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Spiritual Leadership III

 

SPIRITUAL MATURITY 

WHAT IS A SPIRITUALLY MATURE CHRISTIAN?

Many Christian leaders either have a wrong worldview, ignore the "hard" sayings of the Bible regarding spiritual maturity and Satan's war against the saints, avoid teaching the full gospel, or do not themselves understand or accept the idea that there is more to Christianity than just coming to church occasionally and doing good works. 

The Lord Jesus Himself established the minimum qualifications for all believers in Mk. 16:17:  "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."  This is the starting point.  Many will deny this scriptural passage, especially those that are unable to meet its standards and will offer excuses and justifications.  Some claim that the Holy Spirit left once the church was established.  This excuses and justifies their lack of compliance.  Do not be deceived.  There is nothing in the Bible that says the Holy Spirit left.  I have witnessed thousands of Christians casting out devils, healing the sick and speaking in strange tongues, and have been used by God many times to do the same.

Much of the church has seemingly taken a razor blade and cut out scriptures that mention devils and evil spirits in sort of a mental block or avoidance.  One can only speculate as to the reasons.  Perhaps fear of the devil plays a role, or maybe are attempts to excuse a lack of understanding about the demonic kingdom or the inability to cast out devils is the reason.  If one cannot cast out devils, heal the sick or speak in a strange tongue, it is easier to protect one's pride by announcing that the Holy Spirit is no longer on earth and went back to heaven once the church was established in the first century.  Likewise, it is simpler to claim that Satan doesn't exist or Christians cannot have demons.  The Bible is completely void of any such dangerous teachings.

Someone actually told me that since the Holy Spirit is no longer on earth, I must be casting out devils and healing the sick through the devil.  This is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  (Mt. 12:31)  We need to go back to the worldview that the first century church had.  In the Book of Acts, the apostles and people of God cast out devils freely.  Ac. 5:16; 8:7; etc.  The writings of both Justin Martyr (153 AD) and Irenaeus (190 AD) speak of Christians casting out devils and how the rulers over the people are being incited by demons to kill Christians.  This was long after the church was established on earth.

The minimum standard for all Christians in Mark 16:17-18, has not changed.  God has not changed.  Heb. 13:8.   It is important to ask yourself, do I meet God's minimum standard?  Please understand that I'm not talking about salvation.  I'm talking about spiritual maturity.  Obviously, one doesn't cast out devils, speak in tongues and heal the sick the moment he is converted.  It is a growth process and a walk.  Mark 16:17-18 is just a start.  Rome wasn't built in a day, as the saying goes.  Our walk is more like a marathon at times, than a hundred meter dash.

THE OVERCOMERS

In the Book of Revelation, God reveals what He calls, “… he who overcomes.”  Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21.  Great rewards are promised to those who overcome.  What are we to overcome, and how?  Rev. 12:11 states, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the Word of their Testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death."  The “overcomers” will overcome Satan.  How? By the blood of the Lamb.  This implies that one must be strong in deliverance and faith in the blood of Jesus.  Ro. 3:25.

The “Word of their Testimony” indicates that they live in righteousness, faith and truth, and their very life is a testimony that the Word of God lives in them and leads them.  Watchman Nee, the famous Chinese writer, puts it this way (paraphrasing):  “There are two great gospels.  The first gospel is that Jesus died for us and we no longer have to die.  The second gospel is just as great.  Since Jesus lives in us, we no longer have to live.”  Galatians 2:20 explains, “I am crucified in Christ; yet I live, but not I.  Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live, ….”  Their very lives testify to the fact that Jesus, the Word of God, lives in them and is reflected in everything they say and do.  General Booth of The Salvation Army once said, "Preach the gospel at all times.  And if necessary, use words."

“Love not their lives unto the death” indicates the condition of their heart. They are unafraid of death because they live for God alone.  They have eyes that see eternity and as the apostle Paul shared, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  Phil. 1:21-24.

Living on earth is much less desirable than being with the Lord in heaven for the overcomers.  But it is more profitable for the saints and the world that they continue the battles on earth for the sake of the kingdom of God.  Nothing in the world has any hold on them, neither riches, fame, power or any other treasure on earth. 

REVELATION 12

In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we find three groups of mature Christians of the end times.  The woman that is a wonder in heaven, shining like the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head is the true and mature church of God at the end of the age.  Rev. 12:1-6.  She shines like the sun because she is made up of children of light that shine like the sun.  Jn. 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1 Th. 5:5. 

The crown of twelve stars identifies her as spiritual Israel.  Each Christian belongs to at least one of the spiritual tribes of Israel.  The moon is under her feet because she has defeated the kingdom of darkness.  “And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.  Jos. 10:24.  Putting someone under your feet or making them your footstool means to defeat them.

The woman is not physical or historical Israel, which was deep into sin and darkness.  She did not birth Jesus.  She crucified Him.  Revelation 11:8 called her Sodom and Egypt.  At the end of the world, God will have a true church made up of spiritually mature saints that have overcome the flesh, the world and Satan.

In Revelation 12:2, the true church travails, pained to be delivered.  She knows that Satan is about to destroy the church and slaughter all Christians.  She also knows that God will raise up His mighty army to stand against Satan and his demonic kingdom.  The devil knows too, so he stands watch over the true church, ready to devour the army, called the “man child.”  But as soon as the man-child army is birthed, it is taken up to the throne of God to escape the dragon. 

This man-child, which will rule the nations with a rod of iron, is not Jesus.  Rev. 2:26-27.  Jesus did not run to heaven to escape the dragon.  He utterly defeated Satan, and his principalities, and made a show of them openly.  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  Col. 2:15.  He returned to heaven in total victory over the kingdom of darkness and not to escape the dragon. 

The third group of mature Christians consists of the martyrs of God who have the testimony of Jesus and obey His commandments.  Rev. 12:17.  They love not their lives unto the death and bear testimony to the fact that they willingly live the life and share in the death and of our Lord Jesus Christ, as did the early apostles.  These three groups are the standard for spiritual maturity for the end times.


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