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Wednesday

Leaving the Basics to Grow in Christ

We had a great discussion last night in our small group about biblical love.  Our discussion was centered around 1 Corinthians 13.  One of the things we noticed was a similarity between 1 Corinthians 13:11 and Hebrews 5:12.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11

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,  -- Hebrews 5:12 

In both passages there is a moving (or lack of moving) away from childish immaturity towards maturity.  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is laying out what maturity looks like, at least in part.  It does not lie in spiritual gifts, but in doing everything with a Christ-like, sacrificial love.  What I find especially interesting is in what Paul indicates in Hebrews to be the foundation that must be laid before maturity can be attained.

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. -- Hebrews 6:1-2

According to Paul, the foundation that maturity is built upon is the "elementary doctrine of Christ".  He goes on to point out specifics of that doctrine, including repentance from dead works, faith toward God, resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment.  That sound familiar to anyone?  That in a nutshell is the gospel message.  Paul is saying, at least in part, that a solid understanding of the doctrines involved with the gospel is the foundation that must be laid in order for the believer to progress to maturity in Christ.  So, the depravity of man, justification, penal substitution, election: these are all foundational doctrines that must be in place in order for us to progress to maturity.

If that is the case, why do so many churches shy away from teaching them?  I think we have gotten things backwards.  Too often, we relegate these basic doctrines to the arena of seminary or specialty classes offered to those who are "mature enough" to understand them.  Then we teach concepts like loving your neighbors and enemies as to everyone as though they are basic, simple ideas.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is the product of leaving childish things behind and progressing to maturity.  In Hebrews he says that can only be done if we first have a foundation based on the doctrines of Christ.  People cannot love the way God calls them to unless they first understand the gospel and most of our people have a very narrow, short sided, and incomplete understanding of the gospel because we won't teach them those things until they mature.

They can't mature because we won't teach them and we won't teach them because they aren't mature.  I don't think this is going to end well.  We have to stop trying to protect our people from hard to understand doctrines because in the end all we are doing is preventing them from growing in Christ.  Then we expect them to operate in maturity without providing them the very foundation they need to mature.  In essence, we tell them what road they should take, roll a giant boulder in the road, and wonder why they aren't getting anywhere.

There is a way that seems right to man..........

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Sheldon Clowdus

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