaceful disciple are amplified when he can be used to spread or multiply that peace in, among, and with his fellows. Peace could
well be defined as “harmony with the divine.” Several well-known painters and artists were asked to paint what in their minds was the greatest picture of peace. One painted a quiet green meadow with flowers, trees, sunshine, rippling brook, and serene appearance. Another painted the innocent, pure expression of a child who was untouched as yet by the world’s perplexities. However, the winning artist painted the picture of a small bird who was neath the shelter of a rock while a storm was raging, lightning flashing, thunder rolling, wind blowing, torrents falling; he whistled away in complete peace. What a picture of peace. Peacemakers simply make peace. They have found peace with God, peace has come to them personally and God is able to use them to make peace. They are able as mature disciples to … follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19).
II. PEACE MAKERS — MULTIPLY PEACE
Jesus was called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and we as His ambassadors are agents of peace. The very presence of a mature disciple should bring peace in any situation where frustration and doubts prevail. Many a seasoned veteran of the cross whose feet were shod with preparation of the gospel of peace has been used to bridge the gaps of human differences and reconcile those who were divided. We are called upon to literally become reconcilers. (One who can bring and make peace) Ambassadors of the Prince of Peace — “who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18-19). Jude when writing to the believers admonished them; “Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” (Jude 2nd
verse). It was his desire that this divine attribute be multiplied. But how could peace be multiplied? A maturing disciple can multiply peace by allowing “the peace of God” to flow from him into the lives of others with whom he is in contact. We are instructed, “If it be possible, as much as lieth within you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). We should as peacemakers, multiply peace and in so
doing … “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (I Timothy 2:2).
III. THE BOND OF PEACE:
Peacemakers are often used of God to be instruments…” to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3).
A bond is something that fastens, binds, or holds together. God is always in need of a mature one who will stand in the gap, or to
make up the hedge, to heal wounds, to reconcile differences. This is a remarkable sign of Christian maturity. One who can see
past present problems and circumstances. One who like Paul can say “nothing shall separate us,” (Romans 8:38). “we are more
than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). The Apostle James must have been such a peacemaker. It was he who was used mightily of God to settle a difference that had arisen in the church. (Acts 15:12). “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, men, and brethren hearken unto me.” He must surely have been a man identified with peace, settling differences; one who had in fact learned to quiet his
own spirit, This was no doubt an enabling factor to his influence in being a peacemaker. A TRUE MARK OF MATURITY! One to whom others will listen when the word peace is uttered.
MATURITY ———————————THE GIFT OF FAITH
“To another faith by the same Spirit”—(I Corinthians 12:9).
It is interesting to note that the shield of faith is of necessity mobile. It is called upon to move and be moved. Faith is not static. It must be moving. Faith is mentioned not only as one of the fruit of the Spirit, but also as one of the nine spiritual gifts of the spirit.
I. FAITH — A GIFT
With reference to the nine spiritual gifts we find faith listed among them. The word “”gifts” as mentioned in I Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren, I would not have you ignorant”; was supplied by the translators. In the original text it was simply, “Now concerning spirituals”… God certainly does not want his maturing disciples to be ignorant concerning His “Spirituals”, His special endowments. His “Gifts” or “Spirituals” are to perfect fruit in our lives. He instructs us through Paul’s writings to the Corinthians; “But covet earnestly the best gifts.” (I Corinthians 12:31). If there is a needed “gift” — “endowment”, or “Spiritual”, needed everywhere at all times it is most certainly the GIFT OF FAITH. A most outstanding quality that denotes maturity is one who is able to manifest faith, speak faith, and live by faith. Herein we see the catalyst that holds things together in times of despair, and the motivation that gives direction to
individuals, families and congregations of believers. If I were to seek for a gift; I believe it would be the GIFT OF FAITH!
II. THE GIFT OF FAITH — FOR GROWTH
Persons who possess the gift of faith are blessed with seeing bountiful yield in return for their efforts. The Bible says; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). A person who has received the gift of faith and uses it
regularly for the glory of God can accomplish much. Let us illustrate a simple fact. One may go to the seed shop to buy seed and upon arriving they will explore and survey the various packages of seed that are marked by pictures of what the end result will be
for the one who will buy the seed and plant the seed. In the package is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. The picture gives substance to faith. If the person who has faith in the seed and will dare to plant it and cultivate it; in only a few days that powerless looking seed has cracked open the ground and moves obstructions many times its size. Then in a short time what was visibly seen in picture form on the package has become reality. The blossom, the fruit and a manifold supply of seed to duplicate the process a thousand times.
IV. THE GIFT OF FAITH — FOR POWER
The scripture teaches us that … “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:9). All the nine spiritual gifts are operated by the self-same Spirit. The reason that more things are not accomplished in the realm of the supernatural is due to the lack of faith. MORE particularly the GIFT OF FAITH. Spiritual Gifts are operated by faith. Would to God there were more who would mature in faith and operate the GIFT OF FAITH. Kindly allow me to give you a helpful illustration. To everyone who has worked with farm machinery and implements you will recall that at the back of the tractor there is a “coupler” known as the “power – take-off.”
