Are You a Spiritual Infant?

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SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#1
Are You a Spiritual Infant?

Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, broadcast a sermon last Wednesday on CSN Radio. It was titled Time to Grow Up.


In it, he posed the question, "Are you a spiritual infant?"


And while this is a valid question for all of us who gave our lives to Christ, it may be somewhat misplaced.


Keep reading because the evidence shows that, although God wants us to be mature in our ways, our churches aren't allowing that growth to happen.


Worse, the institutional hierarchy forced on Christians over 2,000 years ago has created a system where those at the top are unwilling to yield power back to God.


But first, it's essential to start with Dr. Evans' sermon.


The Case for Maturing as a Christian

Dr. Evans begins by noting the shifting environment between being a non-Christian and a new convert. He says that the minute we submit to Christ, we transfer from the dark to the light, from hell to eternal life with God.


Spiritual maturity

According to Dr. Evans, God wants us to grow up. He says, "Too many of God's children are still in the crib."


He points to this scripture written by Paul to the church in Colosse:


We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me. Col. 1:28-29 NET2


Paul accepted the responsibility

Notice how Paul took immediate responsibility for this critical task. And in turn, he tasked the leaders of this church to do the same.


Simply put, it was the responsibility of the church leaders to present everyone mature in Christ. And the reason Paul struggled and labored so hard is that he realized that if he failed, there was no one else to blame.


But also notice that he didn't tell them to go out and get a college degree first. Nor were there any "Discipleship 101" classes. Instead, he simply assumed that the leading of the Holy Spirit would be sufficient for everyone in the church to be successful.


Why Are We a Bunch of Spiritual Infants?

Here is what Dr. Evans says:


"If you've been saved five years or more, and you are not spiritual (where you look through God's lens as a normal way you operate), then you are a spiritual infant, a fleshly believer, who is missing out on [a] spiritual experience."


He then points to this scripture:


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 is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Heb. 5:11 ESV

This passage is often misunderstood

Like so many other pastors who have preached on this subject, Dr. Evans assumes that these people had never had an ounce of teaching fed to them. And the result is that they were spiritual infants.


However, that's not true according to the context. For example, when the writer (presumably an apostle) says, "you need someone to teach you again," they affirm that the church was grounded in at least the fundamentals of the Gospel.


Also, the statement, "you have become dull of hearing," suggests that these students had merely digressed, and this entire rebuke was designed to shame them into caring more about their progress.


Some commentators even go further to say that those in the Church at Colosse were mature, but they were acting like spiritual infants, presumably from being persecuted constantly.


This is not to say that the writer let them off the hook in any way. That's because there was lots of one-on-one discipleship going on in the church, unlike today.


There were massive amounts of time invested in all church members, not just the ones who were fortunate enough to attend college. These were ordinary people. And they were trained every day by the leadership to do extraordinary things.


No wonder the writer was so indignant when those in the church had fallen away. Paul and other church leaders had a right to be upset.

Do Today's Leaders Have the Right to Complain?

Today, many pastors point to Hebrews 5:11 as permission to show the same righteous indignation toward us lowly church attendees as the writer did back then.


However, there is a difference between those in the early church and us today. They were being trained, while today, we're being entertained. For that reason, church leaders have no right to shame us in the same way.


The Current Church Model is Broken

Part of the problem of being stuck in infancy is the way we "do church." Discipleship for the average Christian attending a North American church looks like this:


  • Sit for one hour a week in church listening to the only person allowed to speak
  • Go to bible study on Wednesdays except when the pastor is out sick, or during holidays, or summer breaks, or when school is out, or when there's no bible study offered
  • Attend an occasional "marriage seminar" costing only $399 while seats are available

Church leaders are afraid to let others teach since they are the ones who earned a degree in theology. Worse, some are so possessed by power that they will not let go of the reigns for even a moment.


One Possible Fix

For about 2,000 years now, Christ-followers have endured a top-down, hierarchal system where we were dictated to by academic elites. But maybe now is the time for a bottom-up approach to discipleship that Paul espoused.


