The "Let Us" Series From The Book Of Hebrews #4
“LET US MOVE BEYOND ELEMENTARY TEACHINGS (MATURE)!”
TEXT: Heb. 5:11-6:12
INTRO: There has been a dramatic shift in our society over the past generation. We have gone from a sense of duty and responsibility to a demand for services and entertainment. The society around us has put great emphasis on "how do you feel?" as being more important that "what should we do?" Our society has turned inward rather than outward, a reflection of self-absorption and immaturity.
It is tragic, but the church can reflect society all too much. Probably the weakness of churches today is that they fail to challenge those Christians in the congregation to move on to maturity. If we are not careful we will strive to make people HAPPY rather than make them HOLY, that we will make them FEEL GOOD rather than make them FAITHFUL & GODLY. We must be careful not to encourage just EXCITEMENT and avoid EDUCATION spiritually.
ILLUS: The story is told about an old American Indian who attended a church service one Sunday morning. The preacher's message lacked real spiritual food, so he did a lot of shouting and pulpit pounding to cover up his lack of preparation. In fact, as it is sometimes said, he "preached up quite a storm." After the service, someone asked the Indian, who was a Christian, what he thought of the minister's message. Thinking for a moment, he summed up his opinion in six words: "High wind. Big thunder. No rain." Yes, when the Scriptures are neglected, there is "no rain." Only when preaching is based on God's Word and His people are challenged to respond and be responsible to that Word are they blessed and refreshed.
Excitement, feeling good, even entertainment can certainly be a part of our experience as a Christian, but it must not be a substitute for spiritual maturity.
While there is an appropriate time to be immature as a Christian, we must not stay in such a state. If we had our children never physically mature after several years after their birth we would take them to a doctor to see what is wrong, if our children never matured emotionally we would take them to a counselor, why is it we will ignore the lack of spiritual maturity in our lives?
PROP.SENT: The Bible clearly teaches us that Christ wants us to move toward a mature walk with God, it is not enough to just get saved and wait for the rapture of the church, growth should be a normal part of our walk with God.
I. THE MATURE WALK Heb. 5:7-10
A. Servanthood Heb. 5:7-8
1. Christ is the perfect example of maturity, but it is interesting to read here that even He "learned obedience" Heb. 5:8 - growth came through being stretched!
a. The obvious statements here have to do with "serving"
b. Maturity is a process of taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on others.
2. How do we mature?
a. Jesus was a student of the Scriptures.
b. Jesus was not ruled by emotions, He did not avoid them either Notice Heb. 5:7 “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” As was expressed in this verse, Jesus offered up loud cries and tears, He was emotional!
c. Jesus however wasn’t ruled by those emotions; Jesus' focus was not His own needs, but those of others.
d. Jesus' motivation was not from how He would benefit, it was motivated by His love for others and His duty to His heavenly Father.
ILLUS: A hospital visitor saw a nurse tending to the sores of a leprosy patient, and said, "I'd never do that for a million dollars!" The nurse answered, "Neither would I, but I do it for Jesus for nothing."
3. The writer here first gives us a picture of Jesus so that when he makes the statement that they needed to move on to maturity they would know what that means!
a. Jesus sets for us the emphasis for growing spiritually.
b. His focus is outward, what He
can do to minister, servants in the
c. Those who fail to serve rarely grow spiritually!
4. Jesus' focus on His disciples was similar, while He did teach them, He also washed their feet and served and called them to do the same.
a. Teaching without connected responsibilities leads to intellectual arrogance.
b. Even our school systems are becoming aware of this principle; many of them have included community service as a requirement for graduation.
c. There must be a connection between what we know and what we do!
(1. Too many times some of the most difficult Christians to deal with are those who like to argue Scripture but don't have their own life together!
(2. The Pharisees were great theologians and had command of large portions of Scripture, but Jesus said they made their disciples "twice the son of Hell" as they were (Matt. 23:15) Their prayers and their service was done to be seen of men, not out of service to God!
(3. Sometimes the loudest complainers are the least involved in ministry! IT is time to grow up!
5. Christ's perfect example of maturity should be our example for growth, He set His heart to serve and sacrifice, we should do no less.
a. The more mature a person is the more willing that person is to do what is needed, not just what they feel like doing.
b. There are no shortcuts to maturity, or instant ways of getting there!
B. Stability Heb. 5:9-10
1. These statements indicate that Jesus was unwavering by experiences in life; both good and bad did not change his commitment to the Father or to us.
a. One of the prevailing characteristics of mature people is that they are stable.
b. Mature people are not starting and quitting all the time based on how they feel at the time, they are people who have learned to handle the bumps in life and stay on course.
2. Jesus never altered course, even in
a. Maturity takes guts!
b. Maturity takes strength!
c. It takes very little work to be immature, but it takes great energy to be mature and stay stable!
3. Some Christians are always floating around looking for something to meet their expectations and wants, others keep plugging away looking for needs and try to make things better.
a. Look at Jesus, He did not try and reject Judaism, He continued to pray and preach at the synagogues though they were wrong, He sought to bring the Jews the truth and change them.
b. It was the Pharisees that rejected Christ.
c. Maturity means dealing with things, not running away from them.
ILLUS: A wise man of the Orient once remarked: "There are three kinds of people in all types of organizations -- rowboat people, sailboat people, and steamboat people. Rowboat people need to be pushed or shoved along. Sailboat people move when a favorable wind is blowing. Steamboat people move continuously, through calm or storm. They usually are masters of themselves, their surroundings, and their fate."
4. Christ's example for us to follow is that of stability.
II. THE MINIMAL WALK Heb. 5:11 - 6:3, 9-12
A. Security Heb. 5:11-14
1. The writer of Hebrews would go on more about Christ's example and His Melchizedek-like Priesthood but he explains that they are not in a place at this time to do that, they have been too comfortable not growing, in fact he states that they need to return to the elementary teachings again!
a. Whoever these early Christians were, they were not growing!
b. In fact, the writer seems to imply that they had done nothing since they got saved except to simply exist!
c. They were happy just being saved and had done nothing to learn more and grow!
2. These were pretty strong words for this group, these people however were not just recent converts, and these were people who had been saved for some time but had not gone on in their walk with God.
3. They were comfortable and secure, so they were not growing!
a. This group no doubt was offended by this challenge and correction; immature people usually do get offended when their immaturity is highlighted.
b. The author is challenging the fact that they were still infants spiritually; as long as they have been saved they should be on solid food and not spiritual milk anymore!
4. Immature people usually get quite uncomfortable around mature people!
ILLUS: A person can be a Christian for many years yet remain spiritually immature. Therefore it's possible for a new believer to be far more grown up in the Lord than someone who has been saved for 40 years. A good example of this is found in an incident described by Ethel Barrett in her book, “It Only Hurts When I Laugh.” She said that when D.L. Moody became a Christian, he developed such a hunger for God's Word, spent so much time reading it, and was so quick to obey it that he became a "menace" to some believers. His rapid spiritual growth was an embarrassment to certain people who, though they had been saved for years, never grew up in Christ. Week after week in the church Moody attended, he would share a new experience he had with the Lord. Finally, some of the older saints who just couldn't stand feeling humiliated by his exemplary life went to Moody's uncle and urged him to quiet down his nephew. Ethel Barrett drew this conclusion about Moody: "His robust spiritual health and bounding energy disturbed their napping; he was just too much. So, while they were sucking their thumbs, he was growing until he left them far behind; he grew more in a few years than they did in thirty."
5. Maturity is a choice, not an automatic thing in the spiritual realm!
a. Our lives should reflect growth;
b. We cannot grow if we don't even master the basics first!
c. We shouldn't be afraid to challenge each other to grow!
(1. One Pastor I know told me that if he told his people to tithe they would get mad and be offended!
(2. Paul wrote to Timothy and said that "leadership" in the church should not be given to "novices" (new Christians) because they would be too immature and thus not able to handle the stress or give a proper example for others to follow. Leaders were to be those tested and "proved" to be mature.
6. Make sure you have mastered the elementary things of God before trying to delve into the deep mysteries of God!
B. Satisfied! Heb. 6:1-3, 9-12
1. The author's words here are a challenge - a challenge to move on and not just be satisfied with the elementary things of God, the basics!
a. Notice in verse 12 he states that he doesn't want them to become lazy and be satisfied, they are to press on.
b. Like all Christians of all ages, they want to be mature, but they needed to be willing to pay the price to get there!
2. They want a strong stable life, and they want it NOW - forgetting that maturity comes through a process that takes both time and effort!
ILLUS: You don't get a well-fed church from serving fast food. -- Bill Hybels
3. It is not that we are always unsatisfied; it is that we are not satisfied to stay at immature stages on a permanent basis.
a. There is a proper satisfaction that should come for whatever stage of growth we are in, but we must not be satisfied to stay there!
b. growth means maturing, this is a process for all of us.
4. "Let us mature"- as we become more of a servant and take the focus off our own lives to see what God wants us to do for Him we will grow.
5. Maturity requires discipline and work, and any church that will move forward must have in it people and a pastor who are moving forward!
CONCLUSION: While physical growth is simply an automatic response to BODY CHEMISTRY, spiritual growth is a function of a BELIEVER'S CHOICES! Spiritual growth toward maturity should be the goal of every Christian, and it does not just "happen" to us, we must take an active role in facilitating it. If we take seriously the failure of a child growing physically or intellectually, shouldn't we take seriously the lack of spiritual growth in our own lives? Are you maturing?