By Now, You Ought to Be... (Hebrews Sermon 20 of 74)

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By Now, You Ought to Be... (Hebrews Sermon 20 of 74)

February 27, 2011 | Andrew Davis
Hebrews 5:11-14
Warnings

Roger Bannister and the Four Minute Mile

I want to take you back over 50 years in time to a historic moment in the history of sports, May 6th, 1954, English middle-distance runner Roger Bannister became the first to run the mile in under four minutes. The location was Iffley Road Track at Oxford University, and over 3000 spectators gathered on a blustery overcast day to watch this event. The wind at that point, just really just a short time before the race was gusting to over 25 miles an hour and Bannister felt the conditions were in the mile, and many people saw this to be a physical impossibility. absolutely unfavorable for him to make the attempt. He was going to save his energy and try another day. But just before the race was to begin the winds dropped to almost zero and the decision was made to go for it. Now, Roger Bannister at that time was a full-time medical student, but he had also been an Olympic athlete in 1952, he'd come in fourth in the Helsinki summer games in the 1500 meter event. He'd been bitterly disappointed at his outcome and he'd wrestled with the idea of giving up running altogether. However, he was soon motivated by a new goal, and that was to be the first man to go under four minutes

One commentator wrote about it, "The number had a certain mathematical elegance, 'four laps, four quarter miles, 4.00 minutes, that it seemed God himself had established it as a human limit.' For decades, the best middle distance runners had tried and failed. They had come to within two seconds, but that was as close as they were able to get. Attempt after attempt had proved futile and each effort was like a stone added to a wall that looked increasingly impossible to breach. Now, running the mile was an art form in itself. The distance, unlike the 100-yard sprint or the marathon, required a perfect balance of speed and stamina. The person to break that barrier would have to be fast, diligently trained and supremely aware of his body at every moment so that he would cross the finish line at just the point of complete exhaustion."

Now, Bannister made a scientific study of training techniques and race strategies and began turning in times that were coming closer and closer to the seemingly impenetrable barrier, four minutes in the mile. Other rivals in other parts of the world we're getting closer and closer too, so somebody it seems like was going to do it. And on May 6th, 1954, Bannister made his attempt. He went to the starting line, but as he went to the starting line he was not alone in his effort. He had two people helping him, and these two other runners were good friends of his and excellent runners in their own accord. And their sole purpose was to serve as pace setters for him that day. Now, a pace setter is a runner who has no interest in winning the race, but is seeking to help someone set a new world record. The two pace setters for Bannister that day were Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. Brasher was planning and had been sent out to run the first two laps at exactly a specific pace. The first lap at a certain pace, the second lap a little bit faster and then he was to drop out and Chataway was to continue and carry on through the third lap, and then he was to drop out.

Everything had been pre-ordained and set and measured out to give Bannister the best chance of breaking the four-minute mile. And so after three quarters then Bannister was on his own, and he took off on the fourth lap, and he finished the race. The crowd was listening breathlessly to find the official time and it was 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, and the crowd just went crazy. They never heard 59.4, they just heard 3 minutes and everyone went crazy. They saw history made by this one man, and since that time something like 600 different runners have broken the four-minute mile. So apparently it wasn't a physical limit after all. But he was the first to do it, and since that time also following his example, pace setters, or as they're sometimes called, 'rabbits', have been used in these kinds of attempts at world records. They're called rabbits, I think, because of the dog track. They have these mechanical rabbits that go around the track and the dogs chase them. Heaven forbid they should ever catch them, the dog will never run again, because they realized it wasn't worth it after all. But a good pace setter or rabbit can be paid as many as thousands of dollars for their effort in setting a world record.

I. The Pace of Constant Progress: By Now You Ought to Be Further Along

Now, the Book of Hebrews, I believe, is setting a pace for us in these verses today. In Hebrews 5:11-14, this text stands over us as we run our Christian race and tells us to run faster. Hebrews 12 says, "Let us run with endurance the race marked out before us." And we've been seeing all along that this book of Hebrews is urging us to continue running that race right to the end; we need to keep running right to the finish line. But here we have a pace setter kind of calling over his shoulder to us saying, "Pick up the pace, you're a little behind, you're a little bit behind." And so it's not enough to just run and to keep running and to cross the finish line. But there's a specific pace that the Lord has laid out for us to run, and we need to keep to it. In effects, the text stares at us all in the face with this question, Are you growing in Christ at the proper pace? By now ought you to be further along than you are?

