Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | July 31, 2014

The Peter Pan Christian and the Church, by David Bower

The Baby Christian is Under Attack and in Danger!

Any Christian who has not specifically and intentionally made the effort to study and learn the doctrines of the Bible and then taken the additional steps to put Bible doctrine into practice in their lives each day has failed to develop into a mature Christian adult! They are at best a spiritual child and at worst a spiritual baby who is vulnerable to attack and injury in the spiritual war into which we have all been thrust.

While the message of salvation by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ is still preached by many churches this is not the end of their responsibility to the born again believer, but only the beginning.

One who has received Christ as Savior has been born again and can be considered a baby in Christ, an infant in need of all the kinds of care associated with an infant. It is the responsibility of older Christians to help this baby grow into a mature Christian adult who is prepared to face the realities of life and the spiritual warfare which has been in progress for thousands of years.

Without the proper care and guidance the baby Christian can stumble around looking for answers in all of the wrong places. The truly disturbing reality is the baby Christian can fail to grow and mature into an adult Christian. Although salvation is eternal and secure, Christian growth is not automatic.

The Peter Pan Syndrome

While I have compared the baby Christian with a normal human baby there is one dramatic distinction and that has to do with life and growth. In order to survive, the human baby requires the proper nutrition and if that is denied, the baby dies. The Christian baby will survive even if proper spiritual nutrition is withheld but will not grow into spiritual maturity and therein lays a great danger. While the baby Christian’s place in the family of God is secured by the power of God, the baby’s growth is totally dependent upon receiving the proper spiritual nutrition and this is provided by the Bible, the spiritual food provided by God in His written word.

It is true the baby Christian may mature physically and grow into adulthood as a human being but this does not automatically mean the baby’s physical growth is being matched by corresponding spiritual growth. It can happen that physically adult Christian’s are in fact spiritual Peter Pan’s; they have never grown up into spiritually mature Christian men and women.

In Hebrews 5:11-14 the writer warned of this as he was trying to teach on the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ:

“11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 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! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

In 2 Timothy 2:15 the Apostle Paul cautioned Timothy, “15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Notice the references to trying to understand, to study, to being a workman that does not need to be ashamed, and rightly dividing the word of truth; all of these indicate that dedicated effort is required if one is to grow in the faith. The truth of the matter is if you are to grow and mature into a spiritual adult it will require study and hard work on your part.

How Does the Church Fit in to the Feeding and Care of Baby Christians?

While the primary responsibility for Christian growth lies with the individual Christian, I believe the church has a responsibility to help the baby Christian discover the rich spiritual resources to be found in the Bible. I can remember the time when a church in Houston helped me and my wife discover the wonders of the Bible; this was a time of incredible excitement as the Bible was opened to us and we began to discover the glory and beauty of the Word of God.

By God’s grace we both developed an insatiable desire for the spiritual food provided in Scripture and became faithful attendees at every Bible study we could possibly make. We had been given God’s second greatest gift, a hungering and thirsting for the word of God. Thanks to God’s continued grace that hungering and thirsting has never gone away, we still delight in the discovery of the new truths He reveals to us every day from His word.

While we have remained hungry and thirsty for the word of God, it was a church that first opened the door to the blessings and opportunities for growth available to those who will study to show themselves approved unto God. I see this as the ministry of the church to the baby Christian; to open the door to God’s spiritual food pantry, the Bible.

The Bible is not primarily a medicine cabinet, a place to go when you need spiritual first aid; it is a spiritual food pantry where you go each day to find the spiritual food you need to grow and mature into the mature Christian adult God wants you to become.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”


Responses

  1. Thank you for this. It is SO Needed. I have for a long time been concerned about as you put it, “Peter Pan Christians”. What a great way to put it! Also your last paragraph I intend to write out and place in my Bible…….sometimes I need a succinct way to say what needs to be said and that was right on. Because so many use the Bible as a “medicine cabinet” and then wonder where is God when I need Him! Keep up the great work David. The Lord has so Blessed us all with what He has given you to do? We are “in His Grip” thankfully! Carol

    Sent from my iPad

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    • Carol,

      Thank you for your generous comment, it is very encouraging to me! Since the first time the amazing wonders of the Bible were opened to me by a pastor who was on fire for the Lord; I have found great blessings and joy in carefully studying the Bible for myself. The Lord has blessed me with an excitement about His word and a desire to share the joy of discovery with others.

      Your brother in Christ,

      David

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  2. Your statement, “The Bible is not primarily a medicine cabinet, a place to go when you need spiritual first aid; it is a spiritual food pantry where you go each day to find the spiritual food you need to grow and mature into the mature Christian adult God wants you to become.” is a wonderful point to be made and remembered and passed on! Thank you, David!

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    • Alison,

      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. There seems to be so many malnourished Christians in churches today that don’t even recognize their symptoms as spiritual starvation. Physical symptoms of hunger and thirst are easily recognized by everyone, but spiritual hunger and thirst is too often confused with anything but spiritual malnutrition. When our lives are not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, then we are demonstrating spiritual hunger and thirst; we are manifesting the symptoms of spiritual malnutrition.

      The pattern for the life of the mature Christian is the Spirit led life which exhibits the fruit of the Holy Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-25,
      “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

      This is God’s standard for the healthy, spiritually well nourished, Christian adult, we do ourselves a great disservice when we fail to implement all of the resources God has made available to His children!

      In Christ’s love,

      David

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  3. Well, Mr. Bower.
    Another masterpiece of crystal clear explanation.
    Thank you for what you do!
    ……and for what you have done….and meant to my life over the years.
    God bless you my friend,…..and mentor.
    Phil

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    • Dear Phil,

      I count it a great privilege and joy to know that you are my eternal brother in the family of God and join you in praying that our dear friend will join us soon!

      In Christ’s love,

      David

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