Maturing in the Christian Faith

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Monday, January 26th, 2015 by Jenny Thompson

Introduction

Just as newborn babies can only tolerate milk at first, as they grow and mature they are able to digest solid food. So it is similar to our Christian growth! At first we can only cope with the milk of God’s Word but as we mature, we are ready for the meat of the Word. So today we are looking at the very beautiful combination of the Psalmist who loves the truth and freedom that the Word of God brings to him, and the Apostle Paul who longs that the believers in Colossae mature in their understanding of Christ and are therefore able to recognise and refute false teaching that had been infiltrating the church.

We live in a society today that pretty much says it does not matter what you believe, each to his or her own, yet increasingly we are finding that the Christian Faith is being challenged! So actually what we believe and why we believe what we do is of paramount importance to us!

Psalm 119:41-56
The Psalmist in Psalm 119:41-48 seeks God’s precepts (teaching), but why?
This section of Psalm 119 gives several reasons for his trust in God’s Word. God&rsquo’s mercies and salvation come to him through the Word of God and they give him an answer to those who come against him. Also, the Law of God gives him liberty and helps him to speak of God’s testimonies before kings without being ashamed. This reveals to us the absolute love of God, security in His Word and total confidence in His Word that the psalmist has!
Do our lives and actions reflect this? As Christians today we are so blessed to have the Word of God to read and study. Everything we know about the Christian life is revealed to us in the pages of the Bible. We learn of our need for salvation and God’s miraculous provision of eternal life by trusting in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Even though many around us do not believe this Word, the Bible gives us answers to their reproaches. Obedience to God’s Word gives us liberty! We are no longer slaves to sin, but we walk in the freedom of Christ.

The Psalmist in Psalm 119:49-56 remembers God’s judgements of old. So the theme here is remembering! What do we remember, and how does it help us?
It’s always a good idea to reflect back on our lives and remember how the Lord has helped us in the past. This will help us to trust Him for today and tomorrow. Life is a great schoolteacher. So by consciously remembering, this helps us to learn the lessons we need to know. The Psalmist here finds comfort in affliction because God’s Word has given him life.

Even though he struggles with the ungodly all around him, he remembers God’s Word and is comforted. Finally, he remembers the name of God in the night. Did he suffer with insomnia? Of course we do not know. However what we do know is that his life was very much lived with God and in His Word. I wonder how many times we struggle needlessly as Christians because we don’t take the time to read, study, and chew upon God’s Word. The Bible is so incredibly remarkable. Everything we need for life and Godliness is found within its pages.

Colossians 1:24-2:7
Here we see Paul writing to the church at Colossae, most of whom he had never met! What a great pastoral heart he had for the believers! Paul taught here clearly that Jesus suffered and died on the cross. He died to forgive our sins. Christ completed his work on the cross. He said, “I have finished it” (John 19:30). There is nothing more that needs to be added or taken away from this glorious Gospel. Paul speaks of suffering, but this refers to the suffering that we have to face as Christians.
Oh we don’t want to think about suffering do we? No, we want the blessings of Christ to pour down upon us! Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He was suffering because he preached the gospel. Yet he was happy to suffer because of the gospel. Really! Yes!

Paul was serving the church as an apostle he had told the Colossians the complete message about the gospel. they did not need the secret information that the false teachers pretended to possess. In the past, God had not told people the complete message. The Jews had the part of the Bible that we call the Old Testament. They could read about some of God’s plan. They thought that His plan was only for Jews. But God showed His complete plan when Jesus came. The wonderful truth is that Jesus lives by His Spirit in all who receive Him, regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles. This must have been quite a shock to Paul as increasingly the Jews rejected the Gospel and the Gentiles embraced the Gospel.

Paul also taught the Christians how to become mature in the faith. He did not want them to remain baby Christians but to grow in their understanding of Christ and his word. the false teachers declared that they had secret wisdom and power. but true wisdom comes only from god and he helps us to know Christ more. Today there is still false teaching infiltrating the Church! The more we grow and mature in Him the more equipped we will be to recognize this and oppose it.
NOTE Some of us may be asking what is false teaching? In a nutshell:- False Teaching seeks to undermine the person and work of Christ and the sufficiency of the salvation believers have in Him.

Clearly then Paul wanted each person and each church to be mature. Paul had already praised the Christians at Colossae because they loved each other. They also needed to know and to believe the complete truth about Christ. Therefore they did not need the secret knowledge and wisdom that these false teachers said they needed. We have Christ, the Holy Spirit and His Word. His work on the cross is complete. We need nothing more!

Paul used picture language to help the believers understand. He spoke of a tree growing roots that fix deep into the ground. We cannot pull up the tree; it is strong. So even though the storm rages, it cannot blow it over. When people become Christians, they are to fix their lives deep into Christ. Therefore no matter what storm may blow they are still rooted and grounded in Christ. This was Paul’s heart for all believers!
Do our roots go down deep in Him? So Paul hoped his letter would establish a closer relationship between himself and the Colossians (most of whom he had never met), in order to help deliver them from the captivity of the “philosophy” prevalent among them.

Paul spoke of a ‘mystery’. In Paul’s vocabulary, ‘mystery’ refers to what once was hidden, or something which was concealed, but now has been revealed. Abraham was the ‘father of many nations’ who himself was called out of a Gentile country, the ‘Ur of the Chaldeans’. Although this was spoken of many times in Scripture its full reality remained partially hidden until the New Testament. The Old Testament spoke only in shadows and signs, and hints of a day when God would bring the Gentiles into the kingdom of God through the Messiah Jesus Christ. The incarnation and death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the later birth of the Church and accompanying gifts of the Spirit, reveal to the Lord’s people God’s ultimate purpose and plan. We are recipients of this today. How wonderful! Paul proclaimed one thing – “Him”. May we emulate this great Apostle.

Do you think Paul had an easy job as an Apostle?
No he had to work really hard, but He was empowered through the Holy Spirit, just as we are. He was not afraid of hard work, and often spoke about labouring, struggling, running the race and putting on the whole armour of God in his epistles, when referring to serving Christ. “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God”. 1 Thessalonians 2:9

  • John Wesley rode sixty to seventy miles many days of his life and preached an average of three sermons a day, whether he was riding or not.
  • G. Campbell Morgan kept a newspaper clipping for twenty years, entitled “Sheer Hard Work”, and said, “What is true of the minister is true of every man who bears the name of Christ. We have not begun to touch the great business of salvation when we have sung, ‘Rescue the perishing, care for the dying’. We have not entered into the business of evangelizing the city or the world until we have put our own lives into the business, our own immediate physical endeavour, inspired by spiritual devotion”

I am not suggesting that we burn ourselves out! We need to make sure that we are doing what He asks of us and He will strengthen us and equip us just as He did Paul. So Paul’s ministerial drive is a model for us all. We will never have an authentic ministry unless we are willing to work hard.

May the Lord rekindle within us all a passion for His Word, may we mature in Him and His Word so that we can more readily recognise and refute false teaching among us and may we work for Him with all that we have and are, in Jesus name.
Amen.

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