Epilogue: Attaining To The Whole Measure
Prepare God’s people, so that we all become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12, 13)
A: Discovering the Truth
B: Exploring the Truth
Justification – Like Paul, we must realize that we have not yet been made perfect. We have been saved. This was a past event, never to be repeated, where once and forever God made it “just as if I’d never sinned.” Justification is a legal term signifying that the all claims of God’s moral laws have been satisfied by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and that those accepting the terms of that sacrifice (believe and receive) are acquitted.
Glorification – Because we have been justified we have a future destination. Someday we will enter God’s presence and we will be made perfect. Glorification, as the term is used in the Bible, refers to the ultimate perfection of the believer.
Sanctification – In the meantime, we need to keep pressing on toward growth and development, adding to our faith in increasing measure. Sanctification is a fancy theological term that means being purified and made holy. It is a continuing process happening now that connects our past justification with our future glorification. It is not a perfect process, because “we have not yet been made perfect.” There will be up and downs. We will encounter speed bumps along our path as Satan tries to sidetrack us along the way. He cannot change the fact that we have been justified. He cannot change our final destination. But he can influence our journey between the two points hoping to make it less victorious that it might otherwise be.
C: Knowing and Understanding the Truth
So by now, we should know and understand that discipleship does not refer to a past event or our future destination. It is the journey that we are on here and now. It is not twelve steps and done. It is twelve steps in increasing measure until the journey is done. We do not know when our journey will be over. So we continue in our efforts to add to our original step of faith. We add goodness (role of a servant), knowledge (illuminated by the Word, engaged with the Church), self-control (hold out against sin, Spirit-led lifestyle), perseverance (suffer with Christ, pray on all occasions), Godliness (desire what God desires, learn spiritual wisdom), kindness (is Christ-like in attitude, involved in evangelism) and love (proven by love). None of these are things that we will achieve perfectly in our lifetimes. But we can possess them in increasing measure.
Increasing means to become progressively greater. The increase can be a gentle slope or a steep grade. It can also be exponential. What it will be, to a large degree, will depend on our efforts. Paul instructed his readers to “make every effort.” Half-hearted efforts will only give us half-hearted results. We do not want half-hearted results. What we want is to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
D: Weighing the Truth
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We took that step when we accepted Christ. That decision has already been made. The question before us now is: are we satisfied with remaining an infant or do we want to grow? If we want to grow, the question then becomes: how much effort do we want to put into it? De we want to make every effort? Do we want to grow in increasing measure? Do we want to keep pressing on? So how are you answering these questions? Which way are the scales tipping?
E: Questioning the Truth – For Musing On Your Own
1. When you became saved, did you think you had “arrived?” What do you think now?
2. What distinguishes sanctification from justification and glorification?
3. Justification has happened in the life of a believer. Glorification will happen. What about sanctification?
4. Why is sanctification not adding works to grace as a requirement of salvation?
5. Do you find it encouraging or discouraging that a “giant” in the faith like Paul did not consider himself to have “yet to have taken hold of it?” Why?
6. Which of the twelve “steps” have you found the most challenging for you? Why?
7. What are some of the things that you learned during this study?
8. How has this studied helped you to understand what it means to be a disciple?
9. In what ways do you think you have grown in Christ during this study?
10. What would you like to learn more about as you continue your journey in discipleship?
11. Discipleship is not just about you. How can you use what you learned in this study to help fellow believers?