Church, It’s Time to Grow Up!
By Chris Jordan
God has given us an amazing gift in the Bible. When we feed upon His Word, we will grow spiritually, and become more like Jesus.
“For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord–to whom the Lord swore that He would not show them the land which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Joshua 5:6).
The above Scripture is one of the saddest commentaries in the Bible. God had raised up a mighty deliverer in the man of Moses, and brought His people out of slavery in Egypt. He had promised to take them to a land that was flowing with milk and honey, filled with the blessings and promises of God. It was going to be wonderful. But instead of being obedient to what the Lord had called them to do, they started grumbling and complaining, and because of that, they ended up wandering around in the wilderness for forty years. A whole generation of believers missed their destiny in God because they weren’t willing and obedient! And it was only an eleven day journey to the Promised Land. How could they have been so close to their destiny and yet still missed it?
Church – it’s time to grow up! If we want to experience new life in Christ, then we need to make a commitment to spiritual growth. Too many people are like a little hamster running on a hamster wheel. When you look at that little hamster, you have to wonder – what does he think he’s accomplishing? Where does he think he’s going? He’s expending a lot of energy, but when he gets off of that wheel, he’s in the exact same place as when he started.
I wonder if people were to take a spiritual inventory of where they were at compared to where they were one year ago, would they see any difference? Are they any further along in the Christian walk? Have they been growing spiritually? The Christian life is not about a destination – it’s about a journey. It’s about changing and progressing, and not being content to stay where we’re at. One of the things the Lord finally said to the children of Israel was: “You have stayed at this mount long enough. It is time to break camp and move on.” (Deut. 1:6-7).
God is speaking prophetically to us today and saying, “You’ve stayed at this mountain long enough. You’ve come to a plateau, and you haven’t gone any further. You’ve gotten content.” It’s more comfortable to stay at a camp sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows than it is to be climbing up the mountain and going higher. God wants us to break camp and move on into the next things that He has for us in the spirit realm.
Today, if you would make a commitment to spiritual growth – to developing and strengthening your faith – I believe that in one year you won’t even recognize yourself. Why? Because of the power of God’s Word radically changing and transforming your life. Church, it’s time to grow up!
When Liza and I were the youth pastors at Bible Fellowship in Surrey, I was also an adjunct professor at Pacific Life Bible College, and I taught two classes there: Bible Research and Hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation). I want to share with you some of the teachings that I shared with those Bible College students and show you how to get more out of God’s Word. If you’ve ever heard me preach before, you know that I often encourage people to read their Bibles. But how do we do that? When you’re teaching a kid to swim, you don’t toss them into the deep end and say, “Okay, swim!” If you do, they’re going to drown. Therefore, I want to share with you three basic principles for Bible study. The first one is: Why should we study the Bible? The second one is: What is the Bible? And the third one is: How do we study the Bible? First of all, let’s talk about the challenge to grow up.
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:2-3).
In this Scripture, Peter admonishes us to desire the pure milk of God’s Word, so that we can grow spiritually. Notice the first word of the following verse: It says, “If.” ‘If’ is an important connective word that gives us motivation for desiring the Word. We must first taste and see that the Lord is good, to come to a place where we understand and appreciate that once we were lost, but now we’ve been found, once we were on the road to hell, but now we’re on the road to Heaven. To realize that we’re children of God, adopted into His family, and accepted in the beloved. When we do this, then we will have a desire to crave after the pure milk of the Word of God.
When I first became a Christian, I didn’t have to have the pastor knocking on my door and saying, “You know, you’re supposed to read your Bible. That’s what good little Christians are supposed to do.” I didn’t need anyone to do that for me because I had tasted of the goodness of the Lord. When I first became a Christian, I said, “If this God is who the Bible says He is, a loving, accepting, forgiving and compassionate God, then I want to know Him.” God had made such a difference in my life in saving me, forgiving my sins, and giving me new life, that I wanted to know Him more. One of the first things I did when I started following Jesus was to go out and buy myself a Bible. I was so hungry to know the Lord that I read the whole Bible from cover to cover in three months. I don’t say that to boast in my accomplishment. Rather, I share it to motivate you to do the same.
It boggles my mind that someone could be a Christian their whole life and never once open up their Bible. To be a Christian means to be a disciple of Jesus. How can we follow Him if we don’t know what He said? The Bible tells us how to follow Jesus.
Peter tells us to desire the pure milk of the Word so that we can grow. God wants us to grow – He doesn’t want us to stay the same. Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).
Most people take good care of their physical bodies with three square meals a day. When our physical body says, “Feed me!” We say, “Yes sir!” We make sure our bodies are well fed, but we neglect our spirits. For many Christians, the only food their spirit gets is a sermon once a week on Sunday mornings. No one would even dream of letting their physical bodies go a whole week with only one snack from the cupboard early on Sunday mornings. We need to feed our spirit God’s Word every day.
There is a parallel in the Bible between physical growth and spiritual growth. When you first become a believer in Jesus, the Bible calls you a ‘babe in Christ’ – a spiritual baby. We understand when a new-born baby needs to wear a diaper to keep from making a mess. But if you saw an adult walking around still wearing diapers, we would all agree that there’s something wrong with that. Too many Christians don’t know how to feed themselves the Word of God yet. They’ve been in the church for ten years, but they don’t know how to read the Bible. God has invited all believers to come and partake of the heavenly feast of the Word of God.
