The Elementary Teachings about Christ
In the last few days of His First Coming, Christ told us that all authority had been given to Him and He issued these instructions to the Church, until the end of the age.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
These instructions are referred to as “The Great Commission” and these are the key points:
The Great Commission
1. Make disciples of Christ, from all nations.
2. Receive them into the household of God through baptism.
3. Teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
First, we are to make disciples for Christ. We are not to make disciples for others, for denominations or ourselves.
What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas;" still another, "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)
Second, we are to receive these disciples of Christ into the household of God through baptism. We are not to baptize others into the household of God.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure (1 Timothy 5:21-22).
Third, we are to teach Christ’s disciples to obey everything Jesus commanded us.
So, where do we start and what do we to teach first? Ultimately, we are to teach the full counsel or “whole will of God.” Teaching “the whole will of God” is so important Paul indicated that teaching anything less would leave men vulnerable and unprepared for judgment.
Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:26-28).
To help us get started the Holy Spirit has provided an outline of “the elementary teachings about Christ.” Here is what He says,
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 [spiritual] milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on [spiritual] 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.
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (Hebrews 5:12-6:2).
This instructive passage lists the six things that comprise “the elementary truths of God's word.” These basic teachings are prerequisites for the life in Christ. In the above passage these foundational teachings are identified using four different titles.
The Elementary Teachings
1) The elementary truths of God's word
2) Spiritual milk
3) The elementary teachings about Christ
4) The foundation
Lets examine what is included in the elementary teachings.
The Elementary Teachings
a) Repentance from acts that lead to death
b) Faith in God
c) Instruction about baptisms
d) The laying on of hands
e) The resurrection of the dead
f) Eternal judgment
This outline provides valuable information for the instruction and teaching of Christ’s disciples.
We are told, in Hebrews 5:13, that the immature in Christ need spiritual milk not solid food. Therefore, we must ensure that those who are new in Christ become completely grounded in “the elementary teachings” before they move on to “the teachings about righteousness.”
Attempting to instruct new or immature disciples to handle “the teaching about righteousness” would be like giving a baby a steak to eat. First, we must ensure they can handle spiritual milk and then introduce them to solid food. To approach this backwards will certainly cause problems, possibly undermining their growth and their ability to reach maturity in Christ.
Scripture provides additional insight regarding the use of "spiritual milk."
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3).
Discerning who needs spiritual milk from those who are ready for solid food will require good shepherding, not assuming a person’s age or church attendance prepares them for “the teaching about righteousness.” So, let's learn “the elementary teachings about Christ” so we can move on to maturity and “the teaching about righteousness.”
Here in Ephesians, God explains the very purpose of Church leadership, the importance of "the knowledge of the Son of God" and consequently “the elementary teachings about Christ” to His purpose and plan.
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).
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).
“Spiritual Milk is what we believe, Solid Food is how we live.”
Richard H Perry