An Expectation of Maturity
[Reading: Hebrews 5:1-14]
Those of you who have been part of Hope Baptist for any period of time, know how much value we place on the bible and the correct teaching of God’s word. As such we aspire to be everything the word of God says that we should be.
In our reading today we see Paul expounding the Old Testament [Psalms and Genesis in particular]. He explains to his readers: Christ’s priesthood and atoning sacrifice; and the reality of his appearance to Abraham [as Melchisedec] in what is known as a “Christophany.
The frustration for Paul is that the Jewish believers did not understand the significance of this; saying that they are dull of hearing.
The focus of today’s message is verses 12-14; and the thing that we aspire to be is apt to teach.
Let me read it to you:
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14
When I read this passage [with fresh eyes] around 6 years ago, it was with more than a certain degree of grief, embarrassment and shame. I fully understood the implications that these verses were telling me. I knew what it meant to be able to teach and I also knew that I lacked the maturity and discernment to fulfill that expectation to teach.
The bible is filled with verses such as today’s text; and which serve as a wake up call to believers and we do well to take heed. Whether we like it or not, we will be held accountable to God’s word and therefore we are without excuse.
When it came to biblical literacy, I barely knew what the bible actually taught in regards to anything. And not only that, I literally become like a dog returning to his own vomit.
Praise God, because he doesn’t leave us where he finds us; but is able to give us both the motivation and the means to accomplish his purpose in our lives.
In view of Pastor’s emphasis [for the men in particular] on the ability to teach, I pray that this is a timely yet hard message. I am conscious that some of the content may seem to be harsh criticism and I do endeavour to temper this with God’s grace.
An Expectation of Maturity:
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers…” Hebrews 5:12
“Ought” is a very strong word in the bible and carries with it an enormous degree of accountability. Anything which is followed by this word should be seen as a high priority.
In verse 12 of our text, Paul is speaking, firstly to the Jewish believers here and doesn’t just single out those with a specific teaching gift.
He is also [possibly] speaking to all believers at that time, by virtue of the fact that the biblical texts were generally copied and circulated throughout all the churches.
And he is speaking to us by virtue of the fact that we are holding a bible in our hands. In fact if I didn’t know better, I’d have to say that he was speaking directly the contemporary church, given the lack which we see exist.
The end goal of maturity [according to this passage] is the ability to teach.
And [so] if there is an expectation to teach, there is also an expectation to mature. Imbedded in the 3 verses of our text today: we see that discernment, maturity and the ability to teach are intrinsically connected. And so, as I go through my message today and mention of one of these, keep the other two in mind.
What we see is a logical progression here [in our text] which the apostle Paul is laying out: For the time ye ought to be teachers, ye [also] ought to be mature and ye also ought to be discerning.
Spiritual maturity leads to discernment and wisdom. And the discernment and wisdom which comes from a sound knowledge of the bible, hopefully is the fire in the bones which fuels the desire to teach others.
When it comes to teaching: pastors are certainly expected to be apt to teach. But [again] the scripture isn’t singling out pastors: according to this verse, we are all called to be teachers in some way, shape or form.
If this is true [and it is] then we need to keep the charge of teaching in mind: whether it be within our families or ministering to one another in church; the Lord expects us to be able to teach or instruct those who are [certainly but not always] younger in the faith.
As I indicate before, without a certain level of maturity it is impossible to fulfill this mandate. This passage says as much about the perspective teacher as it does about the act of teaching, itself. It’s not until the Lord does the work in you, that he can work through you. We also have to realize that we demonstrate our faith [and therefore teach others] according to the lives that we live. Ask yourself the question: what am I silently teaching those around me?
When it comes to being used of God, Paul gives us this analogy in 2 Timothy:
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
The pre-requisite to teach is more about character than intellectual ability and this is why we are told to purge ourselves of sin; or at least let the Lord do so in our lives.
The Christian life is all about being fit for the Master’s service.
Scripture warns against promoting the novice to the office of a pastor or bishop. In describing the role, Paul tells us specifically: “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:6
Pride is a huge obstacle which can disqualify us as teachers and is something that a mature Christian should guard against.
Before we go any further, we should probably ask ourselves:
What is teaching?
