Friday, July 6, 2012

Time to Wean that Baby

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews outlines his sadness that the church has not been weaned off milk. He is sad because this reveals that they are only spiritual infants, weak and unable to fend for themselves in a world that is riddled with false teaching and legalism. "Milk" in this context is the "elementary teachings about Christ". As I read this passage in Hebrews I am challenged to think about whether I am serving up milk or meat to the people I minister to. In our church context today what is milk and what is meat?

When I think of elementary teachings about Christ the first word that pops into my head is "the gospel". Surely the gospel is the most elementary teaching about Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 outlines these elementary teachings pretty well:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures...
Some people would see the call to leave the "milk" and move onto the "meat" as a call to leave the gospel in the realm of initial salvation, something given to unsaved folk so they can receive Christ, and then to move onto something else in order to grow the church to maturity. But does this represent a shift away from the foundation of our faith and reliance on something other than Christ? Other churches these days are describing themselves as "gospel-centred", (in fact it has become a bit of a catch phrase in church circles), believing that the church should be all about calling unsaved people to respond to the gospel. But if all you do is preach the gospel to call people to initial salvation are you simply loading up people with milk and never weaning them onto meat?

Here is the dilemma: How can we move people onto maturity without abandoning the foundation of the gospel? And how can we be gospel-centred without letting our people miss out on the meat they need to mature?

I have called this blog Gospel at Depth because it is the phrase that best encompasses my answer to this dilemma. Teaching the gospel at depth is to take the foundational message of Christ's atoning death and resurrection, the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and to apply it to every circumstance of life. My desire is to see the people I teach given the gospel not only as the means of salvation but as the means of sanctification as well. I want the first question they ask when confronted with the daily events of life to be: how does the gospel apply here? I want them to mature by chewing on the meat of the gospel.

It is my hope that this blog will present the gospel in such a way that we can wrestle with its implications for daily life and openly discuss how the gospel can grow us into maturity.

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