When I Was a Child
by Pastor J. C. O'Hair
FOR HE IS A BABE—BE NO MORE CHILDREN
Let us carefully study the three Scriptures from which we have selected this three-fold heading,
First . . . I Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Second . . . Hebrews 5:13 and 14: “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age (perfect).”
Third . . . Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no mare children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”
In the Scriptures which we leave quoted the same Greek word is translated “child,” “babe” and “children.” The word is “nepios.” All three scriptures have to do with progressive revelation of God’s truth; and the believer’s growth in the knowledge of God’s revealed Word. All three Scriptures exhort the believer to recognize a progress from “babyhood” truth to “manhood truth, and to the understanding, appropriation and application of that perfect truth; which not only supplements “babyhood” truth, but in some cases supersedes it. “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11. “The knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man.” Ephesians 4:13. “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age . . . . Let us go on onto perfection.” Hebrews 5:14 and 6:1.
In exhorting the Hebrews to go on unto perfection, the holy Spirit also instructed the believer in this language, “therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ.” Hebrews 6:1. This translation is not as clear as it might be. The better translation would be, “therefore leaving the word of beginning, or the first word of Christ.” In writing to the Corinthians, urging them to “manhood” progress in God’s revealed truth, the Holy Spirit declared that certain gifts would pass away, “prophecies,” “knowledge” and “tongues”; and that certain things would abide, “faith,” “hope” and “love.” I Corinthians 13:8 and 13. The writer referred to this transition in this language: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” I Corinthians 13:10. “That which is in part” is referred to as “childish”; that which is perfect as man.” Going on unto perfection is going on to that which is perfect, to that revelation from God that is for those of full age. Much of the truth that the risen Lord revealed through Paul, after the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, as to time, is truly, strong meat. But most believers, for some reason, either have no appetite for the strong meat, preferring to continue with the milk-diet, or they are unable to digest that which is perfect, the strong meat for those of full age.
CHRIST’S WORD OF BEGINNING
In considering the first words spoken by Christ, it is well to read the statement of His chief apostle in the land of the Jews. Peter declared to a Gentile, several years after Christ had died, concerning the first words of Christ: “The Word which God sent unto the children of Israel.” Acts 10:36. At that time the Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Ephesians 2:11 and 12. It was about fifteen years after the death of Christ that Paul returned to Antioch, front his first missionary journey, and the church heard what “God had done with them (Saul and Barnabas), and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27. Christ on earth was sent only to Israel. Matthew 15:24. While Christ was on earth He selected twelve Israelites to be His messengers to Israel. Matthew 10:5. These twelve understood some of the things spoken by Christ: very many of them they understood not Luke 18:33 and 34. For the things which they did understand Christ gave thanks to His Father in these words: “I thank Thee O Father . . . . Hast revealed them unto babes.” Luke 10:21. The Lord wants His children to ever have the spirit of a “babe”; but most assuredly he does not desire that they would continue to be “babes” in knowledge. As newborn babes they are to desire the sincere milk of the Word that they may grow thereby. I Peter 2:1. But when the believer remains a “babe” either because of conduct or lack of knowledge, it is anything but pleasing to the Father. Many of the Corinthian saints were carnal and years after they had been saved they had to be fed on milk. “as unto babes in Christ.” I Corinthians 3:1 to 3. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Paul knew many things that the twelve apostles had never been taught by Christ when He was on earth. Likewise the twelve apostles knew many things at the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they did not know when they were on earth with Jesus of Nazareth, the man approved by God in the midst of Israel. Acts 2:22. Many righteous men and prophets had desired to see and hear what the twelve saw and heard, but they did not have that blessed privilege. Matthew 13:17. Jesus was in their midst to fulfil (complete) the law and the prophets. Matthew 5:17. Shortly before His death on the cross he said to His apostles: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. However when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:12 and 13. Beginning with the day of Pentecost the twelve apostles gradually and continuously received new light from the Lord in the development of His program. They rejoiced some seven years after Pentecost because repentance unto life was granted unto the household of Cornelius. But their rejoicing did not exceed their astonishment. This added light came to Peter by means of his house-top vision. Acts 11:18. Then new revelation came from the risen Christ to Paul. Hear His testimony: Paul said the Lord spoke to him in these words: “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a Minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.” Acts 26:16. The words that Christ spoke to and through Paul differed from His word of beginning, although the Lord appeared first to Saul, for his salvation as Jesus of Nazareth with a Kingdom message.
