The Program: Guarding Children

Ephesians 4:14

Copyright © 2005 Jeremy Myers

Anyone who has been around children or worked with children for very long knows that they can say and believe some of the most amazing things. One little boy came home from Sunday school very excited about the lesson he had learned about creation and how Eve was taken from Adam's side. A few days later, he came home from school in a seemingly distressed mood. When his mother asked what was wrong, he replied, "My side hurts. I think I'm going to have a wife." Another little boy, after being told that God is One, asked when he would be two.

A group of children were once asked what God does all day, one responded, "He walks on water." Another said, "He lives. He lives." A third said, "He organizes heaven, sending people down here in cloud elevators so they can help us earth people out." One of the little boys said, "He builds boats. All kinds of boats. Nobody knows why."

When this same group of children were asked what God creates, one little boy answered, "God makes bees with little wings all day. Probably out of mud." A different child said, "He makes grass a lot of the days. That takes up a lot of hours. Did you ever see how many pieces of grass there are?"

Then they were asked if they could name any of the Ten Commandments, here is what a few of them said:

"Buckle up for safety!"

"Don't smoke in the bowling alley."

"Don't drink beer."

"Brush your teeth."

"Don't go to work on Sundays. And if your boss says she'll fire you, call in sick."

"Don't copy someone else's paper."

"I think 'Don't kill' is one. But maybe not."

"Don't eat when you have a fever and feel like throwing up."

"Say no to drugs."

"Don't talk to strangers."

"Thou shalt not stab."

This is part of the wonder and joy of working with children. They are so trusting and have such vivid imaginations. But at the same time, they have some of the most amazing misconceptions and misunderstandings. Sometimes this is the result of their own immaturity and innocence. But other times, it is due to their gullibility. The drawback to being a child is that children are easily deceived. Children can be told the most outrageous lie, and they will believe it because they don't know any different, or because they trust the person who is telling it to them.

There was an old Peanuts comic strip where Lucy told Linus that snow didn't fall from the sky the way most people thought. Rather, it grew up from the ground in the night like a flower, and then the wind blew it around. And Linus, because he didn't know any different, believed her.

Children are easily tricked. Easily deceived. And most of the time, it's a cute characteristic that children have. Almost any story can captivate a child's attention. Almost any magic trick, no matter how silly, can amaze them. And it's cute.

But it is far from cute when adults have the same gullibility. What is adorable in a child, is not at all adorable in an adult. And sadly, when it comes to the teachings of Scripture, most modern American Christian adults are childish in their thinking. This is okay, and should be expected from a new believer, from a baby Christian. But it is not okay to remain a baby Christian.

God wants new Christians to become mature Christians. He wants Christians to move on from milk doctrines and teachings that make us feel warm and fuzzy, and move on to the meat of the Word, to things that we have to mull over, think about and digest (cf. Heb. 5:11-6:3). It is only when Christian do this, that they lose their gullibility, and become able to discern good from evil, truth from falsehood, correct doctrine from heresy.

It is this maturing process that is the first part of the Program which God intends the church to become involved in. In Architectural terminology, "The Program" is the part of the blueprints which describe what the building will be used for. "The Program" is the list of building functions.

So despite the negative connotations the phrase has in modern church growth terminology, we see that God's church is "Program Based." But God's Program for his church is not about a music program, or an educational program, or a youth program. God's Program for the Church He is building centers around people. God does want his church to be "Program Based" but His Program involves people, not a bunch of meetings and get-togethers. God wants to grow the people in His church, not the number of options that church has to offer.

We see this in next several verses of Ephesians 4. In God's Blueprints for Church Growth, He lists His "Program" in verses 14-16. We will look at verse 14 here since it deals with guarding the spiritual children in the church, and then look at verses 15 and 16 in the next chapter when we talk about how we grow into spiritually mature adults. So the first part of the Program in Ephesians 4:14 is

…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…

The first part of God's Program is for the children in the church to be protected from false doctrine. And when God talks about children here, he is not talking about those members of the church under the physical age of ten. He is talking about the spiritual children. Ideally, the spiritual children consist of the new Christians, those who have just been saved. But all to often, when people become Christians, they remain as children for far too long. But Paul calls for Christians to no longer be children.


No Longer Be Children

This is the first part of God's Program for his church. While every Christian begins as a baby Christian, it is God's plan that they not remain there. The sad fact, however, is that most American Christians are still baby Christians. While there are many Christians in American, there are not many mature Christians.

