Perry Stone: Which Type of Christian Are You?
The following is an excerpt from Perry Stone's book There's a Crack in Your Armor: Key Strategies to Stay Protected and Win Your Spiritual Battles. For more from Perry Stone, please visit VOE.org, OCIMinistries.org, "like" him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @perrystonevoe, and watch him on Youtube!
Many years ago during a Main Event Camp meeting, I preached my first illustrated sermon, illustrating one of four levels of the Word of God in which the average believer is walking. I illustrated the message using four types of cutting instruments.
The Pocketknife Level
There is the pocketknife level of knowing God’s Word. Being from the mountains of West Virginia, every young boy in my day was given a pocketknife at an early age. It’s something you just carry around in the front pocket of your jeans. In reality, it was seldom used unless we became bored--it was something we pulled out in our spare time. So many believers have Bibles scattered in every room of their home, reminding them they are believers and to think about God, but too many only open up the Bibles when they are bored with nothing else to do or occasionally in their spare time. When I was a kid, my pocketknife was used when I wanted to take a small tree branch and whittle away. These pocketknife believers will whittle you down to size if you teach something they disagree with, or they will spend time “whittling away” at things that are insignificant with little spiritual benefit. They view the Bible as a simple story book to help put the kids to sleep at night. Some “casual” Christians have a pocketknife mentality as it relates to the Bible. They seldom attend church, unless they are bored on Sunday and decide to drop in and warm a pew.
The Butter Knife Level
I compare the second level of Christians and their biblical knowledge to a butter knife. My wife has two sets of dishes--the everyday dishes used for lunch or dinner with the family, and the special china that is pulled out when company arrives during the holidays. On those special occasions genuine silverware is placed on the main table. I must confess that I love butter. In fact, I like it so much that I could eat it all by itself (but I won’t and don’t). On special occasions she lays the silver butter knife on the glass dish for the butter lovers.
To me, this level of the Word of God represents those who want a shiny, polished, and politically correct Word that will inspire, bless, and never offend. There are some Christians who would never attend a worship service in a church where the worship was verbal, the praise was loud, or the music was being played by a band and not just some pipe organ. There are certainly times to worship with exuberance and the times to be still, times to rejoice and times of reverence. However, reverence is not deadness! Some congregations declare themselves “reverent Christians,” when in reality they are repeating the patterns of the church of Sardis--they “have a name...but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1).
If your level of knowing and using the Word of God is the butter-knife level, then know that a butter knife is only effective on soft butter. Butter-knife Christianity is far too dull to have any impact in cutting away the works of the flesh, the power of temptation, or to defeat your inner enemies. My wife brings out the butter knife only during special occasions, reminding me that some believers are seasonal Christians, meaning they show up and show out during special holiday holy days, such as traditional celebrations of Easter and Christmas, expressing their “faith” two days out of three hundred and sixty-five a year. To these people, church should be polished and short, without any emotional display, and occasional, not weekly.
The Meat-Cleaver Level
The third group of believers is the meat-cleaver level of Christians. My wife, being a wonderful cook, has numerous types of knives in her kitchen at home and on the youth ranch. This large butcher knife, as some call it, is used to cut the meat from the bone or to cut the bone in half on a large piece of beef. In the Bible the “milk” of the word is the simplicity of understanding the Bible, which is the level of a babe in Christ or an immature Christian. However, the “meat” of the Word is the strong, doctrinal and practical teaching, or what we would say are the deeper parts of the Bible (Heb. 5:12-13). The meat eaters are those mature believers who have passed beyond the milk and no longer desire the simple basic teaching; they must have deep teaching--something to feed off of and make them think. They must leave the service in awe saying, “Wow,” as the message must have mesmerized them, or they feel slighted and half fed. These individuals grow rabbit legs and hop from church to church looking for a chef instead of a pastor, someone who can cut up the beef, throwing well-done steak on the church grill each Sunday. Their common statement to simple preaching is, “I didn’t get fed today.”
Since I was age eighteen, my life has been spent studying and researching biblical truths. I have more than seventy-five thousand hours of biblical research, and I enjoy digging out Hebraic prophetic truths related to the Scripture that I was previously unaware of. However, I enjoy all forms of teaching and preaching, and I have never removed myself from the preaching of the simplicity of the Word. For me, no message from God’s Word is boring, and foundational truth must be consistently presented. There is a danger in becoming an overly perfected meat eater only--a person who becomes spiritually fat on the meat and can become critical of a church or believer who is not on the same level of the deeper knowledge he or she is experiencing. This becomes pride.
Paul warned the church at Corinth not to allow knowledge and pride to “puff them up.” The phrase “puffed up” is the Greek word phusioo, which means to inflate or to blow something up. He warned the Corinthian believers to being puffed up five times (I Cor. 4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 13:4). The idea is that believers with great understanding and knowledge may tend to allow themselves to have an inflated ego and act superior to those of less understanding. If you enjoy the meat of the Word, never become arrogant in your knowledge and treat others of less understanding as someone feeding on bologna while you chew on fillet.
As a humorous note, years ago I was driving a ministry friend to the airport. This person was seeing up to ten thousand people attend his conferences, whereas we were having about twenty-five hundred in our largest meetings. I jokingly asked, “Why can you get ten thousand at a meeting, and I can’t get more than twenty-five hundred?”
Without blinking, he replied, “You are too deep! I am a simple minister using illustrations of life, but you are the Hebrew-prophetic guy, and only a small percent understand the deeper well of knowledge you draw from.”
For some time I thought, “I need to preach more simply where everyone understands,” yet I knew that my calling was to feed people in-depth, deeper knowledge of the Word and help them mature and become hungry to learn more from God’s inspired Book. Meat is good, but babes will choke to death on strong meat. There is nothing wrong with desiring meat, but there is something wrong when you refuse to listen to someone minister a simple, basic word from God. All of God’s Word--the milk and the meat--will help you grow.
The Two-Edged Sword
The fourth biblical level of the Word is the two-edge sword. As stated, the double-edged sword is forged by the voice of God speaking His Word to you and you repeating with your mouth the Word that was spoken. Pocketknives, butter knives, and even meat cleavers will not be effective in strong spiritual warfare; only the the long-, double-edged sword of the Word of God is prepared for you to use to defend yourself and attack the adversary.