And so we're looking at the issue of constant progress in the Christian life. And the context here, as we see right in the middle as Keith began to read in verse 11, it says, "We have much to say about this... " And on it goes, and you're like, "Well, that's an odd place to begin a scripture". Well, that's the value of expository preaching. You just need to come week by week. We were right in the middle of a flow of thought here, right in the middle of the Book of Hebrews, and we've seen week by week the purpose of this book, the author to the Hebrews was writing to, I believe, Jewish professors of faith in Christ, who had made an initial commitment of faith in Christ, testified to it, I believe, by water baptism, but under pressure in their circumstances they were wavering in their commitment.

They weren't attending church anymore. They were seeming to go back in their hearts to Old Covenant Judaism and the author is writing here and urging them that they would continue to walk with Christ, to run this race with Jesus Christ, and not turn back to their old ways. And he's been giving us the superiority or the supremacy of Christ in every way. And in chapter 5, he introduces the idea of Jesus as great High Priest and the superiority of Jesus' High priestly ministry.

And he brings up this concept about Jesus being a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. He says it in verse six. He says it in another place, "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." And then again in verse 10, right before the verse 11, that the reading began with today, and Jesus was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Then the author interrupts himself and he says, "Look, I have more things to tell you about this. I have much more to say about Melchizedek, and he will say it by the way, in chapter 7." He's going to go back to this theme and develop it. But he interrupts himself, and says, "We have much to say about this, but it's hard to explain, because you're slow to learn."

And so in the middle of his train of thought he is going to interrupt himself. In chapter seven, he will return. He'll give us a sense of the glories of Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. What that means is Jesus is both the priest and the king, and the two of them harmonize together in the person of Jesus, the office of priest and king, separated on the old covenant, but harmonized as Jesus is the priest in the order of Melchizedek. He's going to get even mystical almost in Chapter 7, in which this Melchizedek, figure, it just pops up in the middle of nowhere, it seems, without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days, or end of life, he says, mysterious words, and he'll go back and he'll develop all of these things. And it's very important, he really wants the Jewish readers here, the Hebrews, to understand the greatness of the ministry of Jesus as our great high priest, the greatness of His intercession for us at the right hand of God, the greatness of his finished work on the cross and the greatness of the new covenant that makes it all possible. Because in the old covenant, he could never have been both the priest and the king.

He wants to explain all of these things, but he stops himself for a very important reason, and frankly, right from 5:11 to the end of chapter 6, is all his interruption. And he gives these people a rather stern rebuke. You almost sense some frustration in the author here. Every good teacher knows his students. You can tell when he's lost the class, when their attention is wandering, when they're not getting what you're trying to tell them; he can sense that. Interestingly enough though, he blames them for the problem. He blames them for their inability to grasp the deeper things of the Word of God. He says it's their fault that they're not further along and able at this point to accept the things he's about to say. And so he gives them a strong rebuke. In Verse 11. He says, "About this we have much to say, but it's hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing." One translation gives us.

The reason the author cannot immediately say everything he wants to say is twofold, first of all, the subject matter itself is deep. It's spiritually powerful. It's not easy to grasp. He says, it's hard to explain, he's going to say in a moment, it's the meat of the word. Secondly, he cannot explain it to them because the Hebrew Christians have become dull of hearing; literally lazy listeners. One who is not easily stirred or moved, heavy, slothful, dull, that's what the word means, as opposed to someone who is quick, sharp, quick on the uptake, able to understand, diligent in his business. Those are the contras. He said, "You've become lazy listeners." The same word is used in the Greek translation of the book of Proverbs to refer to the sluggard. The focus here is on the ear, they are sluggards concerning their ears, concerning their listening to the Word of God.

Now, in the flow of the book of Hebrews, I said, this is a big interruption, but it's a vital interruption. He gives them here solemn warnings, and the warning section extends from 5:11 up through 6:8 and some of those words are among the most difficult for any Christians to ever accept and understand. Hebrews 6, some people say, one of the most controversial and difficult passages in the Bible. It seems to be saying that you can lose your salvation, we know that's not possible from other passages yet then, what do these words mean? But these are very strong words of rebuke to them.

