1. Our text passage this morning represents an enormous "pause" in a complicated theology lesson. The writer of the epistle has begun teaching about the priesthood. He has reminded his readers of their historical priesthood; he has just mentioned the mysterious Old Testament figure regarded by the Jews as the very first priest: M __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __; he is now trying to explain the great high priesthood of Jesus Christ; and he is moving toward one of the most radical aspects of the Christian life in the minds of first century Christians ( nearly all of whom were Jews ): the p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of all believers. Suddenly, he stops -- almost in mid-sentence -- in 5:11. He stops because he knows that what he is teaching is complicated and difficult to understand. It will require a depth, a level of spiritual maturity not yet attained by those to whom his letter is addressed. Once he reminds his readers of their inadequacy, he will reprove them sharply in 5:12 - 6:3, warn them sternly in 6:4-8, and seek to encourage them in 6:9-12.
2. The specific issue of the priesthood of all believers is not so strange to the ears of most modern-day believers. It is a widely-accepted doctrine in the minds of most of us. But the greater issue of Hebrews 5:11 - 6:8 -- the matter of spiritual maturity -- continues to loom large in the church.
a. "Ear trouble, today, is the big problem of believers. Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a difficult subject, and the writer is going to deal with it forthrightly. To understand the subject requires sharp spiritual perception. It requires folk to be spiritually alert and to have a knowledge of the Word of God and to be close it. The Hebrew believers who are being addressed here had a low SQ, not an IQ, but an SQ -- spiritual quotient. It was hard to teach them because it was difficult to make them understand. They were babies, as many of the saints are today, and they want baby talk even from the preacher. They don't want to hear anything that is difficult to understand. This is the reason some preachers are getting away with murder in the pulpit -- they murder the Word of God. They absolutely kill it and substitute something from their own viewpoint, and the congregations like that kind of baby talk." - J. Vernon McGee: Hebrews ( Volume 51, Through-the-Bible Commentary Series )
b. "Before the writer develops the theme of the high priestly office of the Son of God, it was necessary for him to address the fact that the community for whom he was writing had become sluggish and unreceptive to the claims of the gospel. They appeared to be unwilling to accept the deeper implications of faith and obedience. Dullness in understanding is a dangerous state for those who have been called to obedience." - William L. Lane: Hebrews 1 - 8 ( Volume 47, Word Biblical Commentary )
c. ref: Matthew 13:3-15
B. TEXT: Hebrews 5:11 - 6:12
1. In 5:11-14 the writer sets forth four marks of spiritual immaturity.
a. D __ __ __ __ __ __ __ toward the Word (v.11)
(1) The Greek word translated here means "sluggish in hearing" or "slow to learn."
(2) Spiritual dullness may be seen as an early symptom of a "h __ __ __ __ __ __ __ heart."
(3) Antithesis: 1 Thessalonians 2:13 [ NKJV ]
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
b. The inability to s __ __ __ __ the word of God with others (v.12a)
(1) Note that the writer here is not referring to the spiritual gift of teaching, but to the simple sharing with another from the treasury of what a believer has learned for himself about the Lord.
(2) "If they had been growing as they should, they ought by now to be able to pass the great truths of the faith along to others." - Ray C. Stedman: Hebrews ( Vol. 15, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series )
c. A diet of spiritual "b __ __ __ f __ __ __" (v.12b-13)
(1) "Evidently these people had not merely not advanced, they had actually lost their understanding of 'the first principles.' They needed to go back to square one. The instruction required was as basic as that. It is a tragic commentary on their spiritual grasp. No wonder the writer finds it difficult to communicate his message.