Sermon:  Purpose of Unity#2 - Maturity

Summary:  We need to understand that preserving the unity that God has created at a 
great cost is for the purpose of carrying out God's purposes for the church, which 
involves promoting maturity in the body.  As a body, we must rid ourselves of what 
prohibits healthy growth, and add what promotes healthy growth.  This takes growth
 in discernment of the word and the world.

Know:  Bible study, application, and accountability are indispensable for the body of 
Christ to attain maturity in such a way that it carries out God's purposes

Feel:  A need to do what it takes to press on to maturity in relationship with God

Do:  Reflect on what stifles spiritual maturity in your life and what role the group and 
the church plays in promoting maturity.  Identify ways personal study, the church, and
 the world interact to promote spiritual discernment and maturity.

Text:  Eph 4:7-16

Scripture Reading:  Heb 6:1-2

1.  Child goes to the zoo, stares at the stork for awhile
	a.  Looks up to his Dad and says, "Gee Dad, He doesn't recognize me."
	b.  He hasn't learned baby's don't come from storks yet
	c.  As much as we would like for kids to stay kids, we know they can't
	d.  We must help them to grow and mature
2.  What does it mean to be mature?  Body analogy
	a.  Physical maturity
		- Body grows
		- Grow in physical skill and ability
		- From a toddler to an adult
	b.  Mental maturity
		- Mind develops, grow in knowledge
		- Capable of dealing with existential questions
		- 2nd and 3rd order thinking
	c.  Emotional maturity
		- Don't have to have everyone's approval
		- Control of temper, mouth
		- Don't lash out when things don't go your way
		- No longer self centered
	d.  Spiritual maturity
		- The body cannot neglect this
		- Physical, mental, emotional growth doesn't mean spiritual growth
		- These are connected in some way, but not one and the same
3.  Maturity is indispensable in order to carry out God's purposes
	a.  A body that does not mature will have problems
	b.  It is about Church health, not church growth
		- The church is not an organization, but organism
		- All living organisms grow naturally when they are healthy
		- You don't command a plant/tree/child to grow, provide health, and 
		   growth comes naturally
	c.  Do you want to be healthy and strong?
	d.  This text will deal with this
4.  Text:  Eph 4:7-16
	a.  Purposes of ministry, maturity, and mission - Will deal with maturity
	b.  No longer to be children - We are to mature.  How?
	c.  Characteristics of a mature body:

I.  Discernment
	A.  Don't be gullible.  Be smart
		1.  Paul uses the image of a boat on the sea
		2.  Being tossed about by waves
			a.  Doesn't identify what the waves are
			b.  Identifies the wind - "every wind of doctrine/teaching"
			c.  Mentions deceitful scheming
	B.  What does it take to navigate safely through sea of life?
		1.  Know the instructions
			a.  The Bible is our instruction book
			b.  2 Tim 3:16 - All scripture inspired by God, profitable for 
			     teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness, so 
			     that man of God may be adequate, equipped
		2.  Be aware of the dangers
			a.  Used to emphasize doctrinal error
				- The wrong way to approach God in worship
				- Premillenialism, predestination, Holy Spirit
				- How to respond to the Gospel
			b.  But there is a deeper deception going on
				- Nature of truth (only scientifically verifiable is truth)
				- Religion is a private matter, recreational Christianity
				- Supernatural is not real, never any miracles
				- Ethics without God
			c.  You see it everywhere
				- In classrooms, colleges, t.v., the news
				- Jesus is obsolete, according to enlightened world 
				- Faith in Christ is ridiculed and backwards
			d.  Satan is a liar and the father of all lies
				- He won't try and get you to be evil
				- He just wants you to compartmentalize your faith
				- That will keep you from carrying out God's purposes
				- 1 Cor 14:20 - Do not be children in your thinking - 
				   but in your thinking be mature
		3.  Practice - (Heb 5:14) - Practice leads to discernment
			a.  What kind of practice?
			b.  Regular Bible reading, listen to God
				- Word of God is living and active
				- Pray about it, fast, meditate, journal
			c.  Hospitality, Fellowship, Ministry
				- We are a body, everyone is important
				- We don't leave anyone out that is weird, different
				- Jesus accepted anyone that came to him, so do we
	C.  ILL:  Freshman at Eagle Rock Jr High 1st prize at Idaho Science Fair 
		1.  Attempting to show how we conditioned we are to -
			a.  Alarmist practicing junk science
			b.  Spreading the fear of everything in our environment
		2.  Project urged people sign petition against dihydrogen monoxide
			a. Can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
			b. It is a major component in acid rain.
			c. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
			d. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
			e. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
			f. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients
		3.  Asked 50 people if support ban on chemical
			a.  43 said yes
			b.  6 were undecided
			c.  1 knew what the chemical was
				- Chemical compound - H2O - Water
	     	4.  Title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?" 
	D.  That can happen spiritually
		1.  Satan will deceive you into thinking faith and ethics don't mix
			a.  Will try to get you to think of "secular and religious"
			b.  There is no secular and religious, it is all the same
			c.  That is a false dichotomy
		2.  We need to be mature, have discernment  
II.  Functional Unity
	A.  A mature body where all the parts work together well
		1.  An immature body is still learning to function
		2.  Have you ever watched a toddler walking
			a.  Each step is a challenge
			b.  Arms usually in the air, because that is how they learned
			c.  As they get older, walk without thinking about it
	B.  Paul describes us as a body
		1.  We build up the body until we all attain the unity of the faith
			a.  Every joint in the body promotes building up
			b.  The body grows when each part functions
		2.  (John 17:18-23)
			a.  Pray that they may be one.  Why?  They have a mission
			b.  That is why I call it functional unity
			c.  Jesus send us into the world
			d.  So that the world will know and believe in Christ
		3.  Can have unity in doctrine, but not be one
			a.  Body metaphor that we support each other
			b.  Col 2:19 - We are to hold fast to the head from who the 
			     whole body, being supplied and held together by the 
			     ligaments grows with a growth that is from God.
			c.  Held together by our commitment to Christ and his 
			     purposes, not by 100% agreement
		4.  We can, should, and must work together for his purposes
	C.  ILL:  Merv Griffin show, body builder a guest
		1.  Merv asked - Why do you work that part of your body?
		2.  Body builder flexed, the audience applauded
		3.  He asked again, the same thing
		4.  Finally, Merv said, "What do you USE those muscles for?"
			- Bewildered, no answer
	D.  Can't be unity in theory that just sits on display
		1.  Has to be a functional unity
		2.  Paul's goal is that the body would work together toward's God's 
		3.  It takes maturity to have this functional unity

