A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 13 : SLOW PROGRESS TO MATURITY
Hebrews 5:11 - 14
The inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews intended to immediately move on to deep spiritual truths concerning Christ. He desired to expound in greater detail, the biblical nature of the priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchisedec. He was restrained by the Spirit because his readers lacked the spiritual maturity to comprehend the profound truths of Scripture. Our spiritual maturity or immaturity determines how much the Spirit of God would reveal to us from Scripture.
The Apostle felt the difficulty of explaining the doctrine of the heavenly and eternal priesthood of Christ, not just because of the grandeur and depth of the subject but because of the spiritual condition of the Christians, whom he was speaking to. It was such important and weighty truth, which they most urgently needed, yet he could not immediately expose it to them because they lacked spiritual receptivity. We shall miss many teachings of deep importance, of great value, things which concern the glory of Christ, things which concern our joy and consolation if we remain babes and “are dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11).
DULLNESS OF PERPETUAL BABES
Hebrews 5:11; John 16:12; Mark 8:17,18,21; Luke 24:13,14,21,25; 2Timothy 3:7; 2 Peter 3:15,16.
The believers in Hebrews 5:11-13 are referred to as “babes”. They were not new converts; some of them had heard the gospel from the Apostles of Christ since the day of Pentecost (Hebrews 2:3,4). Many of them had heard the gospel preached often, like “the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh OFT upon it” (Hebrews 6:7; 4:2). But they did not grow much. When they should have been teachers of the Word, they were still babes in the kindergarten. They were perpetual babes and were “dull of hearing”.
To be “dull of hearing” means being in a state of mind in which important, spiritual statements heard do not produce any corresponding impression or conviction. To a person in this state, it is very difficult to explain deep spiritual truths. What perpetual spiritual babes hear become a common thing. The message of Christ, the King-Priest has become to them like a sound to which the ear has been long accustomed - the person is not conscious of it, he pays no attention to it. In such a condition of soul, our spiritual coldness and lethargy hinders spiritual perception, appreciation of deep truth, affection for the exalted Christ or desire for growth.
How many who sit under the faithful teaching of the Word are “dull of hearing”. There is little waiting on the Lord before the service to prepare them for receiving His message. Instead, the average hearer comes to the house of God with a mind full of worldly concerns. Every message must be meditated upon and accompanied with earnest prayer for grace to obey if we do not want to remain “dull of hearing”.
DESCRIPTION OF PERPETUAL BABES
Hebrews 5:12,13; 1 Corinthians 3:1,2; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Corinthians 13:11; Jonah 4:11; Ephesians 4:14.
The Corinthian Christians as well as these Hebrews had been believers for many years, yet they had not passed the state of infancy. These spiritual babes were weak, ignorant, immature, inexperienced, unskilful, and unable to teach others. A person may have been a Christian for twenty or thirty years, but if he is not growing, not forgetting the things which are behind, and constantly pressing on to higher consecration, he is a “babe” in actual experience.
The spiritual condition of these babes was of great concern to the Apostle. First, they had been converted long enough to be of help to others. Second, instead of being useful, they were useless, needing to be taught afresh in the ABC of the Truth of God. Third, they were so far from having the capacity to digest strong food, their condition called for baby food.
Christians who are perpetual babes remain in the lowest class of learners. Instead of walking by faith, they are influenced by things of sight. They seem to always have a need to be taught afresh “the first principles of the oracles of God” (that is, the first lessons, the rudiments, the elementary truths of Scripture).
DISTINGUISHING MARKS OF PROGRESSING BELIEVERS
Hebrews 5:14; 2 Peter 3:18; Proverbs 4:18; Job 17:9; Psalm 84:7; Philippians 1:9-11; Ephesians 3:17-19.
Growing Christians, progressing “full age” outgrow baby talk, baby motivation, baby diet, rudiments and elements of earthly comfort. The strong meat of gospel teaching is appreciated and assimilated by those who have left their state of spiritual infancy. They have grown in knowledge, in faith, in love, in self-discipline, in endurance, in understanding, in consecration, in usefulness and service.
The spiritually mature Christians “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). They know what is “good” - that which is good nourishment for the soul; they can discern that which is evil - that which will not edify but destroy the soul. It is only by constant, diligent study of the word, constantly setting our affections on things above, daily meditating on the work, office and glories of Christ, earnestly supplicating in the Spirit for grace and love, absolutely leaning on God, that we attain and maintain spiritual growth and maturity.
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