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Sunday, 11 October 2009

Wayne's World...(10Oct09)

 
Maturity
 
Wayne Duncan 
 
How do we mature as Christians?
 
Hebrews 5v12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic
principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13for everyone who lives on milk is
unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for
those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from
evil.
 
The bible calls those who do not understand the word of righteousness children. The KJV says "he is a babe".
 
The NIV says
13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about
righteousness
 
The NIV say that not being acquainted with the teaching about righteousness, means you are still an infant.
 
Here  we see that maturity comes to a believer in the skill of understanding the word of righteousness.
 
So if maturity comes by this, what is the word of righteousness? If avoiding infancy, and being an immature babe is linked to this teaching and word of righteousness, then it becomes of highest importance that we become acquainted with this teaching as to avoid becoming dwarfed and stunted and immature in our Christianity.
 
So lets look at this word here in the original Greek.
 
Righteousness
 
Here we see that righteousness is related to our character and our justification.
 
It's interesting to note that justification and righteousness are used interchangeable in the bible. And the Greek synonym for justification is righteousness, and the synonym for righteousness is justification, check it out.
 
Justification
Righteousness
 
Greek
G1344δικαιόωdikaioō
dik-ah-yo'-o
From G1342; to render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent: - free, justify (-ier), be righteous.
G1343δικαιοσύνηdikaiosunē
dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay
From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: - righteousness.
 
The essence of justification and righteousness is this. Justification has to do with the removal of our sin, resulting in our innocence. This places us in right standing with God.
 
Where there is justification, the result is righteousness. Where there is righteousness it is due to the presence of justification.
 
So understanding justification and the resulting right standing with God is the teaching that Paul insists is necessary in order to be mature.
 
Ok so how does justification and righteousness work?
 
It's actually very easy.
 
When we believe in Jesus we are justified and declared righteous as a gift.
 
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
 
When we place our faith in Jesus, we freely by grace receive Justification, and this is now our position in which we now stand.
 
Justification is just as if id.
 
Just as if I had never sinned. With the removal of the obstacle of sin, there is no  longer and division or separation between me and God. Through faith and trust in Jesus he presents us:
 
Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his
 
sight, without blemish and free from accusation--
 
We are reconciled to God and holy blameless and without blemish or accusation before Him.
 
This is our permanent position. We cannot earn this. It is a gift.
 
Romans 5 receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man
 
Jesus Christ.
 
Romans 4 says its apart from works.
 
This understanding about our relationship towards God is pivotal in becoming mature. We do not have to work for right standing, we do not have to obey the law for right standing. The only thing needed is to believe in Jesus. Any effort to be in right standing with God apart from this is moving away from maturity.
 
Not understanding our perfect position before Him, leads to much useless effort. It leads to crippling condemnation. All this is a curse that binds us up, and we do not grow or mature. Knowing and believing we are in right standing with God through simple faith in Jesus, accelerates growth and we move into maturity.
 
 
2) The second avenue to maturity.
 
Ephesians 4v11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12to equip the
saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of
the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,to the measure of the stature
of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, 16from 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.
 
Here we see a number of key ingredients that will bring us into maturity.
 
We see the 5 grace gifts. Apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists.
 
Here Paul says exposure to these gifts breeds maturity.
 
Exposure to the 5 gifts does various things:
 
It equips the saints for the work of the ministry
 
It builds up the local body.
 
It brings unity in the faith.
 
It builds our knowledge of the son.
 
It makes us mature.
 
The gifts protect us from being children tossed to and from bad doctrine, and schemes of man.
 
Instead these things help us grow up.
 
The 5 gifts are no there essentially to serve you. But to equip you, so you can serve.
 
Please know and understand that your pastor cannot mature you. I cannot bring you to maturity! I do not have all it takes to bring you to maturity. But I can expose you to a range of gifting, and create the environment where you can grow and mature, and then play my role in that maturing process.
 
So we take seriously the role of exposing this local body, which you are in, to then wider gifting profile. Thats why we get in Rob and Fini. That's why Ant and Les come. We had Dane, and Bertie, and Craig and Dawn. Martin and Shirley Burndt. Why? To expose you to a wider scope of gifting, to bring among other things maturity.
 
It goes even deeper than that. There is partnership. We partner with these other churches. We are standing together and working and growing together. We are helping each other with our churches.
 
We are serving each others churches. We are part of more than just a local church.
 
There has been a lot of misunderstanding about church leadership.
 
Who leads a local church? Yes Jesus is building his church but which people does he use. Here is a statement that might rock your world of church understanding. The pastor does not lead the church. In a church there are some who will have a gift of pasturing. What is a person who has the gift of caring, and shepherding people? That is a pastor. Ok, here it is. A church is lead by a team of leaders. Biblically it is elders who direct the affairs of the local church. A team of elders is the ideal biblical picture.
 
