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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS REQUIRED

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Although those to whom this epistle was directed were Jewish Christians, the writer knew their spiritual background well enough to know that they had insufficient spiritual learning - they had not gained sufficient knowledge of God's will, seeing ye are dull of hearing (Preceding Vs. 11). This verse tells us that there wasis much that should have been learned by these Jewish Christian, but they were lacking. It was said at that time that God's word was hard to be uttered - hard to be expressed by a teacher in a manner that was understandable by those having insufficient scriptural knowledge. Indeed, it is extremely difficult for young people, as well as new converts to Christianity, to understand teachings such as the "priesthood" of Christ when compared to the orders of either Aaron or of Melchisedec. Similar to these examples, there is much to be learned from God's word once one is baptized into the body of Christ. One must grow in knowledge.

Just how long it had been since these Hebrew Christians had accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and had been baptized into His body is not known. Certainly they were not recent converts to Christianity. The author of this epistle infers that it had been long enough for them to have gained sufficient knowledge to become teachers of the word of God. Yet they, themselves, were still in need of further teaching of the scriptures. They had not sufficiently learned the first principles of the oracles of God. These principles are referred to as the doctrine of Christ, as recorded in the first two verses of Hebrews 6, and include repentance, ...faith, ...baptisms, ...laying on of hands, ...resurrection, ...and ...eternal judgment.

It is evident from the lesson text that, by inference, that when a Christian becomes complacent, and experiences spiritual stagnation, they are not capable of serving God's will and the cause of Christ as they should. These Jewish Christianshad evidently slid backwards in spiritual knowledge and were on the verge of apostasy - abandoning the principles of faith that had originally brought them into the body of Christ. Spiritual growth is not merely suggested in the lesson text, it is a required by God. Although all come into the body of Christ as babes, they are not to remain infants. Peter, in no uncertain terms, tells us this about new Christians: they are as newborn babes; desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2).

All Christian doctrine is not as simple as the instructions of Peter, and the other apostles, gave their audiences on the Day of Pentecost. When asked by the multitudes what shall we do, their answer was simple and easily understood: repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. How one becomes a member of the body of Christ is the milk by which spiritual growth begins. The more difficult Christian doctrine is that of growing into, and remaining a faithful, profitable member of the body of Christ. This is the "strong meat;"the more difficult tenets of God's gospel of salvation that need to be learned and obeyed as soon as possible, after one becomes a newborn Christian. Although they had sufficient time to do so, the Hebrew Christians had not progressed in this growing process as they should. They were still spiritual babes.

It is evident from this scripture that God expects every Christian to become teachers of His will. It takes growth in the knowledge of God's will to become a Christian adult that is skillful in the word of righteousness. Strong meat is God's doctrine that governs the conduct of a Christian's life. It is this strong meat that allows one to have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Babes in Christ are easy prey for false teachers. The writer of Hebrews gives young Christians this warning: Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9).

It takes knowledgeable, strong, adult Christians to discern between truth and error. Once this level of Christian maturity is reached, we are obligated to become teachers of God's will. Whether we teach publicly or in private settings, and either by word or deed, the mature Christian has this godly duty. Christian growth is a never-ending process. A Christian's appetite for righteousness should never be satisfied. Even after reaching the adult state of a teacher, we should strive to become a better teacher - a better servant of God, constantly serving the cause of Christ to the best of our God-given talents and abilities. Spiritual growth is, indeed, required of God - eternal salvation rests on it!