Mature Christian or Babe in Christ?
I received a revelation the other day through the teaching of another believer that allowed me to see why most of what I say and write falls on deaf ears. It enabled me to understand why I get so few comments on my posts. This revelation comes from Hebrews 5:11 and following. Here the apostle Paul has just been talking about Jesus Christ as a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He says in verse 11:
” Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. NASU These believers who should have been able to understand what Paul was saying about this could not because they were still immature in their walk with God.
They were dull, nothros, of hearing, akoe. Nothros means sluggish or literally lazy; figuratively, stupid. It is translated as slothful, also. Akoe refers to hearing, as in receiving oral instructions.
Paul continues: Heb 5:12
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food (deeper truths).
If you have been in the Word for any length of time like 3 years or more, it is time to get off the bottle. Babes in the Word, like real babies require their mother’s milk for a couple of years, but after that it is time to move on to some more solid food, to stimulate proper growth. Paul says, you fellows ought to to be teachers by now, but instead you need to have someone teach you basic principles all over again. This is reproof. Laziness leads to being satisfied with milk, less difficult truths.
The problem as I see it is that there are not many in the church teaching this. If there are, not many are receiving what is being taught. This brings me to the elementary principles verse 12 speaks about. Elementary principles are the words arche stoicheion, which mean fundamental, initial or the first things you should have learned as a babe, like the alphabet. NT:4747 any first thing, from which the others belonging to some series or composite whole take their rise; an element, first principle (from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.) The basic teachings about Christ, found in the 4 Gospels!
Heb 5:13 For everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant (an immature Christian,) is unskilled in the word of righteousness. NRSV
Unskilled is the word apeiros. It is only used 1 time in the Bible giving it singular importance. It means inexperienced, ignorant. It is not ignorance of just any old thing, but ignorance of the word of righteousness! How long are you willing to remain this way? I hear so many believers who say they are content with sticking to the basics. Were you happy in diapers, with poop in your pants? isn’t it time to grow up?
Righteousness in the 4 Gospels was only possible through good works. The free gift of righteousness, by the grace of God and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, was not available in the gospels.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age (mature), even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV
Full age, Mature, teleios, means complete in labor, growth, mental and moral character; lacking nothing necessary to completeness.
Use, hexis, = habit, practice; senses, faculties of perception.
exercised, trained, gumnazoo, to exercise vigorously in body or mind. This is where we get the word for gymnast. Think if the mental and physical training a gymnast puts themselves through to be great. We need to have a similar drive to excel in the deep things of God and His word.
But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to discern both good and evil. AT
If you are not complete, you are incomplete because of contentment and laziness. Remember, it’s Christ in you; his sight behind yours, his sense of smell behind yours, his touch behind yours, etc. Exercise your spiritual 5 senses. Why? To be able to tell the difference between a liar and someone telling you the truth; between an impostor and a pastor; between a true prophet of God and a false prophet!
Solid food or strong meat is not found in the gospels. Here is a little of what The Bible Exposition Commentary* has to say about this:
“Unskillful in using the Word (v. 14). As we grow in the Word, we learn to use it in daily life. As we apply the Word, we exercise our “spiritual senses” and develop spiritual discernment. It is a characteristic of little children that they lack discernment, A baby will put anything into its mouth. An immature believer will listen to any preacher on the radio or television and not be able to identify whether or not he is true to the Scriptures. Just as our physical bodies have senses without which we could not function, so our inner “spiritual man” has “spiritual senses.” For example: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (Matt 13:16). As we feed on the Word of God and apply it in daily life, our inner “spiritual senses” get their exercise and become strong and keen. Paul called this process exercising ourselves unto godliness (1 Thess 4:7-8).”
The world is full of physical exercising fanatics, who are missing the boat. Most Christians are missing the boat as well from not exercising themselves unto godliness, being like GOD. See the last line of the preceding paragraph? It contains the key to everything I am saying.
More scriptures on exercising ourselves unto godliness:
1 Tim 4:7-9
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Moving forward, exercising ourselves unto godliness, is described as grievous chastening. Chastening here means education, training and implies disciplinary correction! Grievous implies a painful process. And it will be if you choose to do it.
Back to Hebrews, Paul continues in the next verse:
Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: a) repentance from dead works, b) faith toward God, c) instruction about baptisms, d) resurrection of the dead, e) eternal judgment. NRSV
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, NOT laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. NASU
This is where the rubber meets the road for many immature Christians. They say they believe God and His Word, yet when it comes to really doing it, it is quite another thing. Here we are told if we want to be skilled, mature Christian that we have to leave the elementary teaching and principles of the gospels behind, if we are going to move forward to perfection, being all we were called to be. “Be all you can be,” for Christ.
I know these will be some difficult truths form some to swallow, but it is still the Word. If you want to be the best leader you can be for others or the best Christian you can be, you have to move on to exercising yourself unto godliness; anything else is just religion.