Milk Does a Body Good
Get some good spiritual milk over at Proverbial Thought!
There are three main stages to the Christian walk:
- Acceptance and Growth
- Understanding and Growth
- Teaching and Growth
As we walk through this life, we should never stop growing. In this life, we will never achieve perfection, full Christ-likeness. This is one reason why Paul wrote, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23)
We never stop growing, it is true. However, just as some things stay with us as we grow and age from infant to death, so there are things we need from the moment of salvation knowledge to the end of this life.
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
1 Corinthians 3:2
We need our mothers milk when we are young. We cannot handle other foods, because our bodies are not ready for solid food.
We come to a saving knowledge of Christ through the presentation of the Gospel: We have sinned against God. We have willfully broken his laws, separated ourselves from Him; and we generally refuse to love others and Him the way we should. Therefore, God came to earth as a man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, to live a perfect life and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins to reconcile us to Himself. He rose from the grave three days later, giving us a hope of eternal life with Him.
This gets us excited, and we want to share this information with everyone. Unfortunately, too many people stay at this level of maturity for years.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
Repentance is good, and it is something that is needed throughout our walk with Christ. Too many congregations and even whole denominations have gotten stuck on repentance and forgiveness without moving forward on the individual level (“Get ’em saved!” if you will, without helping new converts grow in righteousness, as Paul said.)
Just as a child eventually grows to eating solid food, so we must grow to be able to discuss the deeper things of our faith, such as prayer, service, and even miracles. The biggest reason we do not see as many miracles today is not because they are no longer used by God. Rather it is because the Western Church largely has abandoned the rites and practices that help us grow deeper in our faith and that position us to be used by God in miraculous ways.
There have been strides as of late to correct this within the Church. This is evidenced by the rise in social reform, but it is only one way God wants us to grow. We must also focus on theological and spiritual needs within ourselves and for others.
The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.
Something happens with most of us as we grow: we fall in love, and we procreate – we make babies! All of a sudden we have to help these little ones survive and then learn and grow into adulthood. This requires using all we have learned and experienced to help them, but sometimes we need help.
Likewise, as followers of Jesus Christ we are commanded to make more followers. We are told that we are to take the knowledge of salvation to bring others to new life. We are then to help them grow in their walk with Christ, as we should have been doing. And we need help, which is why we have priests and pastors and each other who meet each week for communal worship and learning.
A warning, though, is that, as Paul again said, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
This has happened multiple times throughout Church history, but it is certainly prevalent today. It used to be that most churches would start with the basic milk of doctrine: faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is no longer a requirement for some churches. In either event, the teachings can range from “Be a better person by thinking this way or doing these things,” to full on cult-ish ideas and practices that are at best morally and cognitively dangerous and at worst physically dangerous. All of these are spiritually bankrupt!
Therefore, we must remember the milk of our faith – believing in the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as the Son of God for the forgiveness of sins; that we must grow to understand more of our walk with God and of who God is as well as love others through word and action; and that we must learn to teach others of this knowledge, understanding, and service in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.