Adrian L. Varlack, Sr. | Church Historian
Towards the end of His earthly ministry and while headed to the cross, our Lord Jesus Christ was praying to His Father, announcing within the hearing of His disciples that He had finished the work His Father had given Him to do (John 17). After saying that He had given eternal life to as many as the Father had given to Him, He proceeded to define eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (v.3).
The knowing of God by us, that is, continuing to know and learn of the true and living God, through Jesus Christ His beloved Son, is indeed eternal life. Mature believers and spiritually-minded leaders will gladly embrace this truth!
Paul reminds us in his letter to the church at Ephesus that we must “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” while through the leadership gifts, we grow and develop towards the “unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” This is growth in spiritual maturity towards the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” This is the goal that God has set for us (Ephesians 4:1–13).
The test of maturity was their sound judgment (discernment) to distinguish between good and evil
COMMIT TRUTH TO TRUST-WORTHY PERSONS
In writing his last letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul admonishes him thus: “Timothy my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trust-worthy persons who will be able to pass them on to others” (2 Timothy 2:1, 2 NLT). There are at least three principles implied in this text:
1. Timothy is to keep on growing strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2. The teachings that he has received are dependable and reliable, attested to by faithful witnesses other than Paul himself.
3. As a growing pastor/leader, Timothy is to make good judgments and pass along these teachings to other trust-worthy individuals with teaching abilities.
This communication represents a mature spirituality, with clear affirmations of truth, clear direction to a mentee, and the expectation of a vibrant continuity for the gospel – all marks of good leadership.
In Hebrews 5:11–14, the author chides his readers for lacking the capacity to handle, and to handle appropriately, additional and deeper truths. He classed them with infants whom he still had to feed with milk, when their ability to digest spiritual meat should have already been developed. The test of maturity was their sound judgment (discernment) to distinguish between good and evil (v.14). This lack of spiritual growth, this inability to move on into the deeper things of Christ, was considered a mark of Christian immaturity. Help me Lord!
ENCOURAGEMENT TO MATURITY
In his first epistle, the apostle Peter addresses those Christians scattered throughout a particular section of the known world that encompassed several regions (1 Peter 1:1). After assuring that they were “born again” and of the certainty of the Word preached to them, (vv. 23–25) he urges them on to spiritual maturity: “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that God is good” (1 Peter 2:1–3 NIV) .
Here we have the clear teaching of personal participation in our own spiritual development. Negatively, we put off all hindrances. Positively, we deeply desire the pure milk of the knowledge of Christ, the endless fountain of Truth! But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever (2 Peter 3:18)
Growth is encouraged in spiritual maturity through an increasing knowledge of Christ. Leadership Development Ministries seek to enhance, wherever possible, the spiritual growth and discipleship of Church leaders.