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On Being a Disciple - Our Maturity

Unfolding Prophecy Truth
"As a disciple, I want to master the Bible so that the Master of the Bible can become my Master."
May God bless you all!
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Matthew 5:48:
- Author unknown
And That Brings Us Back To:
2 Peter 1:10:
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling
and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"
Strong, J.
[computer software] . Franklin, TN: Equipping Ministries Foundation. (Original work published 1890)
Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.
Meyers, R. (2005). e-Sword.
Wordsearch Bible. [computer software] . Nashville, TN: LifeWay Christian Resources. (Original work published 1990)
The Complete Biblical Library Interlinear Bible.
 World Library Press. (2019).
Gilbrant, T.
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven
is perfect."
Running the Disciple's Race
The goal and command by Jesus is that we are to be "perfect" as our Father in Heaven is perfect. The word
is the Greek word
which means complete (Strong's
G5046) and comes from the root
which means the end point, the final goal, the
result (Strong's G5056). The word
Disciples are always learning, striving, pressing towards the goals as Paul says in Philippians 3:14: "
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus
." Paul likens his life and really all of our lives as Christians as in a race or
boxing match: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: "
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they
do it
to obtain a corruptible crown; but
we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring
into subjection: lest that by any
means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
." Such a life
would require that we live as disciplined athletes, maintaining our bodies in top physical condition without imbibing in the foods and activities that would foil us in the ring or on the track.
The spiritual race/match is the same. We are not to encumber ourselves with the world's philosophies, standards, belief systems, science falsely so called (real science is OK); and instead we "strive for the mastery"; that is, we work hard towards mastering those things that God has called us to do (like our spiritual gift, or a position in the church, etc.). When I ran cross-country in high school, our coach had some strict rules regarding eating. During the week while we practiced and strengthened ourselves, we were to load up on vegetables and protein. That builds muscles. We were to exercise those muscles, often with ankle weights and weight belts that added as much as thirty pounds to ourselves during the practice runs. On the day of the race, just before we ran, we ate a light meal of starches and sugars (yes - donuts!). Not many, but enough to give us some extra energy to kick us off so that the body had time to start converting the stored fats and proteins into energy for the long runs.
We are in a different race as Christians, as we need a good, steady spiritual diet of those meats, fats, and starches in God's Word. More on this in a little bit.
Three Groups of Christian Disciples
The Apostle John in his letters spoke to the believers as "little children" (I guess at the age of ninety or so, most everyone was like a little child compared to him . . . .) Look at this passage: 1 John 2:1-2: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for
sins of
the whole world." But later in this letter in the same chapter, he divides the
Christians into three distinct groups of maturity. Let's look:
1 John 2:12-17 (bold added):
I write unto you,
little children
, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's
sake. I write unto you,
, 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,
that are
in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that
in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride
of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.
The Little Children - Young Christians:
John has a few descriptions regarding this group:
They have been forgiven for Christ's name sake. They are saved. They have been forgiven their sins. Not much can be said at this time about their maturity - they are newly saved.
They know the Father. These relatively new, or at least young believers, understand and know the Father God. I take it they have been taught that there is one God, and He is creator and judge of all things, and that, as John so often likes to write about, He is Love.
These Christians are encouraged by
gracious." And also
Hebrews 5:13
says, "For every
one that useth milk
unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe."
The Young Men:
The young men are known for their spiritual battle capabilities in that they have overcome the wicked one. They have become serious and are not casual about their walk in Christ, and they are warriors and protectors of the flock in their prayer life and their corporate life in the church.
Young men spiritually are described as strong with the Word of God abiding in them. This is no casual overview of the Scriptures. Most church goers know most of the great Bible stories (so do kids), but not all, including adults who have been in the church for years. The young men know the lessons and applications and inspirations available to us through those Bible stories. These spiritual young men John is writing to are spiritually strong like the verse in Daniel 11: "[They] that do know their God shall be strong, and do
" (v. 32b). These young
men know the secret of their strength is the constant diet of the Word of God for John says, "and the word of God abideth in you." Abides, dwells there, lives there, stays there, is at home there. These young men eat, drink, sleep God's Word.
John restates that these young men have what it takes to overcome the wicked one.
