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Christian Maturity

Maturity and sobriety in Christ!
by Rev. George Burkinshaw

 
 
Ge 2:21  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Marriage and the ministry have always had a high place and a high calling in the mind of God, such that man is not to set light by them or put them asunder!

Mk 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

In most all cases in the reality everyday life, the marriage success and fidelity fall upon the man as it is the man that proposes, but God disposes!

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

The man who would preserve his marriage in the Lord needs to be mature in the word and minister to his wife's spiritual and physical needs.

1Co 7:33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

Where it is more prevalent today than in the past on some occasions a divorce is provoked by the wife for it is she who consents and relents!

Pr 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

In the beginning God's stated purpose in marriage was to propagate children. Ge 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

The spiritual responsibility of both the husband and the wife is to raise a Godly seed!

Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Christian marriages are about raising Godly Children! It is more blessed to give than to receive!

Mal 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed.

The spiritual relationship in a martial relationship is of the greatest importance because second purpose of marriage is also to eliminate solitude with the joy of presence!

Ge 2:18  And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Adam and Eve in the goodness and grace of God were to be soul mates for life, for in the wisdom of God the woman was not taken from man's head to lord over him, nor from his heal to be walked upon and crushed by him, but from his rib next to his heart to be loved and enjoyed by him.

Song 2:16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

However Adam as the carnal creature he was, was only aware of the physical!

Gen 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

But, it is that after the flesh God created the man and his family in spiritual reality!

Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In a Godly marriage the man is in the place of God the father as the head!

Heb 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

In a Godly marriage children are represented by the Son in obedience!

Joh 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

In a Godly marriage the mother holds the one remaining position of the God head remaining, she is the comforter or the spirit!

Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever

What does the comforter do? he comforts another, so does a godly woman, he teaches, so does a godly woman, this is why it is the women that are found ministering in the gospels!

Lu 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. (Such is the church)

So why did the women minister there substance unto Jesus Christ?

Mk 1:31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

If the husband is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the church then he needs to take his wife by the hand and lift her up!
 
1Pe 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

A spiritual and physical relationship between the man and the woman in the state of one flesh is in the sight of God very good!

Ge 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

But, then sin entered in through Adam's rebellion and Eves deception!

Ro 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Have you ever notice that where it was the woman who was deceived and in the transgression, it is Adam who is held responsible!

1Ti 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
 
Headship as in all leadership has great weight of responsibility, for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:

Jas 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (That is being sober about life)

Unlike many Christians, I do not encourage people to get married, nor do I ever encourage men to enter the pastorate, both are of God and must be lead of God as they both require a lifetime of fidelity and faithfulness!

1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

However, lest you might wrongly think me to be a reprobate, when it is sobriety in Christ as a Man of God what I earnestly encourage all men and women to do is seek God's will as obedient sons and daughters in the image of Jesus Christ!

Lu 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not
my will, but thine, be done.

It is not the will of God for just any man to enter the ministry!

Jer 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

It is God alone who calls men to minister in the word unto him!

Heb 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

Even when a man desire the office of a bishop and wants to volunteer, he cannot go of his own volition into the ministry until the lord say that he may go!
 
Isa 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isa 6:9  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

God's will is that all Christian's are to be part of the Body, ministering their gifts in the body as the members of this local church do in its many ministries!

Ro 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Most Christians are to abide in the same calling they were called in!

1Co 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

Like wise as shocking as it is to some Christians, it is not God's will that every Christian should be married.

Mt 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his
wife, it is not good to marry.11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Paul was one man who was most certainly called of God into the ministry!

Ac 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

Paul was unmarried his entire life and it was the best that it be so!

1Co 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
 
How grievous and difficult would it had been for a wife to accompany him!

2Co 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He that travels the best is he who travels alone.

2 cor 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in
perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in
cold and nakedness.28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

Paul was a man that almost always was lead of the spirit, one of the few men that understood the difference between love and charity!

1Co 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

When people think of love they think of romantic love, or erotic love, or brotherly love or of good feeling like, I love a parade, but charity is much different it is a genuine and unselfish concern for others because of their own intrinsic worth in the sight of their creator!

Php 2:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

When God made Eve for Adam they were one flesh, one spirit, and one soul because eve was made from Adam's spirit and soul as well as his flesh!

Mal 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Most people that are married get married because they wax wanton!

1Ti 5:11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

A soul mate is notmsomeone you wax wonton over, a soul mate is what you are to be to the person you seek to marry in the Lord.

Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

A man that is called of God is not necessarily a gifted orator or a impressive presence as is perceived by many of today's carnal Christians.

2Co 10:10 For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.

A Man of God is a man that will and can consume the word of God!

Jer 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

To the man of God loves the words of God are more to be desired then Gold!

