Meaty Teachers, Gospel Reachers

teacher_small groupI’ve been going through the book of Hebrews and it never ceases to amaze me with each reading, some new insight is gained (why repeated reading of the word is a lifetime exercise). So here’s something that struck me recently and was kind of enforced in our Sunday School class where we are going through the book of Galatians.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts Christians who were Jews and wanted to return to life under the law of Moses because Christian life was so challenging. He issues a series of warnings regarding those who shrink back and don’t mature in their Christian life.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food if for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good and evil. (Heb. 5:11-14)

A few observations: 1) There are basic principles of Christianity to be believed that these people have heard repeatedly; 2) moving from milk to meat having the basics so down pact that you can teach others and 3) this is intrinsically related to putting the word into practice such that the basics are lived out.  And here is where I think a careful distinction should be made. Continue reading

Deliver Us From Deliverance: Magic Wands and Maturity

Kneeling Altar CallWhen I came home the other day, I found a card stuck in my door from a local church. The church was advertising a deliverance prayer meeting. I kind of smirked. Not that I didn’t appreciate the intent behind the motives. The motives are good – addressing sin and struggles, to walk in the way of the Lord. However, the problem is that it is supposed that by bringing whatever ails us to the altar, that automatically sets our sanctification straight. This is especially true if there is some heavy emotion involved. I have heard this far too often, because of emotional altar experiences, that person has been delivered and set free.

But how do we know this? The only way to tell if a person has been delivered and set free, so to speak, is that they show it. And by delivered and set free, it typically means behavior, issues or thinking that are contrary to Scripture.  I actually think the language should be revamped (what would this even mean to the unchurched?). We are already delivered and set free in Christ (Col. 1:13-14). The problem is that our Christian walk may not automatically align with this reality. Prayer is good and needed, definitely. But alignment takes time and opportunity. It takes being confronted with situations that would bring out sinful or choices.

The truth is that sanctification is a process. Growing up in Christ is a process.  We don’t get there with a magic bullet of altar crying but by a transference of affections from self to Christ and a transformation of thinking that complies to His Lordship.  While I do acknowledge there are times, when we are jolted out of patterns of bad behavior or thinking, for the most part it is trek through peaks, valleys, deserts, and fire. There are ups and downs, failures and victories on the path of progressive sanctification. Continue reading