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" Grow Up in Christ "

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, [even] as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal? (1 Cor 3:1-4)

Many are the complaints. Older people complain about the younger and their rock music and disrespect for elders. Younger people complain about the older generation who preach at them, accusing them of being "judgmental" and not being "with" the times. Some complain that preachers don't preach like Billy Sunday, D.L.Moody or Billy Graham any more. In fact...that Billy Graham no longer preaches like Billy Graham. You know..."fire and brimstone." And others think the "harsh" preaching is simply "too much" and desire more talk of "Luuuvvv" and "Graeeessss."

In these gripe sessions one seldom hears much about God. God's Word. God's Love and Grace. God's Holiness, Justice and Mercy. God's "standard" of righteousness. What it is that God expects of His own. How we should seek His face (Ps27:8), turn from our wickedness (2Chr7:14), and strive to be pleasing to him.(2Cor5:9)

As we continue this year's series in 1 Corinthians, we see Paul saying to the Corinthians, "You are not 'spiritual' you are 'carnal'." The spiritual person meditates on things of God. The carnal, the things of the world. And he equates this "carnality" with "infantilism." And so, in essence he is saying, "You are acting like babies...I'm talking to you like babies."

How were they "acting like babies?" Sectarianism, envy, strife and divisions. In the first two chapters (VW Issues 031, 032) he laid the foundation for "unity." Unity is based on Doctrine. Unity is based on All Believers BELIEVING the SAME THING. The fact that these people were not doing that was the indication that they were "carnal." Still "babies."

Just to remind ourselves of the days "we" live in. What are people "today" striving to do? They are striving for unity...based on "REJECTION of Doctrine." Ignoring Doctrine. If the Corinthians were "babies," who at least had SOME Doctrine, where does that leave today's generation? They are less-than babies. They are not even "born" again.(Jn3:3,Eph4:5)

Paul says he "fed" them with "milk." What is milk? Peter equates "milk" with the "Word."(1Pet2:2)

The prophet says, "Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts."(Jer15:16)

Job put it this way, "I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food." (Job 23:12)

Jesus said, "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."(John 6:54-56)

And Paul says again, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,"(Phil 3:10)

However, the carnal ones were like the "Hebrews," ..."of whom we have much to say, and 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 first principles of the Words of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who par- takes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.(Heb 5:11-6:2)

Babies only barely understand, and rejoice in, their salvation. And the wonderful feelings and emotions of that initial conversion from darkness to Light. But those happy emotions of discovering Life in Christ are but the beginning of what the Christian life is all about. How many today only want those "happy emotions" where they can jump up and down, clap their hands, shouting out in ecstasy...but refuse (like the Hebrews) to receive any further growth. They are only on milk yet.

But the Christian life includes hard times and discipline (Heb12:5-8). And the "senses exercised" to be able to know good from evil. When John writes to "test the spirits" (1Jn4:1) he is writing something that the "mature" are capable of. A person does not become a Christian, praise the Lord a bit, and then be able to know deep spiritual discernments. This comes with time and growth...as one feeds on God's Word, and is open to the Holy Spirit.

Why do we have so many factions today? In most cases, people barely came to the Lord, were still on their "adrenaline high" of the excitement of their salvation, and began teaching right away, based on lack of full knowledge of God's Word. And for them, the emotional "high" was the ultimate "spiritual experience." Because that's all they knew, and did not take the time to grow. But, they are subject to all sorts of variations in doctrine. And, so is it any wonder that now, in order to create unity, they are discarding their doctrines. Their doctrines were never based on God's Word, nor experience, nor growth...but the emotional high of the initial New Birth experience and its excitement.

But Paul writes, "And He Himself gave [gifts] for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS of CHRIST; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and Carried About with EVERY WIND of DOCTRINE, by the Trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may GROW UP in all things into Him who is the head; Christ; from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, CAUSES GROWTH of the body for the edifying of itself in love.(Eph 4:11-16)

Peter wrote: Put away evil, Desire the Word of God...and Grow. (1Pet2:1-2)

Amen!


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