ARE YOU IN A STATE OF ETERNAL CHILDHOOD?
Hebrews 5:11-6:2 -- "Concerning Him 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 have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of instructions about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment."
The purpose of pastors and leaders is not to maintain, but to equip and perfect the saints for the ministry. We have to overcome the hindrances to growth. We have to be concerned with being like Jesus, and help others to become like Him also.
See Ephesians 4:11-16 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.
Paul’s idea of the Church is a body with life within that never stops growing. It is not like a baseball that, though it is thrown strongly, after a while comes to a stop. That is what happens when the Church becomes too institutionalized. An institution is ruled by its constitution and bylaws. Usually, if there is any life in it, institutionalism kills it. This is not to say that institutions are wrong, but that we have to be very careful and aware of this peril. History is the witness. Groups that started with life, ended like a baseball when the inertia had ended.
CHILDHOOD: WHAT IS IT?
1. For Paul, the evidence of childhood in Corinth was their division. In Galatia it was their legalism. To the writer to the Hebrews the evidence of babyhood was that they always needed milk and never became spiritual fathers. Apparently, in a large segment of the church today we have the same situations.
2. Today we have divisions worse than the Corinthians. Denominationalism, jealousy, disputes, dissentions, and factions are common. Not only between church and church, but also within the same church or denomination.
We see many people in the church world who are adamant about following after certain teachers or ministries even to the dividing of friendships. We are witnesses of many local congregations that divide and keep dividing themselves endlessly. Therefore, the problem is not denominational differences only, but childhood. Belonging to the same denomination is not a guarantee that there is not going to be division. Division, enmities, jealousy, strife, etc., are called “the works of the flesh” in the epistle to the Galatians. The church today looks like a large kindergarten. Perhaps we don’t fight because we are rebellious, but because we are children.
3. Legalism: Children must be ruled by laws. As children naturally grow older and become more mature, they no longer are ruled by laws, they become ruled by their inner knowledge of right and wrong. Example: children usually do not understand why parents tell them not to play with scissors. All they hear is the commandment “thou shall not play with scissors.” They do not understand why they can’t cross the road by themselves. All they know is the commandment “thou shall not cross the street alone.” This rule by commandment is because the child has not developed the skills’ or knowledge, or maturity to make the proper decisions because of immaturity. But as the child grows, its skills, knowledge, and maturity increase and they now are capable of doing those things without constant supervision because they are maturing. As a matter of fact, we expect them to grow up and become mature enough to be guided by their inner decision making ability and if they don’t we consider them to be abnormal or even retarded in their normal development. As
they grow up, they become free from the laws we establish for them as children or babies. This is the meaning of Galatians 5:18, “…..but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” To grow is to get freed from legalism, because our inner life in Jesus guides us “into all truth” and “teaches us all things” (I John 2:27).
Paul is one living example: I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23. It seems that for an adult nothing is forbidden, but his inner common sense will tell him what is good and expedient and what is not. The adult person is no longer under the law “thou shall not touch the scissors”, but he won’t be playing with the scissors. The fact there is so much legalism in churches and groups is another evidence of our childhood.
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