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Maturing in Christ

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
April 20, 2024 12:00 am

Maturing in Christ

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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April 20, 2024 12:00 am

Aspire to greater spiritual maturity as you spread the gospel and grow in Christ.

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Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Today we finish Chapter One of our study of Colossians. Let's check our progress on the journey of maturing in Christ.

Well, we're in a battle, all right. And the battle is a spiritual battle that all of us face every day in our own personal life and life of the church. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Colossians Chapter One. I want us to begin reading in verse 24 when Paul said, Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of his body, which is the church, in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. Of this church, I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the Word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to his saints, to whom God will to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. And we proclaim him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to his power, which mightily works within me.

And ask yourself this question. There are hundreds of thousands of churches in America, hundreds of thousands of pastors, millions and millions of dollars, organizations, staff members, you name it. And yet how is the church so weak when we have so much to work with? And why is it that our influence is oftentimes so weak and why so few people are excited about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, Paul has said in these first verses that we read a few moments ago that the very message of Christ in you was a truth that was hidden in times past but has now been revealed in the New Testament, that it is the truth that God intends to be a lifestyle for the Christian, that is daily living out and living on the basis of who we are in Christ, who he is in us that is Christ within me. Now he explains that. Then he says, beginning in verse 28 and 29, he says the truth is Christ in you is the message of the church.

Listen to this. He says, and we proclaim him admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man complete in Christ. Now, he says this is the proclamation of the church. And I believe that one of the primary reasons that so little is happening in a nation where there are so many people who profess to be a Christian is because somewhere along the way, we have missed the message. Now, what is that message?

Here's what he says. He says, and we proclaim him that is Christ. That is the message of the church, Jesus Christ. There are many things that church may do, but the church only has one message. Anytime a church deviates from that message in any realm, something begins to happen. Now, the reason the church is so weak and the reason there's so many people in the church who are so weak and not excited about the Lord doing God's work is because most of them only know half the message. And that is that we're saved by the grace of God. That is only the beginning.

That's just getting in the door. That is not where God intended the message to stop. Paul has just been telling us, he says, Christ in you, the hope of glory, that is the hope of becoming the person God wants you to be. And secondly, the hope of being glorified in the hereafter. He says, the message is Christ in you. I in Christ fits me for heaven.

Christ in me makes it possible for me to live victoriously, happily and peacefully here in this life. That is the message of the church. Do you know why some of you are not excited about sharing your faith? Because you've been saved but you don't have the confidence to share it. Once Christ in you grasps you and you begin to grasp that, you're going to sense a boldness and a courage and a faith. And your testimony isn't going to be something that you work up and struggle with telling someone else and telling them hesitatingly.

It's going to begin to flow through you. You're going to know what to say and you're going to know how to say it because you understand that it is Christ living his life through you at that very moment when you're sharing your faith with someone else. Paul said, this is the message of the church, Christ in you. But then he says something else. He says, here is God's purpose for all of us. What is God's purpose? He says, and we proclaim him, admonishing every man, teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man complete in Christ.

Now listen to what he says. He says, here's the message. The message is that you and I are to announce to the world that Jesus Christ came into the world, died at Calvary, paid your sin debt in full, and now you can be forgiven of your sins and that same Christ came through the Holy Spirit now to live in you and through you a life which he knew you were inadequate to live. That's the message of the church. He says, now this is the purpose for which this message is to be preached.

First of all, of course, to win the lost. But listen to how he says this. He says, this is the this is his purpose admonishing and teaching every man with all wisdom in order that we may present every person complete in Christ all mature in him.

He says, listen to this. He says, in order to present every man and woman complete in Christ, grow them up and you grow up by being challenged, by being confronted, by being convicted, by being reproved, by being encouraged, by being taught. He says, this is the message of the church. Jesus died for your sins and that same Christ has come to live within you. He says, this is God's purpose that those who believe us may be growing up in the Lord. Now, the purpose and the responsibility of the pastor is to equip the saints, moving them towards spiritual maturity. The responsibility of every single member of the fellowship is getting the message out of God's redemption for lost men and that Christ came to live within you to be your life.

