Act Like Men

Act Like Men

Satan delights in denigrating what God created as good. It has always been God’s plan for his Church to possess a certain masculinity in leadership and that masculinity flows into the general membership as well. One of the depressing realities of our modern culture is the assault upon masculinity as if it’s somehow a bad thing. While we can all certainly agree that male dominance is not God’s plan for his Church—the plan to extract male leadership and characteristics from God’s Church is certainly not healthy—in fact it’s downright sinful.

When Paul was closing out his letter to the church in the city of Corinth, he wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” We must recall that Paul was writing to a church that was in desperate need of theological and practical correction. The apostle took a firm stance against their sin, and then pointed them to the proper means of living out the gospel of Christ. Apparently one of their struggles was centered on love and their lack of manliness.  William Robertson Nicoll observes that these exhortations are “directed respectively against the heedlessness, fickleness, childishness, and moral enervation of the” church at Corinth. [1]

Today, we continue to see the Church of Jesus Christ suffering from a lack of manliness. This has been the result of the radical feminist attack as well as the problem of perpetual adolescence that continues to prevent men from rising up and taking lead roles within the local church. These problems together create added friction over offices, giftedness, and the need for strong leadership. We would do well to remember Paul’s words to the church in Corinth—”act like men.”

The Feminization of the Church

The liberal agenda has masculinity in its sights and has for many years dating back to the radical women’s liberation movement. From this rank liberal ideology, they teach that God is not a male, Paul was a sexist, and Jesus was a feminist. This agenda took aim at Bible translations in an attempt to produce gender neutral texts while removing references to God’s masculine characteristics. However, the progressives of our day within evangelical circles have adopted that type of language and it has continued to soften the church. Today’s social justice agenda is moving rapidly through evangelicalism beneath the banner of liberation. They claim to work for the liberation of oppressed segments within our evangelical circles—and women are at the center of this debate.

Apparently, we have done a poor job of allowing women to flourish and use their gifts for God’s glory so we must tear down our hierarchies and develop new leadership structures to allow women to bloom. With varying degrees of opinions on this subject—including an eclectic array of interpretations on biblical texts such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15; 3:1-15Titus 2, do we stand in need of clarification on complementarianism? Is The Danvers Statement (1987) unclear? More importantly, is the Bible silent or insufficient to answer these questions?

In her article “God’s Feminist Ideals” published in Christianity Today, Wendy Alsup writes:

Gloria Steinem famously said a feminist is “anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” Is God then a feminist by her definition? If feminism in its purest sense is the quest for justice and equal rights for women, then, yes, God was the first feminist. God created woman in his image and bestowed on her equal dignity with man. By a woman’s mere existence, God has bestowed on her dignity and privileges that transcend race, economic status, and physical ability.

At least that’s the language being used by leaders in evangelical circles today. In a recent article on SBC Voices, the question of a woman leading the SBC has once again emerged for discussion and debate. William Thornton critiques our current culture within evangelicalism by stating, “Seems we can’t celebrate women doing much of anything without inserting ‘in biblically appropriate ways.'” Apparently it’s taboo to appeal to the Scriptures and to uphold God’s original design for men and women within the local church and society as a whole.

Make no mistake, complementarity is under assault today and it’s a divisive agenda fueled by ancient errors that not only degrade masculinity—but they call into question God’s sovereign design. Does God need to revise his design for women and men and their roles to align with our modern culture? That type of thinking depicts our God as an aged grandfather in the sky who is not up with the times and apparently hasn’t been reading the latest blogs on his iPhone. In short, it’s a blasphemous assault on God and his sovereignty.

The fruit of this assault will be the feminization of the church. Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt, in their book Megatrends for Women wrote the following back in 1992:

Women of the late twentieth century are revolutionizing the most sexist institution in history—organized religion. Overturning millennia of tradition, they are challenging authorities, reinterpreting the Bible, creating their own services, crowding into seminaries, winning the right to ordination, purging sexist language in liturgy, reintegrating female values and assuming positions of leadership. [2]

The leading chatter within evangelical circles suggests we suddenly have a need to liberate women in 2018 and swing all doors open for our sisters to flourish in God’s grace. Was Paul sexist in his appeal to the church in Corinth to act like men? Certainly not since we understand that Paul is driving at spiritual maturity. Therefore, spiritually mature men and women will desire to serve God within their roles as God designed from the beginning.

