Lesson #18 ID3a The Rebuke for Immaturity part 1

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

1/24/20
Tom Lowe

Lesson #18 ID3a The Rebuke for Immaturity (Hebrews 5:11-14)

Scripture: Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV)
11. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.
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. Therefore since it remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,

Introduction:

The writer is about to begin his explanation of the heavenly priesthood of Christ, but he is not sure that his readers are ready for what he must teach. The problem is not that he is a dull teacher, but they are dull listeners! The word translated “dull” in Hebrews is also translated “slothful” in other places in Hebrews. It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.

As the sermon is developed, the writer introduces the familiar call to worship from Psalm 95:7, “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts” (3:7). In other words, do not close yourself to what you are hearing. Listen with the ear of the heart! The reason for this urgent plea is obvious: Psalm 95 recalls the fact that Israel in the wilderness stopped listening to God. Israel’s refusal to listen to God accounted for the assembly’s failure to obey God at Kadesh. The resulting disobedience was catastrophic for Israel. Behind the formulation of Psalm 95:7-11 stands the insight that listening, and obedience are related aspects of faith. Refusal to listen and disobedience are related aspects of unbelief.

After announcing that Jesus has been designated by God a high priest just like Melchizedek (5:10), the pastor writes, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand (5:11).” They were not listening, and as a result, they had become sluggish in understanding.



Commentary

11. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.

The big problem that many believers have today is that they have ear trouble. Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek is a difficult subject and we are going to deal with it directly. To understand the subject requires sharp spiritual perception. It requires us to be spiritually alert and to have a knowledge of the Word of God. 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 difficult to understand. This is the reason some preachers are getting by 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.

The high knowledge of the Son of God as High Priest is given only to those who have taken the elementary foundations of the faith seriously enough to master them. Only the mature can grasp the sublime significance of the high priesthood of Jesus. The word rendered “about this” refers to the high Priest according to the order of Melchizedek (v. 10). “But it is hard to make it clear” means the fault is with the hearer, not with the subject. “Because you no longer try to understand,” when used with hearing denotes dullness and sluggishness— which can become a besetting and destructive sin for the Christian.

These Hebrew believers started on their “backward journey” by drifting away from the Word (Heb. 2:1-4) and then doubting the word (Heb. 3:7-4:13). As a result, they were now “dull of hearing;” that is, unable to listen to the Word, receive it, and act on it. They did not have the attitude of the Thessalonians: “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe” (1 Thes. 2:13).


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!

“You need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again.” Some of them want a D.D. degree but they don’t even know their ABC’s ─the ABCs of the Christian life. They ought to be teachers and mature saints but instead, they are still babies needing someone to burp them.

To these Hebrew believers, the writer says, “You need milk, not solid food! You are not of age; you are not full-grown; You haven't reached maturity. Now a baby cannot eat meat but an adult can drink milk. I will admit that a lot of saints today sit and listen to baby talk from the pulpit. It is tragic indeed that they must endure this, but they do.

So, how do you tell if someone has reached spiritual maturity? The ability to share spiritual truth with others is a mark of maturity. Not everyone has the gift of teaching, but all can share what they know from the Word. One of the most difficult lessons for children (and many adults) to learn is the lesson of sharing.

It is my opinion that many people today are on a “baby food” diet. Milk is predigested food and it is especially suited to babies. The writer defines the “milk” as “the elementary truths of God's Word.” The “meat” of the Word is the teaching about our Lord’s ministry now in heaven as our High Priest. The writer wanted to give this “meat” to them, but they were not ready for it.

The “milk of the Word” refers to what Jesus Christ did here on earth─ His birth, life, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection. The “meat” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ is now doing in heaven. We begin the Christian life based on His finished work here on earth. We grow in the Christian life based on His unfinished work in heaven.


13. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. (He doesn’t know the Word of God.)

Of course, even the maturest adult never outgrows milk. As believers, we can still learn much from our Lord’s work on earth. But we must not stop there! We must make spiritual progress, and we do this only if we learn about Christ’s priestly ministry for us in heaven. (see Heb.13:20-21 for a summary of what the Lord wants to do for His people now.)

I don’t want to step on your toes, dear reader, but I would love to be helpful to you. You cannot grow apart from the Word of God. I don’t care how active you are in the church. You may be an officer. You may be on every committee in the church. You may be a leading deacon or elder. I don’t care who you are or what you are; if you are not studying the Word of God, and if you don’t know how to handle it, you are a baby. It is tragic to occupy a church office when you are just a baby. You ought to come on and grow up. Tragically, some people have been members of the church and have been saved for years and they are still going around saying, “Goo, goo, goo.” They have nothing to contribute but baby talk. All they want is to be burped periodically.

Now it is time for them to be mature; and when a person is mature, he should have enough Christian knowledge to qualify him to teach others. The writer was using this manner of chiding to prod his hearers into learning what should be familiar to every Christian. There should come a time in the life of a mature Christian when he would not require being reminded of the fundamentals of the faith. Cyrus told the Persian chiefs that he would be ashamed to give them advice on the eve of battle. So, this Hebrew preacher insists that his hearers have had the fundamentals of their faith long enough to have mastered them. The mature Christian who is ready for solid food is one who is ready to understand the priesthood of Christ.



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