There are many ways to determine this. One way is the doctrinal measuring stick of Hebrews 6:1-3. The author of Hebrews lists six key doctrines which are foundational for every new Christian to understand before he or she can move on to maturity. It is my belief that the majority of Christians in America today have very little Biblical understanding about any one of these doctrines, let alone all six. Whoever it was that said that American Christianity is a mile wide, but an inch deep was right on track [is this your saying Dr. Radmacher???].

This was well illustrated to me (Jeremy) by a friend of mine who attends a different church in town that belongs to a denomination which is presently (and historically) known for its almost blatant disregard for doctrinal precision. It is not just that they are clearly wrong in many areas of their doctrine, but rather that they just don't seem to care most of the time that they are wrong. When I brought this to the attention of my friend, in an attempt to ask him why he was attending the church that he was, he just threw up his hands and said that theology was too confusing for him and he had decided to leave it to the pastors and professors. This, I fear, is the attitude of most American Christians today, and according to Hebrews 6, shows that we are spiritually immature.

You see, one way to measure Christian maturity is with a doctrinal measuring stick. The first two verses of Hebrews 6 contain six fundamental, kindergarten, elementary doctrines of the Christian faith. And yet, it would be safe to say that the majority of Christians in the world today have very little Biblical understanding about any of these six doctrines. A. W. Tozer said that much of the failures of our Christian experience can be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the kingdom like children through a marketplace, chattering about everything, but pausing to learn the value of nothing. Hebrews 6 says that when we learn doctrine, we grow up into maturity.

But Paul in Ephesians 4 reveals a different measuring stick for spiritual maturity. In this passage, he has shows us that spiritual maturity is revealed by involvement in ministry and at the same time, involvement in ministry causes growth into spiritual maturity.

However, it is a sad fact that the majority of Christians today are not involved in the work of the ministry. The majority of Christians today are bench-warmers – maybe I should say pew-warmers – in the church they attend. They show up on Sunday morning, barely making it to the service on time because they stayed up late the night before watching movies or going to a party. And although they made it to church, they forgot their Bible at home, mainly because they don't know where it is. They barely mouth the words during the singing, let alone pay attention to what the words mean that they are singing because their mind is on the project at work that is hanging over their heads.

When the pastor gets up to preach, if they're considerate, they keep their eyes open during the sermon and try to remember to nod their heads every once in a while. But their mind is off thinking about the football game which starts in half an hour. If they're inconsiderate, they simply fall asleep after the opening illustration.

When the service is over, they chit-chat with a few friends, and then hop in the car and head home for lunch and television, and don’t think about church or God again until a week later when they step through the foyer doors for their weekly religious duty.

Most pastors would probably agree that this describes 90% of the Christians in their church. These Christians may think they are mature because they have been a Christian for decades, and at least they go to church – which is more than they can say for their Christian neighbor who stopped going years ago. But this is exactly the mindset which shows their immaturity.

Most Christians in most churches today could still be considered "babes in Christ." Unchurched people always seem to criticize churches about being full of people who argue with one another. But if our churches are full of children, this makes perfect sense! Have you ever watched children play? They get into arguments about nothing! They argue over who had which ball first, and where the tea-cups should be properly placed, and who has the right to make the rules for the game they are playing, and eventually, the arguments turn to ridiculous name calling.

Sounds a bit like the many churches, doesn't it?

I read of a father who was in his study reading, and he heard a commotion outside the window. It was his daughter who was playing with her friends. It got louder and louder and more heated and more argumentative, until finally he could restrain himself no longer. He pushed the window open and said, "Stop it! Honey, what is going on out here?"

After the reprimand she responded quickly, "Oh nothing, Daddy, we were just playing church."

When we realize that 90% of American Christians are in this immature Christian category, that they are spiritual children, it is not surprising at all to hear of dying churches, and churches that get caught up in heresy and false doctrine, and churches splitting and arguing over the silliest things. I (Jeremy) once had a man visit our church who afterwards said he wouldn’t return because he couldn't attend a church where the color of the carpet was orange. A woman once called me and said that she had just moved into the valley and was looking for a church to attend, and so was calling around to find out more about them. When I asked what she would like to know about our church, she informed me that she really had only one question: "Do you sing out of book or words on the wall?" I wanted to tell her that we nail our hymnal to the wall and sing from that.

You can look through all of the lists of spiritual gifts and all of the Biblical ministries, and you will not find a spiritual gift of "church attendee." While every pastor loves to see his pews filled on Sunday morning, it means more to a pastor to see his people in the parking lot for the annual "Community Outreach Car Wash." When the pews are full, and the ministry volunteer sheet is empty, a pastor knows he has an immature church.