Today, men are behaving as if they must apologize for being created as a man and desiring to lead in the home and in the church. Is it sexist or is it Scriptural for men to desire to act like men and desire offices of leadership in the church while humbly leading in the home as well? Another question should be asked at this juncture—is it oppressive to women for men to act like men? Today’s church doesn’t need softer hands—it needs humble men who act like men and lead with biblical conviction.

The Childishness of the Church

Notice Paul didn’t say, “Act like boys.” There is a pervasive trend among many men today who desire an extended childhood. They avoid responsibility, delay marriage, downgrade family, and elevate play-time far above the need to work. That mindset has crept into the church long ago, and in many ways that’s why we have worship services that look like extended children’s church for adults. Furthermore, that’s why we have such a disconnect among leadership roles in the church in many cases where women are taking the lead because the men want to focus on delaying adulthood and the necessary responsibilities that come along with being a man.

Paul thunders over and over through the New Testament about the need for maturity. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he placed it as a central goal of pastoral ministry that labors to bring the church to spiritual maturity—to mature manhood (Eph. 4:13). Here in his closing words to the church at Corinth, Paul simply writes—”act like men.” We read Paul’s words today, and seek to make application to our context while the radio and television is providing another message that says growing up and becoming an adult is a really bad idea.

In many church cultures, men find no problem getting together to watch MMA fights or to have video game parties, but they find it extremely awkward to get together and talk about the doctrine of God, the meaning of the atonement, or the meaning and purpose of marriage. We have adopted delayed adulthood and created the “forty-something teenager” mentality—a perpetual adolescent who finds no value in adulthood and maturity. What an appropriate time to read and mediate on Paul’s words to the church at Corinth as he says, “act like men.” Paul had already written to them earlier in his letter providing them a warning:

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature (1 Cor. 14:20).

We would do well in our day to heed this warning and to obey Paul’s words to “act like men.” One of the most loving things that a church can do is to pursue maturity and celebrate masculinity which produces true love. This is where both men and women can flourish within God’s original design. Biblical manhood is not defined by how much a man can bench press, the thickness of his beard, or how many tattoos he has about Jesus on his arm. It’s not even connected to his love and affection for cigars. Biblical manhood is rooted in the gospel and has a profound submission to Christ and a love for the roles of men and women as God has designed.

  1. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament: Commentary, vol. 2 (New York: George H. Doran Company, n.d.), 949.
  2. Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt, Megatrends for Women (New York: Villard Books, 1992), 119.


Wigs and Wisdom

Wigs and Wisdom

Colonial America was filled with white wigs. The 18th century was ripe with the wig wearing men who from young ages were already desiring to fit in among the wise men of the day and it was the wig that created such a bridge of opportunity. Men wore them openly in order to make a statement. Their statement was not so much to do with fashion as much as it was to do with wisdom and knowledge. We see this all throughout our nation’s history as well as church history in America. Men such as George Washington (who reportedly never wore a wig, but embodies the iconic image of the wigs of that era) and Jonathan Edwards are depicted with long flowing gray curls—although undoubtedly fake—they were wigs worn to symbolize their wisdom far more than their age. We see this all through the Puritan age of church history.

Where are all of the gray wigs today? Why do we not see them worn openly in our culture today? The evidence may point to a shift in ideas—one that favors immaturity in this youth-driven culture. What exactly does the Bible say about this whole youth focused culture? Does the Bible say anything about age and how we should approach the inevitable?

