Do you remember this rebuke in Hebrews?
“Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food.” (Heb 5:12)
Can you imagine hearing this? I’m afraid too many churches… and too many women in our churches… could be rebuked by these same words.
But you know what? Even if that verse *could* be spoken to you, it doesn’t have to stay that way. There IS a way forward. Just like in other areas of our life, we CAN grow on purpose in our spiritual life.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH REQUIRES DISCIPLINED WORK
When a young man goes through medical school, studying, learning, and observation consumes his whole life. Almost none of what he learns is initially applied. His whole being is applied to learning how to discern which information to use when, and how to recognize critical and urgent situations. If he does well, this process of tucking massive amounts of information into his brain for future use will pay dividends in the future as he assesses the needs of his patients day in, day out for decades.
Our discipleship, like the medical student, should be rigorous. We should not be satisfied with poor biblical understanding and an inability to explain godly principles.
Imagine if that doctor-in-training slept in, only showed up for class occasionally, and didn’t study his manuals and case studies. If somehow he graduated, it would be no surprise to find him, later, struggling to properly diagnose and discern how to help patients. The solution would not be for him to keep plugging through, poorly diagnosing his patients and jeopardizing lives; no- he would need to go back through the studying process that he should have done the first time.
In Hebrews 5:12, Paul is describing that sort of “disciple.” This is a disciple who ought to have carefully learned God’s Word and God’s ways, but hasn’t.
Perhaps you can fake medical knowledge, but you can’t fake the skillful, discerning application of medical know-how carried out by a caring, practicing physician. In the same way, you can fake bible knowledge, but you can’t fake the skillful, heart-level application of God’s truth.
When anxiety creeps up in your heart, you either have God’s Word and wise teaching hidden there, or you don’t. When a friend comes to you for counsel in her struggling marriage, you’ve either studied what God’s Word says about divorce, or you haven’t. When your husband collapses and faces the possibility of death, you’ve either nurtured a bedrock confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness even in the most difficult circumstances, or you haven’t.
You can’t fake a heart-level trust in God when stressful moments come. And you can’t rightly counsel (yourself or others) with God’s Word if you don’t know it. The solution isn’t to keep plugging along; no- the solution is to go back and nourish yourself with the Word of God. The more you study and let it wash over and take root in you, the more you will be changed to look and think more like Jesus.
Father, show each of us where we are in the “school” of discipleship. Help us to see ourselves accurately, and to study so we can grow from where we are. Mature us as women of God, and help us to diligently study Your Word.
In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul charged Timothy with these words:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
In Timothy’s case, Paul knew that it the people he had learned from were godly sources, and so he told him to “CONTINUE” in what he’d learned and believed.
And then he gave this prescription, which applies to all of us, no matter whether we have had good input or not:
- KNOW that Scripture is able to make you wise.
- FIRMLY RELY on Scripture as profitable.
- USE God’s Word for teaching, reproving, correcting, and training.
- REMEMBER that the end-goal is for every Christian– you and those around you– to be mature (complete) & equipped for “every good work.”
Christian woman, is this the way you use God’s Word?
- With confidence?
- In a way that profits believers around you?