For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God;
and you have come to need milk and not 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.
– Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul used the terms “milk” and “solid food” (“strong meat” in the KJV) a few times to describe spiritual growth and the study and understanding of scripture. The phrase “partakes only of milk” is descriptive of how babies only have milk, or formula, for their first few months of life. During this time they are totally dependent on the parents to feed them. Eventually the baby will start eating cereal and baby food, progressively moving to more solid food as they mature and their teeth develop. They eventually reach a point where they are feeding themselves, quite sloppily at first, but better with time. My daughter’s dog’s puppies, which I posted a picture of when they were newborn puppies, have shown me a prime example of this over the last six weeks. They've gone from mama’s milk, to soft, canned food, to canned food mixed with dry puppy food. They are weaned and mama is getting fixed this week, so no more milk!
This is very much like the spiritual journey of a new believer in Christ. How often have you heard someone described as a “babe in Christ?” Paul even alludes to that in this passage. As babes, new believers are dependent on others to point them in the right direction, teaching them and guiding them in the doctrines of the Christian faith. They start with the basic, simple stuff; the “milk.” Often a new believer will get “on fire for the Lord” for a while. Depending on the environment of the church they are attending, that fire may quickly fade, or hopefully, it will be stoked hotter and hotter and be encouraged to grow by others in the church. As the new believer grows in knowledge and understanding, they should have a desire to get deeper in the Word of God, biting off a chunk and chewing on it, savoring the flavor, getting all they can out of it.
Sadly, though, even some long-time Christians are content to keep sucking on milk and being spoon-fed baby food every Sunday morning. If this is something wide-spread, and new believers aren’t being encouraged to grow spiritually, then we are failing as a church body. I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, move beyond the milk. Think of your bible as a thick, juicy, never-ending steak. Every time you take a bite, squeeze all the flavor out of it you can, always seeking to chew your way deeper and deeper. Don’t be afraid of it, rather let the Holy Spirit open your eyes of understanding. You may ask, “Why bother if I’m saved anyway?” I’ll give you two commonly quoted, self-explanatory scriptures to tell you why:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:
and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you
a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear – 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)
Oh, about the health care bill thing, that should be obvious by now. Nancy Pelosi said “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Well, if we are to say the bible is the Word of God on which we build our faith, then shouldn’t Christians read it and study it so they know what’s in it?