The Maturity Factor

by Morris Ruddick on March 31, 2013


© Morris E. Ruddick


“Prove yourselves doers of the Word and not merely hearers only, who delude themselves.” James 1:22 NASU

A recent opinion-editorial (Downey and Burnett, “Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible,” WSJ 3/1/13) written by the producers of the BIBLE mini-series deeply stirred me. It outlined their vision of getting the Bible back into US schools, simply as the piece of great literature that it is. It’s a mini-step, but a strategic one.

The homosexual movement has systematically taken just such strategic steps. Psalm 94 outlines the dynamic that opposes God’s order, as sinful behavior is established as acceptable within a culture. Culturally-accepted sinful lifestyles are described as iniquity in the Word of God. This psalm poses the question to the issue: “Can a throne of destruction [iniquity], which devises mischief by decree [evil by law] be aligned with You?” Ps 94:20 NASU and NKJV

The process of establishing cultural acceptance for homosexual behavior began in the late 80s with a conference that defined the goals and mapped out strategies over a 20 year time frame. Those strategies were progressive, entailing mini-steps that built upon one another.

Yet, when it comes to bringing change to society; Christians and conservatives tend to be so short-sighted and purist in approach that the impact short-circuits the valid, long-term intent. Short-term mind-sets reach for a goal of either ALL or nothing, right NOW. The unfortunate result from short-sighted, purist approaches is the loss of ground with a LOT of nothing to show for it.
”For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:8

The stumbling block is both a maturity and cultural issue. It first entails a myopic response to being right that is inbred and inflexible. Underlying this attitude is the gap in aggregate spiritual maturity. This gap is the lack of strategic vision to reach beyond our (Western) comfort zones with an applied long-term wisdom that sets in motion a key part of the mantle of Jesus: to destroy the works of the devil. What compounds this hurdle is far too many within the Body being stuck at acceptable, but immature maturity levels, passively blinded and immobilized by the precepts of men.

To truly release a long-term strategy for this mantle, we need to get beyond being just hearers of the Word only, who deceive themselves, as noted in James 1. This involves a pathway into Body maturity; a pathway requiring not only the wisdom to enter, but the spiritual fortitude and unity to sustain the purpose.

While the Body has been maturing; the disintegration of morality around us should be a wakeup call to the need for something more. We need to replace the blind-spots and purist mind-sets that young believers, being first exposed to the Truth, are experiencing as their worldviews are transformed; with the wisdom that’s needed in applying Truth to the culture war around us. We need more who are doing what the Bible mini-series producers are doing. We need more un-deluded doers of the Word.

The Strategic View
In this cosmic conflict, as well as in the pathway to aggregate maturity, the Bible is absolutely strategic. As the foundation to the Truth, its role is pivotal in our response to this clash between good and evil. It is pivotal to our response with the standard we uphold in the world around us. Upholding the standard is a role of doers.

In some ways, the gap and blind-spots in maturity are due to a lack of knowing how to realistically apply the Truth outside the circles of those who agree with us. We’ve lost touch and become short-sighted and passive; allowing the world to displace the biblical morality that once was ingrained in our society.

In other ways, we’ve become seduced and immobilized into resetting the standard, culturally aligning ourselves with the world’s subtle machinations. We’ve acquiesced to the passive, culturally acceptable blind-spots; soulish snares that impact and impede how we walk out our callings. In short, as suggested by James, we deceive ourselves, as we are enticed by soul issues rather than walking in the Spirit.

The answer is in the reach for something more in Him. The answer is in the reach for the maturity that takes us beyond our cultural comfort zones and soul issues into the realm of focusing on the “majors” and together, walking in the Spirit.

What may be appropriate when we are spiritual babes, in depending on what others say, has become a snare to the maturity we desperately need to walk into. Rather than paying the cost for the spiritual engagement required for true maturity, we read a book or go to a prophetic web-site to get our input from the Lord.

There’s nothing wrong with finding good meat in solid Christian books or getting a good word from those gifted in the prophetic. However, sampling what others discern should augment rather than replace what should be the primary source of our spiritual input and nurturing: the mix of the biblical standard and God’s Voice.

Despite incredible moves of God in the last generation to mobilize us into a mature Body, as a whole, we’re yet a disunited band whose goals fall short, because of the mix between being spiritually spoon-fed, while allowing the culture around us to be the primary influence that shapes who we are.

Shaping a Generation
Following an extended, horrendous battle between good and evil during WWII, the Western world has experienced sovereign moves of God designed toward Body maturity and the realignment of God’s order on the earth. These outpourings of the Holy Spirit have paralleled significant milestones tied to Israel and the Jewish people.

At the forefront of these last-generation sovereign moves toward maturity and God’s order, in 1948 Israel became a nation. In that same year, more than 250 healing ministries were birthed in the U.S. alone. God was restoring the supernatural to the Church as He set the framework for restoring the ancient paths mapped out by His covenant people. God has been realigning His order to what lies ahead.

