Jesus Is . . . !
Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20
July 30, 2017
It may be difficult to believe, but sometimes adults can act like children – – There’s nothing more fun than to watch a MLB manager go ballastic and act like a 2 year old. We see 40 year olds acting like 5 year olds. It’s embarrassing when it happens in our lives. Sometimes, we lose it, and we become rather childish in our behavior.
Yet, sometimes, if we were to be really honest, adults would like to be a little more childlike. Think about how goofy we look when we’re talking to a baby or playing with a young child. We can get away with it then.
For the most part, even when we’re older, we don’t always want to act older. We fight that aging process and seek to be young, and sometimes it comes out in our behavior and attitude.
Well, we’re in the 9th week of a look through the book of Hebrews. We’ve been looking at who Jesus is, and at this point the writer steps back and speaks to the people about who they are and who they are becoming. . . and it’s not so good. The writer has been encouraging the people, but now, he’s not so encouraging. In fact, he kind of steps on their toes.
There were some problems in the church and the writer wasn’t shy in addressing them. Let’s look at the final 4 verses of chapter 5 ~
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
12 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,
13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Now, that’s pretty harsh. I can guarantee you there were lots of toes being stepped on. For the last couple of weeks the writer of Hebrews has been introducing the idea that Jesus is our high priest, that He stands before us on God’s behalf and before God on our behalf.
Now, he abruptly changes the subject. He’ll come back to the idea of Jesus as our High Priest, but he hits on spiritual maturity before they go any further.
The writer is telling the people, he wants to go deeper into the Word of God, He wants to explain theological concepts to them. He wants to help them understand in greater depth why Jesus is our Hugh Priest . . . but he can’t. He’s limited by their lack of understanding. He’s offering a spiritual challenge to the people, hoping to encourage them to grow in Christ. And he does that in chapter 6.
As we consider these harsh words, let’s stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and not try to get to defensive about what the writer is saying.
Could he be correct? Is there a possibility there is truth to what he has written as it pertains to us? He’s on the right track, although most of us don’t want to hear it.
I believe there are people in every church who fit into these categories. Notice in verse 11, he says there is so much I want to tell you, but there is a problem,
11 you have become dull of hearing.
The literal meaning for the word dull is sluggish, slothful, lazy. That’s the description of the people. There is much to learn, but they really don’t want to learn it. Lots of us experience this problem at one time or another in our spiritual lives. We start off great, but as time moves on, we don’t progress in our faith. We don’t grow, we don’t understand, and what’s worse . . . we don’t care. We make excuses, we find ways to pacify ourselves. We aren’t worried about spiritual maturity, after all, if I believe in Jesus, I have eternal life.
Here’s the problem – You can’t remain in ‘neutral’ in the Christian life. The Christian life is a constant climb. Sometimes it’s an easy climb, at other times, it’s not so easy. What happens when you put your car in neutral on a hill? You roll backward. It’s the same way for a disciple. If you’re not in gear, you start rolling backwards. In the Christian life, if you’re not gaining ground, you’re losing ground.
So the writer of Hebrews says, “Let’s move on to maturity. Let’s not stay here.”
You see, by now they should have been the teachers. They should have been helping those who were newer to the faith by helping them to understand who Christ is. Instead, they needed the teaching.
The writer of Hebrews is frustrated that they aren’t more mature in their faith. These were the basics. And the especially frustrating aspect was the fact that these people didn’t care. It’s not that the class was too hard, they just didn’t care.
Do you get that!? They didn’t care and that often translates to us in our lives. If you were to be really serious in asking yourself about your knowledge about Christ, what do you know? Not that our intelligence is getting us into heaven. Intellect does not equal salvation. I know a lot of really smart people who know the Bible backwards and forwards, but they are clueless when it comes to treating their brothers and sisters in Christ with love and grace.
So, in his frustration, he tells the people they are still on the bottle, they are still nursing. They should be on solid food, eating and growing, but they are not, they are still infants.
We know that babies only drink milk for several months. Only after their stomachs begin to develop do we start to give them cereal, veggies and fruit, then finally meat.
They needed to move beyond the elementary truths of their faith. I suppose you could say ‘anything they had to chew on, gave them spiritual indigestion.’
It’s kind of like they were learning and growing, and then for some reason, they stopped and wanted to get back in the crib. It was more fun to crawl than to walk, to be held than to be independent. All they wanted was their bottle and pacifier.
As I thought about this, I thought about how many times in my life, I wanted to return to childhood – – not to being a baby. But how many times as a parent, have I thought, ‘man, this is harder than I thought, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ How many times have we been in situations where it would be good just to be a kid again and not deal with the real problems in the world. So, as these Jewish Christians are suffering and being persecuted, you could almost sympathize with them and get a sense for their pain. And sometimes, when the pain of life hits us, we too, want to slip away and become a child again, where there were no worries.
