Summary: One must grow in one’s relationship with Christ through instruction and practice, or risk falling away.
DOMINANT THOUGHT: One must grow in one’s relationship with Christ through instruction and practice, or risk falling away.
- Head: For the people to realize that if one is not moving closer to God, one is moving further away.
- Heart: For the people to have a healthy fear of God.
Hamds: For the people to commit to Christian education and Christian service.
What does it mean to be mature? Well, if you’re a fruit, it means that you become ripe. If you’re speaking physically, you become mature when you’ve reached your full height, weight, and strength. If you are referring to the ERSB rating of a video game, being mature means you are filled bloody violence, sexual content, and/or strong language. Not quite the maturity I want to emphasize this morning. Emotional maturity is something different. Being mature emotionally means that you have a healthy picture of yourself and others, that you can identify with others. Steve Carroll’s character Michael on the television show The Office is the antithesis of emotional maturity. But today I want to talk about a different kind of maturity--spiritual maturity.
We’ve been taking a trip through the book of Hebrews, learning that God has offered us a better life through his son Jesus Christ. Remember from last week that the main thrust of this letter is that God has spoken to us by Jesus. Today we will hear that he has given us a better warning. Listen to the Word of God starting in Hebrews 5:11.
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
I believe that the writer of Hebrews gives us three pictures here: a picture of those who are spiritually immature, a picture of those who are spiritually dead, and a picture of those who are moving toward spiritual maturity.
1.) Those Who Are Immature (5:11–6:3) [SLIDE OF AN UPSET INFANT].
The writer of Hebrews starts out with a strong rebuke. His audience is charged with being slow to learn. Instead of being able to teach others, they still needed to be taught the simplest of things all over again. Now on the surface, this doesn’t sound too bad. Maybe he’s being a little too rough on these people. But he isn’t complaining about ability to learn; rather it is their refusal to learn that gets him started.
“Slow to learn” does not describe an innate learning disability. It describes a deliberate laziness on their part. In other words, these people were just playing dumb. There was no real spiritual growth going on in their lives. They’d come to church every Sunday with a bottle and a baby rattle. Instead of their lives being changed, they needed someone to change their diapers. They were crawling around on their knees instead of praying on them. The writer of Hebrews was trying to figure out if he was leading a church or running a nursery. He was wondering if he should bother investing all the time and using all his rhetorical skills or if he should just make silly faces at them and say, “Goo, goo, gaa, gaa.”