Connected In Growth, Pt.2

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Intro: This morning we talked about how Christ has put us together as a team with the pastor as the coach under the authority of God [Owner of the team], and the congregation as the players and we are training under His game plan [Bible] to win the spiritual championship of life in Christ.
Tonight as we continue to look at being “Connected In Growth”, I want us to see some of the specific benchmarks of our spiritual growth.
Text; Eph. 4:13-16
Ephesians 4:13–16 NKJV
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait till you grew up?
Remember the three most important birthdays? 13 [teenager], 16 [drivers license].
Then at 18 you are recognized as an adult whether you are or not. These stages/ages in life are gauges/benchmarks to determine a persons growth/maturity.
Paul says there are gauges/benchmark of growth in a Christian’s life as well.

1. Christ Our Standard: 13

The only way to gauge our spiritual growth is to compare it to an absolute standard, Jesus Christ.
Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)
6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Hebrews 13:8 NKJV
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus lived to please God. He came to do his Father’s will. He put others above himself. He patiently endured suffering. He loved the unlovable and forgave the undeserving. That’s our standard!
Two things to get us to this standard;
Unity of the faith- Oneness in Christian doctrine. Oneness in fellowship. It is impossible to achieve this unless it is built on the foundation of a commonly believed truth.
1 Corinthians 1:10–11 NKJV
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.
Knowledge of the Son of God- experiential understanding of the Person of Christ through prayer, study and obedience in the Word of God.
Philippians 2:12–13 NKJV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
We have to put our faith into practice. Not just when we are at church around those that know us, but in the world where people don’t know Him!

2. Defend the Faith: 14

Defending the faith is knowing in Whom you believe, what you believe and how to have a rational conversation with others about your faith.
1 Peter 3:15 NKJV
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
A child has to learn and mature to be able know the difference between right and wrong. A christian has to mature to be able to defend the faith. But it is amazing to me how many adults are easily deceived because they have not grown!
How many of you know heaven is for real? Bible or movie/book
How many of you know homosexuality is a sin? Bible or hearsay
Matthew Vines wrote a book entitled “God and the Gay Christian”. In March 2012, Matthew delivered a speech at a church in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, about the Bible and same-sex relationships, calling for acceptance of gay Christians and their marriage relationships. He is the founder and executive director of The Reformation Project, a non-profit ministry that works to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church. Quote; “I’m passionate about helping Christians and churches rethink their views on LGBTQ topics in a way that strengthens their commitment to the authority of the Bible and to orthodox Christian theology, while affirming sexual diversity”. He believes you can have faith in Christ and still live in what God says is an abomination. [Lev. 18:26, 20:13, Deut. 22:5, 1 Kings 14:24, Ps. 14:1, Pr. 15:9, Ezek. 16:22, 43, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Titus 1:16, 1 Pet. 4:3, Rev. 21:8, 17:5]
Isaiah 5:20 NKJV
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
1 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

3. Speaking Truth in Love: 15

We need to be honest with people about the realities of sin and how God views it as rebellion against Him. But we also need to speak with humility/charity, remembering from where we were before Christ, but never compromising the truth of scripture!
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
2 Corinthians 2:14–16 NKJV
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
Speaking the Truth in love comes from the scriptures not our opinions!

4. Joined and Knit Together: 16

Joined & Knit together- Knitting is the craft of interlocking loops [joining together] of wool or other yarn with knitting needles.
Paul says that Christ has “knitted together” individuals, spiritually gifted people, to work together in His authority by His power, which causes growth of the body [church] in love. The reference to growth refers not so much to increased size as to increased faith and spiritual strength.
California redwood trees grow to be massive in size and ancient in age. The secret to their stability and longevity is that their roots intertwine. Underground, they’re all interconnected. You can’t mess with one without messing with the whole grove. When fierce winds blow, their connectedness allows them to borrow from one another and stand strong. So it is, Paul says, with the body of Christ, the church.
Evans, T. (2019). The Tony Evans Study Bible (p. 1397). Holman Bible.
The reference to growth refers not so much to increased size as to increased faith and spiritual strength.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–22 NKJV
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Colossians 1:23 NKJV
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 2:18–19 NKJV
18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
2 Peter 3:17–18 NKJV
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Each of us has a responsibility to grow-up in Christ and to encourage others to grow in Him as well. That means we have to;
Get equipped through training [Prayer, bible study, worship]
Know our part as a team member [Know your spiritual gifts]
Be a participator not a spectator [Get involved in the church ministries]
Speak the truth in love [Gospel]
John 12:32 (NKJV)
32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
Never quit growing!
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