Weaning Christians Off the Gospel

ImageMothers may disagree about the best age at which to wean a baby, but I trust they all agree that, sooner or later, little Johnny’s going to have to get his milk elsewhere. It’s all part of growing up. Before you know it, that child will mature from a baby to a toddler to a teen. Then, if he’s like my son, he’ll devour a steak so quickly you’ll begin to suspect he’s moonlighting as a member of a wolf pack. It’s simple biology: as your body changes, so does your diet.

This process of physical maturity has some parallels to spiritual maturity. The Christian grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). The Lord does not wish him to remain a child, tossed here and there by the waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14). In fact, Paul writes to the Corinthians that he couldn’t speak to them as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to “babes in Christ.” He gave them “milk to drink, not solid food,” for they were not able to receive it (1 Cor 3:1-2). Just as you don’t put a prime rib on the plate of a two-month-old, you don’t attempt to teach a newborn Christian everything there is to know about the faith before he’s ready.

The only means by which a person becomes a “babe in Christ,” a believer, is by the Gospel. The Good News of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for you—that Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. If therefore, the Gospel is the means whereby a person becomes a child of God, when he grows up spiritually, he moves beyond that simple, childish Gospel, right? That milk of Good News may be appropriate in the early stages of your life as a Christian, but as you mature, you’ve got to put the breast away. I mean, it’s not as if you need to hear, again and again, that Jesus lived a perfect life for your flawed life; that Jesus died in your stead on the cross; that Jesus rose from the dead that you might have life. Really, once you’ve heard and believed the Gospel, the goal now is to learn more and more about the law of God, so that you can mature into a commandment-keeping, law-loving, obedient disciple of Jesus. Right?

Yes, but only if you want to end up living a life of disappointment and despair that finally lands you in hell. If you are determined to get beyond the Gospel, you certainly may, but what you will find on the other side of that Good News is the bad news that you are a dead man walking, that you have deserted Christ, that you’ve traded in the wooden cross of life for the stone tablets of death. The only maturity you will attain if you suppose you get too big, too much of a “spiritual man” to need the forgiving, life-sustaining grace of Christ every hour of every day, is the maturity of a Pharisee. And we all know how well Jesus got along with them.

Here is the truth: Christians are never weaned off the Gospel. Never. Jesus is our milk, our soft food, our solid food, our every meal, no matter where we are in our growth as Christians. He alone is our meat and drink throughout our lives. So long as you are in this life, you will fall flat on your face, again and again, when you try to live a life of obedience. And, lying flat on your face, you will discover that you landed, not on hard ground, but on the crucified body of Jesus. Eye to eye with him. Face to face with your Savior. He will stand up with you in his arms. He will clean you up, wash you, forgive you, lead you onward.

This Holy Week we will stand at the full cross on Good Friday and the empty tomb on Easter morning. But do not imagine that this is one of many stopping points on the journey of faith. This is The Stopping Point. We get no farther. Why move on when here is Jesus, the God who is for you? Indeed, Lord, where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life; you are our eternal life.

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11 thoughts on “Weaning Christians Off the Gospel

  1. Real maturity? Go deeper into the joy of our salvation…wallow in it, revel in it. But the bartender from hell [still loving this description] serves up the poison that recasts maturity as being a slave to the Law. Got milk?

  2. Sam Pakan on said:

    Amen and amen!

  3. Reblogged this on Theological Musings and commented:
    Christian maturity is not independence, but growing dependance. We never move on from the Word of our Savior Jesus Christ or from His living sustaining gifts in Baptism and His Supper. Only where there is forgiveness, where there is the Cross, then there is life and salvation!

  4. frankenmuthfarm on said:

    1 Peter 2:2-3 was our daughter’s confirmation verse. She took many years experience feeding calves into consideration when she wrote her Presentation of Faith speech a few years back. Sharing some of her thoughts:
    “…God is like a farmer and my faith is nourished much like those calves. … Calves need milk because they are not mature enough to eat solid grain. … God chooses not to reveal Himself in His entirety to us, for we in our sinful state cannot fathom all of Him. … Jesus told His disciples to be like little children in their faith, … Peter encourages us to do the same, urging us to crave “spiritual milk” or God’s Word so we grow strong in faith. … [W]e look forward to the complete revelation of God’s almighty majesty and power when we stand before His throne in Heaven.”

    Some thoughts from one of your posts was shared in our pastor’s sermon Easter Sunday. Glad I took the time to look it up at home; now you are my homepage for devotions. There’s lots of archival material, so I will find new treasures each day.
    God’s Blessings, Chad.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this! It is indeed that spiritual milk of the Word that is our daily nourishment. I’m glad to hear that one of my posts aided your pastor in the proclamation of that Word. Thank you for taking the time to look up my blog and to write such encouraging words. Blessings to you during this Easter season!

  5. Kermit on said:

    Chad,

    I stumbed onto this blog.

    Thanks for this lovely expression of the complete sufficiency of Jesus, our beloved Savior, to save, sanctify, and glorify His children. This truly Good News found me at the bottom after 24 years of hustling for Jesus and wondering why He was so distant and uncaring while I was serving Him so well. After a horrifying, fear-filled awakening to my desperate condition as a believer, I was shown the gracious gift I’d received in discovering that, even as a Christian, I was unable, powerless, shackled, burdened by focusing on self. What a wonderful realization. I’m nothing; He is everything. Wonder of wonders, now Jesus actually seems to be getting work done through something as weak and broken as myself. I can’t go back to depending on my performance.

    Thanks again, Chad. Perhaps we wouldn’t agree on everything but it sounds like we agree about One Thing.

    Kermit

    • Great words, Kermit! Many of us have gone on a similar journey, to finally discover what true grace means. And once we’ve discovered it, there’s no going anywhere else. I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog. And I hope you return. Thank you for your comment.

  6. Jennifer W Knutson on said:

    I found this in my ‘fb memories’ – so I guess facebook isn’t a total waste of time! As I re-read this, another thought sprang to my mind regarding the nursing mom and infant. It has been shown that the mother’s milk actually changes to meet the growing baby’s nutritional needs. If I follow this as an analogy, I’ll probably make a theological mess – but, like the young girl’s statement of faith expressed against the background of raising calves, it has given me ‘food’ for thought.

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