Summary: We are expected to progress in spiritual growth just as a person is expected to progress in natural growth.
From Bottles of Formula to Formulated Battles: The Progress of Spiritual Growth
Where Are You At on the Spiritual Growth Chart?
Sermon by Thomas A. Gaskill
August 14, 2011
Hebrews 5:11-6:3 NIV
(11) We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.
(12) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!
(13) Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(14) But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(1) Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
(2) instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
(3) And God permitting, we will do so.
1. Infant: Me Want – God Is Centered On Me – Believe and Receive – Desire Blessings from God
2. Child: Me Do – Look At Me – See What I Can Do For God – Obey God – Duty to God
3. Adolescent: Mold Me – Becoming Like Christ – See What God’s Grace Can Do – Trust God - Dependent on God
4. Adult: Search Me – Love Walk With God and others – Centered On God – Delight in God
1. The Scripture tells us “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”
a. I want to begin by saying that this stage is not bad in and of itself; it is the first step in progressing in spiritual growth. When a person is born again, it necessarily follows that they are infants in Christ. This person is at the “Me Want” stage of life. They have believed and received Christ as their personal Savior. This is the stage of spiritual life characterized by desiring God’s blessings. Just as a baby cries until it is fed, cries until somebody changes the dirty diaper, cries until somebody holds them, cries until rocked to sleep, cries until a ride in the swing happens, etc…; so the new believer is at a self-centered stage of their spiritual life. They came to Christ to escape the torments of hell. They came to Christ in hopes of obtaining God’s blessings. They came to Christ to feel better about themselves and life in general. They came to Christ to be comforted. They came to Christ to be assured a trip to heaven.
Again, I repeat, this is a perfectly normal first stage in spiritual growth. Nothing wrong as far as this is concerned. However, it is not normal or good for a person to remain as infants. The born again Christian must be weaned from their bottles of formula and progress into childhood.
2. We can see Childhood referred to when our Scripture text mentions the elementary teachings about Christ. Elementary school is for children. Here the child learns the alphabet, how to count, tie their shoes, read, and write. Spiritual children are in spiritual elementary school. Again, I want to emphasize that this is a good and necessary level. All children should have the opportunity of an elementary school education. However, it is not good for a child to remain in elementary school for an extended period of time beyond what is good and necessary. Churches need to implement “No Child Left Behind” and seek the advancement of all of God’s children. Nevertheless, even with “No Child Left Behind”, there are still some who are determined not to advance regardless of what opportunities come their way.
a. How many of you have ever supervised recess at an elementary school? Something that is characteristic, that I have noticed, of elementary aged children is that they want to be watched. They want attention. They are thinking “look at me, see what I can do”. This is still a self-centered stage of life but not as much so as the infant stage. The child is learning to use and enjoy new found abilities as their bodies and minds continue to develop. Again, this is perfectly good and natural. This is the stage of life that much teaching and encouragement is needed in order for steady progress to be made. The elementary age child learns and recognizes the importance of obeying those in authority. They muster up their own strength to obey and they are eager to be recognized for their accomplishments.
b. Likewise, the born again Christian who grows into childhood needs much teaching and encouragement in spiritual elementary school. The child of God needs to learn about repentance from sin. The child of God needs to learn about faith in God and be instructed about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. As the person at this elementary stage learns these things they have a sense of duty to God and seek to obey Him. This person attends church out of duty. Sometimes he or she will eventually attend Sunday School out of a sense of duty. The child will repent of big sins in obedience to God. The child of God might even tell others about their faith out of a sense of duty. The infamous “scalp hunters” arise at this stage of spiritual growth. They will go out and tell as many as they can about this new found faith they now have and then come back to church and think “look at me, see what I can do for God!”