In speaking to the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus said,”Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” It is a wonderful blessing when a person comes to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. When this salvation is received, we often say that person has become a babe in Christ.
This typically means that the person is newly born again & just starting on their Christian walk. However, too many times people remain in this infant stage of Christianity. The responsibility to grow lies both in the newly saved and in the Church.
Jesus commissioned His Church to make disciples, baptize them & then to teach them. The extent of this teaching is magnified by the continuation of his statement. His command, “Teaching them all things whatsoever I have commanded you” clearly sets the boundaries for the Churches responsibility to teach the Lord’s disciples for the generations to come. The Lord himself determining the doctrine to be delivered to those who would come to him in faith, gave the responsibility, the authority, and the great blessing to relay those teachings to every babe in Christ as they were born again. They were not to change these doctrines based on current culture, events, popularity, or for any other reason. They were only to teach that very doctrine given to them by the Lord.
Further instruction came from the Apostle Paul to the younger Preacher Titus, “Tit 2:1-8, But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. These first 8 verses clearly give expectations that those called to the ministry, are expected to teach the things that become (are suitable for) sound doctrine. Sound teaching for Christians of all ages & levels of spiritual development. Preachers must be able to give equally to satisfy the diets of the sincere milk of the word as well as providing meat for those who are able to bear it.
Titus is told to teach the elder men and women so they in turn may be able to teach the younger men and women. These verses demonstrate that the responsibility to teach is not only with the Pastor of the Church, but also for each disciple to cooperate in the spiritual nourishment of the brethren as they are able. The task of strong and continuous doctrinal education is too important and too vast to be left only in the hands of the few. And so the Church is to employ all possible resources to bring about this education and spiritual nourishment to it’s members & congregation.
Having demonstrated the responsibility of each Christian to participate in the instruction of babes in Christ, it is therefore necessary to clearly state that in order to support this teaching, each disciple must strive to grow from a babe in Christ, to a mature & doctrinally sound Christian. Time and space prevents the documentation of all of the scripture that directs the personally responsibility we each hold to grow spiritually. To cite just a few:
Hebrews 10:22-25,”Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;(for He is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Timothy 2:15,”Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Hebrews 5:12-14,”For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
These scriptures provide direct and specific responsibility to each disciple to grow in spiritual knowledge and understanding. Further, this growth is not to be passive, but the scripture requires active and driven approaches to be taken in the development of our doctrinal teaching. Failing to avail ourselves of independent study, group study, and instructional teaching from the Church is in direct contradiction to the Word of God.
It is not the Lord’s desire or intent that His people be ignorant of spiritual things. He has provided His written Word. He has provided His Church to provide instruction. He has provided His Holy Spirit. All of these resources are provided for each of His disciples to grow from the Babe in Christ at the time of their salvation to a stalwart and faithful Christian ready to help others in their spiritual growth.
1Co 13:11-13 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
May God help use each one to grow to be the spiritually discerning disciple that He would have us to be.