JESUS NOT COME TO DESTROY THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS BUT TO FULFIL
PAUL WAS GIVEN A DISPENSATION FOR GENTILES TO FULFIL THE WORD OF GOD
Hear the testimony of Jesus Christ: “‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17. Hear the testimony of the Apostle Paul: “For His Body’s sake, which is the Church, Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you (Gentiles) to fulfil the Word of God.” Colossians 1:24 and 25. The word “fulfil” should be translated “complete” or “consummate” or “finish,” that is, it was to “bring to an end.” It was one thing for Jesus Christ to complete the law and the prophets by or in Himself: it was quite a different thing for the risen Christ to complete the Word of God by or in Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus Christ was made under the law, and as a minister of the circumcision He came from heaven with God’s Word to Israel, the Word of confirmation, Romans 15:8, Galatians 4:4, Acts 16:36, Acts 3:26, Acts 5:31. Concerning Christ’s earthly ministry, the writer of Acts began his message with these words: “Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach until the day in which He was taken up.” Acts 1:1 and 2. In the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is recorded what Jesus began to teach until He was taken up. Paul’s ministry was to give forth that which Christ continued to teach after that He was taken up. The Grace of Christ Gospel and the Mystery among the Gentiles came to Paul by revelation. Galatians 1:11 and 12. Ephesians 3:1 to 5 and Colossians 1:24 to 27. Paul wrote about one-half of the Books of the New Testament Scriptures. He did not write the first of these until after God had closed the record of the ministry of the twelve apostles to Israel in their land. Peter’s name does not appear in the Book of Acts after the fifteenth chapter, or about 45 A. D. About nine years later Paul wrote his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, then his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, then to Galatians, then two Epistles to the Corinthians, then his Epistle to the Romans. He wrote these six Epistles between 52 A.D. and 60 A.D. He reached Rome, as the prisoner of Jesus Christ, about 63 A.D. Between 64 A.D. and 67 A.D. he wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Titus, Philemon, I Timothy and II Timothy. In Paul’s six Epistles written before he reached Rome the Lord revealed His “that which is in part” program. In these closing Epistles the Lord revealed His “that which is perfect” program. In these closing Epistles Paul was the Lord’s instrument to complete the Word of God. The workman who needeth not to be ashamed will diligently seek the mind of the Spirit, in going on unto perfection, learning how to eliminate from the program of the Body of Christ and retain for the Body of Christ all of the first words spoken by Christ and all of the order of the “Pre-Prison” epistles of Paul that should be eliminated or retained.
Any Bible teacher who claims that he, as a member of the Body of Christ, saved by pure grace, accepts and practices all of the program of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, stating that the program of Jesus of Nazareth is the program of Paul’s Dispensation of the Grace of God, is either ignorant or dishonest. A spiritual, Spirit-taught student of the Word of God will neither eliminate one sentence of truth taught by Jesus on earth, from the program of the Church, that will fit into the Body truth of Paul’s closing Epistles, nor carry over into that Body truth any of the program of Jesus of Nazareth which ceased with His death and resurrection. Likewise a spiritual, Spirit-filled student of the Word of God will observe the same principle of “rightly dividing the word of truth” in eliminating or carrying over truth from God’s program as set forth in Paul’s “Pre-Prison” Epistles. Much of the truth of Paul’s first six Epistles fit perfectly into the Body truth of his “Prison Epistles”, and therefore is carried over into that which is perfect. Likewise, much must be eliminated; remembering that that which is perfect has superseded that which is in part, and some things have passed away. We give this one definite example; all during the Four Gospels and during Paul’s first six Epistles God’s Nation Israel had either exclusive or prior rights; and, as the Jews required a sign, the Lord’s Sign Age was from the proclamation of the Kingdom by Jesus in the year 29 A.D. until God set Israel aside, with the close of Acts, about 63 A.D. The close of Acts divides Paul’s “Pre-Prison” and “Prison” Epistles. When Paul uttered the words recorded in Acts 28:25 to 28 the Sign age ceased. So signs do not belong to that which is perfect. The believer who includes signs in his program is not going on unto perfection: he has not put away “babyish” things and become a man. Most assuredly advancing with the Word from His truth in Corinthians to His truth in Ephesians is going on to perfection, from that which is in part to that which is perfect.
NO MORE CHILDREN TOSSED TO AND FRO; EPHESIANS 4:14
As to doctrine, the great majority of Christians are children, or babes. What a spectacle we behold today in Christendom, with the mixture of Ritualism, Modernism, and Fanaticism, to say nothing of the Satanic cults! The slogan of the Modernist is “back to Jesus.” They prefer the religious program of Jesus among the Jews to the Dispensation of the Grace of God which the risen Christ committed to Paul for the Gentiles. Ephesians 3:1. The Ritualist knows nothing of Paul’s Gospel and Body truth. Then there are multitudes of saved people, who love the Lord and His Book, who are following the traditions of men instead of rightly dividing the Word of truth. Their rule is to practice what the church organizations have been practicing for centuries instead of searching the Scriptures to see whether these things be true. Then there are many genuine Christians who, with courage and zeal, are trying to recover for the Church of today the miraculous healings, tongues and other signs, with their slogan “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Their program is one of disorder, discord and delusion. But they have at least dared to disregard the traditions of the elders in their earnest endeavor to bring back to the Church the signs and gifts of the Four Gospels, of the Book of Acts, of the Epistle of James, and of the first six Epistles of Paul. Because they have failed to obey the Word of the Lord, in going on to perfection, from that which is in part to that which is perfect, they are “babes” tossed to and fro. They have not put away “babyish” things.
And how sad and deplorable it is that our outstanding Fundamental Bible teachers look on helplessly, having no Scriptural corrective, because they not only refuse to recognize the transition from the Four Gospels, through the Book of Acts, with the great change and new revelation in Paul’s final Epistles, but bitterly oppose the servants of the Lord who do. God will surely teach them their lesson with the rod of Fanaticism. Final Pauline truth is the curative for almost every heresy and delusion with which the Church today is troubled.