THINKING MATURELY TOWARDS SPIRITUAL MATURITY
(Philippians 3: 15-16)
By Lay Pastor Jusak Pundiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, November 24, 2019
All parents want their children not to remain babies but to grow up to school age and continue working and so on. They are no longer children but growing-up and maturely-minded. Likewise Heavenly Father wants us to become maturely-minded Christians and continue to move toward spiritual maturity. Do not be a simple Christian, a fake Christian or an ID-card Christian, but be a spiritual Christian who has a mature mind to know the direction of our goal, that is, spiritual maturity ends up with perfection with Christ, our Groom.
Philippians 3: 15-16 explains the three principles of mature thinking towards mature spirituality, namely:
1. Think as a perfect Christian (v.15a).
"Therefore let us, who are perfect, think in such a way”
What do you mean by perfect-minded Christians? Paul uses the term 'perfect (full grown, mature)' in the sense of adult, reaching fullness. For example: if the fruit is ripe, the fruit can be enjoyed. Once Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree that had leafed but no fruit was found, He then cursed the tree (Mark 11: 12-14). Jesus was pleased with ripe fruit. We should not think about the mockery that only thinks about outward matters such as: highlighting religious traditions, ethnicity, academic achievement, pride in office and so on. As Paul was proud of which he later regarded as trash (Philippians 3: 4a-8). It can be imagined, physical trash is disgusting already, let alone spiritual rubbish! After believing in Christ, Paul thinks in the corridor of truth that God bestows on the basis of belief in Christ (v. 9).
In the Old Testament era, the Israelites were so proud of their ethnicity that in the days of Ezra, a Pharisee system was built which became a source of pride but only one desired by God: did they believe / have faith in Him who saved them or did they believe in the things they were proud of?
In the New Testament, everyone who believes in Christ (repents and is born again) is blessed with truth. Example: the Roman church consists of Jews and other nations. The Jews were justified by God because they believed in Jesus not because they kept the law. And in truth there is no difference (Romans 3: 20-22) based on physical conditions (ethnicity, education, social etc.).
We have all sinned and lost the glory of God (v. 23); so whatever we do is marked by the glory of the world. Be aware, pride is actually dragging us to sin in our hearts and minds – making us arrogant and easy to demean others or to show partiality (James 2: 1-9).
We must think in God's truth based on the whole Bible. We should be happy because the Bible has been recorded in a total of 66 books; in the past the truth was not written but only spoken for generations. We must pursue the truth of God above all outward matters which are the benchmarks of the truth of the worldly people. We must always be passionate about getting to know, explore and meditate on His law day and night (Psalm 1: 2), so that our spirituality is more mature. The apostles, including the Apostle Paul, pursued this truth for the rest of their lives by continuing to look at the Heavenly calling in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3: 12,14) not at earthly calling.
2. Thinking along with the development of the expression of God's Word (v. 15b).
"If you disagree on some point, I believe (in Greek: Apokalupto = will be revealed) God will make it plain to you."
If we do not understand when reading the Bible, do not immediately refuse but continue reading because God will express his understanding either personally when praying, driving a vehicle, walking or listening to a sermon. God can express it at any time, any circumstance and situation but He also sees the extent to which we 'chase' and 'run' to live up to the verses that are read.
The Apostle Paul invites us to think in line with the Word of God which will continue to be exposed/revealed and progressed to perfection. We do not need to debate the basic doctrines that have been condemned/diatthema by church fathers in councils of the 3-5th century but now reappear in new packaging or debate issues that are not substantial because there are things hidden for God that has not revealed to us (Deuteronomy 29:29). Be careful because this determines our spiritual progress and even our salvation (1 Timothy 4:16).
Instead, there are things that God reveals through His Word for us to do and teach to the next generation. Honestly, we have not done much of the Word we have heard and read, but we tend to look for an understanding that God has not/does not declare and make a fuss; it's the same as wasting our time.
God revealed the epistle of Philippians to the Philippians in the context of shepherding (Philippians 1: 1). Please note, Jesus always appeared different for each church depending on the needs of the church. Example: He appeared different in seven churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2 - 3). In other words, the Word of God delivered in any church at the same time looks cool in the local church because it suits the needs of the people in that church. Thus, God's Word cannot be compared between one church and another church. Set yourself as being pastored in a church and appreciate the shepherding Word of the pulpit of the church which will make us grow to spiritual maturity.
What are the criteria for expressions in God's truth?
- Expressions that are not outwardly oriented nor self-boastful (Philippians 3: 4-8).
- The phrase that focuses on the likeness in the sufferings/death of Christ (vv. 10-11) begins with appreciating and experiencing His death and associating with His suffering.
- Phrases that direct us to the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus (v. 14). Starting with the revelation of Genesis where God created the universe and its contents very well but the first men fell into sin resulting in them and their offspring having to fight hard to live. They experience ups and downs in sin but end with the Book of Revelation about the glorious future of the church as the final destination of Heavenly vocation.
The teaching of the Tabernacle and the Bride Tidings continually brings us to appreciate and imitate the sacrifice of Christ so that we as spiritual Tabernacles live in sacrifice for the formation of the Bride's body. The entire Bible based teaching (66 books that become flesh) is the Bride's call from beginning to end – God's call to be the Bride of His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application: we should unite our hearts and join hands to run after Heaven's call and have spiritual maturity to become the holy Bride of the Lamb without blemish.
3. Thinking in common with the understanding of God's Word (v.16)
"But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.”
Why do we have to think according to the common understanding of God's Word? Because we are the unity of the body of Christ and every part of the body continues to grow (spiritually) in togetherness because it is impossible for us to be perfect alone but all parts (Ephesians 4:15). That’s why Paul uses the plural of the first person pronoun, "we," which shows together not only himself and Timothy but with the saints, overseers, deacons in Philippi.
How to increase our understanding of God's Word?
♦ Through comprehensive worship (Sunday fellowship – Bible study – prayer service) as well as special services for the elderly, women, young people with themes of the Word of God according to their respective levels of understanding, also Cell Groups in which spiritual maturity takes place to enter the service.
♦ Through personal sequential reading of the Bible from the Book of Genesis – Revelations repeatedly to further understand and deepen it. The Holy Spirit will reveal God's truths making us spiritually sensitive to dealing with dogs, evil workers and false circumcision.
The level of understanding that we have reached must be continued according to the way (in Greek: kanon = benchmark) that we have taken. A standard is needed in our Christian walk to reach spiritual maturity as followed by the apostles (Galatians 6: 16).
During this time, our standard is stated in three pastoral periods, namely: the teaching of the Tabernacle, ordination, Bride News as a structured, systematic and massive teaching. We should not leave the standard that has taken us to reach the spiritual level as we are at the moment but remain steadfast to live with these standards in worship, service and daily life. Thus, our level of understanding continues to grow as Christians who are always aware that we are the future bride of Christ and are prepared to unite with Him as His Bride.
The Philippian letter refers to the Gold Candlestick made of 1 talent of pure gold formed and worked by Bezaleel, Aholiab and workers in the Spirit of Wisdom with a benchmark so that it is formed from petals – almond flowers → showing that our Christianity continues to develop to perfection as the Bride of the Lamb.
Let us increase our understanding of the Word of God by diligently reading the Bible, following the services provided, following prescribed standards so that our spirituality is more mature to be ready to face various false teachings and also to be ready to welcome the Lord Jesus, our Bridegroom and live with Him in Jerusalem forever. Amen.