“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14). 

What I’m about to write will not be well received (some will call it satirical but I’m sadly serious). But, glory to God, so be it! I write this with a broken heart – the writer of Hebrews is speaking to us. The contemporary American evangelical church (and that most certainly includes the home church movement) has forsaken its calling to teach doctrine. Instead we have chosen to leave our people in spiritual infancy. We have misguidedly (and I pray not intentionally and deliberately) chosen to grow churches rather than people. We have deserted our commission to be doctrinally objective and embraced the experiential, emotional, and practical (including that deceptive thing called “cultural relevancy”) while becoming meaninglessly subjective. We have become a religious version of Postmodernism.

So what do we have?  Ignorant and immature church “members” that teeter on the edge of apostasy. And who is primarily to blame? Preachers, teachers, and authors (and I have been all three, by the way). We may claim to be “conservative”, or “biblical inerrantists”, or even “orthodox” but we have modeled our ministries, preaching, and teaching on a 3rd grade reading level (when an analysis of The Andy Griffith Show, Wild at Heart, and The Shack become the basis for our teaching curriculum I’m genuinely concerned). We have “worn out” many beautiful Biblical truths (like John 3:16) while leaving many believers undiscipled and scripturally unlearned by shunning the riches of “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). I’m afraid that we have become more interested in our budgets, building programs, and baptismal statistics. As one preacher said, “Just get ‘em baptized and tithing. The rest isn’t really all that important”. It seems as if the “ignorance is bliss’ church growth methodology is rampant. Plus, after all, it is a lot easier to lead people where you want them to go when the clergy/laity dichotomy is more pronounced. Just ask the Roman Catholic Church. 

And this is the exact reason that the Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and John Wycliffe (and when have you last heard them mentioned or discussed in your church?) faced martyrdom to get the Word of God into the common language. They wanted all of God’s chosen to know and understand the deep truths of God’s word and not just “indoctrinated” by the salesmanship of institutional church “CEO types”. They believed that all followers of Christ should be theologically educated and mature in the faith. I ask you, when was the last time you heard a sermon on doctrines such as justification by faith, substitutionary atonement, original sin, the priesthood of the believer, the wrath of God, and sovereign grace that these protestant forefathers we willing to (and, in some cases, did) die for? 

Digest these scriptural admonitions: 

  • “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).
  •  “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). 
  • “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). 

But we haven’t followed these commands so Paul’s prophecy has come true – “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). 

I pray with all that I am that our leaders – preachers, teachers, and authors – will return to the true proclamation of God’s Word and sound doctrine. This is our calling and our ministry. Jesus’ last words were a command to make disciples and teach them “to observe all things” . (Matthew 28:19). I pray that we are committed to boldly proclaiming the powerful, profound, stabilizing, and transforming doctrines of His word for the glory of Christ and the sake of His Kingdom, His church, and His people. Why? So that we may all “grow up into Him”. Absorb Paul’s compelling synopsis of these thoughts: 

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-15).