November 7, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church was written to encourage believers to become all they could be in their Lord Jesus Christ. He ministered in Ephesus longer than any other city during his thirty years of missionary ventures. The Apostle was on his last trip – traveling by sea past the coast of Asia Minor. At Miletus, just south of Ephesus, he called for the Ephesian church elders to meet him at the docks. He testified to them:
You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived
among you…how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you…
testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward
our Lord Jesus Christ….I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel
of God…remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night
and day with tears…. (Acts 20:18, 19, 21, 27 and 31).
Three years in Ephesus! The church there was strong, and the believers serious about being followers of Jesus. So Paul – when he wrote them – went into more than the basics of the faith. Here is part of his letter – Ephesians 4:11 through 15 – reminding the Christians of Ephesus about the gifts the Lord gave to His Church, and what the members of His Body should be doing to be Maturing In Christ:
…He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and
some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the
ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of
the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the mea-
sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we should no longer be child-
ren, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive,
but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the
head — Christ….
I once was invited into the home of the mayor in whose town I was a pastor. He wanted me to meet his daughter Melanie. It was not often this man invited others to meet Melanie because, at 21 years of age, she was still in a crib, diapered, and no more physically and mentally developed than a newborn infant. I was deeply moved as I prayed for this young women and her family.
We think a newborn is so cute, kicking and cooing in a crib. And yet, when 21 years have passed, and that one has made no advances physically or mentally, we would see it as a tragedy!
Is it not also a tragedy when one who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior is still years later spiritually kicking and cooing and feeding on pablum? In the epistle to the Hebrews, the author pens this rebuke in chapter 5, verses 11 through 14:
…we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of
hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some-
one to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you
have come to need milk and not of solid food. For everyone who partakes
only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But
solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason
of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
He goes on to say in Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection….” And what does he say is elementary? The following foundation principles:
• verse 1 – “…of repentance from dead works….”
• verse 1 – “…of faith toward God….”
• verse 2 – “…of the doctrine of baptisms….” (Notice that baptisms is plural!)
• verse 2 – “…of laying on of hands….”
• verse 2 – “…of resurrection of the dead….”
• verse 2 – “…of eternal judgment.”
The author of Hebrews is saying that all these topics – and what the scripture says about them – are part of elementary teaching! And I have met too many Christians – and I am familiar with too many churches where so little is known about such “…elementary principles of Christ…!”
What about you? Are you studying God’s Word so you can be Maturing In Christ, and mastering “…the elementary principles of Christ…?”