Milk, Meat, and Maturity

The basics of the Gospel are no doubt supernatural beauties and profound truths worthy of infinite contemplation and celebration…but if we do not move through those matchless gems at the foundation of our faith and onto the deeper things and details made clear through them, we will remain forever stuck in the kiddie pool. If we do not pursue the depth and detail on the other side of those beautiful basics, we’ll be happy to splish-splash around forever in the foundational, entry level awesomeness of the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace alone, and other incomparably awesome but still “Square One” truths.

And isn’t that exactly what most “conservative, Bible-preaching” churches in America are known for producing these days? Baby Christians convinced of their maturity because they have a few core truths down pat, I mean.

And where’s that getting us?

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Where’s it getting the culture in which we’ve been placed?

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How are these boatloads of Christians with no idea (and often no desire to know) how to actually advance the Gospel-fueled Great Commission in detail serving the people and culture that they’ve been commanded and positioned to serve?

This situation came to mind again in light of an excellent article published recently by Dr. Joel McDurmon of The American Vision.  Here’s some of what he had to say (with points of emphasis added by me in bold print):

Something had been bothering me for a while, but exactly what was unclear until it leaped out at me in my studies the other day. Read this familiar passage, Hebrews 5:11 through 6:2:

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Does anything about this passage bother you? Read 6:1–2 again. Now?

What’s been eating at me for some time and I did not see it is that we have a large segment of Christians who are highly advanced in nothing but the fundamentals, and their leaders have never moved them on. Through an abundance of study and reading theology books, podcasts, conferences, etc., we have created an illusion of maturity without the substance of it. . .

We are all familiar with the author of Hebrews chiding his audience for their spiritual immaturity—their reliance on “milk” and their inability to digest “meat.” I remember from very early in my theological journey, as a young Reformed reader, devouring R.C. Sproul’s books. One small pamphlet he wrote addressed this issue, and I remembered something special from it. I still have it. In that little pamphlet, I found the line that had stuck out to me so many years ago: “There is a vast difference, however, between a childlike faith and a childish faith, though the two are often confused.”

. . . the real conviction for us today . . . lies in exactly what this passage in Hebrews considers to be “milk.” Read it. It is virtually everything we today consider to be the meat of theology: the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of repentance, the doctrine of faith alone, the doctrine of baptism, the doctrine of laying-on-of-hands, the doctrine of resurrection, and the doctrine of final judgment. Kindergarten, all.

These are the doctrines the author says are mere fundamentals and from which we need to “leave” and “go on to maturity.” In other words, we don’t really need another book on Christology, or hell, or “the gospel.” We need Christians to move onfrom these foundations.

When’s the last time you heard this passage in Hebrews treated in such a manner by yourpastor?

McDurmon continues:

. . . the vast majority of Christian ministries out there keep their followers unweaned with an endless supply of materials on the basic gospel level, or even apologetics that deal mainly with foundational truths. I see endless debates over milk, and Christians addicted to the nipple. When presented with meat, they don’t even think it’s Christian. They don’t know what to do with it. They scoff and turn up their nose. As a result, followers can spend years or even decades stuck I the infancy described in Hebrews 6 while thinking they are being highly trained.

What is sorely needed is for Christians to move on from their studies of tulips and empty tombs, systematics and solas, and begin to consider how they can apply biblical truth to all of life—that is, consider how we can provoke one another to love and good works. The end of the Christian faith is a maturity defined by good works and service. It’s great that others have labored to build good foundations; but we are called to build upon those and go further. Let’s embrace a view of ministry that advances Christian worldview in every area of life.

“A view of ministry that advances the Christian worldview in every area of life,” huh?

That sounds a lot like the Great Commission:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey allthat I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

~ Matthew 28:18-20

And the reality-defining passage found in Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

~ Colossians 1:15-20

And the everything-touching command of Christ to His Spirit-filled people as recorded in 2 Corinthians 10:5:

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

So what’s the gospel that you embrace and share with others have to say about how to approach children’s education?

Or law?

Or civil government?

Or economics…business…art…technology…science…entertainment…food…humor…

What does it tell you about what the true church actually is and how it’s built?

If these questions strike you as either weird and out of place or unduly harsh and challenging (maybe even “mean” or “legalistic”), it’s time to move on past the milk.

It’s time to grow up.

It’s time to dive deep.

It’s time to chew on something challenging…and learn to love it!

It’s time become the mature life- and culture-transforming Christian that God has called and equipped His people to be, all by His grace, all for His glory, and all to their eternal benefit.

Article reposted with permission from Fire Breathing Christian

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