In this episode, we explore some of the challenges behind obeying God, believing His guidance is best for us, and trusting in what he has to say. We are all hard of hearing, stubborn and rebellious in our own ways. What is it that we need to hear? What message is God trying to get across to us? We continue looking to Chapter Five of Hebrews for answers. Current reality is an acquired taste. We all tend to seek comfort in our circumstances and the places that are familiar to us. The key to mature faith is listening to God.
Well, let’s go back to chapter 5 and understand how to be complete. I’m sure all of us to varying degrees struggle with being hard of hearing. So what is it that we need to know?
5:12. “For though that by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you’ve come to need milk and not solid food.”
Now let’s just step back for a minute here. Paul’s speaking to his very dear friends. At the end of this letter, he says, “I hope you’ll bear with this brief word of exhortation.” He says to them in here, you lost your possessions, and you were glad because you know you have a more enduring possession in heaven.
And yet he’s speaking to these guys fairly harshly. In our culture, there are those who would say you should never speak to someone like this. But Paul is not trying to make them feel good about themselves. Paul is not trying to build up their self esteem in the sense of feeling good about themselves irrespective of their own choices.
Paul is trying to help them grow up, and that’s true love: when you tell someone what they really need to hear. He’s telling them that here, this is current reality, guys. Herman says current reality is an acquired taste.
You need some milk again. Verse 13. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness—” There’s this word again. “—for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
If you ever want to know what maturity looks like, this is the biblical definition of maturity. When your senses by reason of use and experience know how to determine between good and evil.
Your children, how do they do at determining between good and evil? What’s the standard of good and evil to your little kids?
Me. Me, me! Yes, what I want right now is the main standard. And I take whatever information I have available to me and justify what I want right now.
Isn’t that the way we work?
Well, by reason of use to actually say, no, right and wrong is something God has determined, and I can tell the difference. That’s what real personal maturity looks like.
So one of the things we have to do if we really want to take the message of this book to heart is we have to have some current reality about ourselves. And we have to listen and say what of this is speaking to me? Where am I in this? Where do I see myself?
Jesus as High Priest
6:1. “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection—” maturity, completion.
Now what is it he wants to talk about?
He wants to talk about Melchizedek. He wants to talk about Jesus as high priest.
And he says, hey, we really need to get this down guys. Jesus is Son. Jesus is High Priest. He’s paved the way. He’s given us a means to possess our possession. And his office of high priest is how we get there, and I want to talk to you about that.
Elementary Principles of Christ
And then he suddenly stops, and he says, but let me just make a point: You’re not listening. I want to talk to you about Melchizedek, but you’re not listening. You’ve become dull of hearing. You ought to be teaching people about Jesus as high priest, but instead, you need kind of basics 101.
And then in 6:1 he says, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ—”
So what are the elementary principles of Christ? “—let us go on to perfection—” maturity. “—not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works—”
What is repentance from dead works? What category does it go in, elementary or advanced? Elementary.
“—of faith towards God.” What category does faith towards God go in, elementary or advanced? Elementary. It’s pretty basic, right? You need to believe God.
“—doctrines of baptisms.” What point of your Christian walk do you get baptized, early or late? It’s elementary.
“—laying on of hands—” church leadership, gifts. Elementary or advanced? Elementary.
“—resurrection of the dead.” That’s about the most basic thing you have in Christianity, isn’t it? The belief that we’re going to overcome death and be resurrected. Is that advanced or elementary? Elementary.
“—eternal judgment.” We all know that eternal judgment is a certainty in the future. That’s elementary.
He doesn’t want to talk about that anymore!
Now interestingly enough, he’s already talked about most of those things, and he’s going to talk about most of those things again; but he’s not going to be focusing on them. They’re going to be part of the conversation about the central thing. And what’s the central thing going to be? Melchizedek. The high priest. The high priestly function.
That’s maturity. Understanding the high priestly function is maturity.
Now why would that be such a big deal? Why wouldn’t understanding about eternal judgment be a bigger deal? To live and progress. OK, knowing that you’re going to be judged is important, right? But can you get a good report at that judgment without some help? We can’t get a good report at the judgment without some help.
Baptism is important because it’s a public confession, but does that get us to the finish line? See this is the power to get us to the finish line. It’s Jesus. It’s high priest.