Christians who do not have a ministry, and who are not serving God through the daily and weekly use of their spiritual gifts, are not living the way a mature Christian would. Most Christians are immature Christians because they are not doing what God intended the members of His church to do.

Many of us are Peter Pan Christians. People believe in Jesus for eternal life, and then head off into Never-Never Land. They go to a church where the Bible is never taught, where their lives are never challenged, where their sin is never corrected, where they are never taught doctrine or how to mature in the faith.

Most people seem to think that the longer they are Christians, the more mature they become as a Christian. But this is just not true. Maturity in Christianity is just not measured by the length of time one has been a Christians. While it is true that a new Christian cannot be a mature Christian (1 Tim. 3:6), a long time Christian may not be a mature Christian either. A man who has been a Christian for 40 years is not necessarily more mature than one who has been a Christian for two. Maturing in the faith takes discipline, correction, training, teaching, instruction, and lots of practice (2 Tim. 3:16-4:4).

It is like anything else in life that takes time and practice. When I first started playing bass guitar about ten years ago, I remember talking to every bass guitarist I could about how to play the bass. One question I always asked them was how long they had played bass. Most of the answers I got were in the eight to ten year range. So as I set out to learn bass, I couldn't wait to be able to say that I had played bass for eight years, because by then, I certainly would be good.

Well, I never took a lesson, and after the first year, I have only played about a dozen times since then. So even though I have now been playing for ten years, I am probably worse today at bass guitar then I was nine years ago. Length of time does not guarantee mastery of an instrument, and length of time as a Christian does not guarantee maturity.

But having said all of this, everybody must start somewhere. And everybody, when they first believe in Jesus for eternal life, starts out as a newborn Christian. An infant. A spiritual babe. As new Christians, the first thing they must focus on is growing up. The problem is that initially, most children don't know that they need to grow up. They don’t really know anything. They don't know how to talk, or eat, or get clean, or move around. All they really know is that sometimes they are hungry, and sometimes they are tired.

But Ephesians 4:14 says that this is not what God intended his church to be. God's Program for the people who make up His church is that they would no longer be children. Despite what Peter Pan says, it is not good to always remain a child. Although some of us maybe sometimes wish that we could always be a child, we were made to grow up, and it is only when we do grow up that we become fully functional adults and productive members of society. Ephesians 4:14 tells us how to move on to maturity. The children in the church must be protected and provided for. We must guard them and give to them what they need.


Guarding Children

In Ephesians 4:14, Paul mainly emphasizes the guarding. He basically says that there are false teachers prowling about for new or immature Christian who can be led astray. It is the responsibility of the spiritually mature to make sure that this does not happen to the new Christian. It is the responsibility of the spiritual adults to guard the spiritual children from false teachers and false doctrine.

God wants the people in His church to have correct doctrine. And although God makes us into a new creation when we first believe, we all know that this does not mean that all of our wrong ways of living and wrong ways of thinking are instantaneously and completely corrected.

On the contrary, most of the energy we use as Christians on the path of discipleship is spent in trying to correct sinful ways of living and sinful ways of thinking. We don't have to learn to sin, as children we automatically know how. But we do have to learn to obey – and that takes a lot of work.

Neither do we have to learn false beliefs. As a sinful person, we come automatically programmed with false beliefs. For example, most non-Christians believe that they are basically good people and that God – if there is one – will let everyone into heaven if they just try to be good people. But this is one of the first ideas to be corrected when we become a Christian. In fact, for many, having this belief challenged and corrected was part of the process that led to us becoming a Christian. When a person realizes that they can never be good enough to please a holy and righteous God, they also realize that they need someone else to save them. And we all know that person to be Christ.

But even after we believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life, there are still worldly ideas and ways of thinking floating around in our heads which God wants to get rid of. He does this through the methods we have already seen in 4:11-13. God gave the ability to some Christians to use the Word of God to teach and train other Christians to do the work of ministry. And as we do what God wants us to do, we grow up in the faith and become spiritually mature. But until new Christians have matured a bit, they are very prone to the false teachings that abound in our fallen world.


From False Teaching

When new Christians are not adequately guarded by mature Christians, verse 14 says that several things happen. First, they are tossed to and fro. Like a child in a professional wrestling match, immature Christians will get tossed around in the ring. This is because they have not yet been trained to correctly discern truth from error. They are easily deceived by false doctrine.