On that team it's good to have pastors. Others can also be pastors. Home group leaders are also pastors.
 
Usually what happens it that a body looks to one person to be the pastor and leader of a church. That one person is seen to be responsible for the preachning and teaching. He is seen to be responsible for doing all the accounts and banking, and book keeping. He is seen to be the one who visits the sick, feeds the poor. He is seen as the one who must meet very need in the church. Thats all fine but let me ask you a few questions. What if that person is a terrible leader, how well will he lead the church, and who will suffer?
 
There are two main reasons that churches has one pastor.
 
1)    The in church history the priest was there to communicate the religious organisations decisions to the public. They were told what to believe, what to preach, and how to conduct a service. You only need one person one priest to do that.
 
2)    The second reason why many churches have one pastor is that one person like to have all the power and call all the shots.
 
Both of these reasons are dangerous, and open a door for hurt in the local church.
 
The pastor mentality has done a lot of damage over the years.
 
What if the pastor is actually primarily a prophet, how will this effect his pasturing? What if he is clueless at teaching, or a terrible preacher.
 
You could be a superb teacher, but a terrible pastor. You could be a talented counsellor and lover, but a terrible preacher.
 
A person could be able to  preach up a storm, but be terrible at uncovering the prophetic direction for a church.
 
Apostles have a gift to build and establish churches. A person could be a fantastic church planter built for expanding, and establishing churches. Make this person a permanent pastor over a community for the rest of His life, and he would be very frustrated, how will this effect His pasturing?
 
Every time a person shows the calling of God on their lives, they are made a pastor and given a church, but are they called to lead a church?
 
Are all people who lead churches good with finances and financial decisions? We need transparency and accountability and a team of responsible people involved in finances, so the pastors son does not get a motorbike when the offering is a good one.
 
If the pastor does not have a dynamic heart for the lost, as an evangelist does, the church can become very inward focussed. If the leader is an evangelist, sometimes everything about the church becomes about reaching out.
 
So Gods way is a team of elders, with a spread of gifting. Then we release people to be who they are. When we have leaders here, we want them to be who they are, we believe this is for your benefit as a body. The best gift anyone can be is to be their authentic self.
 
This also builds away from the guru mentality. This builds a wider team of people who can all minister. This positions a church for long term success, and a stable succession of leaders over decades.
 
When a leader of a church moves on, there is no tragedy, for the body is not solely dependent on that one person.
 
So we see a team of elders with a scope of anointing. Some churches have the most gifted leaders, but they are in row 8, coming as spectators to church every week. Release them, and watch them as well as the church come into maturity.
 
Then there is also the apostolic input. People who have an anointing to accelerate churches into a preferable future.
 
If you spend time with some guys, your church will change, and be influenced. That is the apostolic gift. Apostles make sure the presence of God is in a church, and ensure that the doctrine is correct.
 
They never override the local eldership, or it becomes a denomination.
 
 This is why partnership is so essential. Local churches need to embrace apostolic gifting, as well as share the gifting they have.
 
So we enjoyed Rob, Fini and Isi, Ant and Les, Brad etc..but do you realise that there was a cost involved in them being here. Not just financially, but another cost.
 
There local church had to release them. In order for us to receive the blessing of their gift, the local church had to release them to minister.
 
On this elder team and in this church we have all the gifts operating. We need them released in full measure in the body. We also need to release them to the churches we partner with. But don't worry, next time, we will be receiving from them! This is partnership.
 
But we see it's not just the 5 gifts that build a local body. There is also every believers role.
 
We see the body
 
when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
 
When we are serving each other, when we are using our gifts for one another, we release growth over others.
 
So we have a role to play in each others growth and maturity.
 
Every one of us play a role in encouraging each other. Some may say "but I have nothing to offer". Do you know there is one thing we can all do to encourage each other?
 
Hebrew 10v24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet
together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day
drawing near
 
Ok here it is, this is what every believer can do to encourage another. Meet together. When we meet we encourage. Your very presence here today is encouraging to me, and to others.
 
Now that you are here, who knows what may happen to you or through you.
 
You could have a life altering revelation.
 
You may encounter Him in powerful or new ways.
 
You may receive a life changing word. You may give a life changing word. He may use you to bring a vision, or picture.
 
He has gifted every one in some way. You could hug someone. You could make a visitor feel welcome, and so they come again.
 
You can bring joy to worship, and encourage us to join your freedom. You could encourage the preacher. You could pray fro someone's need.
 
How to make the most of a meeting, and so grow and mature.
 
1)    Arrive
 
2)    Be ready to give who you are
 
3)    Receive
 
Being part of a local body, brings a person into maturity. It's where we learn to use our gifts. It's where we discover what they are. It's where we receive encouragement and ministry. It's a place of revelation, encounters and transformation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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