The following post is chapter 7, “Liquid and Solid Food,” from G.D. Watson’s book The Secret of Spiritual Power. Expect to see this one in print soon.
In the fifth chapter of Hebrews we have a significant hint as to what constitutes spiritual perfection; it is the difference between feeding on liquid and solid food, or the difference between chewing and sucking. “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.” The term “strong meat” could more emphatically be rendered solid food. “For every one that useth milk—that is, liquid food—is inexperienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe;” that is, has not yet cut his teeth. “But strong meat—solid food—belongeth to them that are perfect, to those who by the habit of perfection, have their senses—spiritual faculties—exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Instead of interpreting this Scripture so as to make Christian babyhood extend for twenty years, until we reach our full human stature, and thereby locating Christian perfection a long time after regeneration, the real pivot of the teaching is the difference between teeth and no teeth, and drinking and chewing food. A babe who has not cut its teeth is not perfect as a member of the genus homo, because he has not all the physical organs belonging to his species until he has teeth. The expression in the fourteenth verse about being of full age, in the original signifies perfection and has no reference to maturity or old age at all, but simply to the perfection or entirety of creature-hood, having all the parts and organs belonging to a complete creature, which a babe with no teeth does not have. So instead of the old legal analogy of putting complete salvation off into old age, it ought to come, according to the strict meaning of this Scripture, never later after the new birth than a set of teeth comes after the first birth. It is not perfection of time, but perfection of nature, that is taught in this passage. The difference between feeding on liquid and solid food is very pertinent, and can be recognized among professed Christians in many ways.
Solid and liquid truth. The perfect believer feeds on solid truth. That is, the whole truth as revealed in the Bible, the truth unmixed with fables or rationalistic perversions, or Swedenborgian dreams or ecclesiastical traditions, and not diluted with human creeds. He can chew the whole wheat and eschew the chaff. The baby Christian, on the other hand, must have the truth diluted before he can swallow it, it must come to him in his particular church bottle, labeled with his particular church authorities, boiled up according to his particular catechism, and in various ways mixed and diluted with some form or ceremony or mixture of uninspired thought to render it palatable to him.
The complete Christian is governed by solid principle and not liquid policy. It is humiliating to see how many baby Christians—even gray-headed babes, are governed by soft, flexible policy instead of a perfect unmixed principle. Touch any question of revealed truth or any application of truth to morals and reforms, such as prohibition, the Sabbath, tobacco, the use of money, the spread of holiness, and notice the lack of spinal column, of manly, outspoken truth. When we see the toning down of God’s saving truth of professed scholars and theological teachers, the cringing before wealth and office, the cowardice and time-serving attitude toward all questions of divine moment, the adoption of human standards and human policies, the drifting with majorities, the accepting of soft sentimentalism in doctrine and discipline, we get an evidence that multitudes of professed Christians have never cut their teeth, and have not enough bone in their moral mechanism to masticate the hard food which makes Christian heroes. We see the difference between solid and liquid feeding in the matter of tithing and the use of money. The full Christian makes the giving of money and the using of his worldly goods for the glory of God, just as much a part of his life as prayer or faith. He never waits for anniversary sermons or begging appeals, or oyster suppers or a Chicago fire, to draw out of him a pittance for the Lord; but having fed on the solid truth that “he is not his own,” that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” that he is to “lay up treasure in heaven,” it becomes a part of his very Christian being to give according to his ability, for the spread of salvation. The liquid food Christian gives but scantily, without settled convictions or hearty joyousness in the act, and even then it is by spurts and spasms, when he is made to weep under some heartrending appeal, or when it is coaxed out of him by some teasing petitioner or by some church frolic or festival. When all the so-called money-giving of the church is sifted out before the judgment seat, how little of it will be seen to have sprung from pure, generous, joyous giving of the heart Another difference of the solid and liquid feeding is found in the matter of comfort and consolation in seasons of sorrow and trial. The solid food Christian in hours of great distress and sorrow, will go to the pure Word and closet himself with God, and by praying in the Spirit and reposing on the great and precious promises and a steady looking to Jesus, will gather such comfort, such quietness of mind, such internal girdings of the heart, as the unrenewed mind has no conception of. The liquid food Christian will drop into murmurings and complainings, run to human or earthly springs for a draught of comfort, and failing to find it, will be tempted of Satan to apply to the quagmire of dreams or spiritual mediums or some other wretched device as a substitute for that pure crystal stream which flows alone from God and the Lamb.
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