Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Volume 02, Number 40
church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker HWY
P.O. Box 30821
Bellingham, WA 98228
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Mt. Baker church
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In this issue:
GROWING IN FAITH, HOPE,
T. Sean Sullivan
What does it mean to grow up; to be mature?
In today's world, it seems that "growing up" is a dreadful thing. To avoid
the aging process, things like, "50 is the new 30" are said. There is
nothing amiss with enjoying life and staying youthful in our vibrancy and
zeal. However, immaturity leads to weakness in adult life, a weakness that
is noticeable in all areas of our life. There must be a better way not to
lose the zeal for life, we desire, but then also "grow up".
Paul, in the first Corinthian letter, speaks
of the necessity of the maturity of the church at the end of the thirteenth
chapter. Paul was teaching about the end of temporary things in the
church-spiritual gifts (vs. 8-12)-and the necessity of the permanent things
(v. 13). In our individual lives we also have temporary things-immaturity,
and we are supposed to grow toward permanent things. Coincidentally, the
things that Paul speaks of in regard to the church are also marks of
maturity in our personal lives. Let's open the Scriptures to further examine
the necessity of faith, hope, and love; and how they grow as we grow.
Growing in Faith
Faith begins small but grows to full
strength over time, with determination. The beginning of faith is
knowledge-very basic understandings. No one starts out knowing everything
about God's will or being a Christian. We discover we are sinners (Romans
3:23; Romans 5:12-"all sinned"). Because of our own sins, we are separated
from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23a). We begin to understand that we need
rescue, and it is available (Romans 6:23). The reason to use the word
"rescue" is because we cannot find our way, without help-the help that only
God can offer (Romans 5:6-8). We learn that our hope is found in Jesus (1
Peter 1:18-19). God sent His Son to be our sacrifice (Hebrews
9:22-28). We need this His hope, we need to be in Jesus (Romans 6:3;
Galatians 3:27). The undeniable scriptural conclusion is made, "I must be
baptized in Jesus". We conform our lives to the pathway of righteousness
(Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 12:1-2). We work through the growing pains of our
new life (Acts 8:20-23; 1 John 1:9). Then we grow, and these primary
understandings grow stronger in our life.
What does it mean to transition from first
faith to a mature level of faith? We increase our knowledge of "right" and
"wrong" (Hebrews 5:12-14). A diligence of study-seeking to know (Romans
10:17). We walk in God's help, with daily purpose (James 4:8-10).
Acknowledging God's help more every day (Romans 10:5-10). We seek to live up
to our calling-knowing better the price of our redemption (Ephesians 4:1-3;
Romans 5:6-11). We have a better grasp on the big picture of sin's cost and
redemption's price. We conduct ourselves in careful steps of righteousness
(Ephesians 5:6-10, 15-16). Christians do all things with purpose an d focus
Growing in Hope
Our level of hope is an indication of
maturity-in the youth of our faith we may hope for things like feeling
better about our life (Matthew 19:16). Like the rich young ruler, who was
looking for validation; perhaps more than direction-he hoped to feel better
about his life. For some it is being relieved from guilt (Acts 2:37). The
Jews were confronted with wrongdoing and were cut to the heart, their
primary goal was relief from the burden of guilt. Maybe it is being part of
something greater than ourselves (John 6:66). Perhaps those described in
John 6:66 we only along for the hope of being involved in something big-when
the pressure mounted, they ran off.
These basic hopes are to be temporary and
they are to be replaced with far greater and deeper hope. We grow and take
on a true desire for a better life in Heaven (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation
22:20). It is often difficult for a mature Christian to be satisfied with
earthly life (2 Peter 3:12). We look ahead and long for our welcome home
(Philippians 3:12-15). We grow beyond the simple need of relief from guilt
we come to understand the beauty of God's will and His direction (Ephesians
5:8-10; Philippians 4:4-9). We understand the beauties of
righteousness-honor, integrity, and worthiness. We grow to seek more than
just being part of something else, we engage in being an effective part of
the greatest institution ever given to mankind (Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter
2:5-10). The mature Christian is a participator (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Growing in Love
There are also elemental principles and
mature understandings of love. Love for God can be much like any other love
in this life. We can start to love God first with those big sparkly eyes of
infatuation. Much like the rocky soil-that enthusiastically received the
word (Matthew 13:20). If this is our love's only depth, it will fail. We can
love God, with only a desire for what He can do for us (John 6:25-40). Like
those who had been given food, and they were only seeking more.
If this is the only motivation for our love,
it will fail. If we remain immature, our love for God will be easily
extinguished. The winds of doctrine will unsettle us and take us away
(Ephesians 4:14). The pressures of life will distract us away (John 6:66; 2
Mature love has a more proper understanding.
We love God and keep His commandments (John 14:15). He has done so much for
us (Romans 5:6-10). We choose to love God no matter what we have to go
through (1 Peter 1:6-9). True love is a choice, more than a feeling-it is an
enduring decision – it is a commitment (Revelation 2:10).
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now
abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love".
After faith is sight, and hope is realized, love will continue throughout
eternity. Also, without love there is no faith and no hope. By combining
these two, we will begin to realize the significance of Paul's inspired
The time to be more grown-up is now-as the
world trends away from growing up we need to "grow up in all things into
Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). From the beginning principles to a grounded
understanding, we can mature and become the servants that God desires.
One sign of maturity is accepting
responsibility for one's own soul. We must know that we are lost without God
and we need to be mature enough to do something about our salvation. We need
to seek God in faith. We need to pursue His offer of hope. We need to
embrace what His love affords us. We will then be in the right place to
grow in faith, hope, and love, as we should. The opportunity to begin is
yours, right now.
Dennis C. Abernathy
There was an amusing little story about a Vermont restaurant near an
Interstate highway that had a large sign saying “STEAK.” But when the
restaurant was sold, and became a Chinese restaurant, it no longer served
steaks. The new owner, however, didn’t change the sign until people began to
pressure him to stop
advertising what he didn’t sell. Finally he solved the problem by removing
the letters “S” and “K” so the sign read “TEA.”
God’s original message in the Bible can also
be changed by removing parts of the message. For example, God tells us to
believe in Christ, (Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:16), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3;
Acts 2:38), confess our faith in Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37), and be
baptized in water for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). But many have
removed baptism from the message. True, many still practice something called
baptism, but in many churches real (scriptural) baptism has been replaced
with mere sprinkling, and baptism of believers has been replaced with infant
baptism, and baptism for the remission of sins has been replaced with being
baptized because one already has remission of sins, and to qualify for
membership in a denomination.
However, in the Bible, baptism was
immersion, and it was for people who believe, and it was never administered
to join a denomination. Thus, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Gal. 3:27, 1 Pet. 3:21, and other places in the Bible teach that baptism is a part of what God
requires of people who want to be saved and become Christians.
Like the restaurant sign that was changed
from “STEAK” to “TEA” by removing some of the original letters, preachers
who have tried to remove baptism from God’s plan of salvation have changed
the original message. For example, 1 Pet. 3:21 says “even baptism doth also
now save us.” Thus, preachers change the “w” to a “t” making the apostle
Peter say “even baptism doth also not save us!” Better think on these
Created by John Bass, last updated.
The Mount Baker Beacon is a
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.
Send all questions, comments to the editor, John Bass at (360) 325-5149