Move On From Nursery School
Maturity requires growing up healthily, relating appropriately and learning practically. The same is true for every believer in Jesus. Although a child could indefinitely redo the first year of nursery/kindergarten/pre-school it would not lead to maturity. The lessons learned need to be worked through practically to form a foundation upon which a lifestyle is built. Relaying the foundation, over and over again, will not enable walls to be constructed or the house built. So it is, growing up into Christ. The writer previously used the illustration of milk and meat to describe spiritual appetite (Hebrews 5:12), but the issue is the same.
We must not think that the elementary teachings mentioned here (repentance, faith, baptism, recognition of belonging to Christ, resurrection and judgement) as in any way trivial. Far from trivial, they are essential doctrines (See Truth Direct: www.beaconlight.co.uk/books/truth-unlocked). But they need to be incorporated into the believer's lifestyle (James 1:22-25). Maturity requires practiced behaviour based on a deep understanding of the relationship we have with Christ and, through Him, with each other.
This letter to Hebrew-background believers seeks to explain how the Old Testament regulations find their fulfilment in Christ (Hebrews 10:11-14). The mature response is to enter into an ever-deepening relationship with Him instead of either being tied to mechanically-observed religious rites or treating the apostle's teaching as another set of laws. Relationship requires that two people understand each other. So Hebrews helps us understand the profoundness of Christ's character and the completeness of His saving work. To stand firm in trusting Jesus, in the face of persecution and apostasy, requires a deep relationship with Him and well-practiced obedient living (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Yet today, as when this letter was first sent, many believers are content with being almost indistinguishable from their religious or secular neighbours, in understanding, relationship or obedience to Christ. They may know Bible texts but have not wrestled with their own sinful nature by putting them into practice. Many pastors are content to relay foundations without building relationship or obedience. When trouble comes or false teaching creeps into the church, they are not able to stand for truth, or help others to stand. Like a shanty town in an earthquake zone, one or two fall and take others with them. It is time to develop a new appetite for understanding the character and work of Christ; and to challenge each other to put the apostles' teachings into practice (Hebrews 13:15-16). Hebrews is a good start!
© Dr Paul Adams