He says, it’s impossible to renew a certain category of people, to repentance. People who crucify the Son of God afresh, and subject him to public disgrace.Those are strong words. He likens that category of people that he's talking about there to a field producing thorns and thistles that's worthless and is in danger of being cursed that in the end will be burned. These are strong words of warning and rebuke. But then after that he gives them some gracious encouragement. In 6:9-10, he says, "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we're confident of better things in your case, things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust. He will not forget your labor, the love you have shown His people as you have helped His people and continue to help them."

And He speaks about how they have, their hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. He gives them tremendous words of loving encouragement, and then also once more words of exhortation, he said, "I want you to show this same diligence to the very end in order to make your hope sure." So he's giving them just very, very strong words here in chapter 5 and then on into Chapter 6. And then he's going to return to Melchizedek as I've said in Hebrews 7. So, the central issue that's just burning on the author's heart here is their need to make steady, consistent progress in the Christian life. He's worried, he's concerned about their failure to grow and to make progress because it's dangerous in the Christian life. And the implications of these verses that we're studying today is that there is an acceptable pace in sanctification. There's an acceptable pace in Christian growth. There's an acceptable pace to be taking in the Word of God, understanding it and living it out.

II. The Proof of Constant Progress: From Milk to Meat

The author is very critical of these people, of the fact that they still can't handle the meat of the word. He uses this expression, "By this time you ought to be teachers." That's where I got this sermon title, 'By now you ought to be'. It implies that there's an acceptable pace for spiritual growth. It is not acceptable for spiritual babes to stay spiritual babes for long. It's not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to grow very slowly and deliberately towards spiritual maturity. There is a race to be run and there's a specific pace for that race. And what is the proof of constant progress? Well, there's this need to go from milk to meat. Look at verse 12 again, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again. You need milk and not solid food." He says.

Now, the author is saying that there has been sufficient time since their conversion to complete the training. There's been enough time. It's not a failure of time, and there is a certain kind of course of study that we've enrolled in here. Jesus gives us a sense of that in Luke 6:40. Jesus said, "A student is not above his teacher but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." So there's this course of training that's laid out, and when you have reached that point of fully trained, then you are equipped to teach others. It's not perfection. It's not knowing every single spiritual fact there could ever know, but there's a sense of spiritual maturity, a sense of being fully trained and ready to teach others. Now, teachers are essential in the Christian church, and it's expected that a healthy church, if the church is healthy, it's going to be in an ongoing beautiful sort of way, in an ongoing way, producing qualified teachers of the Word. It a measure of the health of the church. And so, when the author says, "By this time you ought to be... " He's speaking of a suitable pace of growth and development so that they are able to instruct the next generation of Christian disciples.

But instead, that he says, they still need the ABCs of the faith. The author mentions the elementary truths and says they need to be taught them over again or all over again. There's a sense of the elementary truths here. The Greek word refers to the first items of instruction, the ABCs of the faith. I think it's possible that the author then goes ahead and lists them in the next chapter, beginning in verse 1-3. He says, "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God; instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement." It seems to be that the author's listing these as the basic rudimentary aspects of the faith. Well, why is it then so shocking that they're still sipping on milk instead of chewing meat?

Well, they've been converted long enough to be of help to others, and instead of being useful, they were useless. They needed to receive rather than to give. They needed to be grounded again in the ABCs, rather than giving them out, and then further teachings to others. They're really like newborn babies instead of fully grown adults. This left them vulnerable to unrighteousness, to going astray in their lives. Now, the division between milk and meat teaches us something about the word of God, doesn't it? The word of God is literally a miracle, friends. It's an astonishing book. It's very much like the ocean where your little children can play in it and splash in it and make sand castles by the sea. But it also goes down six miles deep. And so it is with the Word of God, there are simple basic concepts, milk, and then there are deeper, more difficult concepts, meat. And the author makes the distinction between milk and meat.

Milk vs. Solid Food: Not All Scripture is Equally Clear or Easy

Now, the milk, then refers to those aspects of the Word of God that are simple to digest. They're easy and straightforward principles. You get them right away in the Christian life. God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food, Amen. Let's eat. Well, those are the basics. God made all things. God loved us and sent His son into the world for us. Jesus was the Son of God; died on the cross for our sins. If we repent and believe in Him, our sins will be forgiven. God will accept us and we can live with Him forever in Heaven, and such things as that.

