PREPARING FOR ETERNAL LIFE
The Danger of Not Maturing
The most significant thing you can do to prepare yourself for your eternal life is to develop your own spiritual maturity. This is the path to your spiritual inheritance.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO REMAIN AN IMMATURE BELIEVER 5:11-14
Truth can be hard to receive when inattentive to it v 11
They had already been warned about the need to pay close attention to what they have heard (2:1). They have become dull of hearing. The descriptive word describes their hearing as lazy, sluggish or dull. The point is they have gotten themselves into a mental state where they are not able to hear with any understanding the things pertaining to maturity.
You ought to be teachers but need someone to instruct you again in the basics v 12
He says they are obligated to be teachers. The reason he gives is because of the time they have been believers. This is significant because it implies that all believers irrespective or their calling (their gifts, talents, personality, desires, or life situation) should, after a certain amount of time as a believer, be a teacher in some way. They were actually not capable of digesting the theological food the author had for them. Not all truth is at the same level, and not all truth is digestible by all Christians. Only those who have worked their way through the “milk stage” are ready for deeper spiritual truth.
You fail to make practical use of the knowledge you have v 13
There is nothing wrong with being an infant but there is plenty wrong with remaining an infant. A baby has not put the teaching about righteousness to effective use. The inattention and preoccupation with other things leaves him inexperienced and without the skill to apply biblical truth which goes with godly maturity. He lacks the experience and skill of applying Gods word to his marriage, money management, parenting skills, interpersonal relational skills, beating temptation, overcoming anger and so is not accustomed to the word of righteousness.
Maturity is developing the capacity to discriminate truth from error v 14
Here is the best definition of maturity in the Bible. A mature person is one whose senses are trained by practice to discern good and evil. Senses is faculty of the mind for perceiving, understanding, or judging. Since the context is one of moral/theological perception, this would be a function of the human spiritual sensitivity. Another key word here is to discern. What a mature person does is train his or her senses by judging good and evil. A mature person is then a judgmental person in the sense of regularly evaluating: (1) the conditions in the world around them, (2) their own actions, and (3) those of their fellow believers, according to the Word of God.
IMMATURE BELIEVERS MUST PURSUE SPIRITUAL MATURITY 6:1-3
Believers must choose the goal of maturing 6:1a
Having confronted the readers of their woeful state of immaturity— that they are sluggish hearers who lack the capability to comprehend “solid food”—the author calls upon them to press on to maturity. The very fact that the author exhorts them to “press on” clarifies that there is still hope and opportunity for them. But this is the decisive moment in which they must choose which way they are going to go [note that he is not suggesting a continued diet of “milk” for them].
Maturity is not based
in reciting foundational truth 6:1b-2
He is suggesting that these should not be re-laid but must move beyond these basic teachings.
1. not again a foundation throwing down of repentance from dead works and faith in God. In other words, don’t just keep spelling out the gospel over and over again every time you meet.
2. baptism teachings. In other words, don’t just keep on talking about baptisms.
3. and laying on of hands. Early on some people received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostle’s hands (Acts 8:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6) but he is telling them to get beyond it.
4. and [the] resurrection from [the] dead. This is another important subject all Christians should be informed about. But again, if that is all you talk about, then you need to move on.
5. and of eternal judgment. Everyone needs to know that there is an eternal judgment for both unbelievers (Revelation 20:11-15) and for believers (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). But then we need to move on to greater maturity. What is interesting is they are all common OT practices and beliefs.
There is danger that believers may not be able to press on to maturity 6:3
They could only grow with Gods help. It is 100% my pressing on and 100% God at work in me. 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). But the way they were headed back into Judaism—suggested that, instead of permitting them to mature, God might have to take a very different course of action.
IMMATURE BELIEVERS ARE WARNED OF THE DANGER OF FALLING AWAY 6:4-8
Believers may be prevented from maturing 6:4-5
First, his readers had been enlightened. Secondly, he points out that they had tasted the heavenly gift. Thirdly, he states that his readers had been made partakers of or partners with the Holy Spirit who was God’s pledge. Fourthly, he says in 6:5 that they had tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come. This is a theological description of a believer. They had enjoyed Gods blessing.
Believers may make it impossible to be restored 6:6
A believer, one who had truly been enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, can fall away. In Heb 12:17 what happened to Esau after he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears. Esau made a bad deal, but the deed was done. His decision was irrevocable. His blessing was gone forever and he had to live with the consequences. If the Hebrews fell away, they couldn’t be renewed to repentance. It would be too late to avoid the consequences of their decision. There would be no turning back or recover the blessings they forfeited or avoid the judgment to come.
Believers face the alternatives of rewards or judgment 6:7-8
If the Hebrews fell away, they would be liable to judgment. The author used an agricultural analogy to illustrate the consequences of desertion. The earth is the believer. The words cursed and burned refers to God’s judgment in this life and at the Bema. The agricultural analogy should remind us of the warning Paul gave to the Corinthians about gaining and losing eternal rewards (1 Cor 3:12-15). Believers can be good land that produces fruit and receives blessing from God (i.e., gains eternal rewards) or bad land that produces thorns and gets rejected and burned (i.e., loses eternal rewards). Likewise, Paul warned the Corinthians that believers could also produce two types of works.
MATURE BELIEVERS CAN HAVE THE HOPE OF REWARD 6:9-12
Its possible for a believer to live a consistent life (6:9)
In the previous illustration, the unsuitable vegetation was burned off the unfruitful ground. That should not be seen as the normative outcome of the Christian life, and the author is concerned of better things for them, i.e., things that accompany salvation. This is the glorious destiny of believers who are faithful to Christ in this life (cf. Rev 2:26-27). These are the “better things” that the author has in mind for his readers and this is good treasure laid up for us in the form of an inheritance.
God observes and
rewards a believers consistent life 6:10
Their faithfulness is evidenced by their work and their love. The point here is that God does not forget our good works, which are the basis of our judgment. This, in turn, is described as having ministered to the saints and ministering. They served and continue to serve preparing themselves to be remembered and rewarded by God who would not forget.
Believers are urged to live consistent lives God can reward 6:11-12
They are to be diligent and eagerly making every effort to maintain a full assurance of hope until the end v 11. Notice again that it matters how we finish. Spiritual maturity and a fully alive life is to be pursued until the end. Life gets harder as we get older and so the challenge. Alternatively, they can be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises v 12. Inheriting the promises is not automatic for any Christian, for this is based on the exercise of faith and patience. This assurance is not a community thing but an individual thing, which each one of them must realize by themselves.
Hebrews 5:11–6:12 is a good reminder to each of us that we should be pressing on to spiritual maturity, but this is not an automatic or guaranteed outcome for any Christian.
1. I need to press on to things which increasingly help me discern good and evil not just the basics.
2. If I fall away from obedience to God, I will lose reward accountable to God.
3. If I stay faithful to the end, my spiritual inheritance will be preserved and offered to me.