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Summary: This stand alone lesson was used in a combined Sunday School class for 5 combined classes, and was intended for instruction of new Christians as well as growing Christians. Based on Heb. 5:11-6:12, I Cor. 3:1-4, and 1 Pet. 2:1-3 all of which talk about "s

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Moving On: From Milk to Meat in the Word of God

Texts: Hebrews 5:11-6:12, 1 Cor. 3:1-4, 10-15, Eph 4:11-16, 1 Pet. 2:1-3, 2 Pet.1:3-10

Intro: Almost everybody loves babies! I often hear people say, “Oh, they just grow up too fast!” Part of what makes them so appealing is that they are constantly growing and learning. Susan and I enjoy so much being around our delightful, brilliant, adorable, good lookin’ (etc. etc) grandchildren and watching them grow up. We often lament the fact that all of them are now school age children having left behind their pre-school years. But the truth is, that if any of them were still in diapers, crawling around, drinking only from bottles, we would have cause to be concerned. It’s a real shame when a baby doesn’t grow up. We start to worry if a child is slow to learn.

That’s also the first sign of spiritual trouble. Hebrews 5:11-12 says, “We have much to say about this (Jesus as our high priest), but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 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! The writer of Hebrews wanted to dig deep into the teaching of Jesus as our mediator and high priest, but he found those around him spiritually dull of hearing, and sluggish when it came to moving on from first principles to deeper spiritual truths.

Paul also wrote about this same problem when he addressed the believers in Corinth. He wrote, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly…” (1 Cor. 3:1-3a) On the basis of these passages are we to conclude that it is a bad thing for a Christian to seek for spiritual milk? Not at all, if the Christian is new to the faith and not yet grounded in the word.

Peter wrote about spiritual milk in one of his letters. He said, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

1. What is “Spiritual Milk”?

So what is spiritual milk? John MacArthur in his commentary describes milk this way,”Milk, not a reference to certain doctrines, but to the more easily digestible truths of doctrine that were given to new believers.” He compared milk to solid food by saying, “solid food, the deeper features of the doctrines of scripture. The difference is not in kind of truth, but degree of depth. Spiritual immaturity makes one unable to receive the richest truths.” Milk is like pre-digested truth, easy to swallow whole, but meat requires development of teeth and the action of chewing. There is more involved in the process of eating solid food.

In Hebrews we are given samples of the kinds of doctrines that could be called “Milk” (Heb. 6:1-2) “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, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Here is a list of 6 foundational truths of Christianity that were also foundational truths in the Jewish faith. Here is how these foundational truths relate to each other:

1. Godward truths (repentance and faith) mark the initiation of the spiritual life. Repentance and faith go together (Acts 20:21)

2. Manward truths (baptisms and laying on of hands) have to do with a person’s relationship to the local assembly of believers. Baptism is a symbol of spiritual cleansing and identification in Christ’s death, and laying on of hands is the sharing of blessing usually passed on from the elders or else the setting apart of someone to a particular ministry.

3. Future truths (resurrection of the dead and the final judgment) both deal with teachings about the end times. Some may assume these to be deep truths, but the writer of Hebrews called them “elementary teachings” and concluded that after laying this foundation we are to move forward to maturity!

From these three passages which all referred to spiritual milk we uncover certain things about how spiritual babies look.

2. How do Spiritual babies look:

The first thing we learn about spiritual babies is that they are unable to digest spiritual meat. Though babies are born not knowing anything or able to do much of anything, there is one thing they can do right from the start. They know how to suck on a nipple to get milk out of it. No healthy baby needs a class on bottle sucking, nor do they need to be talked into desiring milk. Peter referred to this when he encouraged Christians to crave spiritual milk like new born babies. The idea behind this is that by sucking on spiritual milk (the basics of the gospel message), the spiritual infant can begin the process of growing towards maturity.

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Talk about it...

Jodie Starr

commented on Feb 7, 2015

Your introduction to the "meat" of the Word is a good beginning; however, where is the "meat"? Please provide Scriptural references as to where this "meat" of the Word is located.

K. Edward Skidmore

commented on Mar 24, 2015

Jodie, your point is well taken. Hebrews 5:11-13 speaks of this matter as does 1 Cor. 3:1-2. The actual word used is "solid food" in comparison to milk. I'll keep what you said in mind. Ed

John Knop

commented on Jul 31, 2017

So the Word is symbolized by bread (Matt 4:4) , the bread is symbolic of meat [flesh] (Matt 26:26) , the flesh of Jesus (John 6:32-70) (but specifically John 6:55). K. Edward has good insights - better than MacArthur and much better than John Piper on this matter. Milk is motherly rearing (2 Thess 2:7). "Meat" [solid food] is how maturity (aka righteousness) (aka becoming like Jesus) is disciple. Navigators have a good illustration about spiritual maturity but Peter give a good one in 2 Peter 1:5-8. The big hurdle that he calls out here - from infancy to becoming like Jesus (1 Cor 11:1) - is the success in [individual (not legalism)] spiritual disciples.

John Knop

commented on Jul 31, 2017

As to the comment about spiritual infancy as a prejoritive: one merely has to look at the physical. Babies are cute and when they make a mess and smile - it tugs on the heart strings. When a 25 year old shows the same proclivities and competencies, parent hold there heads in shame and embarrassment and sadness.

John Knop

commented on Jul 31, 2017

Ironically, I also just noticed that one of the related media topics is the symbolism of Baptism.

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