This is the milk of the word. These are the kind of things that you speak to little children. The simple kind of truths that they can understand, and that you make it very, very plain and simple for them. But not all scripture is equally accessible. Some scriptures are just very deep and very difficult. The Apostle Peter gives us a sense of that, when he talks about Paul's letters. In Peter 3-16, he says, Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand. Thank you Peter. Peter is such an encouraging figure for us all isn't he? He's such an encouraging figure, we're not rooting for him to fail, but when he fails and gets restored and still God uses him, how encouraging is that? And when Peter says... I'm reading Romans and boy it's tough to get it all... But frankly for his part, Peter says some things that are hard to understand too. That's the whole thing about Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison, who disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah and the when the ark was being built. What is that, Peter?

So not everything's milk. Not everything's meat. There are different aspects. What then is meat? Well, difficult things that are hard to accept initially. There's some initial push back in our minds and hearts, don't like those ideas right away, but they're right in the word. They take some digesting, they take some chewing over and only if we do will we receive any value or benefit from them. The doctrine of eternal predestination, how God before the foundation of the world, knew all that would be his and those that would not. The doctrine of predestination, difficult for us to accept even though it's right in the Word and plain to see.

The doctrine of God's providence, how the lot is cast into the lap, but it's every decision is from the Lord. How God works out everything in this world after the counsel of His will. The doctrine of providence, very difficult, that's meat. It's hard to extend those implications even to the great sufferings of our lives and those things that are so difficult for us to accept but seeing God's hand in it. How Joseph said, "You meant it for evil," to his brothers, "But God meant it for good." He didn't just turn it for good, he meant it for good, he orchestrated this whole thing. It's meat. It's difficult for some people. Or how God can use the devil and demons and wicked men to achieve his purposes, without in any way being defiled by them. Or the doctrine of future things, eschatology, the end times, the abomination of desolation that I preached two sermons on. My goodness, what was in my mind... But it's not easy to understand these things. The rebuilding of the temple, these kinds of things, the man of sin.

The exact circumstances of the second coming of Christ. How about the whole Book of Revelation as meat does that sound good to you? The whole book? It's not easy to understand these things, it's difficult. Then there are those categories of things that are relatively easy to understand but hard to put into practice. Caring for the poor and needy, being a constant witness for Christ. We know these things but they're meat to us, it's difficult, there's some push back in our lives. And then there are those areas where we are called in direct contradiction to the prevailing norms of our culture, where we're called to swim against the tide.

On controversial issues that are plain in scripture. But the people around us, the lost people around us are just totally wrong on. There's so many examples of that, whether homosexuality or divorce, or the role of women or other things like that, very difficult for us to accept. But the Bible teaches, and we have to accept them. For example, our society and our culture, tells us if you find something that you like do it as much as you can, and as much as you want. Grab all the gusto so to speak. Eat, drink and be merry. But the Bible preaches self-control in all things, that you're not going to be mastered by anything, and that if anything is causing you to sin in your life, cut it off and throw it away like your right hand, if it causes you to sin. That's meat. It's not easy to understand and accept.

So we have this division, it seems between not just milk and meat but infancy, and maturity. Between infancy, and maturity. The author makes a clear distinction then between spiritual infants and spiritually mature people. Verse 13 "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness." Verse 14, "but solid food is for the mature, who by constant use of training themselves to distinguish good from evil." Now Peter tells us there is a time for milk. That time is to be celebrated, and praise God for it. 1 Peter 2, he says, "like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." Yeah, but right within the verse doesn't he say, Okay, don't stay there long friends. Sip on that milk until you're strong enough to keep growing up in your salvation. The implication Peter's given is, I don't want to come back years from now and you're still just drinking milk.

But if you're a new born baby then crave it. But the goal is still maturity, there is a proof of progress then and that is your ability to digest the deeper things of the Word of God and to delight in them, and celebrate them. Not go yell at the pastor, when he preaches them. Amen. But rather to say it's there, it's deep. I want to grow. I embrace it. It's a mark of maturity.