This has been true of new Christians since the very beginning. Since the very first days of the church, there has been false doctrine. The early church fought against the heresy of the Gnostics. In the Greek language, gnosis means knowledge, so the Gnostics taught that in order to really receive all that God wanted for you, you had to be inducted into a special and deeper knowledge of God. This heresy led a lot of Christians astray. The book of 1 John was written to combat an early form of this heresy.

Then there was the heresy of Arianism. Not to be confused with Hitler's sadistic dream of an Arian race, Arianism, among other things, taught that Jesus Christ was not God. Many Christians fell into this trap.

Later in church history, there was the heresy of Pelagianism. Pelagius taught that humans were born sinless and that through sinless living, could thus attain heaven. Many followed his path.

And we could go through the centuries, and list heresy after heresy, one false teaching upon another. The truth is that every wind of doctrine has come and gone, and the true church has stood fast through it all. But although the church stood fast, there have always been those within the church who were immature, those who were children. If they did not get the spiritual protection that they needed, then, as Paul says in verse 14 that these kind of people are tossed to and fro. Some Bible translations include the idea of being tossed to and fro by waves.

Those who have been on a stormy sea, or even on a stormy lake in a small boat, know that it is a very frightening place to be. Every swell threatens to capsize or crush the vessel you are in. The waves just keep coming, one after another, pounding, crashing, breaking. As you try to work your way toward the safety of the shoreline, you can expend all of your energy and not seem to get anywhere. That is similar to the way it feels to be caught in the torrential waves of false doctrine.

You read some book, or hear some teacher who says one thing, and they explain Scripture and ask questions and make statements in such a fine sounding way, that you begin to think they are right. You begin to tell your friends and family about what you have learned. But just when you have become convinced that this is the truth – you read another book, or hear another speaker, and they say just the opposite! So now you're stuck. Who is right? You don't want to believe what is wrong, but how are you to determine which is right and which is wrong? After a few of these issues pile up in your mind, it can become a very scary thing. A very uncertain thing.

Generally, what happens to people in this situation is that they go with whatever side seems to have the most people or the most popularity or the most outspoken proponents. Trying to decide who and what is right become too daunting of a task, and so they simply stop thinking about the issue for themselves and accept all the teachings of this pastor, speaker or author, whoever it is. Those who do this need to be reminded that we only have the right to believe those things that we have carefully investigated for ourselves. It is our moral obligation to examine all of our beliefs and only hold firmly to those for which we have found ample evidence. Yet sadly, it is as Howard Hendricks has said: 70% of the people in the world never think at all. 20% think that they think, but only rearrange their prejudices. That leaves 10% who actually do any thinking. And it is they who influence and change the world. It is a testimony to the sad state of Christianity when these statistics hold true for the church as well. Most people don't think, they just follow whatever their favorite teacher says.

It is this 90% of unthinking American Christianity that gets tossed to and fro with every new wave of doctrine. And if the theological landscape can be compared to an ocean, we are currently in the greatest storm that has ever rocked the theological world. There are literally hundreds of waves of doctrine which can capsize any unsuspecting Christian. Ever since the enlightenment, when people started to become "free thinkers" and "open-minded" individuals, there has been a virtual explosion of false teachings to flood the Christian market. I'm not saying that free thinking and open-mindedness are bad. I am simply saying that apart from a Scriptural mindset, they can be very dangerous. It is amazing for me to watch how some of the obviously heretical ideas are met with such enthusiasm! I sometimes think that Christians have become so open minded that their brains leaked out! Every Christian, if they are going to be a mature Christian, must first and foremost be a Biblical thinker. Every Christian, if they are going to be protected from the landmines of false theology, must be knowledgeable in the field of Bible and theology. Only in this way will they not be tossed to and fro by the stormy waves of false teaching.

Paul continues this line of thinking by the next phrase in verse 14, where he describes these children as being carried about with every wind of doctrine. Again, picking up the imagery of a boat at sea, this would be like a boat which has no sail and no oars. A boat of that kind is at the mercy of the wind. If the wind blows east, the boat goes east as well. If the wind changes direction and blows west, the boat goes west. A boat without any way to maneuver is a boat that is carried about with every wind. And that is exactly how these children are who have not been grounded in the Word of God. When people fail to become founded upon the Word, they get carried about by every wind of doctrine (cf. Jude 12; Heb. 13:9).

