GOING ON TO MATURITY IN CHRIST

Heb 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; (G5047) not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 

Heb 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. “perfection” = completeness, of full age (mature)

Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 

Eph 4:12 For the perfecting (G2677) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: G2677 καταρτισμός katartismos kat-ar-tis-mos’; From G2675; complete furnishing (objectively): – perfecting.

Eph 4:13 – 15 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (G5046) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 

Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may preent every man perfect (G5046) in Christ Jesus: 

G5046 τέλειος teleios tel’-i-os; From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: – of full age, man, perfect.

What we see in each of these verses is that God’s will for the saints to leave the principles of the faith delineated in Heb. 6:1 & 2, and “GO ON TO PERFECTION” or “COMPLETENESS” ie., come to a “full age” or maturity in the faith. God never intended for His church to remain at the “beginning” or in other words, to remain at the baby stage of faith, but intends for newborns to grow up. So it is in the natural – parents teach their children easy things in the beginning but as the child grows they start teaching it harder concepts as the child is able to comprehend them. So it is in the spiritual —

Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Those that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. 

Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 

Some prefer the comfort and ease of babyhood status and resist growing up spiritually speaking, so that they don’t have to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. What they don’t understand is that while remaining infantile seems easier, there are rewards and advantages to being entrusted with responsibility, and disadvantages to being a baby.

Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat

Heb 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe

Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil

From these verses, we see one advantage of being of “full age” is that such are able to “discern both good and evil” or between good and evil. That’s a huge advantage when you consider how vital it is to be able to discern between those two opposite polarities; it can mean the difference between life and death in many instances. And how does one get there? By “reason of use” = G1838 ἕξις hexis hex’-is; From G2192; habit, that is, (by implication) practice: – use. Thus, those of full age acquire discernment through habitually exercising their senses = G145 αἰσθητήριον aisthētērion ahee-sthay-tay’-ree-on; From a derivative of G143; properly an organ of perception, that is, (figuratively) judgment: – senses

They do this by remaining in God’s Word [Jn 15:7], which means they stay with it and spend lots of time not just reading, but studying it. And more than that, they DO what it says! By actually doing what the Word says one’s spiritual senses (perception and judgment or discernment) are increased with each obedience! 2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

from glory to glory — from one degree of glory to another. As Moses’ face caught a reflection of God’s glory from being in His presence, so believers are changed into His image by beholding Him. – Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (Public Domain)

By reason of use – Who, by constant hearing, believing, praying, and obedience, use all the graces of God’s Spirit; and, in the faithful use of them, find every one improved, so that they daily grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. – Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible (Public Domain)

The disadvantage of those ingesting only “milk” is that they’re “unskillful” in the Word which means they haven’t yet developed their spiritual senses to the point where they can differentiate between good and evil.

To discern both good and evil – That is, in doctrine. They will appreciate and understand what is true; they will reject what is false. – Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible (Public Domain)

So you see remaining a baby in Christ is a precarious position leaving one vulnerable to the devil’s deception and wiles as Eph. 4:14 points out. Since we’re living in the “last days” in which spiritual darkness covers the whole earth, it’s vital that believers have and use ALL the spiritual gifts and weapons that Christ has given His Church. It’s God’s will that His born again children be “overcomers” – Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Other ‘overcomer’ verses: Rev 2:11, 17 & 26; 3:5, 12 & 21; Rev 21:7.

1Jn 2:12 – 14  I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 

These four classes constituted the household or family of God; each class, in ascending gradation, seems to have had more light, experience, and holiness than the other.

  1. The τεκνια, beloved children, or infants, are those who are just born into the heavenly family.
  2. The παιδια, little children, are those who are able to walk and speak; they know their heavenly Father, and can call him by that name.
  3. The νεανισκοι, young men, are such as are grown up to man’s estate; these perform the most difficult part of the labor, and are called to fight the battles of the Lord.
  4. The πατερες, fathers, are those who are at the foundation of the spiritual family, and have known the whole economy of the work of God in themselves and in others. These have the largest stock of spiritual wisdom and religious experience. – Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary (Public Domain)

Therefore beloved, let us no longer be CHILDREN, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ…” (Eph 4:14&15) Realize that the spiritual gifts are given to believers for their edification (building up) and other reasons —

1Co 1:4 – 17  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 

1Co 12:1 – 7  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.  Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 

1Co 12:8 – 11 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 

A More Excellent Way

1Co 13:1 – 3  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

1Co 13:4 – 9  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

All true, and yet beloved of the LORD, that which is “perfect” has not yet appeared, and therefore, tongues, prophecies, words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning of spirits, and the working of miracles are still valid – they have not yet passed away! “That which is perfect” is referring to the time when believers will have attained to the “full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13). Many believers misinterpret the above scriptures to mean that Jesus was himself the “perfect” which had come, therefore, the ‘gifts’ passed away after His earthly ministry was over. Those espousing this false doctrine referred to as Cessationism [1-2] can’t have read the entire New Testament, for every book in it after the four gospels clearly teach the gifts were in use after Christ. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles, practiced all of the spiritual gifts long after Christ arose. The gifts helped establish Christ’s church and there’s no scripture which states that any of the gifts died out in their time, in fact just the opposite. The book of Acts alone is filled with demonstrations of the Spirit in miraculous signs, healings, raising the dead, tongues, prophecies, casting out of evil spirits, and more. In addition, Act 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; Act 2:1 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Act 2:18  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…. (See Joel 2:28 &29) Notice that it’s both God’s sons and daughters who will prophesy. Prophesy means to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: – prophesy G4395 προφητεύω prophēteuō The gift of prophecy is mainly spoken in the Church assembly, 1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 

Prophecy and Tongues

1Co 14:1 – 2  Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 

1Co 14:3 – 5  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 

1Co 14:6 – 7  Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?  And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?  

