2008 - Vol. 22
to Growth and Maturity
the Letter to the Hebrews
– Chapters 5:11-14
Why did the author of the Letter to the Hebrews call his fellow Christians
“dull of hearing”, “immature”, and “unskilled in the word of righteousness”?
Were they indifferent or forgetful of the gospel message?
There is a practical truth about the Christian life: We
are either moving forward or sliding back. No one can stand
still or remain indifferent for long without harmful consequences. A disciple
of Jesus Christ is either growing in faith or falling back into self-reliance,
growing in hope or letting setbacks lead to discouragement and hopelessness,
growing in love of God and neighbor or falling back into selfish and hurtful
God’s word has power to heal, restore, and make new. But the choice
is ours: receive God’s word with faith and obedience or chart one’s own
course in a sea of wilful chaos and anarchy. We can always be learning
and growing in the knowledge and love of God, unless we refuse. Do you
listen to God’s word with faith and submission, and with an eagerness to
grow and be transformed into the likeness of Christ?
What is maturity for the Christian?
It’s not “perfection” in the sense we normally mean when we say that someone
or something is “without flaw.” The scriptural understanding of maturity
and perfection has to do with “being complete”, not lacking in what is
essential. The author of Hebrews says the “mature” are “those who
have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil”
(Hebrews 5:14). A mature Christian is equipped to live his or her life
with faith, hope, and love. He or she has thought through their faith.
Faith and reason are not opposed, but build on one another to form a unity.
Augustine of Hippo remarked that “faith is reason at rest in God.” The
seven-fold gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2 include “wisdom,
understanding, counsel, and knowledge.” Do you seek to grow in your
understanding of God’s word?
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see > Introduction
to the Letter to Hebrews
Schwager is a member of The
Servants of the Word and the author of the Daily
Scripture Reading and Meditation website.]
About this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have
become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word.
You need milk, not solid food; 13 for every one who lives on milk is unskilled
in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. 14 But solid food is for
the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish
good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity,
not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith
toward God, 2 with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands,
the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will
do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance
those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift,
and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness
of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then commit
apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold
him up to contempt. 7 For land which has drunk the rain that often falls
upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it
is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and
thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.