Teaching might be defined as the impartation of knowledge from teacher to student in order for the student to learn. This might be true in the secular world. But biblically speaking it is so much more than this; even as the bible is so much more than a set of rules or life lessons. The word of God is itself described as quick [alive] and powerful and by virtue of this fact, it becomes part of us. The change that it makes in our lives is eternal.
We know in a natural sense that those who are passionate about the subject matter, make the best teachers. Similarly, as Christians if we are passionate about Christ and his word, we too will make good teachers [provided we are doctrinally sound].
Although this passage doesn’t labour the point in regards to teaching, we know that it is mentioned for a reason.
And if is there such a high expectation placed on believers to teach: Why?
There are several good reasons [3 come to mind] as to why the Lord places this expectation [to teach] on us.
The first reason is for the Propagation of the Faith.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
Paul tells us here that the gospel is transmitted from faith to faith; one believer to an unbeliever that he might become a believer. If this is the case, then it stands to reason that a person should have the ability to at the very least, to share and communicate the gospel.
This isn’t the case in many churches and I dare say that in the absence of the gospel [in these churches], a lack of Christian maturity goes hand in hand.
Jesus calls us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Do you sanctify the Lord in our hearts and are you ready to give that answer to every man, for the reason of the hope that is in you. He also says that if salt lose its savour it is good for nothing.
I think we get the point.
The second reason is for the Protection of the Faith:
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3
Without actually knowing what the bible teaches, this task becomes impossible. As much as it is the pastor’s responsibility to protect the flock, it is also our responsibility to be aware of false teachers and teachings that might be circulating in our midst; and gently or firmly correct others. We’ve been warned that grievous wolves will enter congregations; not sparing the flock.
The third reason is for the Perfecting of the Faithful:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Ephesians 4:11-12
The Lord Jesus puts a high priority on perfection. He tells us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. Within that parameter of perfection is a maturity and a completeness that enables us to teach; to instruct people in how to best serve and to build up others within the body of Christ.
“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” Proverbs 15:23
Do you want to be that person who always has the right words to speak?
These are 3 very good reasons to know our bibles; and reasons that should motivate us to do so. And this is why the expectation should be clear:
At some point in our Christian walk, we ought to be teachers in some way, shape or form.
A Failure of Maturity:
[In our text we read]
“…ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God”
The individuals which Paul is addressing [in this passage] have failed to mature and failed to meet the requirements of a teacher. Rather than possessing the ability to teach others, they are in need of being taught again.
This is quite a grievous situation and bears some consideration.
What possible reason could there be that one needs to be taught again?
Had the individuals in question un-learnt or forgotten the things that they had previously learnt?
Had they been taught error?
Had they failed to consolidate the things learnt?
Any or all of these are possible
It’s worthwhile looking at the parable of the sower:
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Luke 8:11-15
This parable demonstrates that it is a heart issue and not an intellectual one. It’s the state of the heart which determines our response to God and his word. This doesn’t contradict the fact that the word of God can also change the state of our hearts [which is obviously the preferred outcome].
The word of God might be comprehended [in part] by the mind but if it is digested at all, it is digested in the heart. Since we know that the heart is deceitful above all things; and it deceives the mind.
Oftentimes it is unbelief and a hardening of the heart [through sin] that prevents the word of God doing its work in our lives.
Jesus addressed this very situation:
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Matthew 13:15
“Dull of hearing”: this is the same phrase used by Paul in verse 11; spiritually speaking, they were deaf, blind and ignorant.
Remember the Lord rebukes the Israelites [frequently], calling them stiff-necked and rebellious: We can be like that too.
When it comes to re-learning or being re-taught:
We’re told that there are certain things that believers are expected to know; and in chapter 6 of Hebrews we see them laid out for us.
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:1-6
In this passage Paul mentions these doctrines:
- The doctrine of Christ [Christology]
- The laying on of hands
- The resurrection
- The judgement
These are the first principles mentioned in our text today
Without explaining the various doctrines listed in this passage, I hazard to guess that there are many Christians who would struggle to correctly expound these doctrines.
I’m not suggesting that we learn these doctrines for any intellectual prowess, nevertheless all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof etc…and at some point it may be of necessity to provide the correct teaching in regard to these doctrines.
The fact that many believers are ignorant of these, highlights the deficiencies which exist today and puts the onus firstly on pastors but also on congregations for not holding their pastors accountable.
