“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 14:11-14 (NIV)
Previously we looked at some of my experiences at my former church. The people were great. The fellowship pleasant and authentic. I received Christ as my Savior, as did our son, and my wife recommitted her life to Him there. The memories are warm and gratitude genuine. But teaching the whole counsel of God was neglected there. The expected result of drifting from biblical truth to the ever-changing cultural whims occurred there. The leaders, those called to build up the people in knowledge, and maturity, were satisfied to bottle-feed them instead with spiritual pablum. Most of the people were pleased to continue in the nursery level things of God.
God does not want us to be life long toddlers in our knowledge of Him nor should we ever be content being such. We certainly begin as babes, but we need to grow up. How do we grow up physically? We consume food. How do we grow up spiritually? We consume food. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4) Job said, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (23:12) We must feed on God’s Word to know and to grow.
Last time we demonstrated how NOT to take care of a newborn. You do not leave them to fend for themselves. Christ does not leave us to fend for ourselves either. He gives us preachers and teachers to help us grow from baby believers to spiritual adults. Two critical factors for transitioning from milk to solid food are leaders willing to expound on the whole counsel of God and hearers that are teachable and intentional in growing up. Would it be accurate to say the current state of the church finds both these essential components substantially lacking? Would it also be fair to say it is no wonder so much of the church gets tossed yonder and back and blown here and there by the popular culture?
I am not sharing the following as a means of judging nor boasting, but rather as a comparative example of that which I speak. (Perhaps you can relate it to your past or current situation whether in a positive or negative way). My former church read a scripture before a twenty-minute story sermonette most often devoid of additional scripture. Conversely, on one occasion, at Calvary Baptist, our pastor preached in excess of twenty sermons teaching through the book of Jonah. The book of Jonah is four chapters long. The sermons are forty minutes in length. This level of teaching is a normative occurrence at CBC. It is quite challenging on many fronts to say the least. Not to mention Sunday morning classes and the in-depth Bible Studies. It can make one’s head spin at times. It is never about feeling good or scratching itching ears. (2 Tim 4:3) Instead, it is always about – “Be(ing) diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) It is always about seeking to grow up to maturity in the life-long process of attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Lastly, but of no less importance, and such a vital part of growing up in Christ is an open Bible in our lap. I have heard it said the Bible is the only book read in which the Author resides within the reader (believer). The Holy Spirit is able and eager to teach us when we open His Word. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17) And to be successful in – growing up.
“I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:162