Summary: God’s plan for your life is that you grow to spiritual maturity.
The United States women’s softball team won the gold medal in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games. They lost only one game. In the fifth inning against Australia, Danielle Tyler hit a home run over the centerfield fence. When she was greeted by a swarm of teammates at home plate, the excitement distracted her and she failed to step on home plate. When all of the yelling subsided, the Australian team quietly appealed to the umpire who dramatically called Tyler out. Rather than scoring a run, Tyler’s blast over the fence netted her team an out. As it ended up, had she stepped on home plate, her team would have won 1-0. Instead, after seven innings of regulation play the game was tied at 0-0. In extra innings, Australia emerged with a 2-1 win and the U.S. team took their only loss of the Olympics. It’s not enough to hit a ball into the seats; you have to touch all of the bases as well.
In the Christian life, God wants us to touch all the bases. After we put our trust in Christ for salvation, God doesn’t want us to stay at the same spiritual level. He expects us to make spiritual progress—to touch all the bases.
Read Colossians 1:24-2:5
“We proclaim [Christ], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
“Perfect” = Complete, Mature, Full Grown
“Perfect” does not mean sinless perfection. Curtis Vaughn writes that “perfect” refers to the proper end of one’s existence.
“Everyone” – God’s plan is for every believer to reach spiritual maturity.
Spiritual Maturity = Christlikeness
Christ doesn’t simply want followers; He wants FULLY DEVOTED followers.
ILLUSTRATION: God is not content with us merely joining His family and not maturing. I am happy that my two sons were born, but I would not be happy if they did not mature.
Missionary E. Stanley Jones once asked Gandhi how Christianity could be more acceptable in India. Gandhi’s response was, “I would suggest, first, that all of you Christians…begin to live more like Jesus Christ.”
The goal (mission) of Paul’s ministry was to lead people to trust in Christ and teach them to grow to spiritual maturity. This was Epaphras’s desire for the Colossians. “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Col. 4:12).
Many verses in Scripture teach that followers of Christ should strive for spiritual maturity:
• “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).
• “It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).
• “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
• “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29).
• “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20a).
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) = SALVATION + SPIRITUAL MATURITY
What does a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ look like?
I. God wants you to become a GENUINE follower of Christ.
A. He wants you to turn from your sin.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
B. He wants you to put your trust in Christ for forgiveness and eternal life.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
II. God wants you to become a GROWING follower of Christ.
A. He wants you to demonstrate your commitment to Christ by being BAPTIZED.
B. He wants you to show your commitment to other believers by joining the MEMBERSHIP of a church.
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
C. He wants you to regularly meet for worship and instruction with other believers.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Heb. 10:25).
D. He wants you to possess an increasing knowledge of the Bible, which you apply to your life.