Notwithstanding there are further serious consequences for individuals who fail to grow to maturity. I don’t say this particularly to shame you but rather motivate; the commitment to grow and mature MUST be a decision that you make every day and every minute of the day.
[And if you fall, get back up again]
The need to be re-learn [the basics] or as the passage states “the first principles of the oracles of God” is just one of the consequences. This would be serious enough, but it doesn’t stop there.
Accompanying a lack of doctrinal competency [as we see in chapter 6] is a decline in moral purity; the end of which is a hardening of the heart which Paul likens to the hardness of soil fit only for thistles [which themselves are only good for burning].
It should also be our daily prayer that we wouldn’t be hardened by the deceit of sin.
If discernment and wisdom and learnedness is the end result of a mature believer, then the opposite is true of someone Paul refers to as a”babe”.
A babe [as Paul explains in the next portion of our text] feeds on “milk” and NOT strong meat [complex food].
If we look at the characteristics of babies we can make similar comparisons with the immature believers that Paul is talking about. I’m certain that we can all see characteristics here, that we would rather not admit, but for our own benefit and God’s glory we should overcome.
A baby lacks significant attention span [For the believer, this translates to a lack of spiritual focus]
Requires constant attention and entertainment
Is totally or partially dependent on others for his needs [especially feeding]
Relies on others for their self-esteem etc
Constantly requires praise.
Is too young or immature to be gainfully employed.
Hyper-sensitive; especially to criticism.
We can all no doubt see some of these traits in our own characters and these are faults that we need to bring to the Lord; since only he is able to change us.
And this is exactly what we see foretold in scripture and what we are now seeing in the modern church. A wholesale departure from truth and sound doctrine.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” 2 Timothy 4:3
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,” 2 Timothy 3:1-2
This leads to some other factors in regards to the failure to mature biblically.
There are some believers who insist that: “It’s wrong to judge”, “It’s wrong to criticize”, “ It’s wrong to point out error”.We’re not talking about hypocritical judgement. We’re not talking about nit picking for the sake of nit picking. But rather instruction in righteousness.
In making those judgements we aim to:
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6
But the bible doesn’t teach that it’s wrong to judge:
In fact scripture tells us that we are expected to walk circumspectly; this requires us to make judgements and use discernment:
Given that discernment implies and also requires a certain act of judgement, and pointing out of error:
Given that the process of teaching also embodies the same:
Those who hold this view are dreadfully wrong; there is definitely a time and a place for righteous judgement.
The difficulty that we have with this false notion and the reason I believe that people hold this view:
Firstly: They haven’t qualified themselves to make those judgements. They haven’t applied themselves to the study of God’s word and they don’t know how to apply the scriptures to their own lives let alone anyone else’.
Secondly: Those who need correcting don’t want to make themselves accountable. People have a natural tendency to love darkness because their deeds are evil. Worse still: false teachers convinced their followers that they are a protected species; using verses such as “touch not God’s anointed” out of context.
Remember “judgement begins in the house of God” and “if we judge ourselves we won’t be judged with the world”.
Of course it doesn’t help when society has taught us to abandon absolutes and in particular absolute moral standards; the world is happy for everyone to do what’s right in their own eyes. This is the perverted view of equality that we are being taught these days; whereby nobody is judged nor is anyone capable of making judgements.
This is arguably reflected in the education system: which in and of itself is supposed to be a teaching institution. And as such, equipping students to learn and to be able to teach others the things they learn.
But instead the focus is indoctrination and not education.
Students [in many ways] are taught what to think and not how to think; possibly in its quest for equality and tolerance. In doing so they create an environment of “free thinking”, where nobody is wrong; and if nobody is wrong, then nobody gets their feelings hurt. In the real world you can’t tell someone that they a wrong [no matter how diplomatic you are] and if you do, the individual is likely to have a meltdown.
Within a biblical worldview it is the word of God defines equality and one of the greatest equalizers is that “none is good” and that God is no respecter of persons. We will all be judged according to his word; this should motivate us to read it and know what it teaches. THERE WILL BE NO EXCUSE ON JUDGEMENT DAY
The premise of equality within the body of Christ is that we are all given diverse gifts which are all administered by the Holy Spirit. Under this system we have unity and equality and are motivated to perform these according to the grace that God gives us.
It doesn’t help when the word of God [which is the standard to which we attain] has 450 versions [in English], which all say something different [Remember we’re talking about absolutes]. And at best is only capable of making us “ADEQUATE” according to some modern versions.
As believers, it is possible for us to live in this curious realm; somewhere between being swayed by the philosophies of this world and being led by the word of God.
Is it any wonder [in that environment] there is little motivation for believers to mature in their faith and attain an aptitude for teaching.
Unfortunately [this is what truly grieves me], there is no shortage of false teachers and believers who choose to listen to them; the difference being is that false teachers [instead of being motivated by the word of God] they are motivated by greedy gain and filthy lucre.
People are so unwilling to learn [sound doctrine], let alone teach. In heaping teachers unto themselves, people either gravitate to things that they already regard to be true; regardless of whether it is error. Or are attracted to or even mesmerised by teachers that promise some new and esoteric teaching; puffing up the listener who thinks he has been privileged to hear from the false teachers wisdom. These are usually accompanied by the promise and possibility signs and wonders. It is no coincidence that Paul likens them to the two magicians that challenged Moses when he pleaded with Pharaoh.
The bible was written for our learning; not our entertainment. We hold to the plain reading of the biblical text; with an historical literal translation; and not an allegorical.
And unlike the Bereans which checked the scriptures to see if those things are true; they accept error unquestionably and are comfortable in their ignorance. This complacency equates to laziness and leads to a spiritual slumber which Paul warns us if in the book of
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ephesians 5:14
There is only one remedy for this malady and it is the word of God itself; his word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. In my own walk, the only thing that kept me in need of God’s grace was a protracted period of self-inflicted pain caused by extreme disobedience. And in similar fashion to St Augustine, I heeded the thoughts of my own mind and “took up and read [tolle lege]” the bible from cover to cover between the months of March and December 2014.
These verses serve as a warning to us and highlight the importance of spiritual growth. It is only those who lack maturity and discernment that will find themselves in this condition.
We absolutely need discernment if we are to be salt and light to the world in which we live. Without entangling ourselves in the affairs of this world, discernment enables us to make sense of the world around us and hopefully be in a position to interpret those things to those who are lost.
If we are growing in our faith we will see the dangers approaching; not just from the outside but also from within our own hearts [should they turn cold and distant towards the Lord].
My prayer is “Lord slay me, if I lose a passion and hunger for your word and a love for the truth that it teaches”.
How else are we to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.
The Means to Maturity:
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age…”
Paul uses [and contrasts] the example of milk and strong meat as a picture of our spiritual nutrition and growth.
From Peter’s first epistle we understand that the word of God is referred to as milk:
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
1 Peter 2:2
As far as the source of our nourishment and growth goes, I don’t have to tell you that it is the word of God. Milk [that is the word of God] is the source of our growth in the FIRST instance.
Peter calls it the “sincere” milk of the word, which implies that it is unadulterated by other things such as devotionals and commentaries. Unfortunately and to our detriment we like to add “quick” to our milk.
If this isn’t or hasn’t been your habit right from the beginning, then it’s obvious that your Christian walk will be developmentally delayed. I’ve certainly experienced this.
In a natural sense, the consumption of solid food leads to increased physical growth.
In a similar manner, our spiritual growth would be stunted and our development as believers hindered if we didn’t progress from milk to solids [or strong meat]; just as it would be if we remained on a diet of milk for our entire lives. We need to progress from the simple to the complex.
And we also need to maintain a substantial diet of the word of God [not just a few verses a day as is the habit of some that I have encountered over the past few years]. This leanness of diet will ultimately lead to a leanness of spirit. He who sows little will reap little.
The bible frequently extols the word of God:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The word of God is profitable in helping us to derive doctrine [what the bible actually teaches and not taking scriptures out of context]
It corrects us and instructs us so that we know the difference between right and wrong.
It perfects and equips us to do the work of God.
There are 4 words in our passage today which are vitally important and these are: “by reason of use”: God expects us to use his word…
James uses a similar idea; he says to be a “doer of the word” and not merely a hearer only.
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:21-25
It is only as we apply the word of God in our everyday lives, that we exercise our faith; THIS is what Paul means when he says ‘by reason of use”
I don’t know if this is obvious… But those who would be teachers, have firstly been taught themselves.
The Lord also tells us in his word, his ordained method of teaching and therefore learning:
It is line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little.