And what was it that Jesus did? Go back to 5:7. Here’s what Melchizedek did, Jesus the high priest. “Who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications—”
Is Jesus getting a raw deal during his life? He’s had a pretty bad life as we would say it, right? So give me some things that Jesus had to suffer.
Ridicule. Who was ridiculing him? The leaders. The guys who had the authority to ridicule were ridiculing him.
He was rejected in his hometown and by his family. His brothers were making fun of him.
He was betrayed by one of his own guys.
Have you ever gone through the gospels and read them with the idea in mind that the disciples were the three stooges? You really ought to do that! It’s really hilarious if you’ll do that. They’re constantly “Whoop, whoop, whoop, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” You know, they just don’t get it at all.
And Jesus is like, have I been with you all this time, and you still don’t get it? What were you guys talking about on the road? Won’t say. They were talking about who’s the greatest. And it’s just one thing after another.
Peter. Jesus, you’ve got to stop saying this! You’re upsetting people! This isn’t going to happen to you! You’re not going to die!
Get behind me, Satan. You’ve got the things of men on your heart. This is right at the end after they’ve had three years of basic training! They just don’t get it.
So he’s got stooge disciples, betraying disciples, a rejecting family, an unappreciative audience. He feeds the people in the wilderness, and their response is, hey, we like this! Let’s keep this going! This is a good deal! Moses fed people in the wilderness; what are you going to do for us?
At every turn, really, it’s nothing but frustration. And what he did with that frustration is he offered up prayers and supplications. “—with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death—”
We know that Jesus prayed to be saved from crucifixion, and yet when God said, no, that’s the way I want you to be saved from death, and I’m going to resurrect you, Jesus said what? Not my will but yours be done.
Did he want to go die on the cross? I mean, he would have been a nut if he wanted to die on the cross. And Jesus wasn’t a nut! But he did it. And he did it with reliance on his father.
Let’s look at John 5:18. “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was his father, making himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself. But what he sees the father do; for whatever he does, the Son also does in like manner.”
Now let’s just think for a minute who’s saying this. Who’s saying this? Jesus. What are a few things that Jesus has on his resume at this point of things he has done? Healed the sick. Raised the dead. How about before his earthly ministry? Created the world.
How would you like that resume: Created the world, sustain all things, hold everything up, author of truth. That’s who’s saying this. And he who created the world and through whom knows all things and for whom is all things and who sustains all things is saying I can’t do anything of myself.
Now why is he saying that? What was it he learned in chapter 5? Obedience. Because that’s what his father sent him to do. And that was how he was perfected. And that’s how he conquered death. So that he could be the author of conquering death and us overcoming death completely. Not just that we get to live forever with God. But that we’re restored to what our original purpose was.
And that’s maturity.
Now is the Time
Now, we’re going to deal with one of the most controversial passages in Hebrews, that I think you will not have any problem with because of all this foundation that we’ve done so far.
So we’re going to press on to maturity. We’re not going to talk to about elementary things: believing in God, repentance, baptism, leadership, eternal judgment. We’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about Jesus, Melchizedek—
6:3 “And this we will do —” What is the this we will do? Press on to maturity. The maturity he’s talking about? Melchizedek. Jesus as high priest. “This we will do if God permits.”
Now why would God not permit you to press on to maturity? It could be because you don’t have the elementary principles down. But that wouldn’t be God limiting you to press on to maturity. That would be a self-limitation.
Why would God not let you press on to maturity? Why did God not let the children of Israel go on to possess the land?
Lack of faith?
Why didn’t he say you can’t go in after the first time they tested him?
Well, we don’t know. He didn’t say why he waited ten times. He just said, “That’s it.”
And that’s the point he’s going to make here. What was the big point he made about the time to repent in chapter 4? When’s the time to repent? Today. Yeah, he said it over and over again, right? Today is the day.
Why is today the day? You might not get another chance. That’s the way this works.
Now, we’re talking about going on to maturity, possessing the possession now. You can’t decide I’ll just do that whenever I feel like it. That’s not what we’re allowed to do.
When the time comes, that’s the time you have. You may be given another opportunity, you may not.
6:4. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit—” This word partakers is companions, partners. This is people who are walking in the Spirit. “—have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come.” So they’ve got the elementary principles down.
“If they fall away—” Now remember in chapter 2, he says do not drift away. That’s the whole warning of this whole passage. “If they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.”
And then he gives an example: “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
So you’ve got two garden plots. One garden plot, you go out and you plow it, and you plant seeds, and it grows vegetables. What do you feel about that garden plot? Happy. Why do you like that garden plot? It’s useful.
