Feasting with God #24
Text: Hebrews 5:11-14
11About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12For 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, 13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Instruction in God’s Word is a never-ending process. Learning the doctrines of God, hearing his truths, growing in faith is lifelong, it is being fed with spiritual food. Just as your body will wither away and die if you stop eating, so your soul will wither and fall into spiritual death if you stop hearing God’s Word.
But you don’t offer a rich juicy steak to babies, or lobster, or caviar, or casserole. Babies need a different food than adults do. Babies need milk. The same thing is true spiritually, and that is what our text is about. The spiritually immature—the new converts or young believers—or even the spiritually sick—those in danger of falling away—should be fed on spiritual milk, the simpler and more basic foods. One whose stomach is not prepared to digest the more complex foods may become sick, may fall into doubt, fear, or even pride or self-righteousness. If they have not been raised into maturity on the milk, they may not be prepared for the more mature doctrines.
Understand this spiritually: the complex doctrines we do not teach to children, to new converts, to those in spiritual danger—we by no means keep such doctrines hidden, but we keep such individuals fed on a rigorous diet of spiritual milk. How can anyone advance spiritually if he does not have the basics? So in our churches we have created a structure of levels: the young we teach in Sunday School, where they receive the most basic milk. We introduce the more complex and solid food to students who go through Confirmation Class, or to adults who wish to become members in our churches. Beyond this class we offer many more particular teachings, in Adult Bible Studies. Beyond this still there are more opportunities for solid-food doctrine in advanced classes in our colleges, and in Seminary where men are trained to preach the Word to others.
The differences in these levels should not be confused with a difference in faith: all these spiritual foods, whether milk or solid food, serve to nourish the spiritual life of a person’s faith, and any amount of this nourishment is sufficient to give a person salvation. But this does not mean that any person should become complacent. It’s too easy for Christians to think, “I know all I need to know, so why should I go to church? Why should I go to Bible Study?” The Word should never be neglected, and Christians should always seek to be fed more and more of this spiritual food, and to grow towards more and more complex spiritual foods. No, not all Christians are called to be pastors or teachers, but in some sense all Christians are called upon to speak of their faith. Jesus commissioned every single Christian with the words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). And this is what the writer in our text means: “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.” The people to whom he was writing neglected their learning, and were in danger of losing all. They should have been receiving the mature foods so that they could feed others with spiritual milk, but they had set themselves back, and they needed to start over, to grow again into being teachers.
Spiritual life is like any other form of life: we need constant nourishment in order to survive. This spiritual nourishment we find in God’s Word, where we hear the basics of Jesus’ perfect life, his death in our place, and his resurrection so that we have new life. This is all we really need to be spiritually alive. But the joy at that message will make us want to learn more and more about it, and to tell others the same things we have learned.
Thank you, O Lord, for constantly keeping our spiritual plates filled with the food you provide. Lead us to always return to the table where we can find such food, in church, in Bible Classes, in private devotions. Guide us to grow to maturity, so that as we mature we may also provide this food to others, leading them to the same life that we enjoy on account of your Son’s atonement. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.