Gray May Not Be Your Thing—But Wisdom Should Be

In recent years, I have addressed the need for the younger population of the church of Jesus Christ to know, be involved with, and attend the funerals of the elderly. Tragically, our society looks over the heads of the elderly in favor of the young, the strong, and far too often—the immature. Since we live in a culture that despises the aging process and thereby disrespects the elderly—it would be wise for Christians to consider what the Bible actually says about this matter rather than adopting the culture’s patterns.

In Leviticus 19:32, we see that the Law of God insisted on the honoring of the aged. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” In other words, the biblical text points to the idea of honoring those with gray hair, but not just for the sake of their hair color. The graying of the hair represented more than an aging process—instead it pointed to the wisdom that comes with age. In most cases, the aging process allows a person to accumulate a certain amount of wisdom through life circumstances (practical wisdom) and through the study of God in theology and walking with God in life.

When we see the words of Proverbs 16:31 and couple them with Paul’s words to Timothy (a young pastor in Ephesus) regarding how he was to address older men (1 Tim. 5:1-2)—it would be extremely healthy for us to learn to respect and honor the aged among us in society in general—but especially within the local church. We may not see gray wigs on sale in a center kiosk at the local shopping mall and they may never be en vogue in our culture at any day in the future—wisdom should be attractive to us—especially to those who are followers of Jesus (James 1:5).

Do Not Worship Adolescence

It should be plainly evident to all of us that we’re living in a culture that celebrates youthfulness and despises the aged. A trip down the cosmetics section in the supermarket will reveal many products designed to take away gray hair, smooth out wrinkles, and make the body look and feel young. Any trip through a major city will certainly reveal our culture’s love for shopping malls. When we examine the stores in the malls, the overwhelming majority are centered on young people who linger in the atrium of the mall for social purposes with their friends or gather for coffee and entertainment outlets such as theaters—largely designed to entertain young people. The men’s clothing or women’s clothing stores are few and far between these days because—quite simply—the profit margins simply don’t compare.

This cultural shift leaves much of the focus of our society centered on youth—and that spills right over into the context of the local church as well. We often hear much talk about how we have to focus on the youth of the church because they’re the next generation of members and leaders. While we certainly need to invest in young people and children within our church—the lack of respect for the elderly in society as well as within the church has done far more than remove men’s clothing and men’s shoe stores from the front street of our communities. It has likewise affected how we worship. In many evangelical churches, the worship is designed around the young people rather than adults—resulting in a concert with a sermonette attached to it or in some cases the feel is more like a VBS for adults—complete with all of the light-hearted entertainment and canned jokes.

Paul, in his words to the church at Ephesus, implores them to strive for maturity as God has given them leaders for that very purpose (Eph. 4:12). While there is nothing inherently sinful by shopping malls turning to the teens for profit margins—the church of Jesus Christ would do well to celebrate maturity and gospel-centered wisdom that comes with age. This is one reason for the title of the office of elder—driving home the point that wisdom is needed in order to properly lead God’s people theologically and spiritually. Fools despise wisdom (Prov. 1:7). We’re living in strange days to be sure, days when immaturity is championed among a culture demonstrating just how much wisdom is needed in the end. This, to be sure, is a tragedy. Remember what happened to Rehoboam when he despised the wisdom of the old men and gave his ear to the immature voices of the young men (1 Kings 12:8)?

Our culture and our churches are filled with wise older men and women who are overlooked because of their age. Gray is not proof of wisdom, but it would do us well not to view gray as outdated, expired, or irrelevant. Once upon a time young men wanted to look old. Today, old men want to look young while young men never want to grow up. Fashion may change, but it’s the heart that truly matters. May the Lord grant us wisdom and enable us to value the wise and aged among us in the life of the church in such a way that creates stability and maturity among God’s people.

Proverbs 4:7 — The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Are You Spiritually Malnourished?

Are You Spiritually Malnourished?