These are those of which
1 Corinthians 10:3-4
says, "And did all eat the same
spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." And
Hebrews 5:14
tells us: "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,
those who
by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
The Fathers:
Fathers are those older mature Christians (age may vary greatly) that "have known Him
that is
from the beginning." The KJV has added a couple of words to have it make more
sense reading it in English. When I look back at the Greek and do a simpler translation, I get the following phrase: "I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him from the beginning." The word known is a form of
(knowledge, to know, perceive,
be sure, understand (Strong's G1097)) which is
Biblical Library Interlinear Bible
has some additional insight to what these
fathers have going for them. The word strongly implies a knowledge as a completed action. Spiritual fathers have undoubtedly gone through all the other stages of spiritual life (children, young men) and are in that position of really knowing the Father. They have been consistent in their walk and like Paul are close to finishing their race. They KNOW the Father! I like the story of two preachers who both spoke about the 23rd Psalm at a preacher's convention. One out of seminary, enthusiastic, powerful speaker, dynamic. One an old country preacher quiet and reserved. The young man wows the crowd and gets a standing ovation. But after the old country preacher speaks, not a sound could be heard except crying and sniffing. "What's the difference?" cried the young man. The moderator simply said, "Son, you know about the Shepherd, but he KNOWS the Shepherd" (Unknown). Spiritual fathers KNOW the Shepherd, the Father.
Love Not the World
John reminds all three groups to love not the world. This includes its philosophies, false sciences, morals, pleasures, vanities, etc. John warns about the things that are in the world because the accumulation of things, even good or neutral things, can lay a snare for a Christian. Let's break down verses 15 through 17 for a moment:
Love not the world, neither the things
that are
in the world
." This includes all that
I just said a moment ago. They weigh us down and keep us from winning the spiritual race (or even running in it!). They are the weights and sins we were warned about in
Hebrews 12:1-2:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset
, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto
Jesus the author and finisher of
faith; who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him
." This verse reminds
us that as disciples we cannot have two masters. We can't love the world and God at the same time. Jesus Himself said in
Matthew 6:24:
"No man can serve two
masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
For all that
in the world
" - this includes a lot of things . . .
[T]he lust of the flesh, . . . is not of the Father, but is of the world
." I restated a
phrase here to make a point. No special comment is needed here. Lust of the flesh brings about several kinds of sins as fornication, gluttony, greed, envy, strife, and many more. One thing for sure is that it does not foster the fruits of the Spirit.
[A]nd the lust of the eyes, . . . is not of the Father, but is of the world
." Restated
again to make a point. The eyegate, if not controlled is the number one gate to get us into trouble. We see it, and we want it. Why do you think that TV ads are so much more effective than radio ads? Lust of the eyes makes us desire a thing to the point of making it become a need - way past a want. And it can be things that by themselves are not evil, but when we lust for them, they have become evil to us because they have become a snare to us.
[A]nd the pride of life, . . . is not of the Father, but is of the world
." The original sin
was pride. God hates pride, perhaps more than any other sin. Pride says I am better than others, I am a power unto myself. I can be like God!
Compare 1 John 2:15-17 to
2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare
not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and ever high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God
abideth forever
." Thanks, John, for a great summary. The world will not last. The
things of the world will not last. the systems of the world will fail and not last. But those disciples who do the will of God will abide forever. AMEN!
Whether you are a new child of God, a babe in Christ, or a young man (or woman), or a father - strive for the mastery. Run the race unencumbered by the world. Focus on your discipleship maturity and growth through Bible study, memorization, meditation and application (don't just read - do!). Leave the weights and sins behind. Abide in Christ. And KNOW your God that you may be strong and do exploits!
moral character, completed (Strong's G5046). As we grow in grace and in knowledge of Jesus and are conformed to His image, and take on the mind of Christ and die to ourselves . . . we become more and more complete . . . more and more "perfect" as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
in Greek implies full age, mature, mental and
little children
, because ye have known the Father. I have written
unto you,
, 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. Love not the world, neither the things
to "As newborn babes,
1 Peter 2:2-3
desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord
Note the order: strongholds - lust of the flesh; imaginations - lust of the eyes; and high things (pride) - pride of life. These are to be brought down, they are snares and bondage to us, and John warns all three groups of Christians to LOVE NOT THE WORLD.
The Complete
Bro. Joe