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What the Bible says about Spiritual Baby
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Obviously, Paul expected much better of them. When he calls them "carnal," he does not mean they are unconverted but acting as if they were unconverted. He is strongly implying they had either regressed from earlier maturity or barely left the starting blocks in growing into mature Christians. Paul uses "carnal" as a synonym of "immature" or "incomplete." Their conduct and attitude were consistent with spiritual babes. From other parts of the epistle, we know they did not have their emotions under control and went pell-mell from one trouble to another, creating division in the congregation through their lack of knowledge, experience, and character. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they, in their almost complete self-centeredness, apparently did not know how to do things the right way.

We might say they had no common sense or wisdom. Their discernment of situations and their evaluation of what to do did not originate in a godly perspective. Consequently, they were motivated to conduct themselves in ways unbecoming of God, Christianity, and the Kingdom of God. The American Heritage College Dictionary defines wisdom as "understanding of what is true, right or lasting; insight." God's revelation provides us these very qualities and more if we follow His counsel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision

1 Corinthians 3:1

What an opening! Paul is one chapter beyond the subject of "the wisdom of men" and "the wisdom of God." Notice how the wisdom of men was affecting these converted Corinthians. That Paul says that they were still "babes in Christ" shows they were converted, but they were converted to such a small degree that Paul still had to speak to them as if they were unconverted!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith

1 Corinthians 3:3

This is similar to what Paul says in Hebrews 5:12. Because they were still children in the faith, he has to speak to them as if they were spiritual babies. This happens all over—it is not confined to Corinth or to the Hebrews, wherever they were. It certainly is applicable to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith

Ephesians 4:14-15

Paul suggests that a new convert is a child, unstable in his ways, who really does not know which end is up spiritually. He can easily be tricked and deceived.

Someone who has grown, on the other hand, is someone who is stable, who will not be swept aside by persecutions, trials, deceitful teachings, and false doctrines. He can fight these off because he knows, understands, is convicted, and continues in the truth. However, he did not get to this point without also going through a process of growth. He had to pray, study, obey, make choices, analyze, compare, look at the fruits of things, and so on. He had to set his will and change. As he does these things, growth takes place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)

Ephesians 4:14-15

Verse 14 speaks about us no longer being children, tossed to and fro. This obviously means that a purpose of the ministry is to protect the church from false doctrine. In many respects the ministry has done fairly well in this over the past several years. We have really tried to get back to basics, back to Jude 3 and "the faith once delivered," and to re-prove the doctrines so that the members will know what they should know, be assured of them, and go forward in confidence in them.

Notice in verse 15 that it seems to say that the ministry does this—that they help people no longer be children, guarding them from false doctrine—by speaking the truth in love, and that this causes maturity, moving them from being spiritual babes to taking on the character of God and Christ. When we speak the truth, we expose error, like a light shining in a dark place. The Word of God is often compared to a light. When one turns on a light, darkness is dispelled. So truth exposes error, trickery, craftiness, and deception. It calms and settles, guides and directs. Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 show what the Word of God is and does. It is a worthwhile study to read them to become re-grounded in the effective working of God's Word.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It Takes a Church

Hebrews 5:12-14

"First principles" are fundamental, rudimentary, elementary things. There are things with which we begin, but we have to get off the dime, as it were. Something must be done in order to increase, because if we remain at the starting point, we prove to be not very usable. How much good to human society is a baby? Even so, a newborn Christian is not a great deal of use to. This situation is remedied by growth.

From unskilled to skilled, from oblivious and uncomprehending to discerning—a process happens? It is an integral part of the way of God. It is how He writes His laws into our hearts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)

Hebrews 5:12

They had regressed to the point where they were now babes again—where they were just about as carnal as the unconverted.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses

1 Peter 1:22-25

Although gennao can technically mean "begotten," the weight of Scripture is heavily on it meaning "born" rather than "begotten," even in scriptural areas far removed from the John 3 controversy.

In I Peter 1:23, the phrase "having been born again" is anagennao, which comes from gennao, and means "to beget or (by extension) bear (again)." The apostle makes quite clear in I Peter 2:1-2 that he considers those he is writing to as already born, rather than unborn and within a womb. Only a child already born would feed on milk, or Peter's metaphor would be totally wrong.

A similar circumstance appears in Hebrews 5:13-14:

For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Again, the metaphor pictures an already-born child who eats and drinks.

Paul castigates the members of the Corinthian congregation because of their spiritual immaturity, describing them as babies who needed milk:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able. (I Corinthians 3:1-2)

The metaphor of eating and drinking only works if we are considered already born spiritually. We were spiritually begotten by the Father at some point in the past through His calling, but we have progressed beyond that begettal to a spiritual birth long before the resurrection of the dead. There is not a single verse that shows us to be begotten but not yet born.

The analogy of being begotten and in the womb of the church is not only scripturally wrong, it is totally inadequate when God commands us to do practical activities normal to Christian life. A child in a womb cannot pray, study, fast, serve, consider, choose, sacrifice, humble himself, repent, forgive, be merciful, walk in the Spirit, rejoice, love, use wisdom, be discreet, intercede, or bring glory to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part Three)


 




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