The Christian life is a long and arduous journey rather than a short swift sprint.  During the journey of faith, we will often face periods of intense struggle.  At one point, Jesus reminded Peter that Satan had asked to sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31).  In short, the Christian life is not easy.  There will be times where we feel weak and anemic in the faith.  Have you ever left church feeling as if you’re not growing in your faith?  Is that your pastor’s fault?  Is that your church’s fault?  Can we blame Satan?  Who is to blame for your spiritual condition?  When you feel malnourished spiritually, you should take time to evaluate your spiritual life and ask yourself three very important questions.

Am I serving too much in my local church?

Every local church has needs and if we’re not careful, we will sign up for another area of service simply to fill a vacancy.  That may be alright for a short while, but in the long run, the whole church cannot rest upon the shoulders of one or two people.  The church is called to share the load, spread out the responsibilities, and help one another as a family, a team, and specifically as we see in Scripture—as a church.

Perhaps you need to learn to use a specific vocabulary word that’s often frowned upon.  That word is—no.  We must all learn to use that word at times and in certain circumstances we should not feel guilt for turning down a service role in the church.  If you are already serving in various areas of the church, is it going to make you more or less healthy to take on another responsibility?  Will this new role remove you from the life of the church?  Will you be forced to miss the prayer meeting of the church?  When you add up the number of Sunday morning services that you miss, what percentage of the year does it total?

It’s essential for you to recognize that you’re not Superman (or Wonder Woman) spiritually.  You need the church.  You need to gather with the church, pray with the church, sing with the church, and to be served by the church too.  Don’t over serve in the local church.

What effort am I putting into the study of God’s Word?

Where do you sit in church?  Are you sitting near the back?  Not always, but many times people choose to sit near the back in order to be less involved and more disconnected from the preaching of God’s Word.  That might not be why you’re sitting near the back, but it could be one evidence of your disconnect.

Do you know what your pastor is preaching on right now on Sunday mornings?  If your church gathers for evening worship, what series is being preached on Sunday evenings?  Supposing that those are expository studies, have you been reading through those particular books of the Bible and spending time in prayer?  Have you requested any resources from your pastors on those biblical passages or topics in order to deepen your faith and understanding?

When I was preparing to begin my seminary classes, I remember an older pastor explaining to me that it wasn’t about what school that I attended that would make the ultimate difference with me through my seminary years.  He explained that it was all about what effort I put into my studies.  You can find the best local church in your town, but if you’re not putting effort into learning the Word, knowing God, and progressing in your faith—you will continue to remain malnourished even in a good local church.  You cannot grow in grace by accident.  It requires work.  The greatest athletes don’t become great by accident.  The same thing is true for Christians.

When people come to me and want to talk about how they feel disconnected from the church or that they’re not growing at the rate they feel they should, one of the most basic questions I ask them is focused on their church attendance.  How can a baseball player expect to improve his game if he never shows up for practice?  Can we honestly expect a football player to make progress if he never dresses out and shows up on the field for practice?  Why would we expect Christians to grow in their walk with God if they’re constantly absent from the life of the church?

Am I under a spiritual attack?

The ministry of Satan is to deceive, destroy, and to discourage.  We often underestimate our enemy.  That’s why Paul commands us to put on the whole armor of God as we enter the spiritual battlefield (Eph. 6:11).  It’s very probable that your malnourishment is due to a wound you’ve received from your enemy because you didn’t have the shield of faith or you were going out to battle without the breastplate of righteousness.  Attacks come with great intensity at times, but they also come when you least expect it.

If you’re blaming your pastors, your church, your Sunday school class, or other aspects of your church for your spiritual condition—could it be that you are over worked in your church and that you haven’t been putting forth any effort to grow spiritually?  Could it be that Satan is attacking you and your church and you can’t see it?  Could it be that Satan’s ministry of division is playing itself out in your life and the life of your church?

Don’t blame others for your spiritual weakness.  If you have a lack of passion for God’s Word, a lazy spirit for evangelism, a lack of desire for God, or perhaps a lack of love for your pastors who serve you or your church as a whole—you’re either not a Christian or you’re standing in desperate need of revival.  Don’t play the blame game.  The problem might not be your church—it might be you.

