Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Growing Up

Meditation for the week of October 4, 2009

1 Corinthians 13:8-12
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

The church has grown up and that is what Paul meant when he says, “when that which is perfect (or mature or grown up) has come.”  Paul lived in the days of an immature church.  He uses himself as an analogy in this passage to explain what will happen when the church matures.  He did certain things as a child that he put away when he grew up.  So it is in the church.  The infant church did things that the mature church does not do.  In the mature church there is a complete revelation of God.  That doesn’t mean that we understand everything that has been revealed.   In the childish church, there is a tendency to believe everyone and everything (Ephesians 4:13-14).  But when the church becomes a “perfect man” or a mature adult, there is full knowledge of the Son of God.  There is stability.  There will be no more of the Lord revealed when the church is grown up.  We know all about the Lord in the same way that the Lord knows all about us.

In the immature church, it was necessary to speak in different dialects miraculously so that the Jews would believe that God was the author of all that had taken place in Jerusalem.  The Jews still needed to be convinced that Jesus was their Messiah since they had rejected Him as a nation.  The early church didn’t have a complete revelation of God’s will so they needed apostles and prophets who could speak for God.  The apostles and prophets needed to convince the Jews that they were speaking for God through these “sign gifts.”  But with the writing down of the book of Revelation by John, the need for these “sign” gifts ceased.  The church had matured and now had “full knowledge”. 

Does a mature church make for a spiritual church?  Not necessarily.  In the churches of Revelation 2 and 3,  Ephesus had zeal and love when they were first established but later they “lost” that “first love”.  By the time we get to Laodicea, they are half-hearted about everything.  They don’t even recognize that the Lord is on the outside and not on the inside of “His” church.   How would the Lord would rate our love for Him and our love for one another in our churches today?  Do we have a lot of mature knowledge while losing our “heart,” that is, our love for God and for His people?

I am glad that I live in a day where we have a complete revelation of God and His will.  I am glad that God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct us in understanding all that He has revealed.  I am glad for those who have provided dictionaries and histories that explain the language and customs of those that wrote down the Bible.  I don’t know how I would have preached the Gospel in the early church when they didn’t have a complete Bible and many didn’t have the education necessary to read the old testament that they had.  It would have been expensive to have a personal copy of any part of the old testament.  Since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), I am glad that  I can take people to the Bible and show them what it says.  I couldn’t have done that in the early church.  But just because we  have the Bible,  that does not mean that we have the love that is always effective.  Paul tells us to pursue that love (1 Corinthians 14:1).

I hope you love your Bible and that you read it expecting God to speak to you through it.  I hope that it is precious to you.  I hope that you have some understanding of the difference between the old testament and the new testament and that you don’t put yourself under the bondage of the old testament law.  But I also hope that you have faith enough to believe God when He speaks directly to the church in the new testament. 

We who are believers today are part of a mature church.  Let us also be part of a faithful zealous church that loves the Lord and loves one another.  May we be grown up enough to pursue the love that is eternal and that is always effective.

Bruce Collins

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