ADOLPH SAPHIR ON CHRISTIAN BABYHOOD

 

What can be more lovely than the Christian in his infancy, in the springtime of his spiritual life, when the flowers appear and the voice of gladness is heard, when in his first love he rejoices in the Saviour?  Such babes are to be cherished with great affection and tenderness.  So also milk (Heb. 5: 12) designates gospel truth preached simply, so that thereby true nourishment is given, and faith is both called forth, and the new spiritual life strengthened and increased.  Hence, there is nothing in the term meant to depreciate, but on the contrary, to exalt the first declaration of saving truth in Christ.

But is it sufficient to preach the simple doctrine of the gospel, to declare the fundamental truths of repentance and faith, limiting ourselves to what is absolutely essential to the commencement of Christian life, and simply reminding our people of the great [eternal] salvation, that Jesus died because of our offences, and was raised again because of our justification?  Is such a method Scriptural? and, viewing it from the lower point of expediency and experience, is it safe and effectual?  Does not Scripture teach us that we should keep back nothing that is profitable, that we should not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, that the children of God should comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height?  Do we not continually notice that scanty, elementary, and one-sided teaching does not even secure the true, living, and healthy knowledge of simple and fundamental truths?  The most elementary instruction of apostolic days (Heb. 6: 1) was more comprehensive than what is now called the simple gospel; and yet these fundamental doctrines did not set before the Hebrews with sufficient fulness and clearness the truth of which they stood in need to keep them from apostasy.

[* The great salvation mentioned above, is not the same as that described in Heb. 2: 3: For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape [just punishment for wilful sin and disobedience. See Heb.10: 26-30] if we ignore such a great salvation.]

As a matter of fact, nothing is more needed in our days, both for the Church and the world, than a faithful and deep exposition of Scripture, of the whole Scripture, of Scripture in its organic unity and comprehensive fulness, in order that by grace, mind, conscience, and heart may be convinced that here are revealed unto us thoughts higher than our thoughts, divine realities and blessings, things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man.  And thus, while they who believe not will acknowledge God is in us of a truth, the children of God will be kept steadfast and faithful; they will be furnished unto every good work, and, forgetting the things that are behind, will press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The want of docility and of active inquiry into divine truth manifests itself in various ways.  Sometimes in ignoring prophecy, as if prophecy was isolated and not essentially inseparably connected with the other portions and aspects of truth, as if the whole word was not the sure word of prophecy, the word of Him who was, and is, and is to come.  Sometimes in a shrinking from the deeper meaning of the types, such as the sacrifices and festivals, or those of David and Solomon.  Sometimes in neglect of the Jewish Scriptures, and in forgetfulness of the mystery of Israel, and the relation between Church and the Kingdom.  Again there is the morbid and exclusive repetition of the blessed truth, "peace in believing", apart from the new life, the conflict of faith, the service of love, and the crucifixion of the flesh.  What we need is not (so called) intellectual or aesthetic or eloquent preaching, but pneumatic (spiritual) preaching of "the whole counsel of God" as unfolded in Scripture.

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