Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FAT LITTLE BABY (Hebrews Chapter 5)

Hebrews 5:11-13, “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.”

Soon after I was saved I used to listen to an old Amy Grant song that humorously addressed the concerns of this passage: “I know a man, maybe you know him, too.  You never can tell; he might even be you.  He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.  He's saved, and that's all that matters to him.  His spiritual tummy, it can't take too much.  One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.  On Sunday, he puts on his spiritual best, and gives his language a spiritual rest.  He's just a...fat little baby!  Wa, wa, waaaaa....He wants his bottle, and he don't mean maybe.  He sampled solid foods once or twice, But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.  He's been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood, but his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.  He knows the books of the Bible and John 3:16.  He's got the biggest King James you've ever seen!  I've always wondered if he'll grow up someday.  He's momma's boy, and he likes it that way.  If you happen to see him, tell him I said, ‘he'll never grow, if he never gets fed’."

The author of Hebrews rebuked his readers since they should have matured in their walk to the point of being able to instruct others.  Instead, the author, though having much to say, was finding it hard to explain certain truths to them (Cf. Hebrews 5:11).  A key word in the passage is “time.”  Enough time had passed for them to be at a collegiate level of spiritual understanding, but they were sadly still in kindergarten.  They should have been able to grasp deeper levels of teaching, but they were stuck on the ABCs of the Christian faith.  They had failed to grasp the need to grow in spiritual maturity and to put into practice the things they had learned.

There is a need for milk.  The Word is compared to milk and we are to long for it like newborn babes (Cf. 1 Peter 2:2).  Milk is essential for one’s growth in Christ but a newborn eventually transitions from milk to solid food.  My 1 and ½ year old grandson made that transition some months ago.  There is something obviously wrong if that transition never takes place.  Milk has to do with “the elementary doctrine of Christ” (Hebrews 6:1; i.e. matters pertaining to conversion).  Solid food has to do with matters pertaining to the “word of righteousness” (Cf. Hebrew 5:13).  Not just the righteousness imputed by faith in Christ, but the righteousness lived out by those “who have the power of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 6:14). 

The mature are those who have put God’s Word into practice.  Because of practice they’ve had “their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Cf. Hebrews 5:13, NASB).  A small child is vulnerable until his or her senses are trained to recognize dangerous situations.  Several touches of a hot stove might be required before it learns to avoid that surface.  The spiritually immature have no capacity to exercise discernment between what is good and bad.  Paul repeatedly rebuked the badly-behaved Corinthians, asking “Do you not know?”  One cannot expect to walk in a righteous way if one is not trained in the “word of righteousness.”  The Word of God is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” but no profit is gained if one has not heart for it (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).

Phil Newton has commented on this matter, “Where is your spiritual progress?  I'm not asking you to compare yourself to someone else.  That can be rather unfair and arbitrary. But I am asking you as a believer, what kind of progress are you making in growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?  The shocking reality among most congregations is that the level of living exposes the level of understanding of God's Word.  When Christ is not evident in our lives it is likely that our hearing has grown dull for the Word of God.  When there is no ongoing passion for Christ then it is because dullness has set in.  When we can flounder around with the world and give in to its lure, then by default we admit that we have "come to need milk and not solid food."  Such admission is that either our faith is weak and possibly faltering; or that our faith has never gotten off the ground in honestly trusting Jesus Christ as our Mediator before God.”

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