Tony Evans - Time To Grow Up
The goal of the church according to Paul in Colossians chapter 1, he says these words in verse 28 and 29: "We proclaim him," Christ, "admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose I labor". He says, "My goal in ministry for the church at Colossi, the church here, the church everywhere is to present every person complete". The word complete means mature. God's goal is your spiritual maturity, not your church attendance. If maturity is not being emphasized, if spiritual growth is being marginalized, if we become satisfied with how many folks are in the seat regardless of their spiritual age, we have failed as a church, as a ministry both locally and as the body of Christ.
God measures the success of a ministry by the maturing process of the folks who are in that ministry. He says, "I labor for maturity". The biblical word discipleship, that process of maturation, that process of bringing you to maturity. God is after a divine reset, but he needs some mature people. He needs mature Christians, not just church attenders. Paul complains to the church at Corinth. He says, "Brethren", so these are Christians. He's not talking about sinners. He says, "Brethren, I can't speak to you as spiritual, but as men of flesh, as infants in Christ. You still babies". He says, "I want to take you somewhere, but you refuse to grow up".
Now let me explain a simple principle. Paul went to Corinth in approximately 50 AD. He wrote the Book of Corinthians in approximately 55 AD. Let me say that again. He went there in about 50 AD. He wrote them this book, 1 Corinthians, in 55 AD. So that's 5 years. Paul says in 5 years you ought to be mature. If you are a 5-year-old Christian, 5 years is all you need to move from spiritual infancy to a basic spiritual maturity. So carnality, let me define it for you, is that spiritual state where a Christian knowingly and persistently lives to please self rather than to please Christ. It is that persistent state where you knowingly, willingly persist to please self over pleasing Christ. In other words, living for Christ, glorifying Christ, representing Christ is not your goal.
Now, you want him to take care of you but pleasing him is not your goal, that makes you fleshly. A carnal Christian is like what he calls a natural man in verse 14 of chapter 2. He says, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they're foolishness unto him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised". A natural person can't understand spiritual things because they're non-Christians. But he says a carnal Christian, they're a Christian, but they're like a natural man. They are on their way to heaven, but they don't understand spiritual things on earth. They don't have this spiritual perspective on life, they have a human perspective on life. That's carnality, because of a refusal to grow.
So let me say that again. If you've been saved 5 years or more and you are not spiritual where you look at life through God's lens as a normal way you operate, then you are a spiritual infant, a fleshly believer who is missing out on spiritual experience because you're not operating that way, I'm not operating that way. Not only can we have carnal Christians, we can have carnal Christians and carnal churches because the church is not operating that way. Their goal isn't maturity, their goal may be entertainment. Their goal may be money, their goal may be notoriety, but the goal of maturity is not the goal. And if that's not the goal, you're not a serious Christian and we're not a serious church. Well, let's take this a little deeper. Shall we? Hebrews chapter 5. He says in verse 11, "Concerning him", we'll talk about that in a moment. He's talking about Melchizedek. "We have much to say it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing".
Let me pause right there. The Book of Hebrews was written some 30 years after Jesus died and rose. Some of these Christians have been saved for 30 years. In Corinth, that's 5 years. In Hebrews some of these Christians have been saved 30 years, and he says, "Y'all still dull of hearing". The Greek word dull of hearing means mule-headed, mule-headed, stubborn. Let's go a little deeper. He says, "For though by this time", somebody say, "Time". You get the point? You've been saved long enough for us not to have to go through all this. "By this time," some of y'all 30 years, "you ought to be teachers". See, you've been saved long enough to help somebody else. You can't even help yourself. He says, "But you have need again for somebody to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food".
Now, who gets milk all the time? A baby. A baby feeds on milk 'cause it's an infant. He said, "Not only can you not teach, we need to take you back to the ABCs". He calls them the elementary principles. See, spot, run, and B is for boy. "We need to take you back to spiritual kindergarten 'cause you've refused to grow spiritually". He goes on and he says, "Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness. He is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil". There's a lot to unpack here. He says the problem with infants, the immature, the folks that God can't use so he can't reset what he wants to do in history, he says everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness. He says, "Here's what keeps you a baby. You haven't gotten used to use the Word of God to address the issues of life".
