Faithlife Sermons

Kindergarten Christianity: Pt. 2

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:44
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How to graduate from Kindergarten Christianity.

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Last Sunday, we looked at the signs of spiritual immaturity as found in Hebrews 5:11-6:3. I entitled my sermon, Kindergarten Christianity, because just like the unseemly sight of a 6 foot, 20 year old being a kindergartner, spiritual immaturity is an ugly sight. The church the author of Hebrews is writing to has a wide-spread problem with spiritual immaturity. Let us read this portion of Scripture again to refresh our memories.
Hebrews 5:11–6:3 ESV
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.
This portion of Scripture does not just lay out the problem, it also lays out the solution. The author fully expects his hearers to “go on to maturity.” This should be a great encouragement to all of us, for all of us can probably see areas of spiritual immaturity in our lives. The reason for his confidence is his faith in God. Verse 3 is perhaps the most important verse in this passage of Scripture.
Hebrews 6:3 ESV
And this we will do if God permits.
The first step in “graduating Kindergarten Christianity” is...

Listen to Your Teacher

This should not surprise us when we consider that this is a book named “Hebrews.” The Hebrew concept of listening of not just audibly hearing sound waves, but hearing with our whole being. In Hebrew the word for hearing is “shema.” To “shema” or “hear” is first of all to pay attention to what is being said.
For example, one of the most useful skills a child can master is learning how to pay attention. There is perhaps nothing a teacher desires more than for his or her class to pay attention. If a student does not learn to pay attention, it is almost impossible to teach them.
We hear God’s voice as we hear God’s word being preached or by reading God’s Word ourselves. Look at verse 13 again:
Hebrews 5:13 ESV
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
Notice that one of the signs of spiritual maturity is being “skilled” in God’s Word. Good bible study is learning how to be a good listener. We come to the Word of God with a open heart and mind to hear what God has to teach us, not to find “proof texts” that support our own agenda.
Secondly, listening in the Hebrew sense of the word means we respond appropriately to what we have just heard. It means being a “doer” of God’s Word. James, the Lord’s brother, puts it this way:
James 1:23–25 ESV
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
It is only as we start putting into practice what we learn for God’s Word that we grow. For example, if you go away from this morning’s sermon with a renewed commitment towards obeying God’s Word it proves that you have really “heard.” On the other hand, if you go away without such a renewed commitment, it demonstrates that you haven’t really heard.
Such a commitment to “do” depends on realizing who your real teacher is. Notice Heb 6:3 again:
Hebrews 6:3 ESV
And this we will do if God permits.
This little sentence is the author’s way of reminding his readers of who really is in charge. The reason we do expository preaching here at Greene Valley Presbyterian church is because we want God to be our teacher, not the preacher. In expository preaching, the text determines the content of the sermon, not the ideas of the preacher. It’s authority is based on God, not on the preacher.
Verse 3 also expresses a humble reliance upon God. We must realized that we will not grow up unless God permits it.
That being said, we can’t just “let go and let God.” Christ does His sanctifying work in, among and through our work. The relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is a mystery—perhaps one we will never fully understand because the divine mind and ability goes so far beyond what we as mere creatures will ever be able to comprehend. Rather than attempting to understand how God can be sovereign and at the same time we must act, let us do what the old Fancy Crosby hymn exhorts us to do, “Trust and Obey.”
This brings us to the next point. We must...

Practice What You Have Learned

We find this in Heb 5:14:
Hebrews 5:14 ESV
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Good listening as we have already discovered involves doing or obeying. However, because we are sinners, when it comes to what God wants us to do this is easier said than done! I think you all know what I am talking about! If it was easy to obey God, we would all be super-saints in no time! The only way to break the old habits of ungodliness is with the constant practice of godliness.
Consider how much practice it takes a young child to master the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. Each morning before I left for school, my mother used to drill me in phonics, spelling, addition, subtraction and multiplication. Each night she read to me and I practiced reading to her. There came the day when she did not have to do this any longer, but this practice was absolutely necessary for my academic maturity.
The same is true for us spiritually. We must practice and review the basics of the faith until they become a part of who we are. This leads to the author’s last point. We must...

Build on the Basics

In Hebrews 6:1-2, the author clearly expects his readers to grow past the basics, however, he does not expect his readers to grow out of the basics. He calls them “a foundation.”
Consider the foundation of a building. If a building does not have a good foundation, everything built on top of it will sooner or later fail. It does not matter how expensive or fine the other materials are, without a good foundation supporting them they will crash down in ruins!
These early, Hebrew Christians had received a good foundation in teaching. There problem was they were not building on that foundation. However, we live in a time when many Christians never receive a good foundation. Many believe that this list of six doctrines served as the outline of one of the earliest catechisms in the church. Let me read these two verses again:
Hebrews 6:1–2 ESV
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Many have called this list, the ABC’s of the faith. The list consists of three pairs of six doctrines.
Repentance from Dead Works & Faith towards God
Instruction about Washings & The Laying on of Hands
The Resurrection of the Dead & Eternal Judgement
Notice that the list moves forward in time from conversion to our final glorification. In other words, they are the foundational doctrines that will safely carry us through our whole Christian experience, from beginning to end.
Michael Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I remember an interview of his coach, Phil Jackson. According to Jackson, there was no one who constantly practiced the fundamentals of the game more than Michael Jordan. His play looked effortless as he floated through the air, but in reality his almost superhuman abilities was made possible from constant practice of the foundational doctrines of basketball.
Just like Michael Jordan, we should grow past the fundamentals, we should grow up in the faith so that we can soar through the air and slam dunk our spiritual basketballs! However, just like Michael Jordan we can never grow out of the fundamentals, we still must practice dribbling and free throws each and every day!
In the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions, we have inherited what many believe are the two finest catechisms ever produced: The Westminster Shorter Catechism and The Heidelberg Catechism. Both of these are available free on the internet and I commend each of them to you. If you will daily read your Bible, daily read one question and answer from one of these catechism and daily pray, you will grow strong in the faith.
Kindergartners are adorable, but a 30 year old kindergartner is a tragedy. They are a picture of some that has gone terribly wrong. Isn’t it time we all graduate from Kindergarten and “go on towards maturity”?
Let us pray:
Lord, by your grace enable us to leave childish things behind and to grow up to become like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray. Amen.
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