Now although Paul does not exactly specify what kind of doctrine he is talking about here, whether it is good doctrine or bad doctrine that carry these untaught children back and forth, we know from experience and from the context, that Paul has bad doctrine, or false teaching, in mind. We know this from experience because very rarely does anyone stumble into "sound doctrine." We all begin our lives believing some very bad theology. Developing good theology is like developing a good work ethic, or learning to stay fit – it comes only through discipline, hard work, and lots of study. Generally, when people "coast" in their theological development, they coast into bad doctrine. They fall into false teaching. And unless they develop some good habits of thinking Biblically, they will just go from one false doctrine to another throughout their life, like a boat tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine.

As a pastor, I (Jeremy) have seen this happen over and over again in the lives of people in my church, and in the lives of other Christians with which I am acquainted. I have heard some of the strangest doctrinal ideas come through the lips of people who should know better, but don't, because they never stopped to think about it Biblically. I'm sure all of us know such people – and even pastors – who have fallen prey to the winds of false doctrine.

We know that Paul is talking about the false doctrine, because of what he says next. The rest of verse 14 tells us where these winds and waves of false teaching come from. Not surprisingly, they come from false teachers.


From False Teachers

Paul writes in verse 14 about the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. They trick men. They are cunning. They are crafty. They are deceitful. They plot schemes and carry them out. Now, many of these, I believe, don't set out to become a false teacher. I can't be certain, but I don't think any person has ever woken up one day, and said to themselves, "I think I'll dream up some heresy I can teach."

No, the people who teach false doctrine are fully convinced of the truth of it themselves. The truth is that nobody wants to be wrong. False teachers truly believe that they are right. That's what makes them so persuasive. They honestly believe that they have finally discovered the truth and that everybody else needs to believe as they do. But the real truth is that they too have been deceived and tricked by the devil into teaching what they teach.

Which means that false teachers are rarely obvious. False teachers do not wear signs proclaiming who they are. Just as no false teacher believes they are a false teacher, nobody sitting under a false teacher believes that they are receiving false teaching. Sometimes, the most vociferous and argumentative defenders of the truth, who go about accusing everyone else of being a false teacher, are either teaching or sitting under someone who teaches falsely.

Sometimes this happens when a teacher gets tired of not getting the attention they think they deserve. So in order to get attention, they feel they have to come up with some sort of brand new idea, or an exciting way of teaching something, and oftentimes this teaching turns out to be heretical. Through sly words and fine sounding arguments and phrases that tickle the ears, they gain support and popularity. Though they do not intend to teach falsely, they are not teaching with the right motives. Rather than teaching to grow spiritual children into adults, they are only teaching to grow their own wallet.

Of course, having said this, I will admit that there are some who purposefully set out to deceive. Having grown accustomed to the wealth and the power that comes with being popular, they stop searching for truth, and only chase after the worldly treasure. At this point, they will do anything to get more money in their pockets. They will lie and cheat people out of their money. They will trick people into thinking they see miracles when it is really nothing more than a sideshow. With cunning craftiness they learn how to steal money from people. With deceitful plotting, they come up with schemes to line their own pockets.

The old Steve Martin movie, Leap of Faith, though intended to be a bit of a spoof on modern day healing ministries, is really not too far from the truth of what actually goes on. Others, wanting to write a best selling book, are willing to put down on paper some of the most outlandish ideas and unbiblical thinking that has ever been written. But they do it all out of the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.

And spiritual children who have not been grounded in the Word of God fall prey to their schemes. Spiritual children who should know the difference, but don't. Spiritual children who cannot tell the difference between true and false teaching or true and false teachers.

All of us, probably, have fallen prey at times. In fact, very likely, all of us currently believe some sort of error or heresy. It is unlikely that there is currently a single person on the face of the earth who is 100% correct in all that they believe. This is why we must continually be learning, studying, refining and correcting ourselves under the authority and light of the Word.

Which is exactly what Paul tells us to do. He says that maturity comes from finding a Biblically based body of believers and getting involved in ministry within that fellowship. It sounds simplistic, but according to God, it works!

If you have been caught in error in the past, or if you are afraid of being caught in error in the future, this is how to mature. This is how to avoid false teaching. Find a Biblically based body of believers and then get involved in some sort of ministry there. Only then will the first function of God's Program for the church be accomplished. Then we will no longer be spiritual children (cf. 1 Cor 13:11), tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but instead, we will become mature and Christ-like spiritual adults.

