Move on to the Meat
Read Hebrews 6:1-2 (ESV)
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, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
What are some practical steps you can take to grow in your faith when you feel stuck?
Recently, I came across a study conducted by Arizona Christian University. In 2020, their American Worldview Inventory survey found that only 21% of Protestant Christians who attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview. The stats were even more grim for the “mainline” Protestant churches with only 8% holding a biblical worldview. These are people who claim to be Christians! But the vast majority don’t even take the Bible at its word. What in the world is the problem? I believe a lack of robust biblical training and a shallow understanding of the historic Christian faith for the past few generations are to blame.
In today’s verses, the author of Hebrews urged the early Jewish converts to Christianity to “leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.” He tells them that they don’t have to keep going back to the foundational doctrines of the faith. While there is definite value in going “back to the basics” to ensure a solid understanding of essential Christian doctrines, we should strive to grow, learn, and progress in our knowledge, understanding, and discernment.
Imagine going to preschool to learn your ABCs and 123s but then you show up at kindergarten the next year only to be taught your letters and numbers again. Then, it’s more ABCs and 123s in first grade. By second grade, you complain that you are still stuck doing “baby stuff” when you are more than ready to apply that foundational knowledge and learn to actually read and do math. The Christian faith is just like learning anything else. We start with and should never abandon “elementary doctrines.” But there is so much more we can learn from that point on! God’s Word is full and rich. We can read it every day for our entire lives and never completely mine every nugget of wisdom and understanding of God. There is always more for us to learn.
The author of Hebrews also used a food analogy to help us understand this: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).” As babies, we need milk! It is foundational to our diet. But as we grow, we gradually begin introducing solid food into our diet. If we don’t, we will be malnourished as adults.
If we truly grasp and accept the elementary doctrines of the Christian faith but don’t progress or grow spiritually, we’ll still be saved. But that doesn’t mean we will be spiritually healthy or thriving. We’ll be missing out on the richness and fullness of God’s Word.
Unfortunately, we won’t be the only ones that suffer because of our spiritual malnourishment. As we saw in those statistics, the body of Christ needs mature Christians who know their Bibles. We need strong, mature, and biblically faithful pastors in our pulpits, of course! But we need Biblically strong Christians in every sphere of influence in our community. We need faithful Christians in local, state, and national politics. We need biblical values represented in the business world. We need the hope of Christ represented in our health care workers. We need strong Christian educators in our schools. We need biblically faithful volunteers in our children’s ministries. And perhaps most of all, we need parents and the family to learn and grow in their faith so that they can teach their own children.
Friends, I want to encourage you to not be discouraged. If you need to go back to the basics to get the foundation of your faith right, do that. If you are just starting out as a believer in Jesus Christ, there is no shame in learning your spiritual ABCs and 123s. We all have to master the elementary doctrines of Christ before we graduate to a deeper understanding and begin to apply it to our lives. We all need to start off with a steady diet of spiritual milk before we get to the meat. So start where you are. But don’t be content to stay there. The author of Hebrews says to “go onto maturity” (Hebrews 6:1). How? By “being trained by constant practice” (Hebrews 5:14) So, open your Bibles today. Sit under solid Biblical instruction every chance you get. Get your training in so you can move on to the meat.
Lord, thank You for Your Word. By it You teach me, reprimand me, correct me, and train me for righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). When I read Your Word, I grow in wisdom, knowledge and discernment. Help me move on towards maturity. Not just for myself but so that I can be effective salt and light in a dark and decaying world (Matthew 5:13-16). Grow me and use me to glorify You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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