I have been involved in a Bible study with my small group, which unfortunately is disbanding because only four of us came on a regular basis and that includes the couple in whose home we were meeting. The whole church has been going through the Positive Action book Milk. We got into a discussion about what tools we would choose to further disciple a new believer. I put forth the suggestions of a good Bible concordance and a Bible dictionary as references, and to start a study working through John, Acts, and Romans, to cover the gospel, early church history, and a good foundation in doctrine. I was immediately shot down about the length of John and how it would be too intimidating for a new believer and we should start them out with a much shorter book, even if it is not as easy to understand so they would have a sense of accomplishment when they were done so soon.
That has frankly been sticking in my craw. That is not how we teach. Starting with something short but confusing so the student can feel good about finishing it rather than beginning with the basics and building a firm foundation? Is this how we welcome any newborn? Welcome to the world, have a steak? Is that how we train for any other endeavor? Is that how we start soldiers in any other conflict?
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12
The answer is a resounding, “No!” We start recruits out in boot camp, training them rigorously over and over again in the basics of what they will need to know and how to face the enemy. Ask any sports coach the same thing. Because Satan will look at the new believer and see nothing but fresh meat. We cannot, must not allow them to be turned into cannon fodder. Once we have led someone to the Lord, we become their spiritual parent. We can no more abandon them after that event than a natural parent can abandon his or her child. The relationship is an eternal one, bound by the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ. We have become so egocentric that we forget inherent in every relationship is a reciprocity of responsibility. Ephesians 5:21 – 6:9 and Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 both emphasize this in showing the dual responsibilities of mutual submission as unto the Lord. We need to guide the newborn along into the corpus of the Truth with patience and long-suffering, letting him or her know that we are in this together for the long haul. Training together, fighting together, working together, serving together; serving each other and the Lord.
Positive Action also has Meat, Bread, and Fish study booklets available on their site. I remember Milk, Meat, and Bread from my teens, but I don’t remember Fish. I will have to check into them as I can in the future for personal study.