Here are some ideas to get started on the journey to becoming mature Christians:


  1. Take back our churches by firing all paid employees and turning them into volunteers like us
  2. Stop preaching sermons for six months. Instead, invite the unsaved to the church building for open-house, question and answer sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.
  3. Open the church on Tuesdays for family game night
  4. Open the church on Thursdays for discipleship training
  5. Open the church on Fridays for crisis prevention or food bank activities

In other words, we need to take back the keys from overpaid administrators and open up our churches to the community once again. Only when our church dies to itself will it live again as a new creation in Christ.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
38,805
15,522
113
#2
Here are some ideas to get started on the journey to becoming mature Christians:

1. Take back our churches by firing all paid employees and turning them into volunteers like us
The Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out
the grain,” and, “The worker is worthy of his wages.”
1 Timothy 5:18
 

JohnDB

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2021
1,445
808
113
#3
Teaching preachers instead of known morality preachers are currently not in favor except by the "new age" pastors that teach such things as gnosticism and feel good messages. (Give to get, I'm OK you're OK, Your best life now, and etc)

Such is the "winds of doctrine" that happen.

Where these things were popular in a different form in the 50's and 60's and even as late as the 70's there was a dedication to extreme scholarship as well in that era.

There still is a remnant that values extreme scholarship...but because of denominational differences much of the funded research is buried to be kept out of public circulation intentionally.

But it isn't exactly secret either...

3 can keep a secret so long as two are dead.

Many of the true scholars don't write books...they are behind the scenes. But they are available and people you can talk to.

It's always the quiet ones whispering in the corners if you really want to know the good stuff.
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
36,689
13,843
113
66
Tennessee
#4
I take it that this Tony Evans guy is your own personal spiritual guru? Would these fired paid employees be eligible for the church food pantry if such a thing existed?
 

Blain

The Word Weaver
Aug 28, 2012
17,441
1,839
113
#5
The thing about spiritual maturiyu is that everyone grows at a different rate. if you take a believer who has been saved for five years and look at a five year old would you call that five year old mature? Some people grow and mature exceptionally fast while others who have been saved for thirty years or more act unchrist like and have no love in their hearts. One can think they are spiritually mature but often times it requires lenses of others to really see yourself we are not always the best judges of ourselves.

When I was first saved I had no one to teach me no pastor no church no friend of anyg kind and so I went to the best teacher there was God himself. I have helped guide many believers in my time on cc and the one thing I always tell them is the same advice I got from God when I asked him how to be strong and what it means to be a Christian- seek love above all else and everything else will fall into place.

More than wisdom more than maturity more than anything given to us by God love was the one thing I sought after I grew exceptionally quick in Christ only because of this advice. To grow and mature in Christ his love is the supernatural steroid when one seeks to know the depth and richness of his love and to have this very same love in them they will grow intensely close to him and grow very strong very quickly
 

SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#6
The Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out
the grain,” and, “The worker is worthy of his wages.”
1 Timothy 5:18
First, thank you for your reply. And please keep up your artwork. It cheers me up every time I see it. :)

I have to assume that you chose this scripture to rebut this first suggestion. And while it wasn't my intention to be drawn into a long debate about pastor pay, I will say this:

There is no evidence I've found that suggests a widespread pay system for early church leaders. The idea of professional clergy didn't take hold until around the third century AD. And the overseers that Paul was talking about mainly got their honor through recognition.

With that said, they still had to eat. So a portion was set aside to help Paul and others on their missionary journies.

I'm not talking about that at all. I'm suggesting that having professional pastors is wrong in the first place. The title that was once thought of as "overseer" has devolved into CEO/CFO/Vice President of Marketing/TV and Radio Personality.

In Paul's day, the elders, pastors, shepherds, and teachers had one thing on their minds: making new disciples so those disciples in turn can make more disciples.

Today, there are mainly two kinds of pastors:

1. Those who are rich and famous (the prestige that comes with having a "successful" church)
2. Those who strive to be in the first group

Of course, not all are so callous. But there are varying degrees of it. How can there not be? Everyone desires a high level of success to a certain extent.

By eliminating the profession, we bring back the shepherds who don't have such a huge stake in making the church "successful." Instead, they will be free to disciple "the least of these" whether the paying members think it's a good idea or not.
 

SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#7
Teaching preachers instead of known morality preachers are currently not in favor except by the "new age" pastors that teach such things as gnosticism and feel good messages. (Give to get, I'm OK you're OK, Your best life now, and etc)
Thanks for your input.


I think what you're saying here is that church leaders have become watered down to the point they are no longer teaching the bible, is that right?

While that could be true, I am attempting to make the case here that we as church attendees have to step up and be willing to teach also.
 

Icedaisey

Well-known member
Jul 19, 2021
1,398
467
83
#8
Are You a Spiritual Infant?

Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, broadcast a sermon last Wednesday on CSN Radio. It was titled Time to Grow Up.


In it, he posed the question, "Are you a spiritual infant?"


And while this is a valid question for all of us who gave our lives to Christ, it may be somewhat misplaced.


Keep reading because the evidence shows that, although God wants us to be mature in our ways, our churches aren't allowing that growth to happen.


Worse, the institutional hierarchy forced on Christians over 2,000 years ago has created a system where those at the top are unwilling to yield power back to God.


But first, it's essential to start with Dr. Evans' sermon.


The Case for Maturing as a Christian

Dr. Evans begins by noting the shifting environment between being a non-Christian and a new convert. He says that the minute we submit to Christ, we transfer from the dark to the light, from hell to eternal life with God.


Spiritual maturity

According to Dr. Evans, God wants us to grow up. He says, "Too many of God's children are still in the crib."


He points to this scripture written by Paul to the church in Colosse:


We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me. Col. 1:28-29 NET2


Paul accepted the responsibility

Notice how Paul took immediate responsibility for this critical task. And in turn, he tasked the leaders of this church to do the same.


Simply put, it was the responsibility of the church leaders to present everyone mature in Christ. And the reason Paul struggled and labored so hard is that he realized that if he failed, there was no one else to blame.


But also notice that he didn't tell them to go out and get a college degree first. Nor were there any "Discipleship 101" classes. Instead, he simply assumed that the leading of the Holy Spirit would be sufficient for everyone in the church to be successful.


Why Are We a Bunch of Spiritual Infants?

Here is what Dr. Evans says:


"If you've been saved five years or more, and you are not spiritual (where you look through God's lens as a normal way you operate), then you are a spiritual infant, a fleshly believer, who is missing out on [a] spiritual experience."


He then points to this scripture:


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 is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Heb. 5:11 ESV

This passage is often misunderstood

Like so many other pastors who have preached on this subject, Dr. Evans assumes that these people had never had an ounce of teaching fed to them. And the result is that they were spiritual infants.


However, that's not true according to the context. For example, when the writer (presumably an apostle) says, "you need someone to teach you again," they affirm that the church was grounded in at least the fundamentals of the Gospel.


Also, the statement, "you have become dull of hearing," suggests that these students had merely digressed, and this entire rebuke was designed to shame them into caring more about their progress.


Some commentators even go further to say that those in the Church at Colosse were mature, but they were acting like spiritual infants, presumably from being persecuted constantly.


This is not to say that the writer let them off the hook in any way. That's because there was lots of one-on-one discipleship going on in the church, unlike today.


There were massive amounts of time invested in all church members, not just the ones who were fortunate enough to attend college. These were ordinary people. And they were trained every day by the leadership to do extraordinary things.


No wonder the writer was so indignant when those in the church had fallen away. Paul and other church leaders had a right to be upset.

Do Today's Leaders Have the Right to Complain?

Today, many pastors point to Hebrews 5:11 as permission to show the same righteous indignation toward us lowly church attendees as the writer did back then.


However, there is a difference between those in the early church and us today. They were being trained, while today, we're being entertained. For that reason, church leaders have no right to shame us in the same way.


The Current Church Model is Broken

Part of the problem of being stuck in infancy is the way we "do church." Discipleship for the average Christian attending a North American church looks like this:


  • Sit for one hour a week in church listening to the only person allowed to speak
  • Go to bible study on Wednesdays except when the pastor is out sick, or during holidays, or summer breaks, or when school is out, or when there's no bible study offered
  • Attend an occasional "marriage seminar" costing only $399 while seats are available

Church leaders are afraid to let others teach since they are the ones who earned a degree in theology. Worse, some are so possessed by power that they will not let go of the reigns for even a moment.


