Heb 5. 12 - 14; Cor 3. 1, 2|
The milk of the word and the meat of the word. What do these words mean? Biblically speaking, of course, they are figures of speech, symbols that mean what the author chooses. For example, the word ‘leaven’ used in Matthew 16. 6, is a derogatory term pointing to the corruption of doctrine by the Pharisees. Conversely, in Luke 13. 20 - 1, ‘leaven’ is the catalyst for the spread of the knowledge of the kingdom of God . The meaning of milk expressed in Cor 3. 1, 2 refers to matters of doctrine, first principles of the truth. There were divisions at the church in Corinth and Paul scolded them saying, I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready. You are still worldly. . .(NIV) What was the milk given by Paul to the disciples in those early days? To note a few:
God is one. (Deut. 6. 4, 5). Reiterated by Christ in the book of Mark (12. 29, 30), almost verbatim.
Jesus - Son of God & son of man . Mortal and subject to the law of sin and death. Died on the cross.
Resurrection. God has appointed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance to all men in that He has raised him from the dead. (Acts 17. 31)
Kingdom of God - earthbound. Thy will be done on earth as it is now done in heaven.
The meat (Heb 5. 12 - 14) stands for the development of the spiritual man. Warning against a falling away from first principles, the writer to the Hebrews said, You are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (NIV) So we see the spiritual man comes from the meat which is the substance of the gospel. The fruits of the spirit; this is the true meat, and against such there is no law if we live and walk in the spirit. (Gal 5. 23, 25). Herein lies the proof of your repentance.
You need the milk of the word to grow in the truth. Never give up the milk. The only reason you haven’t got the meat is because you don’t have the milk. You can’t have one without the other. The truth and it’s proofs must be at the very core of our being , constantly burnished. The milk must be so much a part of us that although we may like Moses be slow of speech and tongue, we are always eager and able to give an answer to every man that asks a reason for our hope. But we can’t get hung up on doctrinal matters. There comes a time when we must leave behind elementary teachings and go on to perfection. Here is the hard part. Exactly what does it mean to be spiritual? It involves a change of heart so that what’s in your heart will now emerge as the true meat of the word: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Sometimes we recite these virtues as if reciting a memory verse like a child, mechanical, without feeling. But help comes when we put on the mind of Christ. And what was that mind? Obedience, humility, a surpassing love for all mankind. To those who try to embrace these spiritual fruits he was willing to suffer and die.
To answer the question ‘What does it mean to be spiritual?’, it sounds like we need a new mind, doesn’t it? Integral to baptism is our repentance exhibited in a new mind–our spiritual mind. Expressed differently, baptism is a promise we make to God and ourselves to have a new mind. This calls for action.
Now where are you? Has the race begun and you are still at the starting gate, learning and digesting first principles? Are you in a dream, with feet in wet cement? You got in the race, but are you coming down the track? Why have so many of us not left the posts? A TV commercial at a golf tourney may explain: This is the freedom that is Las Vegas; every craving of the flesh is to be satisfied there. We’re overwhelmed by our environment; a world whose content and time is almost wholly materialistic. We can’t see the invisible for the visible. What to do about this sorry state of affairs?
Think about the characteristics , the meat of each one of these spiritual fruits in the days ahead. You know they say to never look back, but I say to you, go ahead and do it. Look back on last year. See it for what it is and then ask yourself, was this a boulevard of broken dreams? Broken promises? Would you rather have another chance? Can we really have one more chance? You know, in a way, our own little life story repeats the theme of the Bible itself: As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (Cor 15. 22) A promise made by God. Christ lives to intercede for all who respond. We come to learn we are not our own–we have been bought with a price. And though our fruit is marred and imperfect, we are sustained by the belief that Christ is not only our judge, but our defense attorney as well. He is our advocate with the Father. By him we are given that second chance when we can say with boldness along with the apostle Paul:
This one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3. 14)