Because of Practice

Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Come and See.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 5:11-6:12 (NASB).

For the Mature (5:11-14)

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on the cross for our sins so that we could go free from the ultimate punishment of sin (eternal damnation), and so we could be delivered out of slavery to sin and could become servants of his righteousness, having the hope of eternal life with God. Thus, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). Our lives are no longer our own to be lived for worldly pleasure because we were bought back for God (redeemed) by the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us on a cross. He is now our Lord (owner-master) and we are his bond-servants (slaves).

Nonetheless, many people who are hearing the gospel, or who are hearing a form of the gospel preached today, and who have professed belief in Jesus Christ, are not being taught that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. They are being led in a prayer to receive Christ and then they are congratulated that they now have the hope of heaven when they die. And, some people most certainly pray the prayer hoping to escape hell and to have the promise of heaven when they leave this earth, and nothing more. Since they are not being taught the righteousness of Christ as lived out through our lives, many of these have only a surface-level understanding of what our salvation is all about, but they don’t truly comprehend that our salvation means a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin and to God, so they are not even infants in Christ, for they were not born again.

Yet, there are those who did genuinely receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, and they were born of the Spirit of God, and were crucified with Christ in death to sin and were resurrected with him to newness of life, but many of these have since stagnated in their walks of faith and have not moved beyond being delivered from their sins to maturity. They still need the elementary truths of the gospel of our salvation taught to them because they still have not put these into practice in their daily lives. Some of these professers of Christ may not truly know Christ at all, because the scriptures are clear that if we walk in darkness (according to the flesh) we will die in our sins. Yet, some may be genuinely saved but have just not moved past the fundamentals of our faith to the things which mark a mature follower of Christ.

So, the encouragement here is that we need to move past the fundamentals of our faith to maturity, and we need to be ones who are teaching others about Jesus Christ, and who are sharing the gospel of our salvation, and who are teaching and living the holiness of God in the life of the believer in Christ.

On to Maturity (6:1-8)

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

This is a hard teaching, and one that is often skipped over because many people don’t know how to interpret it, because it seems to go against what many people believe about salvation as a free gift from God. Nonetheless, the scriptures do teach that if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God that we must continue in the faith we profess to the very end (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; & I John 2:24-25). As well, John 3:16 says that whoever believes in him has eternal life. This word “believes” must be interpreted based on the Greek verb tense which is present tense (believing). In other words, we are not saved based on past belief. We must be presently believing in Christ when he returns. And, true belief is accompanied by true repentance and obedience and surrender to Christ.

The indication appears to be here, as is true in many other scriptures in the New Testament, that if we do not grow beyond the elementary teachings of our salvation and of the Christian faith and practice, we are in danger of falling away from Christ and of losing our salvation. Some will contend that this is speaking of those who never truly knew Christ but who only professed to know him. Yet, the scriptures noted in the previous paragraph clearly speak of those who do know Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but who, at some point, cease to believe in Christ, i.e. they do not continue in their faith and thus they no longer have that hope of eternal life with God. Whatever your belief about these things, it is clear from the teachings of scripture that a saved life is a changed life – a life transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. If we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (according to our sinful flesh), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6).

Ministers of Christ (6:9-12)

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

It is encouraging to know, though, that there are many people who are genuinely born of the Spirit of God, who are walking in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. They love their Lord, and they are bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. They understand that God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and remorse. They know that his grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). They walk in the fear (honor, respect) of the Lord. And, their desire is for God, to please him in all that they do and are and say. This is not to say that they are living in sinless perfection, but that they don’t use lack of perfection as an excuse for willful and continued sin against God. They live to honor God with their lives.

They are commended for their faith, not that any of us can take credit for the good that we do, for it is Christ working in us, and it is his Spirit empowering us and strengthening us that gives us the ability to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Yet, we are also not puppets on a string. We daily choose to follow Christ or to go our own way. So, we need to choose each day to follow Christ, and to go his way, and to serve him, and to do what he says. We need to daily surrender to his will for our lives and to let him lead us in the way he has for us. And, we need to be ministers of his grace and of his gospel of salvation to the people God has placed in our paths. God did not save us so that we could keep this salvation to ourselves. It is his will that many should be saved, so we need to share his gospel with others so that they can also come to believe in him. Amen!

Come and See / An Original Work / May 20, 2013

Based off John 1:35-51

John, the Baptist, called of God to
Make straight the way for the Lord,
Told his disciples about Jesus,
So two of them followed Him.

One of them who followed Jesus
Told his brother, Simon Peter,
Who then he brought to the Savior,
Who had told them, “Come and see.”

Jesus Christ, our Lord, Messiah,
On his way to Galilee found a man, Philip,
So he told him, “I want you to follow Me.”

Philip then found his friend,
And he told him, “We have found the one
The prophets spoke of – He is Jesus!”
Philip then said, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw the man, Nathanael,
While he sat beneath a fig tree,
Even before Philip called him,
So Nathanael did believe.

Nonetheless the Lord said,
“You believe because of what I told you.
You will see much greater things than these
If you will Come and see.”

Jesus’ calling to each one of us.
He tells us to believe in Him
As our Lord and Messiah,
And to follow where He leads.

He says we must turn from our sins,
Die to sin and self each day,
And put on our new lives in Jesus;
Bow before Him; humbly pray.