As New-Born Babes Desire Sincere Milk (1 Pet 2:2)
“It is the explicit teaching of the Scriptures that the strengthening of the inner man is not something which is accomplished instantly, but rather gradually through the years as the heart responds obediently to the Divine Word of instruction and to the providence of the Lord. Not only so, but it is represented as a process in which there must be a working together with God in the building up of faith, hope, and love. It is recalled that one of the figures employed in the Scriptures to illustrate the life of faith and the process of gradual development is that of a new, born babe. Though many of the Lord’s people may be persons of mature years in the natural life, yet in the spiritual or life of faith they may be but babes. And as such the Apostle counsels them as new-born babes to earnestly desire and seek for the sincere milk of the Word-the primary simpler truths, the foundation teaching and doctrine.
These are the plain clear teachings of the Scriptures, such as the original perfection and glory of humanity created in the image of God; the fall of our race under the first trial and its plunge into ruin and death; the redemption of our race as the result of the payment of an equivalent price — the sacrifice of the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all; the actual and final deliverance of the redeemed race in God’s due time and order.
Those who in simple and childlike faith accept these truths and who, laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envy and all evil-speaking, endeavor to live worthy of this salvation, esteeming it as only a reasonable service to devote themselves thenceforth to the service of God, are accepted of Him as sons and heirs-as spiritual sons. The Word of the Lord assures that these little ones are very precious in the Lord’s sight. It was with reference to such that the Lord said to the Apostle, “Feed My lambs”; and again that He gave warning to false teachers, saying, “Whoever shall ensnare one of the least of these who believe in Me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were sunk in the depth of the sea.” Again, under the figure of a tender shepherd caring for a weak and straying lamb, He shows His earnest solicitude for these babes of the family, saying, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
But while these newly formed ones in Christ, because of their very feebleness and inexperience have much special care bestowed upon them and are dearly beloved of the Lord, and while their meek and teachable spirit is commended to all, it is most certainly not the will of God that they should always remain babes forever. The very object of His commending to them the milk of the Word is that they may grow thereby out of this infantile state up to the maturity of spiritual life-“That we be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” There should come a time in the experience of every healthy, growing child of God when he would be able to leave the first principles of the doctrines of Christ–the foundation doctrines-having them firmly fixed, established and settled in his mind, and therefore not needing to dig them up and, lay them over again-and go on growing in spiritual strength, might and grace, and in the knowledge of the truth unto perfection.
The Apostle Paul in Heb 5:12-14 reproved some in his day because they did not thus grow saying, (We’ll use the “New Living Translation”, here as it states the matter about as plainly as it can be said)
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basics (the first principles) about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food…
… For every one that uses milk [only] is unskillful in the Word of righteousness; for he is but a babe. But strong meat [solid food—Diaglott, the “deep things” of God’s Word] belongs to them that are of full age; even those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised.”
Understand “Full age” here refers to maturity in Christ (growth in the graces and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ), not necessarily in physical age in years.”
The Lord’s people therefore are not to live continually on the milk diet, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (“All scripture is given by inspiration of God… that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped…” 2 Tim 3:16, 17) Some of these words are the simple truths above noted, the milk; and others are deeper truths, the strong meat for those who, nourished by the pure milk, have grown and have developed considerable firmness and strength of Christian character. This stronger food says the Apostle is for adults — for those possessing faculties habitually exercised (through study and practicable application) in the discrimination of both good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error.” (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Sept 1927, Page 32)
Elsewhere he is found reproving some in the Church of Corinth of the very same thing, “Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready”—you are still merely babes in Christ yet. (1 Cor 3:1, 2 “The New Living Translation”)
“The Apostle in Heb 6:1 calls our attention to what these first principles are. He says, “Therefore (in view of the fact that if we always partake of milk we will surely remain babes), leaving the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.” What does that mean? Does it mean we ‘are to forget all about these first principles? Does it mean that we are to forget all about the “milk” when we begin to partake of the “strong meat”? Oh, not at all, my dear friends, the thought, rather, here is that having learned these first principles of Christ regarding God’s plan, having partaken of the milk of the Word, then don’t feel satisfied there; don’t sit down there and think you have everything needed. This is a mistake, this is the condition of the professing Church today, the Laodicean stage of the church, who says, ‘I am rich (spiritually), and have become wealthy (content with personal prosperity, possessions, family, friends and etc.), and have need of nothing…’ (Rev 3:17)
The Apostle says, “leaving (or advancing beyond) the first principles, let us now partake of the strong meat and grow strong in the Lord and be mature men, let us go on unto perfection.” Does this mean we can become perfect in the flesh then? Not so, my dear friends, the Apostle is not talking to those who are in the flesh. He is talking only of those who are “no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit.” He is talking about those who have sacrificed the flesh with all its present interests and hopes and who now are raised again as New Creatures. He is talking about those who are experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection and are dead to the human nature and alive to the spiritual things.
The “perfection” he speaks of is not perfection of the flesh; it is perfection of the heart, of the desire; perfection of love in our hearts… We are all imperfect according to the flesh, we are all poor creatures in the present time, but the Scriptures say God has made full provision for us – through his Word, providing for us not only the “milk” we need as babes meant to establish us and to get us started along the way, the way of truth and righteousness, but likewise “meat” that we may continue to grow both in the graces and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, grow beyond the mere stage of a babe into a full grown man, into the full stature of Christ. (Eph 4:13)
Understand not one Babe in Christ (an undeveloped Christian) will ever be admitted into the ruling phase of the Kingdom, a member of the very elect, the bride of Christ, only such as having made their calling an election sure shall attain to this honor. These all having finished their course as copies of God’s dear Son, fully matured and developed, (NOT in the flesh, but in the spirit) will be the only ones accounted worthy as joint heirs with their Lord. Those who fall short of this attainment (the undeveloped, mere “babes”) not having reached their full potential and development at the appointed time will nonetheless reach the heavenly plane, but alas through much tribulation and on a much lower plane of existence then their elder and more faithful brethren.” (1912 Bible Students Convention Report, Page 870)
Thus, “there is the penalty for lack of growth paid by those who remain content with the relatively weak diet suitable for infants… [Such] are unskillful in the word of righteousness. Infants cannot do anything for themselves; much less can they prepare food (to feed others)…Hence the Apostle writing to the Hebrews, upbraids some of them because, at a time when they ought to have been teachers (having themselves been “establish in the truth”), they had need to be taught again the first principles themselves…
“Jeremiah says, ‘Thy words were found and I did eat them.’ (Jer. 15:16.) Thereby he . . . found strength to sustain himself in his most difficult and trying ministry, from which, because of his timid and sensitive disposition, he shrank back in agony of soul. To be a good and effective minister of Christ it is necessary that one be well nourished through partaking largely of the abundant spiritual food which the Living Word supplies. Thus Paul admonished his child in the faith, Timothy, to whom he wrote, ‘If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.’ – 1 Tim. 4:6. (The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, May 1932, Page 36)
Continued with next post.