If you feel spiritually sick, go to Jesus Christ who can change your heart, renew your spirit, revive your soul and bring you out of a state of spiritual malnourishment.  Find your hope and joy in God through Jesus Christ.  Spend time contemplating the great grace that’s yours in Jesus and how you can can find true meaning in life and purpose as a Christian through your local church.  Don’t remain in a state of spiritual lethargy.  Healing and renewal is much closer than you think.

In his excellent book, For the Love of God, D.A. Carson writes:

People do not drift toward holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. [1]

  1.  D.A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1999), 23.
Your Church Does Not Need a Statler or Waldorf

Your Church Does Not Need a Statler or Waldorf

Known for their boisterous heckling—Statler and Waldorf are a pair of cantankerous and opinionated Muppet characters who engage in frequent negative balcony critique.  In short, they are balcony grumps, professional discouragers, and useless critics.  It should be the goal of every Christian man to grow old and avoid turning into a Statler or Waldorf.  Your church does not need either of these characters, and we know this because of what we read in the Bible.

Paul left Crete in the hands of a man named Titus.  It was his job to shut the mouths of the heretics and put things in order in the church.  He was charged with appointing elders to oversee the ministry of the church and to preach the Word.  It would be through the consistent preaching and teaching of the Word that the naysayers would be silenced on the outside and the church would be brought to harmony on the inside.

Paul instructed Titus to train the older men in sound doctrine.  According to Paul, this should result in the aged men becoming “sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2).  Notice the characteristics that Paul insisted must be evident in the men of the church.  In Paul’s day and in our day, the church of Jesus Christ needs faithful men who are worthy of respect and who are healthy in the faith.

Worthy of Respect

The reason that we have Statler and Waldorf characters showing up in the fictional world of the Muppets is because they’re all around us in real life.  We work with these characters, worship with them, and often live in the same house with them.  While they may be profitable for a Muppet Show, they’re unprofitable for the local church.  Paul used a word to describe the wellbeing of aged men in the church.  He said they should be dignified.  This particular word has in mind a life that’s worthy of respect.

Paul likewise pointed out that the aged men of the church should be sober-minded and self-controlled.  The grey beards of the church are expected to be clear headed and self-controlled rather than quick tempered.  Younger men need good examples, and all of the older men of the church should possess the same type of dignified restraint as the elders who oversee the church.

Healthy in the Faith

What makes an older man in the church worthy of respect?  According to Titus 2:2, it’s based on the health and vitality of his faith.  Many older men in evangelicalism are considered to be longtime members of their churches, but their faith is not in good shape.  Older men are known to neglect their faith in pursuit of entertainment, retirement goals, or other superficial things in life.  This results in many aged men turning into useless balcony grumps who are of no value to their local church and poor examples to the younger men who desperately need faithful examples.

When older men become perpetual critics who sit on the sidelines and complain, the church will suffer the following problems:

  1. Perpetual adolescence among the younger men.
  2. Spiritual immaturity.
  3. Laziness.
  4. Discouragement among the younger men (and families) in the church.
  5. Disunity.
  6. Inability to solve problems and reach goals.
  7. Lack of joy.
  8. Burden to the elders who lead the church.
  9. Unhealthy example to the deacons who serve the church.

One of the greatest needs in the evangelical church today is faithful men who finish well for the glory of God.  Far too many aged men die physically mature but spiritual babes. What if the grey beards represented true biblical wisdom in the church?  What if the aged men taught the younger men how to live well and die well?  What if the older men in the church set good examples in the area of evangelism and missions?  What if the mature men of the church were actually mature in the faith?  William Hendriksen writes:

In their attitude toward God let the aged men show soundness in their faith. Let them rely wholly on him and his revealed truth. In their attitude toward the neighbor let them evince soundness in their love. And in their attitude toward bitter trials let them reveal soundness in their endurance or steadfastness. [1]

We can read books and attend conferences about becoming a healthy church, but it will not happen apart from faithful men who possess a healthy faith.  Only then will the men of the church be worthy of respect and honor.  Today’s church doesn’t need a Statler or Waldorf, and tomorrow’s church will not have men like Titus or Timothy if they’re discipled by such characters today.  We must strive to become a Titus 2:2 man rather than a Statler or Waldorf.  Titus 2 is often a chapter quoted in regard to the women of the church, but it’s also loaded with mandates for biblical manhood.