The other garden plot, you go out, and you plant seeds, and you go out, and it’s full of grass burrs and cockleburs. What do you feel about that plot? Got to start over again, right? Just burn it. Why would you burn it? You have to get rid of all those stickers and everything so you can start over and make it useful. Near to being cursed.
This is the same picture that’s in 1 Corinthians 3. We must all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive rewards for deeds done in the flesh whether good or bad. II Cor. 5.
In 1 Corinthians 3, we bring our works, and some are wood, hay, and stubble. What happens to the wood, hay, and stubble? It’s burnt.
Some will escape, though as through fire, it says there.
And then he goes on, this is interesting, he says (6:9), “But, beloved, we’re confident of better things concerning you—” I think you still have a chance to repent. “—yes, things that accompany salvation‑‑‑” Which salvation is he talking about? These people already have an enduring possession in Heaven. These people are already companions in the Holy Spirit. These people are doing good works. These people lost their possessions and were glad. What salvation are we talking about? The same salvation we were talking about in chapter 2 and in chapter 3. The salvation from the loss of this destiny that we were originally intended for. To ascend to the throne with Christ and reign with him. To be restored in our humanity to the possession of the inheritance.
That’s our inheritance. It’s not something small and trivial. It’s not a crown that you get out of Cracker Jacks that you throw at his feet. That’s just a symbol.
What we’re really talking about is a function of ruling the new earth, not so we can be tyrants but because we’re servants, and we’re making the earth prosperous and happy.
Why does he think that? Verse 10, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward his name, in that you’ve ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
You’ve done a lot of great things, and I think God is going to give you a lot of leeway. But when do I want you to respond to this? Today. Why? I love you guys. I don’t want your hard hearing to cost you your possession. Don’t be like the people in the wilderness. Sure God took care of them. Sure they had like Scottsdale retirement life, living in the desert, having your food provided for you, having your clothes provided for you. But they didn’t get the possession of the land! They lost out on something awesome! Don’t lose out.
Verse 11: “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.”
I don’t know how many different ways he comes up with finish, endure, enter his rest, teleiosi, be completed, be matured.
(6:12) “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” I want you to inherit the promises.
You inherit the promises through obedience.
So Jesus is our example. He’s the high priest. When he was on earth, he depended completely on his father. He walked in total dependence, and that was what gained him his inheritance. And he now serves as a function to help us in anything we need.
Our tendency, though, is to seek help elsewhere. We tend to seek help through circumstances.
All of us want comfort. We’re humans; we can’t help it.
Jesus wants us to seek comfort from the Holy Spirit and from one another.
We tend to want to seek comfort through circumstances. Are you letting circumstances and comfort in circumstances be a priority to something you know God wants you to do?
The Danger of Self-Reliance
We’re going to go in subsequent chapters here, and we’re going to talk a lot about religious duty. His friends are devout Jews, and they’re doing all kinds of great religious things: sacrifice and all this stuff.
Are you doing those things as a means of approaching the throne of grace to find help in time of need? Or are you doing those things as a way of self justifying?
These hard-of-hearing folks that Paul loves so much that he’s trying to get back on the straight and narrow, they were relying on these religious observance things to justify themselves. And we know that doesn’t work.
What we want to do is have our conscience cleared by going before the throne of grace. It’s a matter of the heart.
The key thing for immaturity is self reliance. Children don’t know the difference between good and evil because they use themselves as a reference. We, to the extent we rely on ourselves, are at risk of not getting to this great inheritance.
And it kind of makes logical sense. If you’re God and you’re going to turn over the reigning of the universe, in part, to a knucklehead like me, do you want somebody that will ask for help and listen, or somebody that just hauls off and does stuff he thinks is right?
I tell you, we hire a lot of young engineers at work. If we have an engineer who won’t ask for help when he gets into something he doesn’t know about, we don’t have much use for that person. What we mainly want is someone who knows what they know and knows what they don’t know, and which one’s the bigger subset.
It’s a challenging message. It’s one that we need to hear on a constant basis.
I am challenged by this every time I come to it because I’m still a little kid at heart, and I tend to focus everything on me; and what I get from Hebrews is a good kick in the pants, which is something that I dearly need because I’m a child.
I hope you’ll join me in getting kicked in the pants and getting some godly fear because I hope all of us possess this possession.