Milk or Meat?

There are a couple of places in the NT where the apostles contrasted the intake of believers, using the metaphor of “milk” as the food for babies against “meat” as the food for mature men & women. (1 Corinthians 3, Hebrews 5, 1 Peter 2 are the clearest.)

The apostles (Paul, the anonymous author of Hebrews, and Peter) all seem to reference something similar to John’s stages of Christian growth (1 John 2:12-14): that there are clearly stages of growth for us as Sons of the Most High. John makes it clear: believers in different stages of growth have different needs (for a discussion of those stages, see here:

Reflecting on this, I observe several things:

§         There are several places where believers are described as children, as milk-drinkers, often bemoaning the fact that by this stage of their growth, they should be eating meat and changing the world.

§         There appear to be NO places where any of the apostolic writers of the NT acknowledge a group that has progressed from milk-drinking to meat-eating. This may be simply because the epistles were all written to address problems among one church or another, and the churches that made the transition didn’t need corrective letters. There is no epistle to the church at Antioch, for example; it may be that this early center of the Church may have gotten some things right, though we have no record of it.

§         When we are young believers, we require milk. And when we become mature believers, milk is still good.

§         We are expected to progress beyond the basics. We are expected to graduate from being nourished by the “elementary principles” of “milk” to digesting and being nourished by “meat.”

§         So much of the church in our day has not even well learned the “elementary principles”; These are the “milk” or “baby food” of Christian nurture (Quoting Hebrews 6:1 here):

1.      repentance from dead works and of
2.      faith toward God, of
3.      the doctrine of baptisms (note the plural), of
4.      laying on of hands, of
5.      resurrection of the dead, and of
6.      eternal judgment.

A number of prophets and apostles are speaking of the need, now upon us, but growing in necessity, of believers being established enough in theses topics that they are comfortable (and safe) moving on to more challenging topics. In fact, Holy Spirit has been speaking to a substantial number of believers about what some of those more meat-like discussions will be about, but they would only serve as a distraction in this conversation.

As He speaks to me about some of the meatier topics of growth that I see coming to us, I am reminded of two applications that have relevance in this conversation:

1) There will be people (possibly people who are invested in a spiritual “milk-delivery service”) who will not understand of believers’ need for meat, who will speak against it (even accusing meat-eaters of apostasy and heresy), and, sadly, who will succeed in preventing hungry believers in their sphere of influence from obeying the scriptures and pursuing more advanced topics.

2) Those who choose to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, and go on to perfection, not laying again the above foundation, will likely have to go on in the face of such opposition. A very likely booby-trap will be to engage argumentative milk-delivery devotees in extensive discussion about the need for meat, though it will be necessary to discern between those committed to not moving on from milk from those who have only known milk but long for more. A wiser response may be just to “set our face like flint” toward digesting and practicing that which Father is feeding us, and leaving the nay-sayers to themselves.

I believe it will be valuable to recognize in advance (if it is in advance) the opposition that will be confronting us more and more as we run the race set before us. Such battles are often won in advance, when we make our determined decisions of how we will respond before we meet the opposition.

How will you respond when faced with this choice? Will you choose a steak knife, or a warm bottle?

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