This is the first aspect of God's Program. It is what keeps us from false teaching and false teachers. Although Ephesians 4:14 mainly talks about the importance of guarding the spiritual children in church, the other aspect of proper parenting is giving to the children, or providing for them. Paul doesn't mention this, but it is appropriate to include it because there is so much confusion today about what exactly a new Christian needs.


Giving to Children

One of the facts about physical children is that they do not know what is good for them. They need to be trained to eat their vegetables rather than fill up on licorice and Twinkies, and not sit too close the TV, and to go to bed at a decent hour, and to treat other children with respect.

It is the same with spiritual children. When we become Christians, we do not know what is good for us. We want cotton candy sermons that make us feel good and have lots of stories and jokes. We want high energy music that gives us goosebumps because we think that worship is for us. We don't want to be told that we are sinners and need to have our spiritual diapers changed. We prefer to be carried everywhere, and don't want to learn to walk in the Spirit. And oftentimes, when we don't get our way, we throw temper tantrums and get angry at the leadership of the church for not giving us what we want.

Most churches today seem to operate under the conviction that new Christians (and non-Christians) know best what they need, and so the church, if we are going to minister to them, should focus on giving them what they need. Often this is called "meeting felt needs."

While I don't intend to criticize or condemn such a practice, and while it is important to meet the physical and emotional needs of new and non-Christians, I believe that most people today do not know what they true needs are. Most of the "needs" that people have today, they only have because they have been deceived into "needing" them by worldly advertising and the "me first" mentality of modern psychology.

If parents met only the "felt needs" of their children (as far too many are now doing!), we would be near the end of civilization as we know it. I have an 18 month old daughter, and her felt needs consist of needing a dog, a pony, a kitten, a fish, a horse, a lion, a bird and just about every other animal she sees. As far as food goes, if it were up to what she thinks she needs, she would only eat jelly beans, licorice, chocolate ice cream, juice, chips, and green olives (she would eat a whole jar if we let her).

But as an adult, I know what she needs better than she does. She needs a healthy diet, and lots of rest. Some sweets are fine, but only after she has eaten some good food. And the same goes with her desire to be like Noah. We have a cat and a fish, but not two of every kind of animal.

New Christians do not know what they need. Most think they need big churches with numerous options and lots of things to divert their energy and attention from the troubles of life. They want a large children's program and youth group, forty-five minutes of high quality, heart-pounding music, and a dynamic speaker who takes them on an emotional roller coaster complete with side splitting jokes and tear jerking stories. When they leave church, they want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside and as if God Himself has sung them to sleep.

Now, none of these are bad things. Youth groups and children's programs are good. High quality music is a must. No preacher should be boring. And people should often feel closer to God when they leave church than when they came. But the fact of the matter is that none of these things are what new Christians need.

New Christians, like new babies, need milk – and lots of it. Milk helps newborns grow, and it helps protect them from sickness and disease. There is also a bond that forms between the mother and the infant as the baby feeds. Spiritually, the mother of the new Christian is the church. So with all of these benefits, it is the responsibility of the spiritually mature adults in the church, and especially of the pastor/teacher, to make sure that milk is what they get. Whether it is in a special service, or in a small group study, new Christians need spiritual milk.

What is spiritual milk? It is nothing but the pure and simple teaching of the Word of God. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:2 that Christians, as newborn babes, should desire the pure milk of the Word, so that they may grow (cf. also Heb. 5:11-6:3). If a church is not giving to it's people the clear and systematic teaching, explanation and application of the Word of God, they are not giving to the people what they need. They are starving their children, and should not wonder why the Christian in their church never seem to mature.

If the leadership of a church is Godly and Biblical, they will provide the members of the church with what they truly need - not necessarily what they want. Remember, according to verse 14, there are many lies and liars out there who want to trick and deceive Christians. They may want fame for themselves, or they may want the money in your bank account. But whatever the reason, they teach and spread lies which deceive baby Christians.

And so it is a pastor's responsibility along with the elders of the church, to protect the church from false teaching and false teachers and the best way to do that is to provide good teaching and good teachers. It is not enough to tell a child they can't have twinkies and soda pop every day. You must also provide them with good healthy meals so that they grow and mature.

As great as children are, the main goal of child rearing is to help them grow up to become productive members of society. This involves guarding them from harm, and giving them what they need. The same is true for the church. As great as new believers are, full of excitement, zeal and energy, the goal is to help them mature into productive members of God's kingdom. For this to happen, they need to be protected from what will harm them, mainly false teachers, and guided into sound doctrine. Both of these are accomplished by the faithful teaching of the Word of God.