If possible would you please answer a question for me? This question stems
from a conversation I had with someone the other day who feels he has heard
it all, has it down, and seldom learns anything new and is totally good with
that. It unnerved me, but I wanted to get a second opinion. I'm wondering,
do you think it's possible to truly be an "expert" in Christianity, or if
it's appropriate to consider oneself to have "arrived" in terms or one's
spiritual life? Is there any place in the Bible that specifically says that
we should always be striving for further growth?
On a personal level, having been a minister for 40 years I would say no, it
is impossible to know all you need to know or to have arrived at the peak of
your spiritual life. In over 40 years of study, I'm still finding new things
and coming to deeper understands from God's word.
On a more technical level, three Scriptures immediately come to mind (though
many more could be used). The first scripture is Philippians 3:12-14 where
Paul writes, " Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already
been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ
Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken
hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining
toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which
God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
The Greek translated as "Press on" indicates to pursue or continue on
towards something. So Paul, who I would say is pretty much an expert on
Christianity, was still working on his life to be able to get to heaven.
Second, I also think that God realized that Paul might eventually have a
problem with thinking he knew it all. Notice what he said in 2 Corinthians
12:7-9. Paul writes: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these
surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a
messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to
take it away from me. but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the
more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
Why did God not take away the illness, "to keep me from becoming conceited
because of the greatness of the revelations."
Third, for Paul, knowing the will of God was an ongoing or life long
pursuit. Notice what he wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:8-10, "For physical
training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding
promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a
trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and
strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of
all men, and especially of those who believe." (Note that he was still
laboring and striving in his spiritual growth).
So, in answer to your question, no, I don't think it is possible to ever be
truly an expert where you need no more learning. I don't think it is
possible to have arrived at a perfect knowledge and understanding of all
there is to be a Christian or to have the perfect spiritual life. Without
growth life ceases, there is only stagnation and eventual death. Perhaps
that is why so many people find churches boring and stop assembling; they
think they already know all then need to know.