Witnessing ArticlesWitnessing Articles from the Great Commission column
Equipping the Saints to Grow into Maturity Through the Word
By Kay L. Meyer
Jim was chairman of the Board of Education. I was chairman of the Board of Evangelism. At our monthly church council meeting some of the leaders would become frustrated with Jim. His heart was in the right place, but he was a babe in Christ, not a mature Christian. Once he suggested that the council distribute a magazine to all of our members. Jim thought because the magazine talked about God, and it was free, that it would make a great resource for our members. The pastor and I explained to Jim that the organization that published and distributed the magazine was a cult, not a Christian denomination. Of course, we didn’t give the magazine to our members. Then over a three-year period I watched Jim grow from a babe in Christ to a mature Christian. How did this transformation occur? When he retired he began attending a weekly Bible study at his congregation and listening daily to quality Bible-based Christian radio.
God’s Word is full of encouragement concerning the need for biblical growth. We shouldn’t wait for retirement. It also shares warnings for those who do not grow up spiritually through the Word. Growing up through the word helps us discern truth from error regarding spiritual issues. We will be able to discern that abortion is a sin and against God’s word. Yet, today, many who call upon the name of the Lord are not growing spiritually. This is one of the reasons so many people who call themselves Christians don’t see anything wrong with being for abortion or for same-sex marriages.
God’s Word warns us that infants (in the faith) can be blown about by every wind of doctrine. God Word encourages us not to remain infants or babies in the faith. “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 men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:14) As we read and study the Bible we will grow up into Him who is the Head, Jesus Christ.
God’s Word tells us that when we are infants in Christ we are worldly, not spiritual. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (1 Cor. 3:1-2)
The Bible says Christians can be babes in Christ, but encourages us not to stay babies in the faith. Baby Christians who only want milk and not meat are in danger spiritually! Baby Christians can be led astray to embrace false teachings, dangerous beliefs and can be led astray into dangerous sins. They can fall prey to cults and the occult. They can believe that there is nothing wrong with having an abortion. They can get involved in pornography and other sexual sins. Babes in Christ don’t know what God’s Word says so they can’t discern good from evil.
“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 teachings about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:12-14). God’s Word also tells us that as we grow spiritually we will desire meat and not milk, and will be able to discern truth from error.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on the hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:1-3). Again, God’s Word encourages us to leave elementary teachings and move toward maturity. The elementary teachings about Christ are good, but there is more that we need to learn.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2). Have you ever watched an infant drinking milk? He craves the milk. As he drinks he grows quickly. As we read and digest God’s Word we too will grow spiritually.
So, Christian friend, have you seen yourself or someone you love in these verses? Where are you in your faith journey? Are you immature in your faith? Are you still in need of milk instead of meat? What can you do? What can churches do to help Christians grow up?
Individuals. Confess your sins. Individuals should confess their lack of growth and ask the Lord to help them set goals for spiritual growth. Pray “Lord, I’ve forgotten or been too busy to give You the time and energy that I put into other aspects of my life. Forgive me for my lukewarmness and help me grow in Your Word so that I desire meat and not milk. Send your Holy Spirit to encourage me and help me grow. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Churches. Churches need to offer multiple ways for people to grow. The following are a few suggestions:
Pray. Recognize that isolation is a trait of today’s families and can be detrimental to spiritual growth. Begin with prayer. Ask the Lord to help your congregation find new and innovative ways to encourage and equip members and to encourage them in their faith journey.
Bible Studies. Rather than just offering a Sunday morning Bible study, offer many ways for members to get into the Word. Why not offer a men’s early morning Bible study, a women’s early morning Bible study, a lunch time study, a daytime study for those who are retired or stay at home moms, and even an after work Bible study that people can attend before they head home? Encourage members to read the Bible at home too!
Church library. Having an updated church library with excellent Christian books is also important for congregations. Why not highlight one of these books each week in the church bulletin or newsletter? Encourage members to pick up one or two good books to read at home or on their lunch hour. Also include books for family devotions.
Website Opportunities. Promote on-line devotions and Bible studies for church members.
Promote Christian radio programs in the community. Over the years I have seen many immature Christians grow spiritually when they begin to listen regularly to quality Christian radio programs that focus on God’s Word. So, churches can advertise good Christian radio programs for their members.
Join me in praying that Christians will take God’s admonition to grow up spiritually through the word and Christian education seriously. And remember to proclaim that we are saved through God’s grace alone (Eph. 2:8-10).