Maturing in Messiah

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Messiah and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about immersion, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And God permitting, we will do so” (Hebrews 6:1-3). 

In Hebrews 6 believers are called to move beyond the elementary teachings about Messiah and grow into maturity. Though the elementary teachings are outlined in Hebrews 6, teachings about maturity are found throughout the gospels and letters.

The Maturity of the Seed

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

In the Parable about the sower, Yeshua mentions  four ways the seed of God’s Word affects the hearts of men.  One seed is stolen by the enemy.  Another is eaten by birds.  One of the seeds does not reach maturity because it is choked by thorns.  Life’s worries, desire for riches and personal pleasures do not allow the seed to mature.

The key phrase in Luke 8:14 is ‘they go on their way’.  In Matthew 6:31-33, Yeshua describes what pagans run after and worry about:  food, drink clothing.  Our heavenly Father knows we need need things for life, but if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, we will no longer go on our way, but His way.  This is the beginning of maturity – going a different way, the Way that God has designed.   Seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness keeps the thorns from choking out the Word of God in our lives and we will mature.

Sound Doctrine

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

A mature believer is not tossed back and forth, here and there by every  ‘wind of teaching’ and ‘cunning craftiness.’  This is the work of the enemy – deceitful and scheming.     The mature believer will recognize false teachers, prophets and messiahs and not be led astray by them.  A mature believer will not gather around them teachers who say what their ‘itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  Only sound doctrine builds up and encourages the believer in the Body of Messiah.  Foolish and stupid arguments do not advance the work of God nor bring unity of faith; they are unprofitable and useless (Titus 3:9).

“So Messiah himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Messiah may be built up 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 Messiah” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Maturity comes from being equipped for service from true apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who are called by Messiah himself.   These callings are not learned in books or schools, but are gifts of the Spirit distributed to those whom the Father wills.   Maturity is knowing the Son of God and attaining to His fullness in our lives.  Maturity is not just knowing about Yeshua and what He did for us on the cross, but knowing Him personally and in an intimate way as we walk with him everyay.    Maturity comes from studying his life, his Words, and his Ways and making them our own.

Milk or Solid Food

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Physical infants drink milk from their mother’s breast.  They are completely dependent on another person.  They do not know anything about life and will continue to grow up with or without parenting.   However, a spiritual infant can remain a spiritual infant.    So often, believers think that just because they born again and have been given the ‘righteousness of God in Yeshua’,  there is nothing more to do in their faith walk.  However,  this type of thinking keeps many believers as spiritual infants.   These infants never learn about what ‘righteousness’ in Messiah involves and they remain drinking milk and when they get really hungry imbibe manmade formulas.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness  so that you, a man of God, may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In the Hebrew ‘righteousness’  is tzadek and means ‘honest, right, and true’.  In Greek the word is dikaiosyne and means ‘doing what is right’.

Paul writes to Timothy telling him that righteousness is a training process.  We need to be trained to live rightly, to be honest and true.  The word ‘training’  is in the present progressive tense denoting that it’s an ongoing process in the here and now in our everyday life.  Training in righteousness brings forth maturity and the ability to distinguish good from evil.

“Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Messiah.  …You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly and are you not walking like mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Anyone who imitates evil or practices evil is not mature.  They are not using their ‘righteousness in Messiah’ to distingush good from evil nor, in many cases, do they want to.  They choose to embrace evil  and remain as immature spiritual infants.  Without a separation from evil by those who should be trained in righteousness, who should be mature and growing, the Bride of Messiah remains, according to Paul, worldly, unspiritual men and women. These babes are not ready, cannot stomach,  the solid food of the Word.  They remain untaught, unable to be corrected, and not trained in righteousness.  They are like tantrum throwing toddlers in the LORD.

Transformation into Maturity

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Mature believers are ready and able to test God’s will for their lives.  They stand firm in His will because they have stopped conforming to the evil ways of the world and left godless traditions.   Through the Spirit their minds have been renewed; old thoughts and patterns have been discarded and they begin to resemble the image of Messiah.    They have eyes to see and the heart to do the good, pleasing and perfect will of the Father.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Messiah Yeshua took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 3:12-14).

Mature believers press on toward a goal that has a reward.   This is not about being justified before God because Paul was already born again.  He is writing about living a life of sanctification, a life of growing into maturity that leads to the glory that comes with King Yeshua.   Paul strains for this goal.   Straining implies struggling, laboring, toiling, making every exhaustive effort to reach the goal.   Each person must choose their building materials and each building will be tested by fire.  If what has been built survives, there will be a reward (1 Corinthians 3:14).

““Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).

The reward is with Yeshua and his refining fire.   He will give a reward to each person according to what they have done based on their building materials.  If anyone builds using gold, silver and costly stones, their work will stand; but wood, hay or straw will be destroyed.

“All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians  3:12-16).

Mature believers in Messiah live fully assured in what they know, understand and have attained in their walk of faith, using the the whole counse of God’s Word.   Even if they have only been given little, if they remain faithful with little, they will be given more (Matthew 25:14-30).  ‘Attain’ means ‘to gain with effort or persistence or to succeed in a directed effort, process, or progression.’  To achieve the final goal of that heavenly reward,  building takes effort and persistence.  If you think (or are taught) a different message, God Himself will make it clear to you if you desire to be mature.

The Spirit’s Power

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

The beginning of wisdom is to fear Yahweh (Psalm 111:10).   The Scriptures do not contain the wisdom of men or the rulers of this world, they contain the heart and mind of God.  Through obeying God’s teachings and instructions, a babe in Messiah gains knowledge of God, an understanding of His ways and, when put into practice, gains wisdom.  Walking in wisdom, discerning good from evil, is a sign of a believer’s maturity.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:4-6).

A mature believer depends completely on God’s Spirit.  God’s Spirit  transforms their heart, mind and soul (Philippians 3:20-21).    The power of God’s Spirit in Yeshua enabled him to do good and heal those who were oppressed by the devil  and it gives us the same power (Acts 10:38).  The power of God’s Spirit in Yeshua rose him from the dead and it will raise us too at the last day (Romans 8:11).   And, the power of God’s Spirit helps us overcome sin, discern evil in our lives and is demonstrated when we put into practice what we know to be truth.

Perseverance

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Maturity comes only through perseverance and a testing of our faith.   As we strive toward the goal,  we will encounter numerous challenges along the way.  The world as well as family, friends, pastors, teachers and the evil one will try to stumble our race to the goal line with arguments about deceptive doctrines, manmade teachings, and false messiahs.  In order to stay on track, we must always look to Yeshua, the perfector of our faith who taught us that ‘man doesn’t live on bread alone’, but on the meat of the Word.  We must leave behind the milk toast of immaturity so that we can stand against the devil and his schemes and receive our eternal reward.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:32-36).

©2005 Tentstake Ministries

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