Weaning Christians Off the Gospel

Mothers may disagree about the best age at which to wean a baby, but I trust they all agree that, sooner or later, little Johnny's going to have to get his milk elsewhere. It’s all part of growing up. Before you know it, that child will mature from a baby to a toddler to a teen. Then, if he’s like my son, he’ll devour a steak so quickly you’ll begin to suspect he’s moonlighting as a member of a wolf pack. It’s simple biology: as your body changes, so does your diet.

This process of physical maturity has some parallels to spiritual maturity. The Christian grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). The Lord does not wish him to remain a child, tossed here and there by the waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14). In fact, Paul writes to the Corinthians that he couldn’t speak to them as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to “babes in Christ.” He gave them “milk to drink, not solid food,” for they were not able to receive it (1 Cor 3:1-2). Just as you don’t put a prime rib on the plate of a two-month-old, you don’t attempt to teach a newborn Christian everything there is to know about the faith before he’s ready.

The only means by which a person becomes a “babe in Christ,” a believer, is by the Gospel. The Good News of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for you—that Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. If therefore, the Gospel is the means whereby a person becomes a child of God, when he grows up spiritually, he moves beyond that simple, childish Gospel, right? That milk of Good News may be appropriate in the early stages of your life as a Christian, but as you mature, you’ve got to put the breast away. I mean, it’s not as if you need to hear, again and again, that Jesus lived a perfect life for your flawed life; that Jesus died in your stead on the cross; that Jesus rose from the dead that you might have life. Really, once you’ve heard and believed the Gospel, the goal now is to learn more and more about the law of God, so that you can mature into a commandment-keeping, law-loving, obedient disciple of Jesus. Right?

Yes, but only if you want to end up living a life of disappointment and despair. If you are determined to get beyond the Gospel, you certainly may, but what you will find on the other side of that Good News is only bad news. Beyond the Gospel you will find that you are a dead man walking, that you have deserted Christ, that you've traded in the wooden cross of life for the stone tablets of death. The only maturity you will attain if you suppose you get too big, too much of a “spiritual man” to need the forgiving, life-sustaining grace of Christ every hour of every day, is the maturity of a Pharisee. And we all know how well Jesus got along with them.

Here is the truth: Christians are never weaned off the Gospel. Never. Jesus is our milk, our soft food, our solid food, our every meal, no matter where we are in our growth as Christians. He alone is our meat and drink throughout our lives. So long as you are in this life, you will fall flat on your face, again and again, when you try to live a life of obedience. And, lying flat on your face, you will discover that you landed, not on hard ground, but on the crucified body of Jesus. Eye to eye with him. Face to face with your Savior. He will stand up with you in his arms. He will clean you up, wash you, forgive you, lead you onward.

At the end of this season of Lent we will stand at the full cross on Good Friday and the empty tomb on Easter morning. But do not imagine that this is one of many stopping points on the journey of faith. This is The Stopping Point. We get no farther. Why move on when here is Jesus, the God who is for you? Indeed, Lord, where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.