My 14-year-old nephew plays for the youth team of an SPL football club. As a result he is very concerned with two things: his exercise regime and what he eats. He is knowledgeable on the subject, aware of which foods will improve or adversely affect his performance. The Bible describes itself as food which can positively affect our lives as Christians.
When Jesus responded to the temptation of Satan with the words 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God', Matt. 4. 4 NKJV, he was identifying scripture to be as essential to our
spiritual life as bread is to our physical life. If you want the spiritual nature inside you to be more dominant than your old nature then it must be fed.
Milk is essential for a baby and full of the correct nutrients appropriate to that stage of life. Not only is solid food inappropriate, but it could be harmful as the child’s body is unprepared for it.
Everyone was a baby once, so a young believer should never feel inadequate because they find some scriptural truths hard to grasp. Every preacher, elder and knowledgeable Christian started with the milk of the word.
Just as babies are weaned onto solid food at different ages, so you may find that peers might ‘develop’ at what seems like a faster rate than you. Don’t be discouraged by this. The important thing is not the rate at which you grow but simply that you are growing. Peter gives us the assurance that if we 'like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk', 1 Pet. 2. 2 ESV, we will grow.
A young believer is someone who has not been a Christian for a long time rather than simply a young person. They can enjoy the milk of the word by simply reading the Bible, becoming acquainted with Bible stories and the Bible timeline, and memorizing key verses and passages.
In the last article we considered the use of a daily reading book or similar tool to ensure we are ‘washing’ with the word each day, and while this will help to cleanse us from outside influences, it will not be sufficient for spiritual growth. It is expected that all believers will progress in their understanding of spiritual things, that is, they should be able to cope with the consideration of more complex scriptural truths and make connections between various passages. When Paul writes to the Corinthian church, 'I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready', 1 Cor. 3. 2 ESV, he is not speaking to a group of teachers but to the whole church at Corinth.
Consider your assembly when the elders have gone home to heaven. Who will take their place? When there are no Bible teachers, who will instruct the saints? Which godly men and women will the next generation of believers turn to for spiritual advice? The writer of the book of Hebrews deals with this problem when he admonishes the Christians saying 'though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you', Heb. 5. 12 ESV.
A young Christian can begin the progression onto solid food by taking notes from Bible teaching meetings and going back over connections made by the speaker following the meeting. Luke commends the Bereans for doing this in Acts chapter 17 verse 11. Another method of developing onto solid food is through the use of Bible study aids. There is something appropriate to each stage of Christian life and local elders will be able to give you advice in this area. Finally, if your assembly or a neighbouring assembly conducts a Bible reading take full advantage of this. Read the passage before hand, perhaps using a study aid to establish your own thoughts, and you will then be able to compare these with other points that are made at the meeting.
Not only does food help us to develop but it also provides us with energy. When the men of Israel were faint following battle, Jonathan said, 'See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey', 1 Sam. 14. 29. In a similar way the Bible can revitalise us when we are struggling spiritually, Psalm chapter 19 verse 7 states, 'The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul' ESV.