There is another goal that is a very important part of disciple making. For disciples to be equipped “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” there must be growth toward “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). As Paul points out, if there is no progress toward maturity, believers will be like “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (4:14).
It is clear that Paul had reasons for his concern for maturity in the saints. He knew that immaturity posed a danger to the advancement of God’s work. This concern is noticeable in Paul’s last visit with the Ephesian elders at Miletus. He warned them; “after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). The antidote for attacks like this taking place was maturity and paying “careful attention to themselves and to all the flock…therefore be alert” (20:28, 31).
From my own experience, I can say that where believers are not discipled into maturity and able to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:11 to 6:1), the flock will be deceived by false teaching. Just as important as protection from deception is, mature disciples must become more effective in their ministry. That is why Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos “aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). From this maturing encounter, Apollos become more effective and “refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (18:28).
Without continual growth in Christ-like character, we become stagnant and a receptacle for what is false and a weak member of the body. I trust you are growing in Christ and becoming an effective tool in His hands for multiplication and the spread of God’s Word and work.
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