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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Call to Spiritual Maturity

Preface to: "For God's Sake Grow Up" (by David Revenhill)

We might as well face it: If the Church could be compared to an airline, many customers would hesitate to fly. Our standards are low; our safety record is dismal. We allow almost anyone in the cockpit, whether or not he or she is qualified.

When these "pilots" are forced to ditch their planes, unfortunately, it's usually the passengers who suffer the most. Some manage to walk away with minor problems. Others join the growing list of victims who never recover from their injuries.

Called, Conformed, Commissioned

The leadership qualifications listed in First Timothy 3 for bishops, deacons, and their families seem to have little to do with the fact that an individual has a "calling" to fly. The divine calling and gifting of God are, of course, essential but, alone, they are insufficient. We can destroy with an immature, undeveloped character the very ministry we built with our gifts and calling. Without character, ultimately we self-destruct.

All too often we hear of spiritual leaders who, through claiming to be filled with the Spirit of God, had to step down due to marital unfaithfulness, financial wrongdoing, or some other ethical failure. Why? One of the major mistakes in the Church today has been the exaltation of natural abilities and spiritual gifts at the expense of godly character.

By "character" I mean conformity to Christ's image. You see, the Greek word charakter  is derived from the word die as in minting. It carries the thought of image, coinage, copy, or likeness. God is particular about whom He chooses. He is looking for men and women of maturity and beauty of character.

God first begins by calling: "Come, follow Me ..." Then He continues with His conforming: "...And I will make you." He ends  with His commissioning:  "Go ye." However, many mistake His calling for His commissioning.

For example, as a young man, Moses knew the calling of God: "he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand" (Acts 7:25). It wasn't until some 40 years had passed, during which time God was working to "conform" Moses, that he was "commissioned."

Similarly, Jesus, as a young boy, knew His calling was to be about His Father's business. During the ensuing years, He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man - His conforming. Then at the age of 30, Jesus was commissioned by the Father: The Spirit of God was sent to rest upon Him.

Calling is not enough. Commissioning is not enough. We must be conformed to the image of Christ.

Our heavenly Father's goal is that:

--- we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 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 of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according the the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:13-16).

Key Issues Confronting the Church Today

This book wasn't designed to be a complete or comprehensive manual on Christian maturity. Neither was it designed strictly for persons behind the pulpit, for all believers are called to do the work of the ministry. Rather, I've divided the book into sections focusing on what I believe to be some of the key issues facing the individual believer and the Church as a whole in our day.

The first section, Laying a Firm Foundation, provides instruction on growing in God, understanding and serving God's purpose, increasing our desire for God, learning the fear of the Lord, and conforming to His character.

The second section, Preparing for Ministry,  examines several vital principles that need to be operating in a believer's life before he or she is fully equipped to step out in ministry, for Scripture indicates that leaders carry not only increased responsibility, but also increased accountability. Therefore, this section examines the moral and spiritual requirements for leadership, gleaning lessons from the lives of leaders such as Moses, Joshua, Abraham, and David. We also examine our privileges and responsibilities as kings and priests.

The final section, Fulfilling Your Vision, describes how we're to function as mature saints, participating in both sacrifice and service in God's royal priesthood through intercession, celebration, and proclamation. Here, we confront the ongoing battle between good and evil in the spiritual realm. We see the necessity of waging spiritual warfare.

Our Challenge

These are serious times. God's Church must be mature. It must be prepared and equipped. The Lord is sending out a summons even now for believers to enroll in His school of the Spirit. The summer of our childhood is over. It's time to take our places at His feet, open the tablets of our hearts, and say: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth." It's time to grow up.

~David Ravenhill~

This is the preface of his book: "For God's Sake Grow Up!"  This book is one of the most important books we can read today concerning the immaturity, the stagnation, and the low results of our modern churches. This book is not written in a condemning way but, in a way pleasing to our beings. And this book gives us plenty to think about - if we desire to see our churches become what they should be - what Christ desires them to be.  David Ravenhill is just one of many, many ministers who sees what is coming. He seeks us to pray for revival (the real kind, worldwide kind, Christ's own kind). David sees millions going to hell unless the church responds with the proper self-cleansing of its worldly ways, it's humanistic ways, it's Hollywood inspired ways, and gets back to what God demands of His churches and His commands for us. I thank David for giving me written permission to use various materials from his work!

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