"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."—1 Cor. 16:13.
A babe could never engage in the active duties of mature manhood. It must first develop far beyond the stage of infancy. A babe is a bud of promise, and in due time it must fulfill its promises, else it will be justly despised and dishonored, and will never enjoy the privileges, the respect, and honor of manhood.
So it is in the spiritual family. A babe in Christ is a child of interest, a bud of wonderful promise, beloved of God and of his maturer children, and tended with special loving care. Think what promises of future glory and grandeur center in a babe in Christ. In time, if he continues to grow in grace, knowledge and love, he will be received into the everlasting kingdom, and will be engaged with Jesus Christ in the great work of restoring all things. You of maturer growth in Christ, neglect not therefore to feed the babes with the sincere milk of the word; but not the strong meat until they are able to bear it. Neither offer to them milk which is not pure; nor afterward, meat which is not meat indeed, expecting them to discriminate between the true and the false before their senses have been sufficiently exercised to discern clearly. We should not expect those who have grown but little beyond the infant stage, to be able to grapple successfully with all the arts and wiles of the adversary. Hence we should always be on the alert to find times and ways and means for helping a weaker or younger brother in Christ, and never by any means place mixtures of error or other stumbling blocks in his way.
The privilege of building one another up in the faith, is not appreciated and improved among the children of God as it should be, many excusing themselves on the ground of inability. But in this none are altogether excusable. As soon as we find the storehouse of truth we should begin in earnest to feed on it that we may grow thereby. And as we grow and develop strength in the use of God's appointed means, we should begin to use what strength we have for the benefit of others; and the result to our spiritual nature will be precisely the same as a similar process would result to our human nature. Exercise gives an appetite for food, and food gives strength for exercise. Thus the human being comes to the full stature of a man, and thus we grow as new creatures.
When God supplies the food so bountifully and invites us to feast at his table, and then clearly indicates the manner in which he would have us use the strength thereby gained, we are not excusable in remaining either babes or children. We should be constantly growing in knowledge, in grace, and in usefulness in the Master's service. Recognizing our privilege and duty in this matter, Paul exhorts us saying, "Quit you like men, be strong."
As to whether we grow up into Christ, or become dwarfs and useless in his service, depends upon ourselves; for God who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, is able and willing to carry on the good work in us, and he will do it if we follow his leading.
In writing to the Hebrew Christians, the Apostle reprovingly says to them, "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 such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."—Heb. 5:11,12.
Such a condition is a dangerous one, especially in this evil day when the sophistries and snares of the adversary are more subtile than ever before. There are many deep truths of God's plan difficult to express; and impossible to be understood by those who have not a clear understanding of and implicit faith in the foundation principles of the doctrines of Christ.
The first principles of the doctrine—Redemption through the precious blood of Christ, and remission of sins through faith in his blood, is the only solid foundation on which our faith can rest; and until that foundation is firmly settled in our minds, it is impossible to go on unto perfection of knowledge. But if we spend all our time examining the foundation, we will never be able to rear a superstructure upon it. If a man has laid the foundation for his house with care and with proper material, it is not necessary to dig it up and relay it over and over. With full confidence in the foundation, he should go on with his building.
In the science of divine revelation as in other sciences, advanced truths cannot be received until other truths upon which they are based have first been received and understood. Imagine a student making progress in mathematics who never learned the multiplication table, or who has no faith in it, even after he has proved it true. Such a one could never make progress in mathematics; neither could the builder make progress with his building who spends all his time examining the foundation, and who never arrives at sufficient confidence in it, to build upon it. So a babe in Christ who never progresses beyond first principles, or is never settled upon them, can never reach maturity, and moreover he is in great danger of having his faith overthrown; for a babe is unskillful in the word of righteousness, not having his senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, Paul urges our leaving the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ—not in the sense of abandoning them, but of allowing them to stand as tried and proved foundation stones—and going on unto perfection, going on to complete the building of our faith, not halting to tear up and lay again the foundation or to try a different one.—Heb. 6:1.
Wherefore let us be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.—Eph. 4:14,15.
The promise of the Lord is sure to all who claim it—"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will counsel thee; mine eye shall be upon thee." But "be ye not as the horse, or as the mule [stubborn], which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle." (Psa. 32:8,9) God would lead us, not by force or constraint, nor in a blind or superstitious way, but as intelligent reasoning beings, ready to use our reason so far as it will avail, and accepting in faith such statements of his Word as our reason cannot grasp, and refusing all teaching of men contrary to that Word. MRS. C. T. R.