From the “power – take-off” all the various implements are operated to derive full benefit of what the tractor is designed to accomplish. The horsepower of the tractor is wasted unless the implements are all attached. The tractor can make noise, but do little more than make tracks without the proper implement. However, if the implement is attached, it can do the job it is designed for. BUT IT STILL TAKES A MAN TO OPERATE THE TRACTOR, AND GUIDE THE IMPLEMENT. The self-same “power – take-off” operates all the implements.
And so it is in the realm of the Spirit. God must have men to operate His gifts. His implements in the realm of the Spirit can accomplish more in a little time when faith is released than the finite mind can fathom. A tractor that is plowing need not tell anyone for it is
readily visible. Dust flying, fresh turned soil, etc. Likewise in the Spirit. “These signs shall follow them that believe.” How primitive it would be for a farmer to plow with human implements when a power source is available to accomplish so much more. And thus it is also true in the realm of the Spirit. We can accomplish so little with human limitations, but with the “implements of the Spirit” operated by clean mean with the gift of faith, much can be accomplished.
GOD GIVE US MORE WHO WILL MOVE WITH THE SPIRIT — and mature in FAITH!
MATURITY ———————————- ENDURING SALVATION
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22).
The steps we have covered are as follows:
1. Initial Salvation – (milk – children) – Forgiveness
2. Continuing Salvation – (meat – young men) – Overcoming “AND NOW IN THIS SESSION –
3. Enduring Salvation (maturity – fathers) – Assurance
I. THE TEST OF TIME:
The salvation we experienced at the new birth has stood the test of time. The maturing disciple will experience many opportunities to turn back, but the truth that originally entered by way of our head (salvation – helmet) has wrought a good work in our hearts and lives. Jesus said “if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you … Herein is my father glorified, that ye may bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:7). The truth that entered our being by means of our head must ever be shrouded and under the protection of the helmet of salvation. The minds of change are blowing fiercely in our world today. Mind-bending theories, religious philosophy packaged so deceivingly and cunningly that it sounds very true and real unless we stay ever in the truth. The occult, astrology, experimentation, false religious; must be kept out of the minds of a maturing disciple. It still takes old fashioned repentance, water baptism in Jesus Name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues to be saved. Guard Your Helmet of Salvation. In these
last days Peter said there would be “scoffers”, and that men would be “willingly ignorant.” (II Peter 3:35). Don’t let anyone “spoil you!” (Reference Colossians 2:8). Keep your mind stayed on Jesus. The way that the early church stayed on target was to continue “steadfastly in Apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42). Our founding fathers also followed this biblical pattern. A continuing salvation will ultimately prove to be an enduring salvation. Commitment, Submission, a daily cross, a
following, a goal; this is the salvation that will endure. An enduring salvation will not allow the pure gospel to be perverted. Paul said; “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9).
II. OUR HEAD
At physical birth a mother takes particular care for the well being of a baby. Its head is protected and guarded from bumps, bruises, etc. The reason being, it is vulnerable. Likewise her concern is reflected by the way she protects the child from intellectual injury and harm as its young mind is so pliable and will accept bad things it hears as facts. To spiritually apply this thought we also notice now vulnerable a newborn one can be to error and wrong concepts. This is where able mature disciples must really shine as continuing and maturing examples. Take note that the Greek words for GOSPEL – AND – PREACH are the same in the noun and the verb form. Also be reminded
that the Greek words for DOCTRINE – AND – TEACH are the same in the noun and verb form. Therefore, from the standpoint of the
ministry the gospel must be preached while the doctrine must be taught. From the recipient’s viewpoint the gospel is believed and obeyed unto salvation while the doctrine has to be learned. A maturing disciple is always in the process of learning; even while he is teaching others by his words and Christian example. A maturing— enduring disciple is always on the growing edge of truth. The same truth that made him free is keeping him free of all the laws of sin and death.
III. CHRIST OUR HEAD
A mature Christian disciple knows well that Christ is our head. He is our rock; He is our salvation. It is under his direction we endure. “The head of every man is Christ.” (I Corinthians 11:31. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:26). It’s all in Him — the fullness of the Godhead it’s all in Him, as the old hymn of the church declares. (Reference Colossians 2:9). He will lead – guide, guard, direct, nourish, and feed us as we endure and go on to perfection. Paul was willing to suffer for His name’s sake. He had enduring salvation. The words of his admonition to Timothy ring down through the corridors of time: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have
committed to Him against that day. (II Corinthians 1:12). Oh Hallelujah! This is a “know-so” salvation that has been tried in every possible way and circumstance. Students you can take courage that these are those who have preceded you who have tested it and proved it beyond shadow of doubt. You may walk confident that your salvation shall endure!