And not only that, but spiritually mature people not only embrace the deeper things of the Word, but they harmonize them into a system of theology that they understand and that is biblically, and true. Biblical true, and leads them directly to godliness, and holiness, and fruitfulness. It's not just head knowledge but they're weaving it together in a lifestyle of Godliness, based on what they know. That's maturity, friends. Now the solid food here is teaching about righteousness. Look at verse 13, "Everyone who lives on milk, is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child." The author, then speaks of being unskilled in the word of righteousness, unskilled means inexperienced. The Greek word relates to a trial or testing by experience. These babes in Christ, have heard the word, but have not tried its truthfulness by experience and become skillful in applying the Word. And he specifically calls it the word of righteousness, it has to do with sanctification, growing in holiness, learning by experience and by the Word what is pleasing to God, and what is not.

Being able to distinguish between good and evil. Alright friends. We've seen the pace of constant progress. By now you ought to be, we've seen the proof of constant progress and that is milk to meat.

III. The Need for Constant Progress: Individually and Corporately

What of the need of constant progress? Well, there's a need individually and there's a need corporately. Each of us needs to grow a pace. Or we're in danger. Individuals must make progress. You're either going to become as he says here, lazy listeners or you're going to become spiritually mature, you're not going to stay where you are. Christian life is dynamic, it's constantly shifting, it's constantly changing and if you're not growing a pace in Christ, you're regressing, you can't stay a healthy baby.

You can stay baby-like but you won't be healthy, you can't stay a healthy baby, you have to grow into maturity. And only as you continue to make progress in maturity, will you be healthy. 2 Peter 1 says this. "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities he says, in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Only as these virtues are in increasing measure in the Christian life, are you going to be fruitful and productive. So individually, we need to take in the word just like food, milk and meat are food and we need to keep feeding on the Word. You remember in the Book of Proverbs, you have the sluggard. He's one of our favorite characters, as we study, not really, but we love the verses anyway. The sluggard lays on his bed and he's like, a door, on his hinges going back and forth, back and forth. That's a picture of someone sleeping in, right? Till noon or 1 o'clock. They're just going from side to side. But my favorite one is the sluggard puts his hand in the dish and won't lift it to his mouth, to eat. He needs his momma to come feed him.

I mean, what is going on? We're meant to laugh at this guy, but how sad it is when that's true, spiritually, of people concerning the Word of God, they're in the church for decades and they seem to need their spiritual mama to lift their hand to their mouth and feed themselves, that's just unhealthy for the individual. It's unhealthy for the church too, because the church corporately needs teachers, not everyone is called on to be a formal teacher of the church. James 3 says, Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more severely. But every mature Christian is called on in some way to impart doctrine to some other category of people. It's just true. Parents are to impart doctrine to their children. Deuteronomy 6 says, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Sharpen them into your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." And so parents, you need to become theologians so that you can train your children in the word.

And as they grow, you're not wanting them to stay milk, either. At age 5, you're going to teach them some things, at age 8, you're going to teach them some more things, at age 13 they should know more. By the time they're youth, they should be almost fully mature doctrinally. We should have a youth group of theologians. That's maturity. Other than that they are being hindered in their Christian development, and so we have to challenge them. So parents, it's your job and fathers, especially, I'm going to lay the charge for you to be the priests and the theologians of your household. Study, study the Word of God, so that you can be the theologian of your household and lead your family well. Older women are encouraged to disciple and train younger women in Titus 2.

Mature disciples are commanded to pass on to lesser mature disciples the things that they've heard. Second Timothy 2:2, the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will be qualified to teach others also. There's multi-generational vision of church growth there. And careful handling of the word of truth, is essential to this. 2 Timothy 2:15, "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." I don't think that's just for the pastors. I think that's for all of us, that we should be studying the Scripture and its techniques so that we can rightly divide it and become mature and grow up.

The churches future depends on this process. The previous generation is dying off. Every new generation comes into the world and into the faith knowing nothing of these things and so therefore, the church must pass them on, young men must be prepared and trained to be elders in the next generation. It says in 1 Timothy 3:1, "Here is a trustworthy saying: if someone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task." So the young men should have an ambition to be a leader in the church. Well, then they need to grow up doctrinally and they need to live out the doctrines that they know.

