CHRISTIAN GROWTH, MATURITY AND DISCIPLINE (PHILIPPIANS 2:16)
Dear Members in Christ,
Christian growth, maturity and discipline
“Holding forth the word of life” Philippians 2:16
CJBPF is now in her 39th year of witnessing and testifying for the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. With spiritual growth and maturity in the Word of God, the Church must bear evidence of growth like a mature tree bearing good fruit in propagating God’s Word and work. The Bible says every good tree must bear good fruits otherwise it would be useless and worthless. Such a tree would be cut and burnt. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Matthew 7:19. So, the Church in maturing must obey and do the work of the Lord in order to bear good fruits otherwise she will be just a memory of the past in time to come. In spiritual language, the term “Church” also refers to believers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It cannot be denied that over the years CJBPF had also experienced painful and joyful moments. The devil had tempted CJBPF with false teachers, false doctrines, health and wealth narratives, divisions and conflicts in the work of the Lord. If not for God’s grace and mercy, CJBPF would have been consumed by the evil one. Thank God that CJBPF remains firm as a rock for the Word and work of God.
Knowing, understanding, keeping, trusting and obeying God’s Word are important as without these there is no wisdom and the fear of God in man’s heart. Man will go astray and do what is right in his own eyes. I pray that God will raise up the next generation of faithful and God-fearing leaders and believers to continue to contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. There is no victory in Christ, and no revival, if believers are ignorant, weak, devoid and lack of God’s Word. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:” Hosea 4:6.
Holding forth the Word of life:
Just by worshipping and listening to the Word of God on the Lord’s day is not enough. We need to grow and beef up with more studies individually as well as corporately. As with newborn babes, we need to partake good and nutritious food. We also need admonishing and loving care to grow healthily (cf. 1 Peter 2:3).We cannot be Christians and yet be ignorant of Him. We need to know Him. To know Him is to know His Word. By knowing Him we will love Him more and understand His Will and purpose for us. Our love and faith in Him will grow and blossom. We will taste His sweet fellowship and care. We will trust and obey Him in whatever life’s situation that He allows us to be in. We need to grow from partaking of the milk to the meat of the Word so that we will not be stunted but become profitable followers and servants of God (cf. Hebrews 5:13-14). In times of adversity, God’s Word is our strength and comfort (cf. Psalm 46:1). Though we are down we will not be out because we know that Jesus is with us. He will not allow evil nor any plague to befall us beyond what we are able to bear (cf. Psalm 91:1 Corinthians 10:13). Our trials and temptations are just for a moment. We will emerge victorious and in greater faith. God’s Word is the sword which helps us to fend and fight victoriously against the evil one. We have to equip ourselves with the Word of God by faithfully studying His Word. Jesus used the Word of God to fend off the temptations of Satan when He was in the wilderness (cf. Matthew 4). What more for us. We should similarly do the same “... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Ephesians 6:17.5. The Word of God makes us wiser. It is a lamp unto our feet which shows and directs us in the path to righteousness (cf. Psalms 119:105).
How do we learn God’s Word?
Daily Quiet time with fundamental Bible Study guide e.g. RPG, Bible Study Groups (e.g. Agape group), Fellowship Groups (e.g. Youth, Philemon Fellowship), Bible Study and Prayer Meeting, FEBC class. We cannot be a pathetic and anaemic Christian not wanting to be nourished with God’s Word. We need to grow in stature with the knowledge and wisdom of God. Yes, we can have home study but we should also complement and fortify with group study. A study group will build godly bonding and fellowship where members can take care, edify and encourage one another.
We shall not give lame excuses for not devoting time to study God’s Word. The devil will be happily celebrating if we are busy with the things of the world instead of God’s Word. Let us resolve in our hearts to know, live and serve God faithfully and to live a victorious Christian life.
Living examples of Christ: The effective witness of a Christian is important. It is not only knowing and the ability to quote “Bible verses after Bible verses” but to be living examples of Christ. We have heard on many occasions from unbelievers that they have heard the gospel on numerous occasions but did not take the step of salvation because of the “bad behaviour/lives” of Christians. The unbelievers were stumbled by the Christians who evangelised to them. Their Christian lives did not reflect the gospel message that they preached!
New believers and even professing Christians can also be stumbled by fellow Christians who do not live godly lives nor able to manage his career, household in righteous manner etc.
Christian responsibility Simply, a Christian must consciously be aware that he is being watched by unbelievers and fellow believers in his life, attitude, behaviour and communications. Thus, a truly saved believer must strive to be a living example for Christ. If he falls, he must quickly pick himself up and come back to God to live a godly life. In this manner, others may see Christ in him and be encouraged.
Church responsibility and discipline: The Church has the spiritual duty to tend, feed, care and admonish the flock. Spiritual discipline will also be meted out when needed. Like the good shepherd who will not fear to use the “rod and staff” to rein in the sheep, the Church will do the same. For example, the "Doctrine of Separation" applies not only to the personal life of a Christian in faith and practice, but also to their relationship with God and with other churches.
The Church will not solemnise the marriage of a Christian with a non-believer. The Christian concerned will not be allowed to serve in any of the church ministry nor partake of the Lord’s Supper. If the parent, being a leader of the Church, had given his consent for the marriage, the parent had to step down from Church leadership and other ministries that may stumble others. Repentance is the only way to come back to the Lord. God shall surely forgive (cf. 1 John 1:9).
Conclusion: Christians shoulder great responsibility for the image and name of the Lord. Thus, be conscious of your responsibility. We need to live a godly life for Christ. We must NOT tarnish nor shame the name of Christ. Yes, we are sinners saved by grace. Yes, we are spiritually frail and weak. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us will help us to strive to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ if we ask and submit to His leading. Let each one of us resolve to live a victorious Christian life and glorify God. Amen.
Eld. Choe Tong Seng