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