LEAVING THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES BEHIND
BY: BRENDA IMUS
OCTOBER 16, 2003
Several of you wrote to me expressing concern because my last post encourages Christians to move beyond the elementary teachings of faith. The thought seems to be that this is dangerous for two reasons: 1) Many Christians do not yet possess a good grasp of these elementary doctrines, and 2) To move on is to risk losing what we have. I apologize to any of you who wrote and didn’t receive a direct response. Personal circumstances have prevented me from answering each letter individually. (Your prayers on my behalf are welcome.) I’ve had these concerns in prayer, and believe the Lord has granted me an appropriate response.
It is true that many professing Christians do not yet possess a good grasp on the elementary doctrines of faith. So I understand why it seems necessary to encourage believers to focus on these things continually, for fear that if we don’t, many will fail to ever possess a solid spiritual foundation. There is also the fear that if we move on to maturity, leaving the elementary principles behind, it is synonymous with LOSING our solid foundation. But this is simply not the way it works in God’s economy
First of all, as we ‘leave’ those elementary doctrines it is not the same as FORSAKING them. Rather it is for the cause of MOVING ON into maturity, allowing the Lord to build on top of the foundation that has already been laid. That’s what the elementary doctrines are intended to prepare us for – they are not to be the building in themselves.
Should we fear that as we move on into maturity in God, He will allow the foundation that He has laid within us to crumble and fail? Not at all! This foundation is a sure thing, and will never fail. Would a Master Builder constructing a building make the foundation so poorly that he had to keep on going back to shore it up each time he built another story high? What a waste of time and material that would be! Yet it’s the way most ‘Christian builders’ are trying to build in the Kingdom. This is because they unknowingly are attempting to do God’s work by means of their own strength, wisdom and understanding.
It is my understanding that the primary way that the Lord will use to ‘grow up’ His children is not necessarily by having us continue to teach and re-teach the ‘elementary principles of faith’ to believers in general until most believers FINALLY ‘get it.’ This method hasn’t worked for 2,000 years, and there’s little reason to expect that it will produce great results at this late date. Rather, I believe He will accomplish His more perfect will by means of setting others in the body as examples for the ‘children’ to learn from, and to emulate. I don’t mean this in the traditional sense at all – i.e., regular ‘churches’ with ‘pastors’ and ‘deacons’ and ‘elders’ who are themselves not well trained in all of the elementary doctrines of Christ, and who are not actually functioning in their God-given spiritual roles within the body.
Rather, I see this as sort of a ‘one room schoolhouse’ situation, where the younger children – being taught individually by the Teacher – are nonetheless positively influenced and motivated by the more advanced learning and maturing going on among them. They see this one or that one coming into the deeper things of Christ, becoming more like Him, and being greatly used of Him. This causes them to be more diligent and enthusiastic about their own studies. And in fact, though they are still being well taught on their own ‘grade’ level, they are unconsciously picking up much wisdom and learning from simply being in the presence of more advanced teaching and spiritual activation. So when it’s time for them to learn advanced subject matter, they’ve already acquired a certain level of understanding without even being consciously aware of it. At times an older child comes along to directly mentor a younger one, and both benefit. This whole process causes a very fast maturation in the Spirit.
While we may be of great assistance to one another, there is only ONE Teacher, and we are all simply fellow students. It would be ludicrous to have students suddenly stand up and try to take over the class – or a portion of it – once they thought they had something special to share. This is what happens when men build ministries to the portion of the Truth that they’ve been granted. The class is distracted, confused and fragmented. True learning is greatly hindered.
So while I’m aware that many have not been well versed in the elementary doctrines, I don’t think that those of us who are mature are to keep continually ‘lagging back’ in order to bring these overgrown babes ‘up to speed.’ This only results in most teaching and preaching being aimed at the lowest common denominator, which hinders the body as a whole from growing and maturing at an appropriate rate. Rather, those who have obtained some level of maturity must keep pressing in to the Lord, growing and developing in Him, being obedient to His will at any given time. As we do so our example, and our increased ability to comprehend and share the Truth of Christ, will encourage others to grow up into Him, as well.
This illustration is greatly simplified, in that it uses only a natural setting. When we understand that this is a Spiritual principle at work, then we can see that as some of us continue on to ‘know Him,’ then we are subsequently vested with greater Spiritual discernment and influence. This too will be used to help others to come up into their calling in Christ much faster than if we keep simply trying to teach them, over and over again, the basic principles of the faith until they finally ‘get it.’ One is dependent upon the Spirit of Christ, the other depends to a greater degree upon our own understanding, talents and abilities. One will have some fruit…the other will bear MUCH fruit.
Just another perspective that I believe is worth consideration.
Yours IN HIM
Eph. 4:11 11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
14] That we henceforth 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;
15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
LEAVING THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES BEHIND [Brenda Imus] 1