That's your responsibility. Now, what in the world does that mean? Well, first of all, it means our understanding of who God is, is always enlarging and increasing. Secondly, our understanding of how God works in our life.

That is, what are the ways of God? When you and I begin to understand the ways God works, then we begin to mature. When we understand and begin to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our life, in sharing the gospel and encouraging others and counseling them, we are growing toward maturity. When you begin to feel something within you that you just can't get enough of the gospel and you just can't learn enough and you just want to know more and you just can't get enough and you want to pray and nobody's having to beg you to pray and beg you to read the Bible, you want to spend all the time you can discovering who He is, you'll know that you're on your road to maturity. Now, when do you reach it?

Never will. Because no matter how much you know, there's so much more to know. No matter how far you've grown, there's so much more to grow. The wonderful thing about the Christian life is, listen, there isn't any area out there where we say, I have arrived. When you and I meet the Lord Jesus Christ, we've got an endless eternity to keep growing, though we'll have a sense of maturity and completeness and perfection and glorification that's beyond our human understanding. But He says, here's the purpose.

The purpose is maturity. So let me ask you this question. When you walk out of church on Sunday, whether it's this church or any other church, is something witness to your spirit today? I learned one more principle.

I stacked one more on top of the last one. I know a little bit more today than I knew last week. I have another principle to challenge me all week long.

I have something else to confront me, to convict me, to cause me to be confronted with truth, with relationships, with ideas, with decisions I'm about to make. If you can go to church and walk out and the only thing you do is just feel sort of good, you're not maturing. My friend, if you're going to grow in your spiritual life, it isn't enough simply to hear the Word, but to hear it and apply it. That's what makes the Word effective.

That's what causes us to grow. Now, if you go to church on Sunday and you go always with this protective shield, then my friend, you know who's losing? You're losing every Sunday. If you come with an open spirit and an open heart, God, I want you to say something to me today. Whether I like it or not, I want you to speak to my spirit. My friend, you're going to grow in your spiritual life. And all of us are at different levels in our spiritual life and always will be. So we're not going to put everybody in one category and say this group is spiritual and other groups not spiritual.

Nobody is a good judge of whether we're spiritual or not really. But you know whether you have a deep abiding hunger to know the Lord and to understand His ways. Now listen to what Paul says. He says, we proclaim Him admonishing every man, teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present, every man complete in Christ's mature. Now he says, this is God's plan.

What's God's plan? Well, he says a couple of things. He says, first of all, this is His method of bringing us to maturity.

And he gives it to us very clearly. He said, first of all, admonishing every man. That's warning us. Confronting us with the consequences of sin. Warning every person that neglecting the Word of God, neglecting prayer, letting your priorities get out of order, being more concerned about social acceptance than God's acceptance.

He says, warning every man. Then he says, teaching every man with all wisdom. So he says, this is the way the body of Christ matures. Warning them about sin, instructing them in the principles of God. Warning them about sin and instructing them.

Now here's what happens. One of the evidences that you are growing in your spiritual life is that you can't keep quiet about Jesus. And when you not understand that He's chosen to live His life in us, how in the world can you keep quiet about the message of hope that the world needs? You see, it isn't just that Jesus Christ has saved us, but He's living within us to live through us, to make us sufficient to meet every circumstance of life. How many of you know somebody where you work, where you live, that desperately needs to know tonight that Jesus Christ will forgive them of all their dirty past?

And secondly, He'll come to live His life within them and edify them, build them up, and make them sufficient to meet every circumstance. How many of you know somebody who desperately needs that? Let me ask you a question. What are you doing about it? Are you keeping it to yourself? When God's working in your life, nobody can keep you quiet about Jesus Christ. Nobody.

So what you need to ask is this. If you are satisfied being mum about Jesus where you work, with your friends, you need to ask yourself a question. God, am I spiritually stagnant? See, man can preach the gospel and be spiritually stagnant. Sing in the choir. You name it, you can become spiritually stagnant.

