Too many pulpits across the globe are being occupied by babes in Christ. Hebrews 5:11-14 state: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” In those aforementioned verses, the Apostle Paul teaches those Jewish Christians who have been saved for a considerable amount of time that they should now be teaching people the full Gospel of Grace, but they’re still struggling with mixing the Mosaic Law with Grace. They’re still living mostly by the rules and regulations given by Moses instead of the Grace Jesus Christ has given them by the shedding of His precious blood on the Cross at Calvary.
Christians who cannot handle the full Gospel of Grace are those who don’t fully understand or accept everything about the Finished Work of Jesus Christ; that is, the Work He did at the Cross. When you don’t fully understand or accept the Finished Work of Jesus Christ, you’re a “babe” in Christ. Unfortunately, we have too many babes in Christ in the pulpit. A babe in the pulpit is dangerous.
Preachers Still Being Breastfed
Babes are too beholden to the past: the Mosaic Law, old rules, old customs, what the founders of their church denominations have said, and etc. You cannot have a serious understanding of the Bible without having a comprehensive understanding and acceptance of all that Grace has made available. Numerous preachers who fail to receive the Gospel of Grace fully are highly skeptical of the freedom and new agreements that accompany Grace. They’re so accustomed to living under the condemnation of the Mosaic Law that they cannot completely receive the liberation from sin Jesus has made available to us today.
Your church pastor might just be a “milk baby,” a Christian who has never gotten off of the nipple of the Old Covenant and continues to drink only the “Milk of the Word.” (Chapter 6 of Hebrews discusses the “Milk of the Word.”)
Stop Serving Moses—Serve Jesus
Although preachers who are babes in Christ are unintentionally serving Moses instead of Jesus—as a result of them mixing Law and Grace—they teach and preach the condemnation of sin that was a part of the Old Covenant given by Moses. Under the New Covenant of Grace, there’s no condemnation for Believers: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). For preachers who are still shaming people about what they can and cannot wear, telling them what music they can and cannot listen to, telling them they cannot go to the movie theater, and etc., they’re activating “the law of sin and death.” It’s no wonder, therefore, they and their congregants struggle greatly with sin and death—the preachers are activating this dangerous law or principle and their congregants are receiving it.
Doctrines of Devils from the Pulpit
While it’s okay for your pastor to give you advice about what to wear, what type of music to listen to, and whether or not to go to movie theaters, the moment he or she forbids you from wearing something, listening to a certain type of music and/or going to the movie theaters—as if it is sin—he or she has engendered “doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1). I Timothy 4:1-2 state, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” When a preacher, therefore, makes his or her personal opinions rules and regulations all must follow, his or her teaching departs from “the faith”—grace—and he or she begins “speaking lies in hypocrisy.” If you try to challenge the doctrines of devils they espouse, you can be sure hey will attack you and attempt to undermine you. They will assert that you’re simply trying to change everything the denomination was founded on, and that you’re simply one of the false teachers the Book of Galatians discusses. Ironically, they’re unintentionally (in most cases) functioning in many ways like the false teachers in the Book of Galatians.
Acknowledge When Others Have More Bible Knowledge than You
Too many preachers simply are unwilling to admit that some of those they lead have more knowledge of the Word of God than them. Their arrogance leads them away from opportunities to grow in their knowledge of the Word of God and Jesus Christ. They’re too arrogant to concede they’re still babes in Christ, and when a lay member is able to demonstrate more knowledge of the Word of God than them, they often attempt to undermine their knowledge as simply the words of “the educated”—as if being educated makes one diametrically opposed to the true knowledge of the Word of God and Jesus Christ.
Embrace those in your churches who have deep knowledge of the Word of God—don’t be envious of them and don’t try to undermine them. If you disagree with something a person who has deep Bible knowledge says, confront him or her directly and not in underhanded ways.
Milk Baby Preachers, We’re No Longer under the Law
Preachers who are babes in Christ are still struggling with applying Abrahamic faith in their own lives. Galatians 3:6 states, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Righteousness was given to Abraham because he believed God—not because of his personal performance, conduct and style of dress. For a mature Christian, he or she finds Abrahamic faith to be an elementary phenomenon, even though it’s a highly important phenomenon. Elementary aspects of the Bible compose the “Milk of the Word” babes in Christ continue to drink.
It’s time for preachers to stop drinking “milk” and start consuming and embracing strong meat—the full Gospel of Grace.
Preachers, it’s time to stop issuing rules and regulations and concentrate your congregations on beholding Jesus. Jesus didn’t die to give people rules and regulations. He died so that they can have eternal life and fellowship with them. Romans 6:14 says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Believers now live by what the Spirit of Christ (the Spirit of Grace) informs them to do and not by rules and regulations established by man, including those unscriptural rules forbidding women to wear pants and certain lipstick and fingernail polish colors.
We’re no longer under your laws and the Mosaic Law. Jesus has delivered us from the curse of the Mosaic Law (Galatians 3:13), and we no longer obtain and maintain our righteousness through the Law but through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:4).
I encourage all preachers and Believers to engage in a focused and comprehensive study of the Book of Romans. The Book of Romans is Paul’s masterpiece and is a treatise on Grace. Read Romans with New Testament eyes and not with Old Testament eyes. From the Book of Romans, you will be able to gain a foundational understanding of Grace and will learn the importance of teaching and preaching the Gospel of Grace.
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison