"ON TO MATURITY"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 5/7/89a.m. Hebrews 5:11-6:3
WC 1/6/97 a.m.
PROPOSITION: God's purpose for the believer in the Christian life is that he/she would leave behind the elementary building blocks of the faith and move on to maturity in learning, in development and in progress by God's Spirit.
- I JUST love kids.
- WHEN I was 12 years old I was teaching primary age Sunday School classes and loved every minute of it.
- I LOVE the wide-eyed innocence on their faces.
- I LOVE the way they drink in everything they see around them.......except for when you send them to your bedroom to get your car keys on the table next to the side of the bed that Daddy sleeps on....and they are gone for 10 minutes and you find them making faces at themselves in the mirror in your bathroom.
- AND you know better than to ask them where your keys are, but you do anyhow, and they say they couldn't find them......on the table, next to the bed, on the side that Daddy sleeps on.......And you walk them over there and they just cannot believe how the keys got there since they last looked.
- KIDS are great. The things they do are so funny.
- ONE of your young sons walked up to me the other day and, very intensely, said "Pastor, would you please get your ear pierced and get and earing. I just know that if you did, my Dad would let me. So would you at least think about it...please?"
- WE have always taken our girls with us pretty much everywhere we have gone. And I will never forget something Kathryn picked up, just watching us.
- WE were with a group of friends swapping funny stories about things that had happened to us.....and someone would tell their story.....and everybody would sit back and laugh and laugh.
- KATHRYN was about 2 at the time, and couldn't talk much, but just at in her little rocker and took in the whole scene.
- AND then, as soon as there was a break in the conversation, she spoke up, and said, "Baca, baca, baca, baca." and she slapped her knee, and rocked her head back and laughed and laughed.
- NEEDLESS to say, it caught us by surprise, and everybody fell apart laughing, which reinforced the whole thing for her and she did that on cue for the next year of her life.
- WE have slides of Kathryn telling jokes that no one understood. We have snap shots of kathryn telling jokes. We even have it on super 8 home movies......and when we look at them we still fall apart laughing.
- KIDS are great.
- BUT, you know, Kathryn is now 7, going on 16.
- SHE was very upset that I sold my Honda Prelude yesterday, because she had decided that that was the car she was going to get to drive to high school.
- SHE still has a great sense of humor, and brings a lot of laughter to the Rowlands home.
- BUT if we were with a group of you in your home today, and Kathryn interupted the conversation and said, "Baca, baca, baca, baca."............and slapped her knee and laughed..........our reaction would be very different.
- AND if she continued doing that in social settings, we would get very worried. We would try to tell her that now, that behaviour is not acceptable for a seven year old. And if it persisted, we would probably take her to see a pediatrician.........so see what is wrong with her development.
- IT would no longer be something cute, we would bery very worried about her.
- INFANTILE behaviour is very entertaining in an infant, but devastating in an adult.
- THIS is the spiritual application found in our passage from Hebrews for this morning.
- TURN with me, please, to Hebrews 5:11, and let's read to 6:3.
ii. mature in learning
- REMEMBER that the Hebrews to whom this epistle is being written, are scattered all over the Roman empire.
- THEY are Jewish believers who, because of their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, have lost their homes, their families, their economic base.....and are persecuted outcasts in a foriegn land.
- THEY had a great start to the Christian life, born into the kingdom of God in the fire of revival in the New Testament church.
- MOST of them would have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They would have been familiar with the operation of the gifts of the Spirit.
- EVEN though they were scattered all over the Roman empire, they would have gathered in house churches and in the catacombs for worship. They would have had good teachers, letters from the apostles.
- THEY had a big start in the Christian life......but the cares and pressures of life had taken their toll.......and laziness in the things of God had set in.
- IN verses 1-10 of chapter 5, the writer is soaring spiritually, about the benefit of Jesus as our great High Priest........and then suddenly, he stops, in verse 11, and says,
"We have much more to say about this, but you are slow to learn."
- AND in the Greek, this means "you have become sluggish in learning."
- THE writer is not saying that the subject material is too difficult to comprehend.......he is saying that the people have become lazy concerning their discipline in God's Word.
- OTHER concerns had taken priority over the study of God's Word.....and the Hebrews were refusing to tackle hard work in spiritual things.
- SO, as a result, they had become spiritually weak and immature.......shallow in the things of God. Superficial.
- GROWING spiritually is not a picnic.
* It doesn't rub off on you automatically from the church pew.
* It doesn't come from listening to me on Sundays alone.......or from your Sunday School teachers alone........or from watching Pat Robertson or Kenneth Copeland.
* It doesn't fall on you instantly at the altar, no matter how miraculous your encounter with God.
* It doesn't happen in one big dose, when you are baptised in the Holy Spirit or speak in tongues. (The Corinthians had tremendous operations of the gifts of the Spirit, but were the most immature church of the New Testament.)
- GROWING takes commitment..........tenacious........in all kinds of weather.......long term........commitment to studying, living God's Word.
- THE laziness of the Hebrews had led to ineffectiveness.
- THE writer says,
* You are babies...............and should be adults.
* You are pupils................and should be teachers.
* You are in need of help........and should be helping others.
- HERE is the double jeopardy of spiritual laziness........Not only are you left weak and vulnerable and sickly, but others who could be being helped by you, towards God and eternity, are going unattended.
- YOUR own faith is too insecure to communicate confidence and assurance to those among us who are new in Christ and need the milk of the Word from you.
- THAT'S the tragedy of spiritual immaturity.
- YOU should be building others up in Christ....instead you are the one in need of constant help and encouragment and feeding and carrying.......while thousand around us are starving for their first meal.
iii. mature in development
- NEXT, in verse 12b &13, the writer says,
"You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness."
- YOU are not a baby any more. You need to be on solid food.......feeding yourself!
- NOW, I know that some of my "Fit for Life" friends will disagree with what I am about to say.
- BUT I called a licensed nutritionist and asked her about milk and solid food. Here is what I learned.
* Milk is one of the most complete, nutritious foods there is. It has protein, calcium, carbohydrates. It is close to being the perfect food.
* But as you get into adulthood, a lot of your systems become intolerant to milk. And if you drink too much of it, without solid food, you will get diahrea. (Do I need to press this analogy any further?)
* There are lots of nutrients, that you body needs, that are not found in milk.
* Like iron, that makes life blood.
* Like C and B vitamin complex.
* B complex helps with the stresses of life.
* C complex resists viruses and helps the healing processes of the body.
* Adult bodies are made for solid foods. They have teeth, to chew solid food. They have a digestive system equipped for solid foods.
- THESE Hebrew believers had been on milk so long that their lives were being affected.
* They did not know God's mind on important doctrinal matters and ethical matters.
* They could not distinguish between good and evil. (Verse 14)
- THEY were vulnerable to any teacher that came down the pike.....and there were some weird ones in New Testament times....just like today.
- THE average believer of our day is so susceptible to any authoratative or charismatic teacher that comes to town or hits the airwaves with 6 easy steps to peace and prosperity, 10 steps to success in your home, 4 ways to financial independance. (Tell story about Glenda Okones and "prophet" who told her to "go home and take charge and be the boss of your husband....and to leave her church and come here where you will be fed.")
- TELL story about some of the women in the church in CR who found obscure verses from the Psalms that assured them that God was going to take their husbands and give them new spiritual giants.
- YOU can watch them run, from this teacher to that, this church to that......looking for milk presented in as many different ways as possible.
- NOW the Hebrew believers didn't plan that this would happen. It just snuck up on them.
- IT started as a little laziness.
* Let the pastor tell me what God's Word says.
* Let the Sunday School teacher feed me.
* Let my maturiy come on me at the altar one Sunday night.
- AND personal study slipped. And personal time in God's presence slipped. And persevering commitment got exchanged for what was convenient and easy........and before they knew it the Hebrews were back on milk only.....and had spiritual diahrea.
iv. mature in progress
- LET'S move on to chapter 6:1-3.
"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,instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so."
- THERE are six teachings that the writer enumerates here, as being elementary........and interestingly, they represent the message of the book of Acts.
- THEY are,
* Repentance........Changing one's attitude and direction away from sin and self-dependance....that lead to death.....and turn to God who is Life.
* Faith.......Positive act of trust and commitment to God.
* Baptism........Both water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
* Laying on of hands.......For blessing, for healing, for the baptism in the Spirit and for ordination into the ministry.
* Resurrection........That moment when our dead bodies will be brought back to a new and glorious and eternal existence by the power of God.
* Judgment........That final fiery punishment for sin reserved for the devil and all those whose names are not written in the Lambs Book of Life.
- NOW, the writer is not saying that these teachings must be abandoned.
- BUT he is saying that it is time to move on into the deeper things of God.
- MATURE believers move on, so they can be of help to others.
- THE building will never get finished if we continually rebuild the foundation.
- WE have to get the walls up, and the roof trusses up, and the windows in and the doors hung.
- WHAT do you have this morning, that is from God, revealed by His Spirit to you from His Word, that's your own?
- WHAT growing is taking place right now in your life?
- WHAT discipline of the faith are you practicing in your life right now?
- ARE you any closer to God this morning than you were last year?
- WHAT recent victories can you testify to in your life?
- WHAT bold step of faith have you taken recently, to trust God with your finances, with your family, with your ministry?
- WHEN last did you share Christ with a friend or family member?
- DO you want to know the secret to spiritual maturity?
- HERE it is.
* Don't quit.
* Don't back up.
* Trust God.
* Be patient.
* Hang in there.
* Believe God.
* Trust the Word.
* Be patient.
- IT is time to move on to maturity.
- HOW about it this morning?
- HAS the Holy Spirit challenged you to move on?
- GROWTH is God's department.
- THE Holy Spirit is the agent.
- BUT the commitment is yours.
HOLY GOD MAKE ME HOLY