Those Who Do Not Lead Christians to Maturity
by Sandy Simpson, 5/11/14
Eph. 4:12-14 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
Heb. 5:13-14 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
The Scriptural definition of maturity is to learn to discern truth from error so that the Christian will no longer be double minded, blown about by every wind of teaching and by the schemes of crafty people. But the problem today is that so few Christian teachers are feeding their flock’s solid food. They are serving up milk and, because of that, people are starving. Yet they often don’t even know they have been on a starvation diet.
Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
We live in a day of famine of the Word. We get a certain amount of milk, at least from true Biblical teachers, but very little meat. One of the reasons for this is that many “Christian” teachers are applying the passage “judge not lest you be judged” to every aspect of life when that passage is addressing a specific form of judging, hypocritical judging, that the Lord does not want us to employ. I wrote about this in my article “Karma (by any other name)” where I show that this argument leads people to assume they will be judged for testing and discerning. You can read my article called “How To Discern, Test & Judge Rightly”, an article by Jacob Prasch called “Judge Not?” and a new article by Marsha West called “Does the Bible really say we're not to judge?”.
Another reason for the lack of solid food being fed to Christians is that I believe many pastors are afraid to teach their flock how to discern because they might be tested themselves. They want the flock to remain little lambs instead of doing what they should be doing to bring them to maturity. I have also written about this in an article called “The Responsibilities of a Good Shepherd“. But the problem with keeping Christians as babies is that when the storms of life rage and winds of the doctrines of demons blow they are like little children who jump off a boat in the waves and wind without knowing how to swim. What happens to them? If no one rescues them they will surely drown. It is the same with teachers who refuse to equip their people with the abilities to survive, allowing the Lord to sanctify them. If they are not brought to maturity they can end up believing for awhile and fall away or be chocked by the worries of life and not mature.
Luke 8:13-14 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Yet the Bible is clear that a true teacher has the duty to present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Christian teachers are not to put anything in the way of Christians becoming mature.
James 1:4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Teachers should move beyond milk to meat.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,
I have been to many churches that rarely, if ever, move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ. This is a shame. It is also highly dangerous. If you do not teach deeper things, such as how to discern truth from error, you leave your flock open to wolves. What do wolves do? They eat sheep.
Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
1 Corinthians 2:10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
This is not an academic truth, it is a stark reality. I have seen people sucked into the many cultic practices circulating among the churches today because they have never been prepared to deal with them. This can be because they are not truly born again, the pastor is not able to deal with discernment issues or because he does not really have a desire to prepare the flock for service.
Ephesians 4:12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
Especially in mega churches, the leadership seems to not want to give up on the cushy lifestyle they are afforded by having so much offering money to work with, so they become hirelings who are too afraid to bring up deep issues with their congregation, thus protecting them from the wolves.
John 10:12-13 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
They don’t believe in naming names, even though that is what the prophets and apostles did to warn people. Read a study I did in 3 John called “Naming Names” for proof that it is absolutely necessary to tell people exactly who is teaching heresies when pointing out public false teaching and false prophesy. Many pastors do not want to deal with the issues of the New Apostolic Reformation, Word of Faith, Emergent Church, the World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People movement and others because they are afraid they might alienate one of their church members.
They also often leave the door of the music ministry wide open to influence from cultic churches like Bethel Church by using their music. Get my DVD series on “Testing Music in the Church” to learn how to discern music that should not be used in churches.
Job 34:4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.
John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
Those who teach from the Word should not be only teaching simple things, but also deep things, things that will help people discern between good and evil. Christians are sanctified by the truth of the Word. It is our mission as believers to “learn together what is good”. If the Word is taught correctly, it will not just inspire and encourage but also rebuke, chasten and bring people to repentance.
1 Kings 3:11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,
Psalm 119:125 I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
Ephesians 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Solomon asked for wisdom instead of wealth and was given both. David also asked for wisdom and discernment. Perhaps Solomon had learned this attitude from his father. We are also admonished to ask for wisdom. It is not that we then pretend to be wise, but God gives us the wisdom of His Son so that we can move toward the holiness of Jesus Christ and the kind of Spirit-understanding that helps us know God better and avoid sin.
Proverbs 1:5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
How can a believer add discernment if they are not students of the Word and their under-shepherd is not speaking truthfully to them to help them put off falsehood?
Philippians 1:10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
1 Corinthians 11:31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
Three important reasons to seek discernment: (1) So that we can know what is best (2) to be pure and blameless on the day of Christ and (3) so we will not come under judgment.