Unless you are in the habit of reading the bible from cover to cover you are going to struggle to put scripture in its proper context. Doctrine is strategically placed throughout the bible and thus you need the “here a little, there a little” in order to expound the “line upon line”.
And [of course] it is by meditating on the word day and night.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1:8
“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.” Psalms 119:99
We saw in the previous point that those who fail to mature, need to be taught again. If the aforementioned method isn’t your habit YOU NEED TO MAKE IT YOUR HABIT.
First question: What am I holding in my hand?
Second question: Are you sure?
Third question: You would have no issue saying this coin is legal tender in Australia?
Final Question: Who would like to take a closer look?/What do you notice?
I took some money to the bank recently to deposit in my account, and in the process the teller rejected this coin. He had immediately discerned that it was foreign currency. It seems that through regularly dealing with legitimate currency, he had no problems recognising foreign currency mixed in with a stack of coins. Being immersed in legitimate currency aided him in being able to discern the erroneous coin. [incidentally this was the second time I inadvertently tried to pass this coin through a bank teller].
In similar fashion, ability to discern error comes from immersing yourself in the truth.
Hold that thought….
The Evidence of Maturity:
“…even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”. Hebrews 5:14
We’ve seen from our passage, that there is an expectation and a means to mature. And we’ve also seen that there is a consequence for not attaining a degree of maturity. In our final point our passage gives us an indication of what to expect in a mature believer; which is the ability to discern good and evil.
There are two aspects to spiritual maturity in today’s passage. One is the development of moral character and purity and the other is the development of the intellect [or doctrinal soundness]. Remember that we’re to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Both of these are referred to in our passage under the umbrella of “the first principles of the oracles of God” and the discernment of “good and evil”.
It is so important to understand that this discernment or determination of what constitutes evil must first be recognized in ourselves. It is only then that we can recognize the same; outside ourselves [in others and in the world]. Remember it is by reason of use: that is that application of God’s word in our daily lives.
Our text highlights the ability to discern good and evil; these two are polar opposites and there is no grey or in-between. The discerning Christian doesn’t so much as compromise his position but rather gives grace to those who are yet to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Discernment and the ability to discern good and evil can be summed up in one word: “wisdom”. And whilst the wisdom of this world is devilish, the wisdom of God for one thing is described as pure.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:13-18
As Christians, we have a standard:
If we look at this next passage in the context of discernment, maturity and wisdom: the end goal is to be Christ-like [who embodied all of these perfectly].
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
The scriptures are our measuring stick and Christ is our standard…and everything in our lives must be measured according to this standard [not that we will ever reach this standard of course]. But we will only move towards this standard if our lives are built on Christ and his word. It is only then that we will mature and our lives will bear fruit.
It is only a mature tree that that bears fruit. And the Lord tells us that it is by our fruit that our maturity will be evidenced. The fruit of a believer is another believer; hence why the gospel is important.
The alternative to build your life on Christ and his word is to build your life on the shifting sands of popular opinion. It is then that we will be blown about by every wind of doctrine and your faith be in danger of shipwreck.
It doesn’t take much for the discerning Christian to recognize error. Remember, the ability to discern error comes from immersing yourself in the truth.
Some of the things he has learnt is to recognize the difference between gold, silver and precious gems…and wood, hay and stubble.
The discerning Christian has learnt to recognize false teachers and their teachings; he has marked the heretic and avoids him like the plague.
Our message today has focused on Christian maturity, the ability to teach and to discern good and evil…and for good reason.
In case you haven’t noticed, this world has gone mad.
Good is being called evil and evil is being called good.
Instead of calling abortion, infanticide: we call it pregnancy termination and pro-choice
Gender dysphoria has become gender fluidity.
Those with discernment are regarded as narrow minded.
And Christians are regarded as evil for believing in God’s word; which itself is being called an ancient myth rather than absolute truth.
We have come to expect this; and also apostasy within the church. The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth but is fast becoming unrecognisably distinct from the world.
This makes this message all the more important to those who have ears to hear.
In our men’s study we spoke at length about the value of the work of teaching. We know that it has eternal value even as there are eternal consequences for everything we do in our mortal bodies.
The Lord asks us the question: “How much do you value your soul and what price would you pay for it” hence the work of the gospel is of immense value and something worth investing in.
We’ve been given the Great Commission by the Lord:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20
I pray that we would all consider where we are in respect to this. If we’re not committed to teaching; we’re just not committed.