Welcome to our Partner Letters Archive . . .

Dear Partner,

One thing is for sure; nobody wants to remain a “babe in Christ” all of their Christian life. We all want to grow up and become mature in our thinking and our actions. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews said,

Heb 5:12-14   For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you AGAIN which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those WHO BY REASON OF USE have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. [Emphasis mine]

These people had been Christians long enough that by the time this letter was written they should have been "teachers." I don't think that necessarily means that they were all called to the pulpit ministry of a teacher in the body of Christ. But they should all have been "teachers by example" of what a mature Christian should look like. Instead, they are still acting like babes who needed milk instead of strong meat. What caused this?

Notice the word “AGAIN” in the first verse. They had been taught these same first principles before. They had already been fed this milk in times past. For some reason, the milk did not cause them to grow. Even though they had heard the Word in times past they now needed to hear it … again. They continually had to keep going back to the milk of the Word instead of progressing on to the strong meat. Peter wrote that the sincere milk of the Word of God normally causes “new born babes” to grow:

1 Pet 2:2   As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

But these Hebrews were not “new born babes.” They had been born again and fed the milk of the Word long enough that they should have been examples of what mature Christians should look like. But they were still babes and needed again, and again, and again to eat only the “milk of the Word,” not strong meat. What was causing them not to mature into the image of Christ?

The answer is in the verse that says strong meat is for those who are of “full age.” They have grown up and are no longer babes. What causes some people to grow up and not remain babes? They did not “hear the word only,” but rather they became “doers” of the Word. They put the Word into practice and “by reason of use” had their senses “exercised” to discern both good and evil. It is important to understand that the Greek word translated “exercised” in that verse is “gumnazo.” From Strong’s Dictionary of New Testament Words:

1128. gumnazo, goom-nad'-zo; from G1131; to practice naked (in the games), i.e. train (fig.):--exercise.

This word is not speaking about light exercise in the sense of a leisurely stroll in the park. On the contrary it is speaking of the intense, rigorous, highly disciplined training of an athlete who is in preparation to compete in the Olympic Games against the strongest opponents in the world. It is speaking of the kind of training that presses one to the limits of physical endurance, yet the athlete will not relent until he has achieved his goal.

Making “use” of the Word of God is vastly different than simply sitting in a congregation and only “hearing” the Word of God. We can be accurately taught the Word of God for years but it will remain only “milk” until we begin putting the Word into action in our lives.

For example, many people have heard Pastor Dave teach eloquently from the Word of God about the benefits of spending long hours in prayer; especially “praying in the Spirit,” praying in other tongues. They love to hear the teaching. They come again and again to hear it. They will even acquire the messages on tape or CD so they can hear the messages at home or while they are driving their car. The sad truth is, they can “hear” the message again, and again, and again, and again … for years but it will ALWAYS be milk to them until they make the decision to begin spending time in prayer themselves.

Another good example is fasting. People can be taught for years and years about the benefits of fasting. As long as they are "hearers only" those messages will always be milk for them and they will not grow. Anybody who has spent any time at all DOING the message of fasting will quickly tell you; there is a vast difference between HEARING about fasting and actually DOING some fasting. Fasting is more like the "exercise" done by the athlete in training for the Olympics. That training has an effect on you that merely hearing about fasting does not.

Hearing the messages of prayer and fasting will never cause a person to grow. Putting those messages "to use" will cause anybody to grow and mature. The good news is: There is hope for us all! We can all go from milk to strong meat and become "of full age" in order to teach by example what mature Christians should look like. Hallelujah!

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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