One Possible Fix

For about 2,000 years now, Christ-followers have endured a top-down, hierarchal system where we were dictated to by academic elites. But maybe now is the time for a bottom-up approach to discipleship that Paul espoused.


Here are some ideas to get started on the journey to becoming mature Christians:


  1. Take back our churches by firing all paid employees and turning them into volunteers like us
  2. Stop preaching sermons for six months. Instead, invite the unsaved to the church building for open-house, question and answer sessions on Saturdays and Sundays.
  3. Open the church on Tuesdays for family game night
  4. Open the church on Thursdays for discipleship training
  5. Open the church on Fridays for crisis prevention or food bank activities

In other words, we need to take back the keys from overpaid administrators and open up our churches to the community once again. Only when our church dies to itself will it live again as a new creation in Christ.
Tony Evans teaches Pelagianism , Universalism (you don't have to be Christian to be saved), and that God is impuissant, (not Omnipotent). Among other falsehoods.
Not someone that is able to guide anyone who is a new Christian.
 

JohnDB

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2021
1,445
808
113
#9
Thanks for your input.


I think what you're saying here is that church leaders have become watered down to the point they are no longer teaching the bible, is that right?

While that could be true, I am attempting to make the case here that we as church attendees have to step up and be willing to teach also.
No...
The pastors of today preach morality based on scriptures...not mechanics of hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is a blend of science and art used to decipher the scriptures...it involves a lot of stuff...but afterwards people can learn for themselves what the Bible says and are able to refute all heresies immediately.

I don't need to study all the wrong ways people have used the scriptures to make a theological position...I just need to know the correct way very well.

Then all these heresies that are abounding are seen as the fecal material they are.

I watched a silver tongued devil show in Genesis 3 that God lied but the serpent told the truth so therefore homosexuality was not a sin. It was truly sickening to listen to. But because I knew exactly how to handle scriptures I knew every error he made instantly and why what he said was wrong. But other people are going to have real issues with it because the morality preachers have only told them that "God said it was wrong" and not why God said it is wrong and where He said it.
 

SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#10
I take it that this Tony Evans guy is your own personal spiritual guru?
Like I said in my intro, Dr. Tony Evans is senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is a celebrated pastor and preacher for over two decades.

But he is not the only noteworthy preacher I listen to. Others include:

  • John McArthur
  • Alistair Begg
  • Jeff Schreve
  • Phillip Decoursey
  • Adrian Rogers
So, a pretty conservative line-up. And all of them are seasoned veterans of the pulpit.


Would these fired paid employees be eligible for the church food pantry if such a thing existed?
Depends on the church. Would you extend the invitation? Apparently, your church doesn't have a food pantry since you're not sure if they even exist. I assure you, they do.

And since you had difficulty understanding the post, I'll attempt to simplify it for you:

1. Dr. Evans was giving a sermon calling us out for being baby Christians for too long
2. I was disagreeing with him on his premise that it's the fault of everyone but the church leadership
3. I was pointing out that a lot of pastors misinterpret the scriptures he was using to defend his argument
4. I defended my position by pointing out our current flawed church model
5. I then gave a list of alternatives to move us forward as mature disciples


I hope that clarified it for you.
 

JohnDB

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2021
1,445
808
113
#11
One reason that the mechanics of hermeneutics are not taught is that most churches have a denominational bent and legacy of some sort...

And these organizations are extremely powerful...just saying. They have a lot of resources to silence just about anyone...not completely but more than enough to remove them from an established platform.
 

Blik

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2016
6,273
1,961
113
#12
And while this is a valid question for all of us who gave our lives to Christ, it may be somewhat misplaced. .
For me it was learning to live as Christ told me to live. Church spoke a lot about how to think, but I found Christ looked to see if my life showed Christ in it or did I give my life to the world. Christ asked me to give up TV, even, for I was taking my life instructions from how TV illustrated the world.s values and I needed to live by the values of the Lord. My eternal life compared to my life in the world was only a temporary life.
 

