Spiritual Maturity

Many Christians believe themselves to be spiritually mature.  In many cases, that might be so, however, there are cases in which one might be mistaken.  The qualities that people often believe are fruit of spiritual maturity fail to meet the mark.

When speaking of a Christian who is spiritually mature, one who possesses many spiritual gifts comes to mind.  If a person does not have multiple spiritual gifts, then a mature person will operate strongly in one, according to some.

The final authority as to the definition of spiritual maturity is the Word of God.  We will now see what the Bible has to say.

Be a Doer of the Word, Not a Hearer Only

Taming the tongue
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James 1:22 tells us that we must not only hear the word of God, but we must also do what it says.  People can quote the Bible, both in and out of context.  Even Satan knows the scriptures as seen in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.  Knowing the Word is not enough.  Having the wisdom to apply it to our lives and live it is evidence of true spiritual maturity.

I have lived a hypocritical lifestyle in the past.  I am far from perfect now, but I strive to seek to obey the Lord.  I say this because many people live hypocritically.  If they make it to church, they certainly do not take what they learn outside the four walls.  If this is you, simply repent and ask the Lord to help you live authentically.

How Do You Treat People?

It sad to say that many people consider themselves to be spiritual yet these same people will speak harshly to the waitress in a restaurant or demonstrate impatience with the cashier at the grocery store.  Some are mean to the members of their own immediate family.  Whatever the reasons are for this attitude, going to the Lord and seeking transformation is a must.

Social media is a soap box for some Christians to air their ill feelings toward others.  I am a firm believer that social media can be used for the glory of God, but more often, it is used to bash others.  If you derive pleasure from bashing people on Facebook, in gossip, or even speaking rudely to others in person, you need a renewing of your mind.  You need to humble yourself and see that God is not pleased when any Christian mistreats someone else.

How Is Your Love Walk?

John 13:34-35 reminds us that people will know we belong to God by our love for other Christians.  The fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).  While spiritual gifts are wonderful and God certainly wants us to have them, they are not the fruit of who we.  The fruit of the Spirit demonstrates that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.  We will not walk in sinless perfection, but we will not be using grace as a license to sin.

Another important point to note here is that godly love is not always a feeling.  While our emotions eventually line up with the direction in which we go, we cannot rely on our feelings to tell us whether or not we are walking in love.  It is a choice to obey God and treat people right no matter what our feelings are telling us.

Taming the Tongue Image
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The Bottom Line

Spiritual gifts are wonderful!  I thank God that He gives gifts to many.  His gifts and callings are without repentance according to Romans 11:29.  We should enjoy these gifts and seek God’s leading as to their use.  However, we must realize that spiritual gifts are not a mark of spiritual maturity.  Walking in the love of God and obedience to His word are both evidence of true spiritual maturity.

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will

True Christians know and understand, at least to some degree, that God is sovereign.  In other words, He is in control.  He has a plan, and His plan will not be thwarted.  However, varying degrees of belief can be found throughout various denominations and Christian circles.

The issue of God’s sovereignty becomes confusing when the free will of man is mixed into the equation.  Reformed Christians tend to hold to the view of Predestination, or Calvinism, and believe that free will does not come into the equation.  Christians who hold to Arminianist views believe that man’s free will comes into play.  A third group falls somewhere in between.

Predestination and Election vs. Free Will

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People who hold to the view of Calvinism generally believe that God has foreordained that certain people will be redeemed and certain people will be lost.  This belief comes from the writings of John Calvin, one of the theologians from the Reformation period.

While Ephesians 1:3-5, Romans 9, and a few other verses seem to indicate truth in this belief, further study and context shows that Calvin and others are mistaken. The verses in Ephesians 1 that are in question are saying that God wanted people to be saved and redeemed before the foundation of the world.  He had foreknowledge of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden yet He created us giving us the choice of whether to accept or reject Him. Romans 9 discusses God’s choice of Israel and inclusion of the Gentiles in His plan.

Many portions of the Bible point at man’s choice.  Man’s free will does not negate God’s sovereignty.  His purposes will continue with or without our cooperation.  Galatians 5:13, John 7:17, 2 Peter 3:9, Mark 8:34, and Joshua 3:15 are a few that confirm man’s free will along with God’s sovereignty.  John 3:16 is clear proof along with 2 Peter 3:9 that God desires for all to be saved, yet, we know in His foreknowledge, He knows who will accept in Him and who will reject Him.

TULIP Acronym Vs. Arminian Beliefs

Calvinist use the TULIP acronym to explain their beliefs in what they call the doctrines of grace.  T stands for total depravity.  U stands for unconditional election.  L stands for limited atonement.  I stands for irresistible grace. P stands for perseverance of the saints.

The Arminian belief agrees with total depravity, but differs in other aspects.  The other portions of the acronym would change as follows:  conditional election, unlimited atonement, resistible grace, and falling from grace.red-purple-and-yellow-tulip-fields-69776

Some Christians hold to either Calvinist or Arminian beliefs.  Others agree with some points of Calvinsim and some points of Arminianism.  A chart is available that goes into more detail of the beliefs of each side.

What I Believe

I am not going into the details of all the teachings concerning Sovereignty and free will in this post, but I will be discussing this in a video which I will post at a later date.  However, my belief leans more toward Arminianism although I agree with some points of Calvinism.  I know and understand that God is sovereign, but I believe he gave us all free will to choose whom we will serve.  Our free will in no way negates His sovereignty.  He is God!  He is capable of giving man free will and completing His ultimate purposes.

God has no desire for any to perish.  To believe that God chooses some to be damned while saving others would negate the scriptures in which He says that whoever believes on Him would have everlasting life (John 3:16)  and whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21).

On the flip side, I love studying the history of the Reformation period.  Martin Luther and many others revived the doctrine of Justification by Faith during a time when the Roman Catholic church dominated and taught works-based salvation. I also listen to many Calvinist ministers such as John Piper and others and have Calvinist friends. I simply do not agree with much of the Calvinist acronym.

IMG_4193The following quote is from A.W. Tozer’s book, The Knowledge of the Holy:  “The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church nearly into two camps which have borne the names of two distinguished theologians, Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin.  Most Christians are content to get into one camp or the other and deny either sovereignty to God or free will to man. It appears possible, however, to reconcile these two positions without doing violence to either although the effort that follows may prove deficient to partisans of one camp or the other.  Here is my view:  God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil.  When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice man should make but that he should be free to make it.  Man’s will is free because God is sovereign.  A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures.  He would be afraid to do so.”