11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 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!
New International Version
The audacity of the writer of Hebrews in hinting that the people of God were babies! Immature! Not growing!
Whether the writer of the book of Hebrews was Paul or not is not important in this particular post, but rather the tone in which is used to try and shake those who should have been further along in their spiritual development than they actually were. I dare say if the writer of this letter were speaking to the average North American church member, I would venture to say that many would use terminology that you hear so much from those who crowd ministries week after week. You know those cries of, “Your are being judgmental”,”you can’t tell if a person is really growing or not”, “who are you to point your finger at someone’s spiritual development”, and I’m sure you could probably think of many more.
In this 5th chapter of Hebrews, it is fair to assume because of the content of the latter part of the chapter, that there was indeed some type of measuring stick that the writer used to measure the growth of his audience. Based on their growth, it is also safe to assume that his writers failed to come up to that measuring stick!
Growth in any living organism is generally expected. Whether it is a human being, or a plant, we anticipate the growth of anything that has life. We would all think it strange and unusual if our child was the same size at age 10 as they were at age 3. We would immediately take them to a specialists and have them examined to see if there was anything that was going on in their system that is causing an ailment. We would frantically seek help until we got the answers that we need to identify and potentially correct what ever is needed to ensure growth in our child.
It is often amazing that we do not use the same rationale in our spiritual lives as we do in our natural lives. We have witnessed, in our own life, and in the lives of others, stunted spiritual growth and for some reason or another we seldom stop to get a “checkup”. After so long, we find ourselves in amazement and bewilderment as to why we have not moved spiritually in our life. After years of “doing church” and being involved in various aspects of the ministry I attended, I found myself at a place of stunted spiritual growth because I had not taken ownership of my personal development in Christ, and had through tradition, given that power to someone else. So many believers today, whether through voluntary or involuntary means, have given the reigns of their spiritual development into the hands of men and women and have not take ownership of our own development.
As babies, we relied on our parents to take a bottle in their hands and place it in our mouths until our bellies were full. We moved from the bottle to baby food in jars, eventually table food, and soon we found ourselves with the spoon in our hands feeding ourselves. This is the goal of a good caring parent, to actually lead their child into a place where the child is able to feed and nurture themselves. It is a very abnormal and unusual to have someone of a mature age that is capable of feeding themselves, to have someone feeding them on a consistent basis. However, week after week, Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, we see countless of people who are capable of feeding themselves, yet refuse to take responsibility for their spiritual development.
The Hebrew writer seems to hint in the fifth chapter of Hebrews a sense of frustration with those who the writer says in verse 12, “..you ought to be teachers…..however, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again”. It can be assumed that the Hebrew writer expected his audience to be on a different level of spiritual maturity but for whatever reason, they were still on the “milk” of the word. Those on the milk were ” still an infant… not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.(Hebrew 5:13) It seems as though with the amount of time the listeners had been exposed to the scriptures, teachings, and fellowship, their development should have progressed, but it didn’t. How true the same thing unfortunately applies to the lives of many believers today in the sanctuaries of churches, ministries, and fellowships all across the globe because they are satisfied sitting in the HIGH CHAIR OF CHRISTIANITY not picking up their eating utensils, but allowing others to determine what it is they need. Those of you who have had children and have been a part of the feeding process of babies know that after a certain time, the taste buds of babies start to change and mature. The need for milk diminishes and the taste for something solid and more filling begins to occur in the belly of the child. As I have eluded to earlier, this is a normal process in the development of babies. They become very dissatisfied with the texture of milk, especially when they taste and understand there is something out there different and more satisfying.
The Hebrew writer seems to go in hard challenging the saints by letting them know that their were certain truths that could not even be discussed because they were not ready and could not spiritually handle other aspects of the word. So true it is today that God wants to show us so much with his people but we seem to be stuck on the milk of the word and not moving on to more “SOLID” food.
There seems to be at times in the church a can’t win for loosing mentality when it comes to personal accountability in personal study, from my experiences at least. Many leaders challenge you to go do your homework and study the word of God for yourself and get an understanding of it, but the moment you discover that perhaps the wrong lessons have been given you by your instructors, it is at that point that “you need to be really careful of what you allow to enter your spirit”. Do you want me to know God and His Word for myself or not? Many leaders, not all, seem to have certain “complexes” when it comes to how much information some of their “followers” come into. It should never be considered a disappointment to a teacher when a student comes into knowledge that may be unfamiliar with the teacher, but rather look at the role that you make by opening the door of possibilities for the student to come into. Many teachers do not realize how much of an influence and importance they have played on many students progress because they are too focused on the fact that the student knows something that that the teacher may not.
When this type of thing happens, especially in the church setting, we find a commonality that many teachers and leaders revert to, and the Hebrew writer seems to really stress this in the sixth chapter of Hebrews.
Remember the later part of Hebrews 5:
12 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.
13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
14 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.
The writer picks right back up and delivers another gut punch and states that there are some foundational things that we should leave behind and he lists them as follows in Hebrews 6:1-2
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,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Whether we will agree to what I am about to say, it is safe to say that many leaders in Christian churches consistently teach on one of these 6 foundational principles week in and week out. We have many preachers that teach and preach on repentance every Sunday, trying to get people to turn from their sins to a loving God that is there waiting to forgive them and accept them into His love. We have preachers that harp on faith every Sunday and Wednesday night. Faith for healing, faith for deliverance, faith for a breakthru, faith for a break up, faith for a break out, you get the point! Every Sunday there are messages going forth teaching on baptisms. Baptism in water, baptism in the Holy Ghost, and that with fire! Every weekend, there is an altar call made where members run to have someone lay hands on them in hopes of receiving something from God. We hear emphasis on miracles of raising people from the dead, and hell is preached in some form of fashion every Sunday. The Hebrew writer lists these things under the category of “elementary” teachings. Perhaps this is another reason we have an over infection of immature believers! Now the responsibility is placed on the shoulder of the instructor. What are you teaching to mature the body? What are you teaching to forward the “levels” of your students. Do you have a curriculum formulated to ensure they are passing grades?
It is both the responsiblity of the teacher and the student to both do their parts in both the study and the teaching of the Word of God to fully develop and mature and go on to perfection and an individual relationship in Christ. When we can leave the elementary teachings and doctrines, we can move to the next level, relationship! In relationship we learn of Him, then in turn teach Him to others through discipleship. However, when we consistently retake the same classes over, and over, we never get to the place where we are able to effectively teach as we should be matured to do so.
Aren’t you tired of being a Church R Us Kid?