Blain

The Word Weaver
Aug 28, 2012
17,441
1,839
113
#13
May I pose a question? if you were asked what it means to be mature in Christ in your own words what would that answer be? How would one know they are mature or that someone else is mature in Christ?

Since I am asking for everyones input I will go first- to me there is different kinds of maturity some have great faith I could only dream of others are always scripturally literate and well versed in knowing the bible like the back of their hands others still constantly go through fiery trials in life beaten down and always fighting to stand they are mature in a way that few others are
. I don't think anyone is fully mature or immature it varies with different degrees and in different aspects but perhaps the ones who are truly mature know their immaturity and see it as not a weakness but another journey to go on with God to build and grow in.
 

Blade

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2019
712
281
63
#14
Thank you.. I liked it.. I knew a tiny bit yet more about him today. I can see my Jesus in him and he made some great points. Its Christ I look for not what I like and dislike.. that parts hard not to do lol and if whats said is written.. backed up by the word. . Thank you for this.
 

SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#15
For me it was learning to live as Christ told me to live
So, would you consider yourself a mature Christian?

Are you comfortable mentoring others? Or is it difficult for you to teach?
 

JaumeJ

Senior Member
Jul 2, 2011
19,209
5,140
113
#16
So, would you consider yourself a mature Christian?

Are you comfortable mentoring others? Or is it difficult for you to teach?
You do know you are adddressing a nonegenarian, right? God bless you.
 

Pilgrimshope

Well-known member
Sep 2, 2020
3,541
1,157
113
#17
First, thank you for your reply. And please keep up your artwork. It cheers me up every time I see it. :)

I have to assume that you chose this scripture to rebut this first suggestion. And while it wasn't my intention to be drawn into a long debate about pastor pay, I will say this:

There is no evidence I've found that suggests a widespread pay system for early church leaders. The idea of professional clergy didn't take hold until around the third century AD. And the overseers that Paul was talking about mainly got their honor through recognition.

With that said, they still had to eat. So a portion was set aside to help Paul and others on their missionary journies.

I'm not talking about that at all. I'm suggesting that having professional pastors is wrong in the first place. The title that was once thought of as "overseer" has devolved into CEO/CFO/Vice President of Marketing/TV and Radio Personality.

In Paul's day, the elders, pastors, shepherds, and teachers had one thing on their minds: making new disciples so those disciples in turn can make more disciples.

Today, there are mainly two kinds of pastors:

1. Those who are rich and famous (the prestige that comes with having a "successful" church)
2. Those who strive to be in the first group

Of course, not all are so callous. But there are varying degrees of it. How can there not be? Everyone desires a high level of success to a certain extent.

By eliminating the profession, we bring back the shepherds who don't have such a huge stake in making the church "successful." Instead, they will be free to disciple "the least of these" whether the paying members think it's a good idea or not.
amen we forget that the apostles weren’t out to make money they were out to convert souls to Jesus Christ and bring sinners to repentance .

Paul’s letters to Timothy is how he was training him to assume his ministry as he was about to face his execution so it should be valuable to every pastor or teacher that holds Paul in high regard

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬


When the message is about money it should be somewhere in that realm for a pastor or believer it was about food and needs not extravagance and high pay
 

Blik

Senior Member
Dec 6, 2016
6,273
1,961
113
#18
So, would you consider yourself a mature Christian?

Are you comfortable mentoring others? Or is it difficult for you to teach?
I am a Christian in training.

The Lord tells me that I am to let others freely decide how to live, and judging others is completely out. The Lord allows me to see sin and I can even comment on it. If that comment is not correct, then other Christians who are kind are to call me on it. It is only the Lord who has authority.

About teaching, we are allowed to speak about what scripture tells us, but if it is not truth what we say then kind Christians point that out.
 

SteveEpperson

Junior Member
May 12, 2018
209
93
28
#19
I am a Christian in training.

The Lord tells me that I am to let others freely decide how to live, and judging others is completely out. The Lord allows me to see sin and I can even comment on it. If that comment is not correct, then other Christians who are kind are to call me on it. It is only the Lord who has authority.

About teaching, we are allowed to speak about what scripture tells us, but if it is not truth what we say then kind Christians point that out.
Great perspective, thank you. I'll endeavor to follow your example.