  1. William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles, vol. 4, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 363.

Knowing God through the Eyes of Your Heart

Knowing God through the Eyes of Your Heart

Christianity is far more than feeling a certain way.  It involves knowing God.  To be a Christian is far more than being saved from the eternal flames of hell.  It involves a lifetime pursuit of God.  Paul explains the Christian pursuit in Ephesians 1:18-19, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you , what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the work of his great might.”

Today, much of evangelical Christianity is based on feelings.  We choose churches based on how the services make us feel.  We listen to certain preachers based on how they make us feel.  We read certain books in order to stir-up certain feelings.  And the list goes on and on.  Have you considered the fact that God wants us to know some things about Him?

Biblical Enlightenment

When Paul uses the phrase, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened” he is referencing the inner core of our human person.  The center of our spiritual and physical person is often referred to as our heart in the Scriptures.  This is where the seat of our emotions, volition, and thinking occurs.  Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus (and surrounding cities) was that they would know God intimately and grow in their knowledge of Him.  Alistair Begg writes the following:

[We] must understand that Christianity is not served by mindlessness, but by the knowledge of God through the Word of God. Such knowledge engages our minds, stirs our hearts, and transforms our lives. This knowledge is personal. How is it fostered? By listening to what He says (the priority of preaching), by engaging Him in conversation (the emphasis on prayer), by spending time in His company (the need for a devotional life), and by being with others who know Him too (the need for gathered worship). This knowledge is progressive and dynamic, not static. At the end of our journey, we should still be exclaiming with Paul:  “I want to know Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:2). [1]

As we read through the Scriptures, we see that this pursuit is not merely a human effort.  It requires diligence from us, but it likewise involves the work of the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to understand.  In 2 Corinthians 4:6, we read, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  We likewise read that without the power of God, we cannot understand the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).  Although we were once darkened and our understanding of God and His marvelous grace (Eph. 4:18) was a hidden mystery, after causing us to be born again, we are given the ability to understand the Word of God.  Therefore, we must give ourselves to the study of God.

Knowing God

Knowing God involves quite a bit more than showing up for a church service on Sunday morning.  It’s impossible for your pastor to give you all of your spiritual nutrients in one sermon.  It is the will of God for us to know God.  This involves:

  1. Knowledge of what God has done for us in the past.
  2. Knowledge of what God is doing for us in the present.
  3. Knowledge of what God is planning for us in the future.

According to Paul, in Ephesians 1:15-19, his prayer was for the Ephesian believers to have the knowledge of God which involved the hope they possessed in God, the glorious riches of their inheritance in God, and the immeasurable power toward those who believe.  This type of understanding involves a lifelong pursuit and should not be relegated to the back burner of life.  Knowing God is more important than your business ventures, your retirement plans, your children’s athletic pursuits, and anything else you could give yourself to in this life.  While participating in a Q&A one day, James Montgomery Boice was once asked, “What do you think is the greatest lack among evangelical Christians in America today?”  He replied, “I think that the greatest need of the evangelical church today is for professing Christians really to know God.” [2]

  1. Alistair Begg, Made For His Pleasure, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 22.
  2. James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1988), 34.
The Goal of Spiritual Maturity

The Goal of Spiritual Maturity

Life is full of goals.  We spend time charting and planning everything from automobile maintenance schedules to college tuition funds.  Add that to our health goals after our recent trip to the doctor, along with our future retirement goals, and it seems that we have goals for almost everything in life.  What about spiritual goals?  Have you set goals regarding spiritual maturity?  Have you thought about ways to accurately chart your progress?  Have you considered the fact that your pastors have set goals for your spiritual life?

