Growing Brings Glory

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Col. 2:6-10  

In this one sentence, written by Paul the Apostle, we have a picture of the three levels of maturity in a believer. The three levels can be symbolized by a tree.

In my previous post I elaborated upon the root system, that first level of maturity that is the foundation upon which the trunk, branches and fruit grow and come forth.  Grace is the nutritional root system below ground that emerges as a glorious healthy tree above ground. 
The second level of maturity is being built up in Christ. To be built up is to grow up. It is a necessary process of believing on Christ unto the fullness of who He is in us. Being built up does not determine your eternal life, but it does determine your abundant life. In keeping with the symbolism of a tree, I think of the aspen trees of Colorado. They are oh-so-beautiful but few people understand the process and perseverance they represent to become gloriously gold and fruitful for all to see. As they grow, high winds buffet them in the winter, drought challenges them in the summer, fire roars through the forest community, heavy rains attempt to drown them out, disease tries to invade beyond their protective bark to kill them, and forest animals nibble away at the tender shoots and soft bark unknowingly making them vulnerable to all of the above.  But…the aspen tree survives as it resists all that is thrown at it.  It thrives as it continually draws from the deep root system for nourishment and strength.  It grows as it resists by refusing to be destroyed.  Its genetic code says "I will live and not die. I will overcome every challenge to bring forth the beauty and fullness of my identity. I will grow."  And so it does grow, bringing forth beauty in the glorious golden leaves covering the mountain sides, a beauty beheld by millions of people bringing joy and refreshment to their hearts.
This picture of the aspen tree reflects the growing process of the believer, a process no one can avoid unless they refuse the spiritual food of grace or give in to the challenges around them.  To mature brings stability. To mature brings beauty. To mature brings glory in the church.  It is so as we embrace the process of being ‘built up’ in Christ, strengthened and overflowing with thankfulness to the One who planted the seed within us. 2 Cor. 3:18 says we are being transformed into ‘His likeness with ever increasing glory’.  My prayer for you is to be built up in Christ with ever increasing glory.


Deep Roots, Good Fruit

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-10 In this one sentence, written by Paul the Apostle, we have a picture of the three levels of maturity in a believer. The three levels can be symbolized by a tree. The first level of maturity is the root system, being ‘rooted’ in Christ, i.e. firmly established in the foundations of the Gospel. To be rooted is to understand and consistently walk in grace, the undeserved favor and blessing of God through faith in Jesus. The health and expanse of this root system determines the health and expanse of the harvest of fruit coming from the tree.
Grace is the essence of the Gospel, the cornerstone of our relationship with the Father. Without grace we would need to work for our righteousness. Without grace we would have to prove ourselves worthy of approaching the Father in prayer. Without grace we would need to perform old covenant rituals to cleanse ourselves in order to experience the presence of God. Without grace we would never have an assurance of eternal life. Without grace our outward behavior would be the standard of righteousness. Without grace the wrath of God would still be upon us. Without grace we would be dependent upon certain ‘anointed ones’ (prophets) to hear what God is saying on our behalf. Without grace we could never be built up and produce the fruit of grace……..the harvest of HIS righteousness flowing through us to produce 30, 60, and 100 fold in the Kingdom of God.
Leaders, if you desire for people to walk in greater levels of maturity, continually teach them the roots of grace. It is from these roots that the whole tree absorbs nutrients, gains strength, and bears fruit. It is from these roots that they become established, rooted, and sufficiently supplied to grow to the next levels of maturity in Christ. Don’t rush the process. The expansion of the unseen root system below ground determines the health of the tree above the ground.


You Are Risen....Because Christ Is Risen!

This Resurrection Day consider who it is that lives in your body. Who are you? Who is the person that walks through each day at the office, in the coffee shop, in the family, and in the church? Is it the natural soul-man, the physical body-man, or the resurrected spirit-man? The outward body that many see and know walking down the street no longer lives, from God’s perspective. The one of the flesh, the one of the sin nature, the old man in the body no longer lives because you have been raised with Christ.
Paul said, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20, 21. Paul is saying that the REAL Paul is the one who is in relationship with the Father, who walks according to the Spirit, who lives by faith, and who is the servant of the Gospel. He is the resurrected Paul living through the resurrected Christ. The flesh nature, the old man, was crucified with Christ.
When you believed on Jesus Christ as savior and Lord you profoundly changed inside! The old you was crucified and buried, and the new you was raised up! Paul said, ‘…having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. Col. 2:12 The old you is gone, the physical body and the unredeemed nature were buried and the new creation is risen, just as Christ is risen! You carry the power of the resurrection in the new YOU. Now, your mind must be renewed to this Truth.
Paul went on to tell the people of Colossae; Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Col. 3:1 The people of Colossae had been raised and were now living in Christ. They, the natural flesh men, no longer lived in the eyes of God, but Christ was living in them and through them!! So it is with YOU!
This seems radical but it is the good news! This is transformed thinking……renewing of the mind to consider ourselves, as believers, to be RISEN this Resurrection Day. The life you live today is the life of the Spirit of life in Christ. As He is risen, so you are risen!


The Mature Have Trained Themselves

A foundation with a mixture of grace, a dab of works, and a dose of "looking good".
Heb. 5:14-6:1 says ‘But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…..’ Scripture then goes on to describe several fundamentals of the gospel as ‘elementary’ and encourages the Hebrew reader to move on to solid or meaty food.
A key point is that the mature are trained in the elementary teachings, thereby demonstrating ability to receive and digest solid food. A measure of maturity is the ‘constant use’ of the elementary aspects of the faith. Training implies constant, repetitive application; not just intellectual understanding. The scripture says the mature have trained ‘themselves’. It is the responsibility of the pastor, teacher and apostle to teach. It is the responsibility of the believer to train themselves in the truths of the gospel.
Heb. 5: 12NLT says ‘you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about scriptures’.Very often the believer’s foundation is too quickly laid and often with a mixture of grace, a dab of works, and a dose of ‘looking good’ to prove you are a believer. This quickly laid foundation crumbles under the weight of theological bricks and meaty mortar and the trials of life laid upon it. The problem with the Hebrews was not that they had not been taught but they had not trained or applied themselves in the elemental truths of the gospel.
Some believers think they are mature, but their emotional responses to life and their core beliefs leave them falling short of God’s goal of maturity and fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13 ; 2 Pet. 1:2-9). A good example of this involves the concept of spiritual correction and judging others. Some believers are quick to judge others and advocate the correction of those they judge. Yet those same people are unwilling to receive correction themselves. Their response indicates they have not trained themselves in grace and faith. In reality they are immature and do not properly digest solid food.
I’ve found that it is best to go back and repair the foundation before moving into additional solid food. The prerequisite to moving forward is training and practicing again of grace and faith on a constant basis.
As leaders we can’t assume people we lead are mature based upon gifting, age, or knowledge. Maturity is a process building on the foundation of daily grace and faith training. Let’s move on to maturity. Train yourself! Become mature, ready and willing to digest solid spiritual food.