Summary: This sermon casts the vision for a spiritually mature church and mature Christians.
We recently completed a series on Growing in Faith. If we are to grow in our faith, then we, the church, are to provide opportunities and an environment for people to grow. We are to be Growing People for Jesus.
Growth is common metaphor used in the New Testament – 47 times.
One thing is for certain, the Christian life is not to be stagnant. If God’s people are growing into Christ-likeness, then God’s church will continue to grow as well.
This passage from Ephesians gives us a wonderful picture of a spiritually mature church. Let’s see what it looks like.
A purpose of the church is to encourage growth among its members.
11He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ…
Underline gave these gifts to the church.
Have the teachers stand. These people are gifts to you. They are to help you grow in your knowledge of God and your trust in Jesus.
Have the church leaders to stand. The responsibility of these people is to encourage you, resource you, and, at times, challenge you to grow in your love of God and your neighbor.
When the church leadership fulfills its responsibility, the members grow to spiritual maturity.
Why would we want a spiritually mature church?
What does a spiritually mature church look like?
1. There is unity in purpose and direction.
13until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
Circle the words mature and full grown.
Unity is a sign of a spiritual mature church. A church that is unified is strong and healthy because everyone is headed in the same direction. Everyone has the same purpose in mind.
When a church is unified, its members are more concerned with the church’s purpose and direction than about their own agendas.
Spiritually mature people ask what’s best for the church rather than what do I want? Spiritually mature people seek Jesus’ vision for the church rather than their own.
Underline measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
Jesus is the standard by which are to measure ourselves. He is the example of maturity we are to emulate.
2. There is intentional discipleship taking place.
14Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Underline in verse 15 the phrase "we hold to the truth in love and becoming more like and more in every way like Christ."
Followers of Jesus must become disciples. Disciples are those who fully accept Jesus as their Lord and Master.
Too often, churches leave spiritual growth up to the individual. The main reason people aren’t growing in Christ is because there is not an intentional discipleship process in place.
Why would we want to participate in a discipleship process?
As people grow in the Lord, they feel secure in their relationship with Jesus.
Look at verse 14. As people grow in the Lord, they become more secure in their faith. They are able to discern teachings that aren’t true. They trust Jesus to guide them and to provide for them.
Growing Christians develop strong convictions about faith.
Here is the difference between an opinion and a conviction.
Opinion – something you’ll argue about
Conviction – something you’ll die for
As we grow in the Lord, our convictions become more absolute. Also, our convictions are rooted in Jesus.
Growing Christians produce a strong, healthy church.
3. A spiritually mature church is obedient to Jesus.
16Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly.
Paul wrote in verse 15 that Jesus is the head of he church. We say this, but do we really live it out? Do we make all our decisions after prayerfully carrying them before the Lord? Do our actions and plans fulfill his purpose for Bellevue United Methodist Church?
When we follow Jesus obediently, then he will bring about a unity that fits the church together. Every person has a place and a ministry. Every person has certain abilities and spiritual gifts that can be used to serve the Lord and the church.
Look again at verses 11-12.
11He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ...