By Steven Shaw
Hebrews 5:11-14 & 6:1-3
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 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! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
“Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”
In Context First:
This letter was addressed to manly Jewish converts who were familiar with the Old Testament and who were being tempted to revert to Judaism because they were under heavy persecution (cf. Gal 2:14). The writer (who is unknown) is encouraging these Christians to trust in the God they knew is true. This church of people has become weak, Christians that needed to be woken up again and get back to the truth of Christ.
Now our application:
Is your church an ocean or a pond?
Maybe your church is somewhere in between. I’m not addressing false churches in this blog, only churches that I believe are trying to do well and teach the Bible, but are lacking in real help for their body of believers. Most people only know this kind of church; it’s what the majority of American churches are like. What they are teaching is shallow and out of context most of the time. Once again, people, I believe to be in the family of God, just unaware that there so much more than what they know about the bible and God. I will never claim to know it all or have it all figured out, but what I do know I will spread the best I can, in the way I can. I lived as this shallow type Christian for most my life and it brought only bad things to others and myself. I lived as a shallow, or baby, immature Christian for 30 years. Much time wasted and don’t want to see others in that same bubble. The bubble of “I love God; I really want to live a good life.” But I only knew weak churches and was ignorant and arrogant of the bible. I thought I knew it all when I knew nothing. I wasn’t ignorant of some great truths about God, but ignorant of the bible and the power it holds. As I started reading and growing in the Bible, my eyes began to be opened to all that I was missing out on and now I must share. I’m not the only one preaching this, there are many faithful teachers and preachers that are speaking this, but we can’t have too many, in fact, we need more!
True, yet weak churches:
What I mean by true yet weak churches is, churches that believe all the points of salvation and teach them yet are missing the depths that all need to live this life most faithfully and to the glory of God. I cover this a lot in my blog Me-Centered Christianity vs God-Centered Christianity. The main problem with weak churches is “me-centered” bible teaching. Taking what God has meant to say in a book or verse and making it mean what they are trying to say in a sermon. When we miss the bigger more awesome truth that God has laid out for us, we have turned it into a 5-step program to be a better employee, better father, a better wife, etc. Not to minimize life application but if you’re teaching the Bible faithfully and helping people ascribe the glory of God, then the application comes from catching glimpses of His glory. There’s only one response to seeing a glimpse of the glory of God, and it’s falling to our unworthy faces in praise. Let’s move away from the “feel good and inspiring” messages that only lead to self-focused, weak Christians and get back to, God fearing, Christ-exalting and powered by the Holy Spirit churches/individuals.
The dangers of popularity:
I’m always conflicted about things that are popular in the name of Christ. I’m weary because if it’s too popular, chances are that it’s being delivered in a less than complete way. I hear it in music, teaching and in peoples lives. When you preach or sing the gospel faithfully and fully, it’s not going to be the most popular thing out there, even among Christians. Too many Christians have a real passion for God and a lack of knowledge of Him. That’s a really dangerous place to live. You can be completely fired up for things in a totally wrong way and do more harm to yourself, the church and the world than those who are more Christ-centered. We need to learn more about Him and His attributes than just His love, mercy and grace. All those things are absolutely important and need to be taught, but not while faithfully teaching about His wrath, judgments, hatred of sin, love of His own glory more than anything else, the truth of election and many more unpopular topics. Yet all these are just as much a part of our God as love and grace. In fact, God’s love and hate aren’t on opposite sides of the spectrum; they are much closer than we realize. God shows His love because of His hate, He shows His mercy because of His wrath, He is patient and slow to anger but His anger does come, it’s not nonexistent. You can’t truly love God unless you truly fear God, or truly know Him.
So what to do?
I don’t want this to be discouraging or to blow this off cause you are sure of your church and your relationship with God. We should be evaluating our walk every day because we are prone to wonder, none are above self-reflection. Many churches have small groups for their people to be able to dive in a little deeper, but this is often offered as “a nice thing to try” and not preached as “if you’re not learning and growing on your own then it’s vital.” But more important than anything is still your own personal growth with your face in your bible. Your own discernment needs to be high so you know that what is being taught is right, wrong or something to question. God’s word has power and will transform your life, let it! You’ll never be the same again. Continue your sanctification my family in Christ.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.