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Becoming Mature

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" 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.4:13).

God's ultimate goal for each of us as individuals - and as a corporate Church - is for us to become mature, reaching "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph.5:25-27; Col.1:28; He.6:1).

The Starting Point
(Jn. 3:1-7; 1 Pe.1:23)

The first stage in the fulfilment of God's goal is the miracle that the Holy Spirit performs the moment we receive Christ as our Saviour - we are born again.

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1Pe. 1:23).

We were born again "of an imperishable seed". A seed contains all the life and likeness of the parent tree, but it is in seed form. In the same way, the moment we were born again, we received the fullness of God's life and salvation (Col.2:9-10). Now we are discovering everything we have in Christ (1 Co.2:12) and "working out" the salvation we have already received (Phil.2:12-13).

The Growing Process
(1 Pe.2:2; 1 Co.3:1-4; He.5:11-14)

Just as a new-born baby has the family likeness, so we too are born spiritually in the likeness of our Father. Now, like babies, we must begin to grow to spiritual maturity (Ro.8:29-30; Eph.4:14-15).

(1 Jn.2:12-14) describes Christians in three levels of maturity: Little children (childhood), young men (adolescence), and fathers (adulthood).

Pathway of Growth

Condemnation (Rom.3:9) - our condition before we came to Christ.
Justification (Rom.3:24-26) - our receiving of forgiveness and righteousness in Christ.
Reconciliation (Rom.5:6-8) - our fellowship with the Father restored through Jesus' blood.
Identification(Rom.6:8)-our realisation of the totality of what Christ has done for us.
Sanctification (Rom.8:10) -our walking in the reality of our new life in Christ.
Glorification (Rom.8:38-39) - the crowning of it all when we enter eternity.

Agents for Growth (How we Grow)

Three main ways that cause us to grow in Christ:

Circumstances (Ro.8:28-30; Ja.1:2-4; 1 Pe.1:3-7) - the trials we face become moulding instruments in the hands of God.

Ministries (Eph.4:11-14) - the vessels of God to minister to us through the Word of God (2 Tim.3:16-17) and the Holy Spirit (Jn. 6:63).

The Body (Eph.4:15-16) - relationships and ministry in the Body are designed for our growth.

The trial of faith is the main mechanism for growth in our lives (1 Pe. 1:6-7). As we respond with faith to the trials we face, God responds to our faith with His grace to meet the situation. That grace also works in our life, changing us into another dimension of glory (1 Co.15:10). As we go from trial to trial, we also go from faith to faith (Ro.1:17) and thus from grace to grace (Jn. 1:16), and through each trial we are being transformed from glory to glory(2 Co.3:18) until we have been transformed INTO HIS IMAGE!