I have been reluctant to write this article for some time. However, I believe I must obey God. Please remember, this is written for ministers.
Babies and small children live on milk. In the Body of Christ there are two reasons a person might be living on the milk of the Word. They may be new believers in Christ, or they might be believers that refuse to grow up in Christ.
(Hebrews 5:13–14 ESV) “for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
(1 Corinthians 3:1–2 ESV) “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,”
There is a depth of knowledge and understanding in God that is reserved for the mature in Christ. A person qualifies to receive this knowledge and understanding by applying themselves in growing spiritually. They begin, as we all do, on the milk of the Word but they are to grow to where they are ready to eat solid food.
Have you ever seen a baby that did not want to give up his bottle? It can be a real struggle with crying, tantrums and stress for everyone around them. They want, and like, milk. I have seen parents give “baby food” to their children only to experience the child spitting it out and crying for milk. It can become a battle of wills. A good parent will continue until they learn to eat solid food.
Growing up spiritually is often very similar to a child learning to eat solid food. Growing spiritually requires change and many people do not like change. Unless a person is in an environment that calls for change consistently they will likely digress in their growth. Paul was frustrated with the Hebrew Christians for this very reason.
(Hebrews 5:11–13 ESV) “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.”
Paul said they have become dull of hearing. That means they were not dull of hearing at one point, but now they were. They had digressed in their spiritual growth and had become infants once again. The only way to keep an infant alive is to give them milk.
Notice that Paul said that he had “much to say” to them but that it had become “hard to explain.” There was a deeper knowledge for them but they could not receive it. “Dull of hearing” means they had become slow, sluggish and lazy. When a group of people becomes like this they will not pay attention unless they are entertained with something that interests them.
As a minister, I have found that spiritual digression is harder to deal with than infants that are growing. Paul was clearly correcting them by telling them that “by this time you ought to be teachers.” There is a “time” to grow up. God does not expect His people to remain on milk. Neither would a parent expect their child to remain on a bottle when they go to high school.
Paul and the Corinthians.
The Corinthian church was an immature and carnal group of people. First and second Corinthians are filled with corrections in many ways. Not only were they immature, but they would easily receive false prophets and false apostles. Carnal and immature Christians very often lack discernment in spiritual matters and open themselves up to many things.
Paul found that he had to defend his ministry due to the large number of false apostles that the Corinthian church had received.
(1 Corinthians 4:14–16 ESV) “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
The phrase, “countless guides” in the King James Bible is translated, “ten thousand instructors.” Paul was emphasizing that they had received many false teachers. However, the word “guides” by definition in the Greek means: a child tender. In today’s language we would say, a babysitter.
At present, there are more babysitters in the pulpits than there are fathers. A babysitter only watches over the child for the parent. A father has the ability to reproduce and is the one who has done so. This is why Paul said to them, “be imitators of me” - your father.
A good father will see to it that the child is developed properly and is prepared to face life and prosper. Babysitters do not do this. Most babysitters only entertain the child while the parent is not present.
Paul warns Timothy.
Paul clearly speaks to the day in which we live and minister.
(2 Timothy 4:2–3 AMP) “Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching. For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,”
The people Paul is speaking about are Christian adults that are spiritual infants. Paul says that these people will “not tolerate sound and wholesome instruction.” That is a picture of a milk mouth baby that is spitting out solid food because they want to stay on milk. Because they are adults in the natural, they can reject anything they want without restraint. Most children are restrained by their parents in some ways, but these adults cannot, and will not, be restrained.
Babies don’t like to be told they are wrong and neither do spiritual babies. The most common comments heard from carnal spiritual babies that are refusing to grow up is, “You are judging me” or, “You’re mean” and, “You don’t love me.” You see, they want a babysitter instead of a parent.
Many of America’s biggest churches are day care centers led by babysitters.
Every pastor knows that people do not like change and resist change. So, the babysitter tells the children all the things they “can have” in life. Babies want to know what they can have. Spiritually mature people want to know what they “can be and do” for God. It isn’t terribly difficult to attract large groups of immature Christians that demand milk - all you have to do give them lots of milk - and avoid solid food. And, of course, entertain them with lights, skits, coffee bars and snacks.
If every pastor became a father instead of a babysitter, the babies would have no where to go to remain on milk. However, there are many “ministers” that take advantage of the spiritual immaturity of God’s children and just feed milk because it’s easy to keep the chairs filled.
The proof is staring us in the face.
Our command from Jesus is very clear:
(Matthew 28:19–20 AMP) “Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).”
The predominant teaching today is focused on what a Christian can have rather than on what a Christian is to be. Character is not being developed. While there is more understanding of the Word of God available than ever before, most of the eighty percent of Americans that claim Christianity are acting like babies and living on milk. The proof of this is revealed in the way they live and in the way they vote. There is a dramatic void of Biblical values in our society that claims Christ and it is showing up in every aspect of society.
Many are living in denial about this issue. Others say that “this is the way people are” so we have to deal with what we have to work with. Many are so “focused on vision” that they neglect the command to make disciples in order to accomplish some goal they think God gave them. Rather than stand up and boldly proclaim God’s Word, many acquiesce in hopes of growth or at least of maintaining. Some think that “speaking the truth in love” means to make people happy.
The answer is in the pulpits of America.
If the babysitters will become fathers, the direction of our society can change. However, there will be a great price to pay for becoming fathers. Babies that demand milk often will go only where they can get milk. A change in diet might disrupt the daycare, but it needs to be done.
As ministers, we are not accountable for whether or not a baby Christian will accept solid food, but we are accountable for whether or not they were brought to a point that requires them to grow up. The decision is then their’s to make. Paul understood this:
(Acts 20:25–28 ESV) “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
Its easy to shrink back when a baby is crying for milk. The easy thing is to give them the milk so you have some peace and quiet. Babies know this. Paul had a great awareness of his responsibility to declare the whole counsel of God - as a father.
Let’s get these people off of milk!