Jesus didn’t come to simply make converts; He wants ambassadors. For this to be completed it will require a church of matured saints who are unified into one body and one mind that moves according to its one head, Jesus. The Bible commands such Christlike perfection:
(48) Be ye therefore PERFECT, even AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT.
The word “perfect” biblically means to be of “full age” or a “matured.” In the case of God’s people it is the growing process that takes one from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity. Just as a baby boy is born a male and must grow and mature into a man, so also a newborn babe in Christ must mature into the image of the one he was fashioned after, which is Jesus.
Many recoil at the idea that the Church is the body of Jesus Christ, but the Bible describes it in exactly those terms in the following scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16, 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 4:6; Colossians 1:24, Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 4:12-13, Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 John 4:4. Those who have a difficult time seeing this do not realize that, as Paul W. Harrison said, “Wherever God rules over human hearts as King, there is the Kingdom of God established.”
The Great Commission commands that we “teach all people” and “baptize in them in the name,” it then instructs the elders to “teach” the new converts to “observe all things commanded…” (See Matthew 28:19-20). Most churches have no problem telling people they should be “saved.” This is the Great Commission’s first “teach.” And of course they will baptize the new believer if so asked, which fulfills the “baptize in the name.” But where many churches fall short is in not pursuing the last “teach ALL things commanded….” This last part of Jesus’ Great Commission is directly tied to the overall goal of the five-fold ministry’s involvement in the Church, which is to perfect (mature) a believer for the work of their own ministry.
(11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the WORK OF THE MINISTRY, for THE EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST:
So the task of each of these ministries is to perfect saints to work in their own called ministry. This is a far cry from a Pastor’s job simply being to preach, because this shows his goal is to actual train and facilitate the saint’s spiritual callings. A saint being perfected to work in the ministry is said here to “edify” the body of believers. Part of this type perfection is found in the Apostle Paul’s writings on the fruit of the Spirit and how these would work within the Church body.
(18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
(19) Now the works of the flesh [Immaturity] are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
(20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
(21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(22) But THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT [Maturity] is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH,
(23) MEEKNESS, TEMPERANCE: against such there is no law.
(24) And THEY THAT ARE CHRIST’S HAVE CRUCIFIED THE FLESH WITH THE AFFECTIONS AND LUSTS.
Please, notice that none of the fruit listed are introverted, but are extroverted instead. This means that though this fruit is first experienced within a believer, its purpose is to be used to positively influence someone else. This is the nature of fruit; not to bless the plant on which it grows, but to bless someone else who comes in contact with it. This is the same for a minister; they are not to feed their own desires and lusts, but to serve someone else’s with those gifts that God gave them. Paul said these spiritual fruit were for all saints. This means this fruit is for each and every member of Jesus’ body to mature in and to experience.
Furthermore, the Great Commission’s command to teach “all things” speaks of the need for every Born Again Christian to mature beyond the initial foundation of their salvation. Once such teaching is facilitated, a saint of God will better understand how they are called to serve as the Body of Christ. Such a transformation in a church’s men statistically has a huge impact on both the local Church and on their families. Notice the following Baptist Press statistic on the impact of such spiritual growth in men:
Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow? If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
“The statistics,” Sid Woodruff, men’s ministry specialist, said, “shout the importance of churches becoming more intentional in their development of ministries for men. If you reach the men, you reach the families, but to reach the men, you have to enter into their world. Of about 94 million men in the United States,” Woodruff said, “68 million don’t attend any church, but 85 percent of those say they did grow up with some sort of church background. These men aren’t necessarily opposed to going to church; they just don’t see churches as being ‘male-friendly.’” (Polly House. “Want Your Church to Grow? Then Bring in the Men.” The Baptist Press. 3 April 2003. Web. www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=15630)
From his book, The Company of the Committed, Elton Trueblood writes:
“It is strange to see how slow we are to understand what the acceptance of the idea of a Christian company entails. Thus, when we organize a commitment service, we tend, unless we make a conscious effort at improvement, to have the familiar pattern of the single performer. If, by contrast, many share in the observance—whether in reading Scripture or in public prayer or in admonition—there are two enormous gains. One is that even those who do not participate vocally begin to have a sense that they are more than audience; the other is that the commitment of those who do participate vocally is normally made deeper and more genuine. Preaching may not, but it is almost always helpful to those who speak. This is partially because expression deepens impression and partly because the speaker immediately achieves a public identification with the cause, from which he is consequently less likely to turn back. Since commitment is strengthened by public involvement, the more involvement the better. Therefore the Christian ideal must always be the complete elimination of the concept of the laity in favor of the exciting concept of the universal ministry.” (Elton Trueblood, The Company of the Committed, pages 39 & 40)
Preachers and teachers not focused on personally maturing and developing the saints in their local assembly will find the spiritual growth of their church stunted. This problem is common among those churches that preach more for numbers in the pews than for changing the hearts of those in the pews. Such disregard has caused many people to become disillusioned with both their church and with their relationship with God. Such discontentment then bleeds over into the church body affecting both its personality and its potential. The way to correct this is to complete the entire Great Commission, which is to preach the gospel, to convert the new believer, and to mature that new child of God through a discipleship process of teaching them the word of God. Spiritual maturity naturally leads to new callings that will need facilitated within the church. This is what Paul said would ‘edify the Body of Christ’ (See Ephesians 4:12). God gave us the plan by which converts are made into ambassadors. The Church simply needs to carry it out.
© 2013 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.