Three questions every person would do well to ask one’s self are: (1) Am I a Christian? (2) Am I a spiritual Christian? (3) Am I a mature Christian? Where are you in your pilgrimage from here to eternity? How did you answer those basic questions?
Consider then: a Christian is a person who is rightly related to God through Jesus Christ, His Son. Thus, we label such persons as “Christ ones” or “Christians,” because they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who plainly said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) And, “…Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” (John 8:19) To be a Christian is to know the Father through a personal faith in and relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. The key word here is relationship. Are you a Christian then?
Second, a Christian is one who is rightly related, by faith, to Jesus Christ. What about a spiritual person? What makes a Christian spiritual? Is every Christian spiritual? The answer to that question can be found again in the word “relationship.” A Christian is spiritual who is related to God the Spirit by surrender. Every believer possesses the Holy Spirit of God who indwells every believer at the instant of salvation. (John 14:17) Any Christian can be and should be a spiritual person if he or she is rightly related to God’s Holy Spirit, that is, surrendered and “walking in the Spirit.” (Gal.5:16) The key once again is relationship. If you are a spiritual Christian (not every Christian is) you are yielded to God’s Spirit who is your teacher and guide into all matters of truth (John 16:13). You might have been saved for hours or just a few days or weeks and still be; yea, should be spiritual if you have a right relationship, through surrender, to God’s Holy Spirit who indwells you. Conversely, you might have been a Christian for forty years and still not be spiritual if you are not moment by moment yielding to God’s indwelling Holy Spirit. Spirituality is not “static,” it is a moment-by-moment relationship to the 3rd person of the Trinity, God the Spirit.
Third, are you a Christian who is mature? It is possible to be an immature Christian; and, it is possible to be a Christian who is not spiritual, and it is possible to be a Christian who is not mature. It is NOT possible to be a Christian who is mature but not spiritual. God’s plan for each of His followers is for each of them to “grow in grace” and to achieve maturity as a Christian. It is God’s will for you if you are a Christian to reach maturity; and the key to maturity is, again, a right relationship; in this case, being rightly related to God’s Word. A mature believer is able to skillfully use God’s Word to achieve growth in spiritual matters so that he or she is able to “discern both good and evil.” (Hebs. 5:14) So, are you a mature Christian? Are you rightly related to God’s Word? Can you use it skillfully? Are you able before God through His Word to discern both good and evil? This is God’s goal for you if you are indeed a Christian.
How do you achieve maturity? First, have the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christi Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) We already do possess the mind of Christ Paul affirmed in I Cor. 2:15, (“But we have the mind of Christ”) so what he is saying in Philippians 2 is that we need to let Christ’s mind be operative in our thinking process. The earmarks of that in your life, Paul continues in this great Kenosis passage, are humility and servanthood. It is the first step on your path to maturity as a believer.
Then, you will need to be serious about studying God’s Word if you will ever become adroit at using it to discern right from wrong. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim.2:15). There are a myriad of study helps today including traditional Study Bibles, commentaries and guides as well as internet commentaries and Bible teachers, BUT the vital Bible Study that leads to maturity is through a systematic, diligent reading and understanding of God’s text of truth to us, His Word. Find a Bible preaching church and learn from gifted teachers in a sound local church what God has shown them in their pursuit of knowing Him and growing in grace. A good local church with a sound Bible teaching ministry will protect you from being deceived by false teachers.
Enjoy, if you are newly saved, the “sincere milk of God’s Word that ye may grow thereby,” (2 Peter 2:2) but do not be content to remain “as newborn babes.” (2:2). Milk doctrines are necessary for babes in Christ and they are doctrines concerning soteriology (salvation) and ecclesiology (church ordinances) and eschatology (things to come, future events) as the writer of Hebrews enumerates (Heb. 6:1,2), but one needs to cultivate a taste for and desire for the “meat of the Word” in order to continue to grow (Heb. 5:14) to “full age” or maturity. A good example of “meat” doctrines would be the rest of the book of Hebrews, chapters 6-13.
So, are you a mature Christian? Do you have a right relationship to God’s Word? Can you use it skillfully to discern both good and evil?
Here are a few questions you might ask yourself in determining your own level of spiritual maturity:
- Have I learned how to exercise my Christian liberty while living in a libertine age/culture?
- How do I relate to other believers with whom I disagree on matters not considered fundamentals of the faith?
- If for the length of time that I have been saved I ought to be teaching others (Hebs. 5:12) am I involved in teaching/discipling others in faith matters?
- How am I holding to doctrinal distinctives (baptism, eternal security, 2nd Coming issues such as “pre-trib” or “post-trib”) which differ with other sincere believers? Charitably?
- What are the “first principles” of the oracles of God? (Hebs. 5:12) Am I stuck on these or am I assimilating truth which would be considered “strong meat?”
- Are my spiritual senses “exercised” to discern both good and evil? (Hebs. 5:14)
- Can I answer questions for myself through a serious study of God’s Word regarding such issues as (a) social drinking; (b) cremation; (c) Bible versions; (d) eternal security; (e) spiritual gifts such as tongues, healing; (f) divorce, remarriage; (g) dress/modesty questions; (h) music choices; (i) how much to give to the church/Lord’s work/to tithe or not to tithe; (j) questions concerning interracial marriage.
My prayer for each of you, dear readers, is that you will know for sure you are a Christian, rightly related to God’s Son, Jesus, through faith in His atoning work for you on Calvary, and that you are every moment striving to yield to His Holy Spirit, rightly related to Him in surrendering your will to His, and, third, growing into grace to maturity as you are rightly related to His Word through reason of use having your spiritual senses exercised to discern both good and evil. God bless you to these ends, my friends.