In 1967 Jerusalem was restored to Jewish control. This also was the year marking the beginning of what some called the Charismatic Renewal or Jesus movement, as God began pouring out His Spirit in small groups within both Catholic and denominational Protestant settings. God was reawakening the power of prayer to the church. However, there was more, as by some estimates half those who came to faith during the Jesus movement were Jewish. So it was that during this same time frame, that the seeds for the modern-day Messianic Jewish movement began taking root.

This also was the time period in which Christian radio and television turned into what some have labeled as the parachurch movement. With the power of prayer and the availability of 24/7 Christian programming in the media; it was as if the Holy Spirit had infused steroids into a Body hungry for more of God and the roots to our faith.

Each of these time-junctures represented turning points and quantum leaps in terms of the maturity of the Body, as the Lord systematically was restoring to us, the ancient paths that had been largely lost since the time of the early church.

Today, we stand at another juncture. It will involve Israel and the Jewish people. It will involve a move of God’s Spirit and another leap forward in the spiritual maturity operating within the Church. There is already evidence of the restoration of a true Jewish identity to the Jewish people and the reestablishment of the Jewish roots in the Church, which in the early church was a vital ingredient to the power of the Body to effectively confront the culture war.
“These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here too.”
Acts 17:6

In short, we’re entering times set by the Father’s authority that will require nothing less than the unity marked by Body maturity for us to survive.

Dividing the Word of Truth
Yet, to be doers of the Word, we need to insure we are maintaining the pillars and foundations. True spiritual maturity begins and ends from rightly dividing the Word of Truth for ourselves; and in hearing from the Holy Spirit ourselves. That takes discipline and perseverance. It involves paying the cost that takes us beyond the constraints of soul issues and into the place of walking in the Spirit.

In Matthew 18, Jesus drew from a principle in Deuteronomy 19 that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word would be established. While Jesus was explaining a key point to guide relationships, this also is an essential principle for rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

The Bible is our road-map to gaining a right perspective and balance of God’s Truth. It includes principles, and the application of the principles through wisdom and models found in the Word of God. Since Truth endures time, the Bible will have patterns of Truth that prepare us for times of change. Jesus explained the words written by Moses, along with the prophets and heroes of faith: thus in the “mouth of two or three witnesses.”

The time of Jesus and the early church was a time in which many Romans were being drawn as converts to traditional Judaism. The Apostle James, in Acts 15 responding to Paul and Barnabas’ testimony describing the move of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles, quoted Isaiah and Amos, outlining the priority in applying Jewish traditions to the Gentile followers of Jesus; at a point when the Faith was still a Jewish sect. Again, this follows the principle “in the mouth of two or three witnesses.”

The fact that there are three Gospel accounts that were eye-witness accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus and a fourth of Luke who carefully compiled eye-witness accounts follows this same principle. Likewise, the teachings of Paul, James, John and Peter explained and drew from not only these same Mosaic, historic and prophetic foundations, but the teachings of Jesus.

By the standard of two or three witnesses, we deepen the perspective. I’ll always recall the first time I ever heard the Gospel shared completely from the Old Testament, which had to be how it was done in the early Church before the New Testament was canonized. It challenged me to gain a better grasp of the foundations and interrelationships marking the Truth of our Faith.

Rightly dividing the Word of Truth begins by daily immersing ourselves in His Word (see my Bible reading plan for mature believers at–Mature.htm) and in so doing, in reaching for Truth by being brutally honest in “speaking truth in our own hearts” as the Psalmist (Ps 15) advises.

Doers of the Word
As the roadmap to life [Life], the Word of God was never designed to be a head-trip. It maps out the pathway and prepares us, based on the heart of God that establishes our individual, community and generational destinies.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
Heb 4:12-13

Having worked with believers in parts of the world where the Bible has not always been readily available, I know the high value given the pure Truth when facing persecution. In restoring the ancient paths and discipling nations, we need to guard against our ears being tickled. What some refer to today as pop-Christian culture will fall short. But the Word of God will overcome and endure forever.
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
1 Peter 1:22-23

As we daily pay the cost to immerse ourselves in His Truth, what will unfold will be patterns of principles and wisdom that enrich us by seeing how the principles and models together add substance to the application of the Truth, as we become better equipped as doers of the Word. Then by tracking the roots of the Truth, as seen in the “mouth of two or three witnesses,” we gain not only clarity in perspective of the Truth, but a depth that releases its power.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who by reason of use have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary principles of Christ, let us press on to maturity…”
Heb 5:12-6:1

This principle will not only enrich and empower, but will yield the balance to keep us from digressing into the “weird” and the “enticing” by preparing us with the standard by which to judge prophetic words and the teachings of the many who now populate the bookstores, the media and the Internet.

It is key to grooming maturity that avoids the snares and deceptions. It’s the gateway into the strategic that has defined the heroes of faith over the centuries. It is the compass that defines the times with the standard for preparation that will navigate the doers of Word with solutions, through the dilemmas of the day.
“Justice is turned back and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter. So truth fails and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. But the LORD saw it and it displeased Him. He wondered that there was no intercessor. So He put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation; He put on the garments of vengeance and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds He will repay fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies. So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun. So when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those who turn from transgression.”
Is 59:14-19

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