IV. The Goal of Constant Progress: Spiritual Maturity

So therefore, I say to you The Healthy Church is a doctrinal factory producing spiritually mature men and women, theologian warriors, theologian warriors for Christ, who both love the milk and the meat of the word and live it out in their daily lives. And so, that is the goal of constant progress. Look at verse 14, "solid food is for the mature." Some translations give us, perfect. That's not spiritual perfection, but just maturity. Who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. So maturity, is the ability to discern from Good and Evil, to discern what is best. Philippians 1. And that we're able to see through Satan's smoke and mirrors and know what Satan is doing and be discerning. Second Corinthians Paul says In order that Satan might not outwit us for we're not unaware of his schemes. The mature can see what Satan is trying to do in a situation and see through it. The teaching about righteousness, is sanctification, the Christian journey.

The more you grow in the Christian life, the more you'll see that infinite journey, stretching out in front of you of Christ-likeness. You'll know what it looks like, you'll know what its features are and you're going to be running that race until the day you die, and you have a sense of that. And how will you grow a constant use of the word of God?

Look at verse 14 "solid food or meat is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

ESV says this, "solid food is for the mature for those who have their powers of discernment, trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."

KJV, "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.

New American Standard, "But solid food is for the mature who because of practice, have their senses trained."

What is this constant use? This practice? Friends, it's just taking in the Word of God day after day after day, saturating your minds in it, memorizing it, meditating on it, chewing it over. When something difficult in the text comes ask questions of the text, ask questions of your elders, read commentary, study. Don't say, "Well this is for the professional. This is for the expert." No it's for you.

Everything in scripture is for you. So, if you struggle with some of those meat things that I've listed, go and study the scriptures on them. Saturate your minds in them, able to rightly divide the word of truth. Candidly and accurately, whether the law of Moses or the Old Testament history books, or old testament poetry, what to do with the book of Ecclesiastes or Song of Songs. How do you handle the passages in the prophets, the prophetic passages? What do you do with the New Testament with the four different Gospels, the different approaches to the life of Jesus. How do you read the Book of Acts? What do we do with things that were done then that we don't see happening now, how do we understand those things? The Epistles of Peter, and Paul, and James, John. These Epistles. The apocalyptic Book of Revelation, how do we take in this word of God and by constant use, learn its truths.

And as we're doing that, putting on the full armor of God, getting ready for battle, spiritual warfare. Ready to take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming hours of the evil one, and you can take the sword of the Spirit and you're ready to go do battle. Friends, that's what maturity is all about. And I yearn it for you. And for me.

V. Applications

Just by way of application, let me begin by saying, and I've already prayed for you, but I'm going to say to you, one more time, if you're here and you've never trusted in Christ, as your Lord and Savior, you can't grow if you're not alive. The Bible says that if you're not in Christ, you're dead even while you live, and I'm pleading with you to come to Christ, while there's time, you don't know how much longer you'll be alive but the cross of Christ is for you, as though God Himself were making His appeal through me, I'm pleading with you come to Christ, repent of your sins and the blood of Jesus will cleanse you from every sin, and you'll be adopted, and you'll become a child of God and then you can drink the milk of the word, and grow up in your salvation. And if you are already a Christian, been Christian a while, I want to ask you the question, "Are you on pace or are you behind schedule?"

How long has it been since you came to faith in Christ? Is your knowledge of the word of God where it should be. Or are you behind schedule? And if you sense by now I ought to be, and the answer is further. Then what I urge you to do is repent, it's not an accident, it's not, it's a choice that you've made to be lazy as a listener of the Word of God, go back to the cross and let the blood of Jesus cleanse you and say I don't want to be lazy a year from now. I want 2011 to be the greatest year of growth I've ever had in my Christian life. Jonathan Edward says in one of the resolutions I want to so, study the Word of God, that my progress is plain to everyone. I want everyone to just notice. I actually would like someone to call me a theologian, sometime in the next year. Wouldn't that be cool. Boy you've really become quite the theologian haven't you? Why not? Not that you would be proud or boastful. Because you ought to know how much further you have to go, but just that you're making progress.

Resolve to grow in obvious ways. And teachers just teach. Next week, we're changing our BFL, Bible for Life. Everything's changing. The doctrine, isn't going to change. And so the teachers are going to stand up in front of you and teach, pray for them to be faithful to do their teaching. Parents be faithful to teach your children, and let's all of us be faithful to grow to full maturity in Christ. Close with me in prayer.

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