A baby won't grow just by watching mama have milk. They've got to use it, ingest it for growth to occur. He says the thing that keeps you a baby is you don't use the word of righteousness, and he says solid food is for the mature, for the people who have their senses trained. Notice that, their senses trained. The proof of maturity, here it is, here it is, here it is, is your ability to discern, he says. Your ability to discern; that is, your ability to look at things through spiritual eyes, not just through physical eyes. He makes a difference between milk and meat, or milk and what he calls solid food. Milk, he says, you need the elementary principles of the Word of God. Meat, he says, you have the ability to discern.
Okay, you're not a meat Christian 'cause you carry a Bible. You're not a meat Christian because you can quote verses. You're not a meat Christian because you go to church. You're a meat Christian because your spiritual antenna can discern things spiritually. Without the ability to discern, it doesn't matter how many small groups, Bible studies, church attendance you take. It is the choices that determine whether you're spiritual or not. Let me help you to grab the difference between milk and meat. Here's milk. Milk is what Jesus taught on earth and what Jesus did on earth that's recorded in the Bible.
So here it is. You're a milk Christian simply by learning what God says, okay? You can read the Bible, study the Bible, and that gives you milk, that gives you milk. A meat Christian doesn't just know what it says, but uses what it says to make decisions. You study the Bible so you're drinking milk, but you're operating from a heavenly perspective 'cause you're operating on meat. You got steak now, solid food. You study the Bible to get the content, you operate spiritually to utilize the content. When you're operating spiritually based on the milk, you gravitate to the meat or to the solid food. Because the Bible tells you what Jesus did and said on earth, the meat means you're operating from what he's doing now in heaven, and I'll show you that in a moment. So it is your use.
So let me tell you how God helps you out. God likes to help us out. Notice the milk Christian, verse 13, is not accustomed to the use of the Word 'cause they're an infant. They don't know. They can't chew the meat. Solid food is for the mature. The spiritual perspective then is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained. Ah, here we go. A football team goes to the training room. And when a football team goes to the training room, they go through the playbook. They go to the playbook to learn the plays. They are in this classroom. There's a defensive room. There's an offensive room. There are sub-breaks out of that to learn the particular plays. Right now you're in the training room to learn the plays. But then they go to the practice field. On the practice field, they practice the plays they learned in class. That's where they hitting and tackling.
You can talk about hitting and tackling when you're not being hit or tackled, but once you've been hit or tackled, now we know whether you know to play. But the only way we know that you know to play is on the field. So what God does for you to see whether you really understand the play you were saying amen to is put you on the field of life where you have to make decisions. And when he puts you on the field of life through trials and troubles and difficulties and challenges, do you run to God's Word, do you run to God's perspective, do you act on what he says; or do you go to the human way of doing it, the secular way of doing it, the non-Christian way of doing it? Then God says you didn't learn to play 'cause you're not accustomed to using the word of righteous. He says you're going to have to use this in your decision-making on a daily basis.
It means you as a family you're going to have to say, "How does God say we should raise these children? How does God say I'm to be the husband? How does God say you should be the wife? How does God say I'm to operate at work? How does God say I'm to operate in the secular environment? Or what does God say". And it ought to be your first question, not the one you run to after you tried everything else. He says it's time to grow up and become mature. You've been infants too long, and the church in America has been an infant church, mega churches and all. What will happen if you decide to be mature, which is the use, not only the knowledge of the Word? First thing that happen is you'll now be able to pick up on spiritual signals. You won't need rabbit ears 'cause you'll have DirecTV. You won't rabbit ears when you have DirecTV 'cause there's something up in the sky that's sending you a signal. You'll be able to pick up, the Holy Spirit will be able to bring God's thoughts to your mind.
See, that's what God does with spiritual people. See, we have the national news and local news. Right now I'm preaching the national news. You know, the national news you get things that are happening all over the place. But for your daily decision-making, you need local channels, you need local news, you need stuff that's talking to you about the thing you're facing and what you're going through. The national news don't deal with you. It deals with national. But the local news is where you live, where you work, okay. So when you come to church, you get national news; but when you are mature, you get local news. God can now talk to you, bring thoughts to your mind, ideas to your mind, let you see things behind the scene that you couldn't see with your physical eyes. But he'll let you in on some secret stuff 'cause he can now speak to your mind because you can now pick up signals you couldn't pick up before. 'Cause you're growing spiritually, the signals work. You'll be able to distinguish between legit and illegit.