III.  Growing Relationship with God
	A.  We are to grow in the knowledge of the Son of God
		1.  We are to have the fullness of Christ
		2.  We are to grow up into the head, into Christ
	B.  Christianity is all about relationship
		1.  God doesn't just want us to be good and moral
			a.  There are a lot of moral people in this world
			b.  Some of them do good humanitarian things
		2.  Is that what God is after?  No
			a.  Maybe it is to give us eternal life
			b.  Yes if you understand what that means
		3.  What does eternal life mean?
			a.  John 17:3
				-  This is eternal life - That they may know you
				-  God purchased us, redeemed us
			b.  (Eph 1:5) - He predestined us to adoption as sons
				-  God's wants us to be children of God
				-  (Eph 5:1) Be imitators of God as beloved children
		4.  God is after a relationship
			a.  That is why God never gave up on humanity
			b.  That is why Jesus went to the cross
	C.  ILL:  Like my kids: I want them to be moral, good, responsible & godly
		1.  Not anything different than what I would want for other kids
		2.  Major difference, I want a relationship with my kids
			a.  If not, I would send them to boarding school
			b.  Remember first time they went to camp
			c.  After a week of being gone, I was ready for them to come 
			    home, my wife was ready after three days.
		3.  We want them, we love them
		4.  Is it any less with God?
	D.  How do we grow in our relationship with God?
		1.  Do as Jesus did
			a.  He took time out, went to the mountain
			b.  He spent regular time in prayer
		2.  Was God a constant presence?  Of course
			a.  Your kids, husband, wife, may be a major presence too
			b.  But you take time for quality time anyway
			c.  That is what you do for someone you love
		3.  If Jesus did this, why would we not need to?
		4.  Spend time with God, get away to be with him

1.  Are you in fellowship with God?
	a.  If you haven't obeyed the Gospel, then you are not
	b.  Invitation
2.  These are the characteristics of maturity that Paul deals with
	a.  There are more we could cover, but we will stick with these
	b.  There are especially important in order to carry out God's purposes for 
	     us as a church
3.  Which characteristic do you need to work on the most?

Small Group Questions:  Purpose of Unity#2 - Maturity

Summary:  We need to understand that preserving the unity that God has created at a great
cost is for the purpose of carrying out God's purposes for the church, which involves 
promoting maturity in the body.  As a body, we cannot remain immature, but rid ourselves 
of what prohibits healthy growth, and add what promotes healthy growth.  This takes growth 
in discernment of the word and the world.

Open:  (choose one)
- What is your best childhood memory?
- At what age did you feel like you were becoming mature?

Explore:  Eph 4:9-17; 

1.  Discuss each of the signs of maturity that Paul mentions in this passage.  How do these 
contribute toward his goal of promoting a church that fulfills God's purposes?

2.  What are some other characteristics of maturity that may not be mentioned in this passage?
  (You may want to refer to 2 Pet 3:17-18 or 1 Cor 2:5ff).  

3.  What does maturity have to do with a relationship with God?  How is Jesus an example to you
 for growing in maturity?  What are some things he did that helped him to stay spiritual strong?  

4. Identify some signs of immaturity.  How would these prevent carrying out God's purposes?  
(If you can't think of any, browse the book of 1 Corinthians)


5.  What are some challenges you face in pressing toward maturity?  What are some ways you 
can overcome these challenges?

6.  What role can you play in this group in helping others to grow in maturity?  What role can the 
group play in helping you to grow in maturity?  What role does the church have?

7.  Commit to a plan to press on to maturity and share it with the group.  (Would it involve 
accountability? Study? Meditation? Reflective Journaling? Prayer? Ministry?  Hospitality?  Other?)

Find a partner where you can mutually be strengthen each other toward maturity and hold each 
other accountable.  Begin by sharing the story of your spiritual journey with each other.

Heb 6:1a