The clear word and will of God is for every believer to grow into the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. Whether we look at the parabolic images of building a temple or training an army, the mind of God is consistently portrayed as requiring growth. If we look at the direct teaching of doctrine from the word, the divine mandate holds. God expects each of His children to be fruitful and multiply, to grow and increase, to move always upward in response to His calling. There can be no doubt; God births babies but grows sons who overcome.
The end in sight is that “you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). To do this, Ephesians chapter 4 explains that you are immersed into one body which is to grow to perfection. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. His presence will manifest the works of Jesus, which is a grace, and the required character changes, which is growth. Growth in each of these areas of divine activity is the framework for the outworking of your destiny to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus (Rom. 8:29).
Your growth and the expression of divine life (Zoë) in you require your full cooperation. Whether you have been saved for 50 days or 50 years, God has mandated your maturation. Paul, himself a greatly fruitful believer, said, “I have not yet attained… but I press on to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” If Paul needed to grow, then surely I do and you do. For this reason, your church family has produced a “Pathway to Maturity” and exhorts and expects that you will embrace the associated opportunities to mature in God’s will for your life.
We will be bringing some into the Batter’s Box (preparation for divine life), some to First Base (a vital connection to Christ), others to Second Base (a vital connection to the church, His body), others to Third Base (a vital connection to the ministry of Christ in service), and still others to Home Plate (a vital connection to the mission of Christ in outreaches of love to your “neighbors”). Such a one, however, will not be finished. There is still the Grand Slam (leadership that helps others around the bases). This is the end of God’s will for your fullest fruitfulness.
Everyone fits, whether in the Batter’s Box or at the Grand Slam. Everyone is called to follow the exact same pattern: yield, empty, die (to self), overcome, and commit. This is how the Holy Spirit is enabled to bring forth the life of Christ in us. We begin by yielding (Phil. 2:1-13). This is not an action but an attitude of heart, a state of mind. It is the absence of resistance, which is meekness. It is the absence of willfulness, a form of surrender (Isa. 1:2-5, 9-20). God has equipped every believer for this with a new heart where He writes His will.
Second, we must empty. Philippians 2:5-9 describes this. If we are truly to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength, then we must let go (empty ourselves) of our self-originated plans, interests, attitudes, rights, prerogatives, etc.
Then, we must die in the area of self. We are told we are crucified but that we also must be crucified daily. This points to the double trouble we have in the flesh or self-life. We are crucified to sin yet we must also be crucified to ‘self’ on a regular basis. Here is where many falter. They experience victory over gross sin and wrongly assume that the Holy Spirit has finished His work. No, not at all! This is the immediate work of the cross, but there is also the ongoing work. If we are to overcome (experience victory) in daily living, then we must be daily dying to soulish (selfish) thinking and its resultant behavior. Victory never precedes the cross; resurrection power always follows it.
This lends to the fourth area, overcoming – picking up our life after losing it. This is being more than a conqueror, which has eight characteristics outlined in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7. These are: one, uncompromising loyalty to God; two, tribulation (squeeze); three, non-denial of the Name of Jesus and of the faith; four, the last works greater than the first; five, watchfulness to keep their garments clean; six, keeping Jesus’ word of endurance; seven, spiritual zeal in overcoming apathy and lukewarmness; eight, overcoming temptation.
These define the life of a disciple and lead to my fifth and final stage of a growing conformity to the life of Christ. As we yield, empty, die and overcome, we must then commit. Commitment marks the total or absolute acceptance of the life of a disciple. It becomes an ongoing and progressive identification with the sufferings and death of Christ so that we can be filled with all the fullness of God.
So, I ask you, are you a committed disciple of Christ experiencing consistent growth? If not, look to see if you are yielded, empty, dead to governing soul life and overcoming. Then commit to an abandoned lifestyle in search of the kingdom of God (government) and His righteousness.
Look for more and more mention of the Pathway to Maturity and more and more opportunity to advance as a world-class Christian.
-Walter Healy, Senior Pastor