Now, because of all of this, here’s where the next big problem comes in and it’s directly related to the fact that they are not growing spiritually! In verse 14, we read
14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Did you catch the end of that sentence? Because they weren’t mature, because they hadn’t grown spiritually, they were not able to distinguish good from evil! WOE!! That’s a huge issue. Imagine if we set our kids loose on the streets and they have no clue of good from evil.
They had not trained themselves to discern good from evil. When the writer says TRAINED – that word literally means “someone who is rigorously and vigorously training their mind or body.
This is similar to what Paul said about growing in Christ in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 ~
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
27 But I DISCIPLINE my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
What Paul said in this statement is very similar to what the writer of Hebrews was saying in verse 14. The phrase to discipline his body in this last verse literally means to beat and bruise your body. If someone had a black eye, this is the word which would be used. So, Paul is saying I need to train my heart, spirit, mind and body for the race, for life, so I may grow in Christ. We are to do the very same.
Now that the writer is finished telling the people it’s time to grow up, he reminds them of some spiritual truths they should already know and understand. These are areas they should be proficient in and be able to teach others. He tells them ~
1 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,
2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
3 And this we will do if God permits. – Hebrews 6:1-3
The writer wants the people to move beyond those elementary teachings and move on to maturity. He is willing to come back and make sure they are becoming mature in their faith. He’ll talk about important points of faith . . . repentance, works and dead works, faith in God . . . teaching about washings, prayer, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. Now, those are pretty heavy topics to get into. But that’s where they were struggling.
Then, the writer introduces one of the more controversial passages of the New Testament. It’s controversial because it’s difficult to decipher. Theologians have struggled with this passage. Here’s the passage ~
4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
So, what’s the problem with this passage? It seems to say you can lose your salvation, and I don’t believe you can.
But if we’re wrong about this, and if a Christian can, in fact, lose their salvation, we still have a problem. Because it says you can be saved only once, and once you lose your salvation, you’ve lost it forever.
The problem is that this idea isn’t presented anywhere else in Scripture. In fact, Scripture teaches the opposite. The story of the Prodigal Son teaches that if you turn your back on God, you run away from home and fall into a sinful lifestyle, you can repent and come home again.
The story of Israel in the Old Testament is the story of a people who followed God, turned away from God, turned back to God again and again — and God received them again and again.
Why? Because God is loving and filled with grace and mercy.
Now, this doesn’t give you permission to backslide, but the Bible teaches again and again that when we fall, God is willing to pick us up. We need to repent and turn back to God.
So, what’s the writer of Hebrews saying?
If you dabble in the Christian life without being seriously committed to it, if you just want to get your feet wet – – without taking the full plunge, if you’re satisfied to put your spiritual life in neutral and try to coast the rest of the way, you can do irreparable damage to your soul.
This passage tells us if you resist the voice of the Holy Spirit, you can get to the point where your soul becomes so hard, it becomes impossible for you to repent. It’s not a question of God refusing to forgive you, it’s a matter of you becoming too hard-hearted to ask.
I’ve seen this happen. People who turn their backs on God and want nothing to do with Him. They have nothing but contempt for God, and their hearts have become cold as stone … perhaps irreparably so.
Now, this is a heavy topic. I’m not trying to scare anyone. Neither was the writer of Hebrews. In fact, he says…
9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things — things that belong to salvation. – Hebrews 6:9
The point of this passage is to encourage each of us not to turn our backs on God, not even for a day … because a day leads to a week, and a week leads to a month, and a month to a year, and a year to a lifetime, and a lifetime to an eternity.
Instead, we must move forward.
This is why the writer tells us in verses 7 and 8 ~
7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. – Hebrews 6:7-8
The writer tells us to be like ground that soaks up water after the rain, because this kind of ground bears a good crop. We become mature in Him.
We need to remember, God is for us. He’s not against us!
Finally, we come to the final 2 verses of chapter 6 ~
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. – Hebrews 6:19-20
There are some people we know who have never embraced Christ. Some of our closest family and friends have dabbled a little. They’ve stuck their big toe in the water and decided it wasn’t for them. This doesn’t make them bad people.
It doesn’t make you or I better than they are. It means we have found that anchor for our souls. We have found the Christ. He’s the One who brings us peace in the midst of the storm. He’s the One who gives us power when we feel weak. He’s the One who gives us love, when it seems nobody loves us. He’s the One who offers us encouragement and redemption; salvation, forgiveness. That’s the anchor we can hold onto, especially when the world wants to condemn us.
We understand that our hope is not based in ourselves. We can’t do it on our own. This is part of the hope we have in Jesus, that He came and broke the hold death has over us. He came and offers us a relationship with the Father. Because He’s our constant source of hope. He’s our constant presence and Jesus is the One who tore the curtain of the temple in two, so we do have access to the throne of Grace of God. Where we find the power to continue in life, through His grace and mercy!
Maybe you’ve been playing a game for a lot of your life. Maybe you’ve slidden a little from Jesus. God says come to me . . . come all you who are weary, come all you who have heavy burdens. Come to me, trust in me. Trust that in the storms of life, I will hold you. I am Jesus, I am your anchor, and anchor for your soul. I am the Great High Priest. I am your High Priest!