Fridays are normally garden days, but due to other things I decided to leave the garden for Saturday, yet the way Saturday panned out it never happened. So … because yesterday was Human Rights Day in remembrance of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 … and because today (Monday) is a Public Holiday … it was my Human Right to do the garden today. In our area we have lots of ants … small ones and big ones. I make certain the house is ants free my spraying regularly … but the outside ones are difficult to control. From their nests, the bigger ants tend to move huge amounts of sand, creating a hole to the nest for easy access. I have tried many different things around the hole with the hope these ants will take the poison into the next … and they don’t. My opposite neighbour told me he mixed a strong mixture of Sipermetrien and water and poured it down the ant hole. I decided to make an extra strong dosage of this mixture in a watering can and poured it down the ant hole. It seemed to work well and almost immediately. A few days later at church, a young man who works for a pest control company and I were chatting. He said that when mixing the Sipermetrien and water it is important to get the mixture correct. I was making it far too strong. Then he said something that amazed me … he said that if you make the poison mix too strong the ants will become immune to the poison. In time it will not have any effect on the ants. As a lay person I thought the stronger the mix, the more effective … yet the professional says to stick to the prescribed mix per 5 liters. Today as I was cutting the lawns and later removing the weeds (that I have neglected for some time), I saw an ant hole behind the log rock garden. Immediately I mixed Sipermetrien and water according to the instruction, poured it down and around the hole, and trust it will work better. Just think of that, ants immune to ant poison if it is mixed too strong!
This got me thinking about people coming to Jesus for salvation and being pushed into all sorts of discipleship and growth groups before they are ready for deeper teaching. They could easily become like ants … immune to a heavy dose of poison … new Christians could become immune to the deeper teachings they are not yet ready for. The concept of crawl before you walk is important. Consider:
Heb 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 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.
So often I have found “hard to explain because you are slow to learn” true with people in the church … and this might not be their fault! Too often church leaders can be over zealous and hurry people into courses and teachings they are not yet ready for … and the tragic result is that they become “immune” to the heavy doctrines because they were forced into them too soon. It is true that we need to disciple new converts … Jesus said:
Mt 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The key teaching that controls this passage is “make disciples”. How do we make disciples? We … “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. “Everything” will include all the Scriptures … from creation through to sin, guilt, conviction, redemption, justification, sanctification, election, predestination, judgment, heaven, hell, God as in three persons, satan, the second coming, etc. To me it would be cruel to attempt teaching a new convert the deep doctrines such as election and predestination before they grasp sin, guilt, conviction, repentance, faith, forgiveness and justification. Perhaps where we fail the most is in our approach to discipling a new convert. Remember “crawl before you walk”? We need to teach the real basics … the milk of the faith before we progress to deeper things. I would suggest our greatest failure is when we do not teach new converts how to pray and how to read the Bible. So often Christians have not been taught how to pray and pray with all the wrong motives.
Jas 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Some demand things from God or asked for the wrong things or ask for things that would be harmful for a Christian. Spending time praying with a new convert is vital to prevent using prayer incorrectly. Many new converts are not taught how to read the Bible and because of this they read into Scripture or make Scripture say what they want it to say and not what it actually says. It’s easy to claim:
Jn 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth”
Meaning that the Holy Spirit will make all Scripture clear to you … He will … but you first need to be taught how to use the Bible because far too many use it incorrectly. This is the reason we have so many shipwrecked Christians. It is in this sense that I speak against feeding disciples solids before they can consume milk. You see, the young man was right when saying we can cause ants to become immune to the best poison on the market if we over dose them. This principle is so true with new converts. Don’t over dose them. Once you lay a solid foundation of correct praying and use of the Bible they will understand faith and dependence, sin and holiness, repentance and fruits, forgiveness and perseverance, justification and redemption. Then the turf will be ready to move onto deeper doctrines … and you will have a solid, contributing member of God’s Kingdom forever!
Dear Glorious Lord, help me to get the basics before I try to bite, trying digest the solids of the faith. Amen.