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. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
You can’t teach a child to read unless he’s ready. A child must be “ready to read”. No pressure, pushing, punishment or rewards can speed “reading readiness” So often principles in the natural world, spill over into the life of the spiritual. Unless a child of God is “ready to grow” he’ll never reach “spiritual maturity.”
All the truth of God is laid out in the word of God for all the children of God. But growth is based on hearing it, understanding it, and appropriating its truth. And in the life of a believer, it’s rarely reached without there being a need. So much of our learning in the Christian walk is birthed through our need. Unless a believer is aware that he is to grow spiritually, he will remain a babe. Even one that’s started to make spiritual progress can regress back to babyhood.
The writer to the Hebrews makes this plain as we read in the Amplified Bible: Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward ….. the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, Let us not repeat the teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.] Hebrews 6:1-2
This is one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible and the one most often used to suggest that you can lose eternal security!! – and yet it continues in the Amplified Version.. If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching]. For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened – i.e. those who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift i.e. have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, (i.e. those that are born again) Hebrews 6:4ff
You see this passage (like most of Hebrews) is about spiritual maturity. This passage simply means this:- Once you’ve been born again – and believed Christ died, was buried and rose.. now you must grow – Now you advance in your Christian life. Now you must become spiritually mature... because you can't go through the process of rebirth, once you have been born!!! It is so important to rightly divide the word of truth.. or passages on spiritual maturity will get confused with passages on getting saved.
The rule of thumb is that most of the epistles are addressed to church-age believers. Most of the teachings from Paul – explain to the believer how to grow and mature… Understand this and you’re well on the way to rightly dividing the N.T. epistles.
Growing in the faith and maturing spiritually has a number of associated terms, Sanctification - Salvation of the soul - spiritual maturity - growing in the faith - growing in grace. But a Christian may remain a babe in Christ... as we are warned in Hebrews 6. Such a Christian is stunted – and called by Paul in 1 Corinthians a carnal Christian.
A spiritual Christian is the one that is growing in the faith – maturing. A carnal Christian is the one that is not growing in the faith – not maturing. A carnal Christian can also be called a fleshly believer... born again but not growing – born again, but not growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. A carnal Christian is one that is exhorted in Hebrews 6 – to grow spiritually, and many principles in the natural world spill over into the life of the spiritual.
Unless a child of God is “ready to grow” – he’ll never reach “spiritual maturity.” Growing in grace – maturing in Christ, is sometimes called “consecration”. But like the passage in Hebrews 6 consecration is grossly misunderstood - indeed consecration is one of the most misunderstood biblical principles – one of the most misapplied words.
Most believers think consecration is a constant round of dedication and rededication, yet this is what Hebrews 6:1-6 warns against – i.e. getting stuck at Christian birth. Many Christians think they should constantly ‘rededicate’ or ‘reconsecrate’ their lives.
This incorrect type of ‘consecration’ can be soul-destroying and discouraging. This incorrect type of ‘rededication’ gets believers stuck in Romans chapter 7. Where we read:- O wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from this body of death? Leaving the implied answer that there is nothing! I can’t escape this defeat - leaving the discouraged believer in a life that seems doomed to failure and pain. Romans 7:24
What a sad state of affairs – and so much of it results from incorrect teaching. What a shame that it leaves so many Christians in the doldrums of defeat, but Paul in Romans chapter 8 explains that need is NOT the case. But too few preachers in Christendom today understand – much less teach this truth.
Many churches of the 20 century gave very limited teaching about Christian growth, and the result is a church that substitutes man’s teachings before the Word of God. The result is that many believers remain spiritually immature and do not grow. Many only take ‘milk-of-the-word’ teaching – ignoring ‘meat-of-the-word’ doctrine. Without strong meat teaching – a believer remains spiritually starving.
Two of the roles in the church today are 1) the evangelist and 2) the pastor-teacher. The function of an evangelist, as laid out in Scripture – is to bring the lost to Christ. A pastor-teacher is to feed and protect the flock – and bring them to maturity.
Today most pastor-teachers seem to know little of bringing believers to maturity, and keeping believers in ignorance of such matters means a weak, ineffective church. This state of affairs is the enemy’s work – designed to weaken Christian witness.
When sound doctrine is replaced by compromised truth – the result is devastating. We are told in Scripture that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. When we step outside the whole counsel of God, we step into false teaching.
Christ restated the demise of Christianity in His 7 Church epistles in Revelation, where indifference, disinterest, skewed doctrines and apostasy permeate the Body. This state of affairs began in the days of the apostles as we see outlined in Acts, where ravening wolves enter the fold – to destroy rather than feed God’s flock. This degenerating state of affairs has been accelerating in these last decades, but it is never too late for any of us.. to get back to the word of truth.
Christ may be standing outside of the door of a weak and failing church, but to each individual, He continues to say.. 'Behold, I am standing at the door and knocking; if ANYONE hears and listens heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me. He who overcomes (is victorious), and I will grant him to sit beside Me on My throne, as I Myself overcame (and was victorious) and sat down beside My Father on His throne. He who is able to hear, let him listen and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches)'. Revelation 3:20; 22
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