But one way you'll know that you're not. When your hunger for God is increasing and you've just got to share what Jesus Christ is doing in your life, something good is going on inside of you. Now He says the plan is that through teaching and admonishing, people are matured.

Listen to this. And for this purpose also, Paul said, I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Now he says, here are the requirements for getting this done. Now most church members don't understand this.

He says here are the requirements. He says, first of all, what's the message of the church? Jesus Christ died for your sins and that same Jesus Christ has come now to live within you. What is the purpose to mature the saints?

Grow them up so that when the Lord Jesus Christ comes, His beautiful body, the church, will be mature. He says the method of doing so is through teaching and preaching and sharing warning and instruction. He says, but it requires labor. You know what the word labor means? Work.

You know how the message of the church gets to the lost man and how the believer matures in his faith? Somebody's got to work. I mean labor. If the church is to get the only message they'll redeem mankind to an unbelieving world, it means work. And it's interesting the two words he put together, he said striving.

And that's agonizomai, which means I strive, I wrestle, I agonizomai, I agonize. Now I didn't say living the Christian life was to be an agony. But oftentimes in the work that God calls you and me to do, there is agonizing and there is just old pure hard work. And somehow Christians have the idea, well, man, I work Monday through Friday. I surely don't come to church and want to work some more.

He says I labor agonizing. So what I'm saying is there's nothing in the Bible that says doing the work of God is going to be easy. So is that one of the reasons you've not been willing to serve God?

Because you're looking for an easy job. Shipwrecked, Paul says, beaten in stocks, in prison, you name it. I never remember Paul saying, I'm sick and tired of this, God.

He never said that. Paul became weary. In fact, he said, and above all of these things, then there is the burden of the churches upon him. You're talking about a man who worked at getting the gospel out. He labored, agonized, getting the gospel out. But you know what motivated Paul? His love for Jesus.

You know what motivated Paul? He never forgot the Damascus road. I'll tell you something else he never forgot. He never forgot how wicked and vile and deceived he had been before he met Jesus. Toward the end of his life, he's talking about being chief among sinners.

You know what he was saying? I'm so grateful. Have you forgotten what Jesus Christ did for you back yonder when he saved you? And have you forgotten what kind of a horrible, unholy mess you could have made of your life and where you'd be tonight were it not for the grace of God?

Have you forgotten that? He says, I labor. I agonize. But then he says, but this is the way I keep going. According to his power, that's Jesus Christ's power, which mightily works within thee. Now there is labor and there is hard work in serving the Lord Jesus Christ. But we're not to do it in our strength. That doesn't mean you won't get weary and tired and worn out.

All of us get that way at times. But he says it is the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps on energizing us and empowering us. You know, God's business is the eternal business of bringing people to the saving knowledge of Christ and then giving them the understanding that Christ is now living his life through them in order that their life may be a reason for somebody else coming to know Christ as their Savior. What's the message of the church? Christ in you. What is God's purpose? Maturing the body.

What's his plan? Teaching, warning, labor, agonizing labor when necessary in the power of the Holy Spirit. And when God's people are willing to commit themselves to God's work, believing that Jesus Christ is the only life-changing message there is and are willing to work at it, sweat and blood and tears if necessary, something will happen to the body of Christ. Now all of us can't be Apostle Pauls, but I tell you what we can be. We can be the messenger of the message in your office where you live among your friends.

And here's one thing for sure. If you will explain to somebody that Jesus paid their sin debt in full and you'll explain to them that Christ desires to come live within them, you are going to get a hero because you and I live around the hurting world that's dying for encouragement. And I want to ask you, with the truth of the message in your heart and the power of the Holy Spirit within you to deliver it and with the remembrance of Christ's death on your mind and that He saved you by grace, not by your merit, what do you intend to do with a message of Jesus Christ? Thank you for listening to Maturing in Christ. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-20 02:41:19 / 2024-04-20 02:48:35 / 7

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