Written by Stephen Cox
It was good to be reminded last week of the big picture, that is, that bringing glory to God and magnifying his great name is the heartbeat and the spearhead of everything we do at Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church. As we look to the Scriptures, God’s goal is clear – his ultimate goal is to unite all things under Christ. His strategy for achieving this is to save people (both Jews and Gentiles) through the Spirit as they hear the word of truth, the Gospel of Christ. His purposes in achieving this goal are threefold: 1. That His people will bring glory to His name 2. That as many as possible will be saved 3. That we will grow to maturity.
God has a purpose for you to mature, to grow up into maturity. God doesn’t just save you, he wants to transform you into the likeness of his Son. God has called on you to be engaged in the serious business of becoming more like Jesus. His purpose for us in maturity is for our own good and for the good of those around us – and all this to His glory.
The Bible’s portrayal of maturity is fascinating. Physical features have little to do with it. Wrinkles and infirmity do not lead to maturity in the Bible. While “old age” is prized in the Bible (Proverbs 16:31 and 20:29), the Bible does not say that because you are older, you are mature. Certainly that is my personal experience, but the Bible defines maturity quite differently. The Apostle Paul provides a wonderful picture of maturity in Ephesians 4:12 – 15:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
At Wagga Evangelical we are committed, under God, to be growing more like Christ. The key way we grow together is through the reading, teaching and application of the Bible. We encourage everyone to be involved in two key aspects of WWEC where this happens: by being part of church each week & being a member of a Bible Study group.
Being part of a Bible Study group is a wonderful opportunity to mature as a Christian. Here are some thoughts as to why:
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
On a Sunday when we are listening to the Bible teaching, we might have a follow up question or would like to explore one aspect in greater detail. A Bible study group is a place where your questions can be asked and where the issue can be discussed (although of course you can always talk to the preacher). Personal application of the Bible text also happens in a small group. Small groups allow us to speak the word of God to each other and to build each other up through it.
In a large church there are limited opportunities to hear others pray and to pray with others. In a small group, no one is pressured to pray, but as you become comfortable, you’ll be able to join in. In praying with a few others you are drawn together and share the joy of answered prayer as you see God at work.
CONNECTING WITH OTHERS
It can be difficult to connect when we don’t live in community. This means we do need to work harder at getting to know others. People who have been in a small group say the greatest benefit is the close relationships and friendships that develop. Small groups are our primary places of connecting. We really do need each other – God never meant us to “go it alone” in the Christian life.
CARING FOR EACH OTHER
Growth Groups are our primary places of care for each other, providing support in times of need, change and stress. We are instructed to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, accept one another and to bear one another’s burdens. Many people in our church could testify that they would not have made it through a difficult time if it hadn’t been for the support of their Bible study group.
A PLACE TO USE THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN
Unfortunately it is too easy for us as Christians to remain spectators at church because large group meetings can become ‘sit and listen’ situations if you are not working to be actively serving and learning. As you share and participate in a Bible study group setting, you’ll be drawn into ways of serving the people in your group that you hadn’t tried before. This will help you at church, at work and in other relationships. A Bible study group is a very sympathetic arena for exercising spiritual gifts.
God’s kingdom continues to grow as he works through his people to bring the good news of Jesus to others. Bible study groups are a great place to be praying for God’s word to be heard, for being thoughtful about relationships with unbelievers and to be encouraging each other to speak graciously and confidently about our Christian faith. Bible study groups are a great place to be working together in evangelism.
Bible study groups enable you to grow in maturity with other Christians. They provide an encouraging environment to study God’s Word and they offer a place to share and live out our faith and pray for one another. Catch up with Peter Blanch if you would like to know more about them.