Okay, now here's the big one. This is the final one, but this is the zinger. He started off in verse 11 by saying, "Concerning him I have much to say". Now, he's going to say a lot in chapter 7. So this week you can read chapter 7. He'll go into it in more detail. But he says, "I can't talk to you now about him 'cause you're too infantile, you're too babyish. And I have", he says, "I have much to say". "So whatever this is is a big deal that I want to tell you, but you're not ready to hear it. So I'm going to tell you now even though some may not be ready to hear it 'cause it's a big deal". Back up in verse 5. He says, "So also Christ did not glorify himself so as to become a high priest. But he who said to him, 'You are my son. Today I have begotten you,' just as he says also in another passage. 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.'" Verse 10, "Being designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek". He says, "I want to tell you about the Melchizedekian priesthood. I want to talk to you about that, but y'all ain't ready for this. And I want to tell you that Jesus Christ is after the order of Melchizedek".
Now, to understand what Jesus is to you today, he says, "If you understand Melchizedek, it'll help you to understand who Jesus is today because Jesus is a high priest like Melchizedek was". So who is Melchizedek, and why does it matter? Genesis chapter 14. This is how the New Testament takes the Old Testament and brings its relevancy to us today through the person of Jesus Christ. In Genesis chapter 14, Abraham has been involved in a battle, in a fight. He's come back from a battle. Verse 17 of Genesis 14, he comes back from this battle, and verse 18 says, "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine". Bread and wine. That sounds like communion. Doesn't it? He brought out bread and wine. "Now he was a priest of God most high".
Let me say that again. God most high is El Elyon. El Elyon means the God who overrules, okay? Keep that in mind. Melchizedek is a high priest and of the most high God, but he's also a king of Salem. Salem means peace. Jerusalem, Jerusalem. That is peace. He is a king, and he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abraham of God most high". Okay, what did Melchizedek do? He blessed Abraham. So Melchizedek is the priest who brings blessing to Abraham. Now guess what the Bible says? You and I are the seed of Abraham. Stick with me here 'cause we're in a little talk out here. He says, "Blessed Abraham, God of most high, possessor of heaven and earth", Jesus Christ, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth". Okay? "And blessed be the God most high who has delivered your enemies into your hand. He," that is Abraham, "gave him a tenth of all," a tithe of all.
So let me summarize 'cause there's so much here. Abraham has been in the fight. He's been in a battle. You can read it in the preceding verses. And the God most high has given him victory. But he's been in a fight. When he comes back, he meets Melchizedek a high priest, coming out of a fight. Melchizedek blesses him, gives him bread and wine because he's been in a fight. You will see in the following verse he's getting ready to go into another fight with the king of Sodom. So he left one fight, he's going to another fight. Between the two fights, he runs into Melchizedek the high priest. Melchizedek blesses him, gives him bread and wine to strengthen him 'cause he's getting ready to go into another fight.
If you are a serious Christian, that means last week you were in a fight. See, if you're not a serious Christian, you ain't in no fight 'cause nobody rejecting you, nobody's against you. You just going along with the crowd. But if you're going to stand up for Jesus Christ, you're going to run into some fights sometime in your family, sometimes in your neighbor, you're going to run into some stuff, and sometimes that can make you weary. That was last week, but now this week you got a fight coming up you don't even know about yet. It's not 'cause you're looking for a fight, trying to find a fight, trying to be in a fight; it's just 'cause the world is against you.
So between last week's fight and this week's fight, you need some bread and wine. You need to be refreshed, empowered, strengthened with the blessing of God to help you deal with what it looks like when you're a mature Christian. He says, "I want to tell you about Melchizedek". Why? Because Jesus is after the order of Melchizedek. How? Because he brings to us the strength for spiritual living in the fight of a secular society by the bread and wine of his communion with us so that we can go and fight and watch him overrule, watch El Elyon make the final decision.
The reason why you want to be a mature saint is 'cause that means your circumstances don't have the final decision, your boss doesn't have the final decision, the situation and the culture doesn't have the final decision because you belong to the mature saints of God, under the priesthood of Christ, who's after the order of Melchizedek, who can meet you in the battles of life. Somebody ought to be wanting to be a mature Christian so that all that God can give and wants to give you're able to receive. So you're going to battle if you're going to be a mature Christian because you're going to be living by divine insight in that secular perspective.