25 November, 2005

Hope For the Immature in Faith

Many Christians are very immature in their faith. They understand that the they are to grow in their love for the Lord Jesus and the seek to do so by attending the means of grace. They read, pray, listen to sermons, attend church, even the Lord's Supper, but something remains missing in their Christian experience. Without being able to verbalize the problem, many Christians in today's entertainment culture are looking for just that: entertainment.

Even in the most conservative of Reformed and Presbyterian churches you have this problem of entertainment. In these circles this sin will manifest itself in the immature Christian as always needing to chase after a new doctrine or base the "value" of a sermon on whether or not he or she has heard something new. This attitude can be harmful to the Church of Christ. God has chosen to have his people follow the Old Paths...he does not call us to chase after and blaze new ones.

Charles Bridges, in his early 1800s volume to Christian ministers addressed the need for novelty:
The first impressions (of the faith) may have been made rather by the novelty than by the direct power of truth....to live up to the continual excitement of novelty, in preference to the old established truths. This naturally results in an imperfect* apprehension of the Gospel, that fully accounts for defects of Christian temper, as well as for the unsteady resistance to the world...favouratism (sic) in Scripture is both the grandparent of heresy and instability of profession. The Word of God loses its power when displaced from its position, dissevered from its practical connexion (sic), or when a part, however important, is taken for the whole...

*imperfect as in not whole, or not complete.

Bridges sees these people as needing to be novel in faith which leads to a favoratism of certain passages of the bible (examples: John 3.16, I Cor 12 or 13, or Biblical sayings "Judge not", "All in moderation", etc.) which will in turn lead to many types of heresy and discontentment in their faith. The anedote to the problem he also gives: prefer the old established truths. This is the calling of all Christians, immature and well seasoned, do not forsake the old paths for the need to be novel and entertained.

Discussion Points:
-How can we encourage the immature in faith?
-What personal disciplines will aid in fighting the need to be entertained (however subtle the need is?)
-What spiritual excercises would you recommed for those struggling against this serious sin?


Anonymous said...

Knowing that I by no means am an expert in any field, but would not the reponsibility fall onto the pastors of churches? What about the education within the churches? For how long have members been "encouraged" by such verses? Having not been a Christian for all that long, the lack of intergreaty within chruches has been not only suprising but also dissapointing. Is the church to blame for the general apathy we see in Chirstians today? I'm not trying to get anyone "off the hook" but do they know any better?

Nate said...

I agree that responsibility falls on the ministry to a point. There is also personal responsibility in the faith to grow and seek the Lord while he may be found.
As a young Christian I would encourage you to attend the means of Grace, read solid books, listen to sermons, and place yourself around Christians that will cause you to grow and to be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Point well taken Nate, but isn't "good" and "solid" subjective? I guess that's my point. Not many people are willing to stand up and say what is good and what is bad thus leaving interpretation up to people or congregations to determine what is good and bad. In a fallen world, are we not going to lean towards the entertainment side? Can you have both an "entertaining" book and a "solid" book? Isn't this where churches need to step up a bit more and assure that truth is being taught?

Nate said...

You can have solid and good books that are entertaining. That is if you enjoy reading good and solid books.
The Bareans would search the scriptures to see if all that Paul said was true.
This required a lot of work on their part, as well as on Paul's end...he had to know his stuff.
Bottom line is that that Jehovah shepherds his sheep. He uses means for that. Seek out those means and compare them with scripture. If you cannot find a trustworthy ministry...keep looking. The Lord will not leave his people alone in this world.

* * By the way...do I know who you are...or are a passer through?

Joe Schelling said...

Yeah you know me, its joe from work, I wa just too lazy to login before I wrote. Sorry, it won't happen again. I'm new remember

Nate said...

I do know you. Good thoughts.

Maybe you should switch to MY CHURCH if these are problems.

Love ya!

Ellie said...

Your comments about entertainment in chuch and Christians that are immature in faith struck a real chord with me. You know I am in search of TRUTH relating to all aspects of God who I am comforted to share is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.What I see is many shallow individuals who may be attending church as their sole method of worship.Larry D. Harper might refer to these persons as "pretenders!" They believe and that is where it begins and ends.True believers have been born again and possess the HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit, if they listen will guide them in the direction that God has planned. We are being deceived if we believe that church should be all about entertainment and "feeling good." I believe that Christians should be encouraged to really seek God in an intimate way.God wants to hear from us! He created us to be HIS entertainment.We are given life to honor and glorify Him and need to focus on living a Righteous and Holy Life to the GLORY and (entertainment) of God!!!! Spiritual exercises that work for me.PRAY,PRAY,PRAY!!!! get on your knees and PRAY!! Talk with God on an ongoing basis as you go through the day.Ask for the Holy Spirt to be in you and to establish his presense in those persons whom you love.Listen for his voice.( Nate,I was looking at your sweet photos with Owen and I could see the Great Love you have for him and HOW MUCH GREATER is the Love that God the Father has for us HIS CHILDREN.) So for today, My questions for God is, God, how can I entertain you today? How can I serve you today? Guide me Lord Jesus in the pathway you would have me go.I also have other Christians praying for me. It's all very powerful and frankly my eyes are on HIM and therefore my entertainment needs are satisfied and the sermons I hear are A BLESSING and bear repeating!!!

Joe Schelling said...

I don't run into this problem at Harvest per say, but don't we all run into this to some degree? If we belong to churches with people in them shouldn't we all run into this issue to some degree? I just think that there is a fine line between enteratinment and "solid". Shouldn't we learn to become "entertained" with good, Scriptural books? What can we do to help others in this situations; first pray for and with them and maintain dialouge with them, coming along side of them and developing a mentor type relationship with them.

I have to begin to pay attention to my stats prof.

Anonymous said...

I don't think church should be boring. There is nothing wrong with having quality worship music played by talented musicians no matter what your prefered style is. All done to glorify the Lord of course. However, there should also be solid teaching, corporate prayer and plenty of fellowship.
I used to be critical of contemporary worship until I was reminded by a dear friend of mind that the beloved hymns of the faith were set to the tunes to bar songs. It made me reevaluate what I thought of contemporary music. Sure I like the music itself but used to critize the words. I started listening to them more closely and found them to be very worshipful. Yes, they could have a little more meat to them, but they still honor God. This it what our generation wants and I don't see anything wrong with it as long as solid teaching does not get compromised. We find the traditional service boring. My church does a great job with the music and making the worship service interesting while also providing solid teaching.