1Co 14:8 – 12  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?  So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 

1Co 14:13 – 19 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?  For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 

1Co 14:20 – 33 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 

1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak (G2980); but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak (G2980) in the church. 

Re ‘women keeping silence in the churches’ – what isn’t apparent from just these couple of verses, is that Paul wasn’t forbidding women from PROPHESYING! How could he have meant that when in the following scriptures he clearly states that he allowed them to? 1Co 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. No gender limitation there. 1Co 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. Seems that Paul allowed women to ‘prophesy’ so long as their heads were veiled! The veil or head covering was to be worn as a sign of a wife’s subordination, or obedience, to her husband. Women in the New Testament era prophesied – Act 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. Luk 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel… To “prophesy” means to G4395 προφητεύω prophēteuō prof-ate-yoo’-o = to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: – prophesy. The word “speak” which Paul used in 1 Co 14:34 & 35 is – A prolonged form of an otherwise obsolete verb; to talk, that is, utter words: – preach, say, speak (after), talk, tell, utter. Compare G3004 = A primary verb; properly to “lay” forth, that is, (figuratively) relate (in words [usually of systematic or set discourse; whereas G2036 and G5346 generally refer to an individual expression or speech respectively; while G4483 is properly to break silence merely, and G2980 means an extended or random harangue]); by implication to mean: – ask, bid, boast, call, describe, give out, name, put forth, say (-ing, on), shew, speak, tell, utter. [Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionaries] 

Is it not possible dear brethren, that Paul had some problem with women in the church speaking OUT OF TURN, shouting or calling out questions to their husbands (which Paul makes reference to in the very same passage vs. 35), and or they were giving EXTENDED and or RANDOM HARANGUES? Def. of “harangue” =

1) a scolding or a long or intense verbal attack; diatribe. 2) a long, passionate, and vehement speech, especially one delivered before a public gathering. 3) any long, pompous speech or writing of a tediously hortatory or didactic nature; sermonizing lecture or discourse.

Please note the nature of the terms used: long, intense, attack, VEHEMENT, POMPOUS. Do any of these characterize a true prophetic word from God? Of course not. Women had to prophesy in the church assembly since prophesy needs to be “judged” by “others” in an assembly! (1 Cor 14:29) Paul’s correction in 1 Cor 14:34 & 5, likely had to do with a specific problem he was having with wives speaking out of turn, asking questions of their husbands in the church disrupting the main speaker, and even perhaps “scolding” their husbands there as well – see the def. of ‘harangue’ above. For a wife to ‘scold’ her husband is one way of “usurping authority” over him. A wife was to be in subjection to her husband according to the Torah which Paul was obviously upholding here and elsewhere, 1Pe 3:1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. I realize this goes against the women’s liberation movement of modern times, but God’s principles don’t change with the tide of man’s opinions. It doesn’t mean a wife is a slave or can’t give her opinion but it means that she can’t wear the pants in the family! She isn’t allowed to ‘order’ her husband around like he was a puppy dog. If she scolds or berates him, she’s showing disrespect towards him, and that too is out of God’s divine order. God has an order to everything in heaven and on earth; we would be wise to find it out and follow it, or else suffer the negative consequences of not following it as we see in the fact that nearly half of all marriages end up in divorce. Too many women try to “rule” over their husbands when God told Eve that her husband would “rule” over her – Genesis 3:16. (Rule = dominion) Women, God always knows best and this is an a test of your trust in Him. Can God work through your husband even when you disagree with him? Can God provide for all your needs (emotional, physical, etc.) even when your husband appears to be working against you? Being under authority is meant to be a safeguard against deception, most of all from ourselves.  

The typical explanation that Paul was forbidding women from prophesying in the churches contradicts everything else written in the New Testament about it, as I’ve shown in this article. Besides, the LORD Himself prophesied that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit upon ALL flesh – “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Act 2:18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…. (See Joel 2:28 &29)

For those who don’t realize it, we are now living in the “last days” of this present age, for they began in the days of Christ, 1Jn 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. Second witness – 1Pe 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1Pe 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you… There should be no doubt in your mind now that the “last days” (or times) began in the days of Christ and continue to the end of this current Age.  So, there’s no excuse, no reason, for the Church in our day to shun the precious gifts our Savior gave us for the purpose of equipping the saints to do the works which Christ ordained for them to do until He comes again. I believe that God’s gracious Spirit is grieved when his children shun His precious gifts given for their edification and maturation. Let us therefore no longer be like children tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine but let us grow up into the fullness of Christ – “unto a perfect man!”

As an aside, the term “man” in scripture is a general designation for both male and female, unless otherwise indicated. Thus, there’s no need to write, “he/she” as so many do in an effort to be politically correct. How arrogant are those who think that they can improve upon what God said! I figure that if the term “man” is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me.

Debra R. Stout, June 23, 2018

Footnotes:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessationism

[2] https://wesleygospel.com/2016/04/30/debunking-cessationism-a-cesspool-of-deformed-theology-john-boruff/   An excellent expose on this topic!

 

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