BREAKING IN BABY:
To explore the parallels between physical growth and spiritual growth a little bit, I want to share with you this excerpt from “Breaking in Baby” by Dave Berry. This will give you a humorous look at the growth process…
“We have a son who began as a baby and has successfully reached the age of three without becoming an axe murderer, as far as we know. Thus we are eminently qualified to tell you how to bring up your baby. Here’s my advice.
Taking Your New Baby Home. There’s nothing quite like the moment a young couple leaves the hospital, walking with that characteristic new-parent walk that indicates an obsessive fear of dropping the baby on its head. Finally, it’s just the three of you on your own!
The Basic Baby Mood Cycle. All babies settle into this once they get over being born. Mood Number 1: Just About To Cry, Mood Number 2: Crying, Mood Number 3: Just Finished Crying. Your job is to keep your baby in Mood 3 as much as possible. Here is the traditional way to do this. When the baby starts to cry, you and your spouse just pass it back and forth repeatedly and recite these words in unison, “Do you suppose he’s hungry?” “He can’t be hungry, he just ate.” “Maybe he needs to be burped.” “No, that’s not it.” “Maybe his diaper needs to be changed.” “No, it’s dry.” “Do you think maybe he’s hungry?” And so on, and so on, until the baby can’t stand it anymore and decides to go to sleep.
Baby’s First Solid Food. We’re using the term “food” loosely here. What we’re talking about are those little jars on store shelves with the smiling baby on the label and names like Prunes With Mixed Vegetables. Babies hate this stuff! Who wouldn’t? The way babies eat food is by absorbing it directly into their bloodstream through their faces. So, the most efficient way to feed a baby is to smear the food on its chin. Unfortunately, many inexperienced parents insist on putting the food into the baby’s mouth. They put in spoonful after spoonful of say, beets, sincerely believing they are doing something constructive when, in fact, the beets are merely going around the baby-food-return loop, which all humans are equipped with until the age of 18 months. After the parents finish feeding the baby, they remove the bib and clean up the area. That’s when baby starts to spew beets from his mouth, like a little beet volcano until his face is covered with beets which he can then absorb.” (Breaking in Baby by Dave Barry).
BECOMING MATURE AND FULL GROWN IN THE LORD:
“Jesus is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
It’s time for us to discover what we believe for ourselves. If someone can talk you into believing something, then someone else can talk you out of it. We have all these different teachings and interpretations, and too many believers don’t know what they believe, or why they believe it. It’s time for them to get into the Bible for themselves and not just take someone else’s word for it. Thank God for the pastors and teachers that He has given us to help us understand His Word, but God has invited us to come to the Scriptures for ourselves. Too many Christians are content to be under the Word of God, but not in the Word of God for themselves. They’ll spend hundreds of dollars on the latest teaching CD’s, and fly all over the country to go to Bible conferences to get under the Word of God, but they won’t walk across the living room to pick up their Bible. Something is wrong in the church today.
About five hundred years ago, there was a time when the average Christian did not have access to the Word of God for themselves. The only Bible in the church was literally chained to the pulpit, and written in a language the common person couldn’t read. People could not go directly to God and know Him through His Word for themselves. If they wanted to know what God was like, they would have to go to the priest, and take his word for it. During this time period we call the Protestant Reformation; great men of God like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Wycliffe realized that what they were being taught was wrong. They said, “God has invited all of us as His children to know Him for ourselves.” They started translating the Scriptures into the common language of the people, but many of these heroes of the faith were martyred by the corrupt Catholic Church who didn’t want people to have access to the Bible for themselves. Today, because of the work of many of these reformers, we can go to the Bible for ourselves. This is an amazing privilege from the Lord, and we can’t neglect this.
The above Scripture in Ephesians tells us that God’s desire is that we would we grow up spiritually, and become healthy and full of love – just like Jesus.
Let me share some startling statistics with you. George Barna wrote The State of the Church in 2002. He conducted a survey of Christians and here’s what he discovered about their knowledge of the Bible.
- 48% could not name the four Gospels.
- 60% could not name even 5 of the Ten Commandments.
Could you name the Ten Commandments? What about the 66 books of the Bible?
One year in our children’s ministry, my wife Liza (who is our children’s ministry overseer) took children through a curriculum called “Bible Blitz.” This taught the children the books of the Bible. It’s time to become Bible literate believers. Let’s start living by this book.
One of our church’s mottos is: “Providing Hope, Healing and Restoration through God’s Word.” Do you want hope, healing or restoration in your life? It comes one way: through God’s Word. You can go to church your whole life and never experience the life-transforming freedom that’s available through Jesus Christ. It’s as you come to know the truth that the truth makes you free.
The Apostle Paul wrote this challenging rebuke to the church at Corinth: “When I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to mature Christians. I had to talk as though… you were infants in the Christian life. I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food, because you couldn’t handle anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your own sinful desires. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other… You are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, nlt).
How do you know if you’re still in the child stage of spiritual growth? When you struggle with jealousy, strife and divisions. If those things are true of you, then it’s time to grow up. We need to get the Word of God working mightily in us and transforming our lives.
Let me share a story with you to help illustrate this point. “Our family went on a holiday to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. “I’m sorry,” the waitress said. “I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken.” At first I was dumbfounded. We were surrounded by millions of oranges, and I knew they had oranges in the kitchen. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. We were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it.” (Leroy Eims).
What would happen to your intake of God’s Word if the ‘machine’ of the church was to shut down? If all of the churches were forced to close down, would you know how to feed yourself God’s Word? We need to learn how to feed ourselves the Word of God so that we can grow up, and become spiritually mature.
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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