As pilgrims and strangers on this earth, we need food. The food we need is a special food, for it must nourish our souls. The food that the world has to offer is of absolutely no use to us. No matter what the citizens of this earth might present as good for us, it can never provide the nourishment and good health our souls need. In fact, it is poison. It will kill us. The food we need is spiritual. It is the food mentioned in I Peter 2:2, “the sincere milk of the word.” Without it we cannot and will not survive as pilgrims.Scripture uses a very appropriate analogy when it mentions the spiritual food we need. That food is called “milk.” The reference is to the milk a newborn child needs and receives from his mother.
Under normal circumstances, mother’s milk is the perfect food for a newborn. It provides all the necessary nutrients so that the child will grow and thrive. It is the food that will keep the child healthy. It is the food that makes the child immune to and thus safe from sickness and disease.
That is what the Word of God is to the pilgrim: the perfect food for our souls. There is no substitute for it. There is nothing needed to supplement a diet of the milk of God’s Word. This is what the pilgrim needs, and this alone.
The Word of God, and that alone, will nourish the new life of Christ within us. It alone will give spiritual growth. It alone will cause us to gain spiritual strength and to thrive as children of God in this world.
And this milk of the Word will alone provide the spiritual immunities we need to keep us from spiritual illness. It is the food that preserves us from sins in doctrine and life. It is the food that keeps our faith from growing dim. It is the food that stops us from wandering from the narrow pilgrim’s pathway that leads to life eternal.
Why does someone err in doctrine? Why do Christians stray? Why does a believer fall into grievous sins? Why do doubts arise in our souls concerning the goodness of God? Because we neglect the Word of God. We need that Word in order to be kept spiritually healthy and strong.
Specifically, we need that Word as it is preached. We need the preaching of the gospel of Christ, through His ambassadors. We need that preaching, for it centers in Christ. He is the content of it, and He Himself speaks to us through it. The milk the pilgrim needs is very specifically referred to as the “sincere” milk of the Word. The literal meaning of “sincere” is “pure.”
If the milk a baby receives from his mother is not pure, the baby will become unhealthy and could eventually die. If there is poison mixed with the milk, it will kill the child. If the milk is watered down, the newborn will not receive the nourishment that is so essential to good health and growth.
So it is with the pure milk of the Word. If it is poisoned with a heresy or the lie, it will kill. If it is watered down, the child of God does not receive what he needs to stay spiritually healthy and strong. The pilgrim needs the pure Word of God.
This means that we must never desire or be satisfied with preaching that is impure. We must not hunger after or feed ourselves with heresy—either by allowing it to be taught in the church where we are members, or else by joining a church that is unfaithful to the truth. Such preaching is poisonous and deadly.
Sometimes heresy appeals to our old nature. Perhaps we allow ourselves to become weary of the same food we have been fed since childhood. We reason to ourselves: “I’ve heard the same things all my life. I’ve never heard anything new. And these things are now stale and uninteresting. There’s nothing to stimulate my thinking. There’s nothing to get me excited about my Christianity. It’s time for something else!”
Then a new idea can be exciting. A minister’s new insights can be attractive. These things may even appear to be good and right, for they seem to give new spiritual life and zeal.
But any unbiblical element in the preaching of God’s Word is dangerous poison. Even if just a small amount of error is introduced and tolerated (a little “common grace,” a little “free offer of the gospel,” a little freedom to worship God as we please), it will kill and destroy. It would be similar to a mother adding a small dose of poison in the milk she feeds her child. No doubt we would be horrified if a mother ever did that. All the more so ought we to be horrified if this is ever done with the spiritual food of God’s children. We must see to it that we and our children desire and are fed with preaching that is, from start to finish, faithful to the Scriptures. There is also preaching today that is watered down milk. We must not be satisfied with this, either.
I do not have in mind preaching that is heretical, but preaching that is weak. The error is not in what is said, but in what is not said. Certain truths are not preached, because they might not be well received by the hearers. Certain lifestyles are not condemned, because some might be offended.
This can happen because the minister is interested in being liked. He gives in to the temptation to be a man-pleaser. He gives in to the “itching ears” of the people. He preaches only what the listeners want to hear.
This can also happen because a minister does not want to wrestle with the difficult truths of Scripture. It takes up too much time and effort to understand and explain these truths. He therefore preaches only on what comes easy. Or else he preaches only on the truths that appeal to himself personally, his favorite doctrines.
This is just as serious as heresy. It is an attempt to feed the people of God with just part of God’s Word, and not with the whole counsel of God. They receive only a fraction of the spiritual nutrients they need to survive. They have an unbalanced diet, and that is detrimental to their spiritual health.
As pilgrims on this earth, we must not be satisfied with this kind of spiritual food. We are to desire and seek the pure, unmixed, uncontaminated milk of the Word of God. There is one more aspect to this analogy of milk that must not be overlooked: the newborn’s desire for mother’s milk.
That desire is a strong and urgent one. The child wants that milk, and nothing else. It is really the only thing the child is interested in. The hungry newborn will cry out for milk until he receives it. Only then will he be quiet and content.
In this same way must the pilgrim hunger after the pure Word of the gospel. We should not simply be mildly interested in it. Our hunger must be earnest, and urgent.
Our lives should revolve around the Word of God. That Word should be our delight. The Lord’s Day ought to be central in our lives. Nothing should easily prevent us from being in the house of God twice each Sunday. We should want to be there so that as we worship our heavenly Father our souls may feast again from the Lord’s bountiful table.
This will be true of us to the degree that we realize and remember that the Word of God is the one food our souls need in order to grow and flourish. In that Word is all our comfort. In that Word is correction. In that Word is instruction. In that Word is the assurance of God’s love. In that Word is the gospel of hope and joy and peace.
There is nothing in all the world that will give us even a fraction of these blessings. No measure of wealth and pleasure and success will make our souls quiet, peaceful, and content. The pure milk of the Word is the only food that will satisfy. It is the only food that will enable us, with hope in our hearts, to continue treading the pilgrim’s pathway to our eternal home in heaven.
May we always desire and seek after that pure milk of the Word of God.