Ps 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb
 
A man of God will not let any of God's words fall to the ground!

1Sa 3:19  And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.20 And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

A man of God is a man after God's heart, who will magnify his word above his name!

Ps 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

A man of God will never attempt to induce or restrain a marriage or a call to the ministry, it is his compassion and charity to ask if you have counted the cost!

Ps 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (choice of laudable ends in Christ)

For a man of God, the word of God is not something to make a gain by!

1Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
 
For a man of God the word of God is what he is to live by!

Mt 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The apostle Paul was so consumed by the ministry of the word and so filled with charity for men and a great love for the Lord that he kept his virgin!

1Co 7:25 ¶ Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I
say, that it is good for a man so to be.27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

Less than three years after his failed engagement to Grace Murray, Wesley was becoming interested in another potential wife. His unwillingness to consult with his brother Charles in this new romance was completely understandable.

Pr 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

But, of course, it is exactly what he should have done. His reluctance to take counsel on this vitally important decision was to lead to twenty years of extreme unhappiness both for him, and for his future wife.

Pr 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Molly Vazeille, widowed for three years, but wealthy, had shown an interest in spiritual things and Wesley wrote to her in 1750.

However the word of God warns men of yoking unequal's together!
 
De 22:9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. 10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Charles Wesley and his wife, Sally, already knew Molly and were not impressed. John, however, was
impressed and said as much to her in what he probably considered a glowing letter. He said he appreciated her industry  her exact frugality and her uncommon neatness and cleanness; She must have been beside herself with delight! He was careful to add that this uncommon neatness and cleanness extended to her person, her clothes and to all those things around her!

Job 17:5 He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.

He merely announced to Charles and Sally his intention to marry. Charles was thunderstruck; and filled with dread.

Jer 9:5 And they will deceive everyone his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

At the next church service John announced that he was to marry Molly Vazeille. Charles, commenting
on the response of the congregation, said it; made us all hide our faces. In mid-February 1751, just a couple of years after the Grace Murray disaster, John Wesley was married. And so, John Wesley was married. His strategy for being a
good husband was pretty simple:I cannot understand how a Methodist preacher can answer it to God to preach one sermon or travel one day less, in a married than in a single state (wrong)

1Co 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

At first Molly accompanied him but his travel schedule (by any standard through all church history) was relentless, and she, as a newly married 40 year old woman, was clearly hoping for some normal domestic joys.

De 24:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

Often absent for weeks at a time, Wesley gave his wife permission to open all the mail that came for him. This included many letters from women seeking guidance and counsel, and Molly soon began to feel that some of them had more than a little affection towards her man. Her jealousy increased, as did her sense of being overlooked by him, and even unloved by him. She began to be, not only troubled by but gripped by jealousy. She wrote disgruntled, critical, letters to him. She travelled to spy on him. She sent his private papers directly to his enemies
that they might slander him. Eventually she publicly and repeatedly accused him of adultery over a period of twenty years.

A mature Christian does not encourage other's into the ministry or marriage not because they are not revered and hournable, but because they are revered and hournable and of the Lord and require sobriety!

At one point, after a fierce exchange of letters, he sent a scathing, hostile, reply. ‘Know me and know yourself. Suspect me no more, asperse me no more, provoke me no more: do not any longer contend for mastery…be content to be a private insignificant person, known and loved by God and me.

Ps 10:17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

Robert Southey, who quotes this letter, gives more of its contents, ‘He reminded her that she had laid to his charge things that he knew not, robbed him, betrayed his confidence, revealed his secrets, given him a thousand treacherous wounds, and made it her business so to do, under the pretence of vindicating her own
character whereas, said he, of what importance is your character to mankind? If you were buried just now, or if you had never lived, what loss would it be to the cause of God? Southey adds.  There are few stomachs which could bear to have humility administered in such doses.  On several occasions she left home, only returning after he begged her repeatedly.

1Co 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Although he had been unspeakably angry with her, he kept aiming at reconciliation. But the home life
was unhappy. Finally, she left for good. Wesley reported in his journal, ‘I did not forsake her, I did not dismiss her, I will not recall her.And without doubt Molly dealt with john as Israel with the lord!

Jer 3:20 Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.

The fear of God is the understanding of consequences

Ga 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh
reap corruption; but he thatsoweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Molly never had the fear of God to count the cost of her marriage to John!

Pr 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like babies at birth are a great Joy. But, if they remain babies indefinitely, they become a grievous annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.

1Ti 5:7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Though God blessed John Wesley's ministry in the will of God, there was no blessing for his marriage that was obviously out of the will of God! The will of God always requires the cost of a cross, before the crown of joy may be received.

Lu 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Those who will not be a soul mate, will become a inmate seeking to escape!

Ec 5:4 ¶ When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.:5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.