LIVING WITH A CONFIDENT FAITH IN CHRIST
It is time to move on to maturity
Jerry A Collins
qWhat does it mean to move on to maturity?
How do we move onto maturity?
qWhat hinders us from moving onto maturity?
The fact that we know something does not mean that we have learned it. True knowledge is the application of that knowledge to my life. How much am I able to use that knowledge? Maturity is the result of something I have learned being applied in my life. That knowledge has been put to use. God wants us to apply the Bible to our lives. That is the only kind of knowledge God understands. It is possible for a Christian not to grow up. The writer of Hebrews warns us about the peril of not progressing in our application of Godís Word to our lives.
1. IT IS POSSIBLE TO REMAIN AN IMMATURE CHRISTIAN 5:11-14
Later on he wrote much about Melchezedek (7:1-10:18) but not now.
(1) Truth can be hard to receive when innattentive to it 11. They had already been warned about the need to pay close attention to what they have heard (2:1). James warns us not merely to be hearers of the word but doers also (1:22). Sluggish, innattentive and preoccupied, slow to learn and unable to apply Godís Word to their lives.
(2) They ought to be teachers but need someone to instruct them again in the basics 12. He says I must go back and teach you the elementary truths again not the deep things emphasizing their retrogression, a reversal of their spiritual growth. Not being able to use this word in their lives they still need spiritual milk, food for babies instead of the solid food, truth for the spiritually mature. The difference is not in greater or lessor degrees of knowledge about doctrines but the depth of that knowledge displyed by the ability to put it to use in their lives.
(3) They fail to make practical use of the knowledge they have 13. This is a further explanation of babyhood. It is not so much that a spiritual infant lacks information, tho at fiurst he does, but rather that he has not put the teaching about righteousness to effective use. The innattention and preoccupation with other things leaves him inexperienced and woithout the skill to apply biblical truth which goes with godly maturity. This constitutes a baby christian. He lacks the experience of applying Gods word to his marriage, money management, paretnting skills, interpersonal relational skills, beating temptation, overcoming anger and so on.
(4) Maturity means one who is using what he knows 14. The ability to make godly moral decisions is possessed by those who are practicing what they have learned and results in distinguishing what is good from evil. That kind of person can handle solid food and it is that kind of person every Chriatian needs to become. However, it is possible for a Christian because of the problem of spiritual dullness, to not be able to distinguish eveil ideaology and practices over righteous and good truth.
2. IMMATURE CHRISTIANS MUST PURSUE SPIRITUAL MATURITY 6:1-3
A christian who has slipped back into babyhood must leave that condition and progress toward maturity. This group being addrressed (1) they were babes, thus possess life (2) They do not need knowledge but need to use the knowledge they possess (3) They have lapsed into dullness because of disuse (4) they ,ust have been saved or thy could not be expected to have been teachers (5) maturity here is to come to maturity in christ not to get salvation in Christ. The point is to show the peril of regressing and the duty to progress spiritually.
A. If they progressed properly they would avoid the danger of laying again the foundation of repentance. In other words there can be no maturity by feeding on this kind of foundational truth. Laying this foundation again will not produce the righteous and godly life of a mature Christian. The implication is that they are losing sight of the basics about Christ and are beginning to occupy themselves with OT and Jewish teaching that was used as the foundation for presenting and understanding Christ. They should not go back there. This foundation is made up of OT and Jewish teaching that the people built on when they became Christians. They include (1) of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God vs 1. (2) Of instruction about washings and laying on of hands vs 2 and (3) the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment vs 2. What is interesting is they are all common OT practices and beliefs. They could have been foundational as a way of helping Jews understand the work of Christ as it happened. Jesus Christ is the goal and fulfillment of all these things. So they should not preoccupy themeslves (5:12; 6:1) indeed they should seperate themselves from this pre-Christian foundation that prepared them for Christís coming and not neglect the gospel, Christís commands, apostles teaching and learn how to use it to grow into maturity and godliness.
B. It is 100% my pressing on and 100% God at work in me vs 3 On the one hand I am to press on toward maturity by applying whatever I learn from Gods word and at the same time it is God who permits me to mature. Phil 2:12-13 Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you to will and to do his good pleasure.