Maturing the Saints Is Our Mission

by Wayne Barber

Once we begin to model the message so that others might understand it by the way we live our lives (see Part 8 of this series in the October issue), our mission is to mature the saints. We have no business seeking to mature the saints unless we ourselves are modeling the message.

But maturing the saints is so imperative! So many churches are into evangelism as if it were a cause. But evangelism is a consequence of lives lived surrendered to Christ. The cause is that we live so that Christ is seen in us. We must mature the saints.

 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). The word “admonishing” is nouthéteo, meaning to warn. It comes from nous, which means the mind which we understand, and títhemi, to place—hence, to place the mind in a position of understanding. The antonym is planáo which means to deceive or lead astray.

The proper understanding of the Word of God and of the message of “Christ in you the hope of Glory” is the first step in maturing the saints. We are to do this, as Paul sets forth in verse 28, by “teaching (didásko) every man with all wisdom.” Didásko means to teach by what you say. It is the logical connection to “admonish.” It means to influence your hearers. This is what church is all about! It is the umbrella that everything falls under—in every age group!

 Sometimes biblical teaching is not the most popular thing to do. Years ago, God begin to teach me how important it is to mature the saints, when I was a youth minister in the Deep South. At first, when I began to teach the Word, we lost so many kids who just weren’t interested. For about six months I had to endure criticism but finally it began to turn and eventually we were three to four times larger in attendance than before. 

We must establish our purpose of teaching the message of the Word as the means of coming to a deeper surrender to Christ no matter how much opposition we get. Maturing the saints occurs only through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God.

When believers begin to bow before Christ and His Word it is amazing how Christ in them opens their eyes and burdens their hearts. Recently I was flying from Houston back home to Albuquerque. I was sitting on a plane at 5:00 in the morning and reading a book when the lights went out. The flight attendant sheepishly stuck her head around the corner and said, “Oops! We pulled the wrong plug!” I don’t like it when they say “oops” when I’m on an airplane! But in just a few moments the lights came back on and the air conditioning began to work again.

    That’s the way it is when a believer has modeled before Him the message of Christ-in-you-the-hope-of-Glory, and then is taught the Word of God. When the believer finally bows before Christ and His Word, the Power cuts in and the lights come on! He now has a burden to be what God wants him to be. If he doesn’t, then he has been only informed, not equipped.

Teaching the Word of God as the priority of the church is slowly disappearing in the church today. We have replaced it with programs and other creative ways of trying to lure the uninterested. Numbers and money have become the measure of whether or not God is in something. Recently I noticed in our weekly handout that we had put “VITAL SIGNS” in front of the numbers that were attending and the money given. Immediately I had it changed! The vital sign of a church is not the numbers and the dollars; it is in the changed lives of those who have surrendered to the teaching of the Word. We must return to maturing the saints for the work of the ministry.