From Childishness to Maturity
I had an extra hour last week and landed in one of my
favorite places… a bookstore. I went to
the portion of the store that held books with a Christian emphasis. I picked up two books, and one of them had an
introductory chapter that was worth the price of the whole book. The introduction was written by R. C. Sproul
in a book entitled Essential Truths of
the Christian Faith. This is a book
that gives a clear overview of 100 biblical concepts every Christian should
know. I’ve always been a fan of R. C. Sproul
and the depth he brings to his teachings.
What really pulled me to the book was the introduction.
The author discusses results of a massive survey initiated
by Christianity Today that identified
60 million Americans as having had a conversion experience and a high
percentage who said they believe the Bible to be God’s Word. This is great news. The problem comes in when additional
information tells us that evangelical believers are ignorant of the content in
Scripture and Christian theology. Believers
have had little impact on the culture and worldview in our day. Christian “faith” seems to make little
difference in people’s lives or in our society.
How does one explain this?
It could be because a significant number of respondents are simply not
telling the truth. It is possible that a
large number are mistaken or lying. But
a more optimistic assessment is to say that these converts are still in spiritual
infancy. R. C. Sproul goes on to identify
ten causes that work against spiritual maturity. These include: the childlike faith error, fear of theological skepticism, the error of easy believism, neo-monasticism, fear of controversies, anti-rational spirit of the age, the seduction of worldliness, pietistic substitution of devotion for study, slothfulness, and disobedience.
Sproul then goes on to say, “An intellectual understanding
of doctrine is a necessary condition for spiritual growth. It is not, however, a sufficient condition
for spiritual growth. A necessary
condition is a condition that must be present for a desired result to
happen. Without it, the result will not
be forthcoming… As oxygen is necessary
but not sufficient for a fire to ignite, so doctrine is necessary but not
sufficient to light a fire in our hearts.
Without the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the
more presence of doctrine, even sound doctrine, will leave us cold.”
I commend you to this book, but more than that, I commend
you to continue toward maturity in the Christian life.
Warmly, Pastor Jeff