In this eleventh lesson on Hebrews we see the Author of Hebrews encouraging his Christian audience to continue to mature. We should desire the same thing!
In the same way it's inappropriate for a 13, 25, or 50 year old person to still need diapers, it's not OK for us to continue to be spiritual infants.
I have an older brother and sister. When we were young we loved to run around the neighborhood and get into the sort of adventures that most children enjoy. One of our favorites was tree climbing.
However, because my brother and sister were 3 and 4 years older than me, and therefore much taller and stronger, they were able to climb into the bigger trees; the trees where I couldn't reach the bottom branches.
I would ask them to help me reach the branches, but they would always say, “If you can’t get into the tree by yourself, then you can’t get out of the tree.” When you're a child with older siblings, you have a strong desire to “grow up”. It seems to you that maturity has a ton of perks.
You can climb the higher trees, you can stay up later, you’re allowed to ride your bike farther out into the neighborhood. In fact, most all children have a desire for maturity. Many children, when you try to help them, will retort with an indignant response of, “I’m a big boy!”
It’s a good thing that we desire maturity as people. It would be inappropriate for us to stagnate as children or students. But what about as Christ followers? Do we desire and pursue maturity in regards to our relationship with God? How can we know that we are maturing?
It's important because we need to continue to mature as Christians. Now let's get to the Eleventh Lesson on Hebrews.
The Author desires to teach further about Melchizedek, however, he's having trouble explaining his complex theology because the audience has become lazy, or sluggish. They have become apathetic about continuing to mature, learn, and grow.
Many times apathy is our primary opponent against maturity. We don’t care enough to put in the effort required to pursue Christ whole-heartedly. So, how do we overcome this apathy?
We must understand the immense supremacy of Christ in order to want Him more than we want this world. This is exactly what the Author has been trying to convey to his audience throughout Hebrews.
When we see how truly great Jesus Christ is, we can honestly sing:
I recently had the privilege of attending a worship Conference in a stadium that held 60,000 people. It was incredible. It was a genuine glimpse of heaven.
To see all of these disciples giving Jesus the praise and glory that He deserves helped me to more fully realize how worthy our Savior is. This is the kind of passion and dedication that we must have to defeat our apathy.
Here the Author rebukes his audience. He says that there are many in their group who have been Christians for a long time, and by this point they should be teachers.
The Great Commission that Christ gave us commands that we should go to the whole world spreading the gospel and “teaching” new believers to observe Christ’s commands.
This means that every believer should mature and progress from disciple to disciple-maker.
The Author says that many of them should be teachers by this point, but not all of them are. Not everyone who hears this lesson is ready to be a teacher (YET). Some are spiritual infants, while some have been Christ followers for years.
But no matter where you are, understand that:
were made to be disciples who make disciples until the day when we see
the face of the One we follow, and together with all nations we
experience His satisfaction for all of eternity.” –Francis Chan, Multiply
Now, here's a convicting question we must all ask ourselves in light of this truth. Do we give the proper attention to bible study? Now that you know you should be progressing toward becoming a teacher, does that change how you learn?
Imagine, that as a lesson started you were informed that immediately following the lesson you would have to teach the same material to a different group of people. Would that change how well you paid attention? How you took notes? How well you focused on understanding?
This is how you should approach every single Bible study. You should think to your self, “this might be the verse God uses to save someone. I NEED to know it!”
You should assume that God is revealing this truth to you in order to grow you, but also to be a tool for spreading the Gospel. Some of us should be teachers, and some of us are. But if all of us matured in the way that we are supposed to, then we will all become teachers.
If you have been a Christ follower for years, and you know that you aren't even close to being able to teach anyone, anything about Jesus, then understand you are not maturing in the way that you should.
What's keeping you from maturing? Is it laziness? Apathy? Maybe you haven’t seen a good model of a mature Christian? Maybe you didn’t know that you had this responsibility.
Whatever the reason, it's unacceptable. We cannot remain spiritual infants.
Here the Author is using a metaphor about nutrition. What should newborn babies eat? Milk. That's exactly what they need to mature and grow.
However, is a diet of only milk good nutrition for a 2 year old, a 5 year old, a 16 year old? Of course not. If you only ever ate milk would you properly grow and mature?
So, what's keeping you from maturing? You're trying to live off of milk when you need meat, vegetables, solid food.
And, what's the solid food of a spiritually mature Christian?
Having a passion for these things requires discipline. These can be hard things to do, especially if you're immature.
So what's spiritual “baby food”? What helps us to progress to a full diet? Most preaching and teaching should be considered spiritual baby food. Why?
Because it's spoon-fed to you. Your preacher or teacher spends hours developing the lesson, to fully understand the text and to make the information engaging and entertaining for you.
It takes little work and discipline to sit through a sermon or lesson. This doesn’t mean that these things are unimportant. It does mean that if you try to live only off of a diet of baby food you will not grow or mature in the way that you should.
The most nourishing and growing things are the ones you have to work for. You must make personal Bible study, prayer,evangelism, teaching and other spiritual disciplines a priority if you desire to mature beyond spiritual infancy.
In order to progress to maturity we must master the basics, the foundation of our faith. The Author lists some of them, and we can use this as check list. We can test ourselves.
If not, then I have work to do!
1. “Repentance from Dead Works”
2. “And of faith toward God” - Faith in Jesus is how we can receive saving grace
3. “And of instruction about washings” - Christ told us that we should be baptized
4. "The laying on of hands” -Christ commissioned us all to make disciples
5. “The resurrection of the dead” - Because we are made in God’s eternal image (Genesis 1:27), our souls will continue in life after death.
6. “And eternal judgment” -Those saved by Christ will be judged based on his perfection. The saved will spend eternity with God in heaven. Those who are not saved will be judged based on their sinful lives. They will spend eternity in hell separated from God.
In verse 1 the Author encourages us to leave these basic doctrine. But not leave as in forget. Instead, we should leave them like you left the study of addition and subtraction.
We should master these foundations of our faith so that we can continue to grow and move toward maturity and become the disciple-maker that Christ has called us to be.
As we close this Eleventh Lesson on Hebrews, ask yourself - "Am I ready to become a disciple-maker?"