Next issue I want to start a series of articles for young people on the subject of marriage. A bad and unhappy marriage brings much misery and the prudent see the evil ahead and hide themselves (Proverbs 27:12). It is important to think through the issues and try to prepare for marriage, seeking to avoid the bad and encourage the good.
As you grow into and through your teenage years, it is natural and good to begin to think about marriage. One of the features of “teen-age years” is an impatient spirit, wanting the independence of adulthood. That means being able to drive a car, hold a job, earn some money, and enjoy some freedom from the restraint of parents. These desires are a reflection of the way God has made us in order that we would eventually lead independent lives. There is, however, one area of life, in which young people seem to be content to remain as children: the area of biblical, doctrinal maturity. Please don’t be offended if you’re an exception, but an honest assessment would lead to the conclusion that many young Christians are content with a very basic knowledge of the things of God. I believe it is the will of God for young people to consider this before they begin to think about marriage. Therefore, I thought it would be beneficial to consider this topic before we get to the subject of marriage.
First, it is God’s will for His children to grow up into maturity. Paul tells us that Christians must grow so that they are no longer children (Ephesians 4:13-14)! Elsewhere, there is a rebuke for believers: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe”(Hebrews 5:12-13). Jude puts it very plainly: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…”(Jude 20).
A deepening knowledge of biblical truth is not simply an intellectual pursuit. Such knowledge must warm our hearts. It is dangerous to seek Bible knowledge without wanting to grow in our relationship with God. But our heart fellowship with God only deepens as our knowledge of God deepens. Doctrinal maturity gives personal stability (from error and from unbelief in times of personal crisis); it fosters unity, and ensures accurate evangelism. It is God’s will and it is good for us to pursue maturity in our Bible knowledge.
We should pursue this growth:
1. Prayerfully. Jude said: “…building up yourselves, praying in the Holy Ghost.” We ought to make the Psalmist’s prayer our own:“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”(Psalm 119:18).
2. Patiently. Jude uses the term “building” indicating progress. We grow in doctrinal maturity brick by brick, little by little. We will not arrive at Calvin’s knowledge overnight. Be patient!
3. Purposefully. Like all Christian growth, it doesn’t happen without effort. We all need to take active steps to increase our command of God’s Word. There are some very practical ways to do this:
a. Sit under doctrinal preaching (Ephesians 4:11f). Dr. Paisley used to say, “Sermonettes make Christianettes”! Seek out expository, doctrinal preaching that makes you think.
b. Study the Bible by asking simple, doctrinal questions. What does the passage teach about God, Christ, salvation, sin, etc?
c. Stand upon the shoulders of others. We’re not the first generation to study the Bible. Ask your parents or pastor to recommend books that will help you grow. When you get those books, read them!
d. Share with others what God is teaching you. We remember more of what we learn when we share it with others. Seek out friends who share your desire to grow in your knowledge of God.
4. Positively (hopefully). Don’t despair! Don’t get discouraged! As it is God’s will for you to “grow up”, we can rely on His grace to enable it to happen.
Next issue: marriage! But before that issue is printed, take steps to grow in your knowledge of the truth of God’s Word. It is good to want to grow up. Just make sure you’re not a “grown-up” child when it comes to the things of God.