Spiritual Maturity Results in Gospel Ministry

The role and responsibility of pastors is to equip the church membership to do the work of gospel ministry.  It’s a categorical error to look at the pastors as the “professionals” who earn a paycheck to do the work of ministry.  Would it be a shock for you to know that God views all church members as ministers of the gospel?  According to Ephesians 4:12, God has gifted the church with pastor-teachers for the purpose of equipping the church to do the work of ministry.

The ministry of the local church can be divided into two primary areas — discipleship and missions.  Although there are specific overlaps, this is the work of the local church.  In going and telling the gospel, we baptize and teach believers the Word of God.  It is the plan of God for His children to grow-up and pursue spiritual maturity.  We must read warnings in Hebrews 5:13-14 and make sure that we avoid such errors.  Are you just a “come and watch” church member or do you have your hands and your heart involved in the work of gospel ministry to make disciples for the glory of God?

Spiritual Maturity Prevents Doctrinal Drift

As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God, we grow doctrinal roots that are not easily moved.  We’ve all seen the aftermath of a violent storm or high winds that uprooted trees.  That same thing can be true when false doctrine sweeps through a home, a church, or across the Internet.  God expects His children to grow into mature believers who are not led astray by false teachers who speak with deceptive tongues delivering damnable heresies.  Paul explains one of the purposes of pastoral leadership in Ephesians 4:13-14:

 until 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, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

I have watched people be swept away by the winds of Roman Catholicism, prosperity teachings, and other cult groups who present crafty teachings through the television and Internet.  Those who are pursuing spiritual maturity avoid these problems because they can spot the false doctrine like a red barn in the middle of an open green field.  The spiritually immature believer often doesn’t possess such discernment.  Don Whitney writes, “In my own pastoral and personal Christian experience, I can say that I’ve never known a man or woman who came to spiritual maturity except through discipline. Godliness comes through discipline.” [1]  Like a deep root system on a majestic tree, spiritual maturity does the same thing for believers who put in the discipline to know God through His Word.

Spiritual Maturity Results in Biblical Submission

We’re born with the seed of rebellion in our depraved hearts, and then if you’re fortunate to be born in a nation like America where such rugged individualism is celebrated — submission is a backward way of thinking.  After becoming a Christian, we learn that submission is the way of the Christian life.  We’re called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ.  This new life in Christ involves submission to authority.  We’re called to submit to authority, and it all begins with a submission to the Lordship of Christ.

Biblical submission involves a willingness to submit to authorities in various roles of life including:

  • Submission to the Lordship of Christ (we are the servants of Christ).
  • Submission to the Word of God (the Scriptures are authoritative and sufficient).
  • Submission to civil leaders and the laws of the land.
  • Submission to family roles (wives to husbands and children to parents).
  • Submission to those in authority over us in the work world.
  • Submission to the church family (the church caring for one another in love).
  • Submission to the pastoral leaders placed over you.

We are wired to resist and avoid authority.  However, when God changes a person’s heart, that individual learns to lovingly submit to the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).  The individual who possesses a rogue and rebellious attitude toward authority should evaluate themselves closely.  To the young believer, pursue spiritual maturity in order that you will become strong in the faith and never forget that a heart that’s willing to submit to authority is not weak.  R. C. Sproul has accurately stated, “The very word authority has within it the word author. An author is someone who creates and possesses a particular work. Insofar as God is the foundation of all authority, He exercises that foundation because He is the author and the owner of His creation. He is the foundation upon which all other authority stands or falls.” [2]

What books are you reading?  What sermons are you listening to?  Do you have a plan for Scripture reading?  How is your church attendance?  Are you engaged in intentional discipleship opportunities within your church?  When was the last time you talked with your pastor about ways you could grow spiritually?  Perhaps it’s time to set some real goals for spiritual maturity in your life.  Setting a goal to run a 5k or a marathon is commendable, but to set a goal for spiritual maturity is far better.

  1. Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991), 17.
  2. R. C. Sproul, “The Divine Foundation of Authority,” Tabletalk, (March, 2009), 6.