Hebrews 5:11-6:3 can be a convicting passage. In it, the author challenges us to go beyond the elementary teachings of our faith. To begin to eat solid food rather than being satisfied with milk. Unfortunately many today are like the original audience for this letter. While we should be qualified to pass on the truths we have learned, we are content with just learning the basic truths over and over again.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Not Even Trying to Understand
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.Hebrews 5:11 NIV
The author of Hebrews has just recently turned his attention to the priesthood of Jesus. And will soon turn to the sacrifice he offered on our behalf. But here he adds a bit of chastisement to his listeners. It seems clear that the author has good knowledge of his audience. Otherwise, this passage really does not make sense. It would seem he has been over this with them before and knows their reaction.
The author expresses his frustration with his audience. He has a lot that he wants to teach them. But he is finding it to be very challenging. Not because what he wants to tell them is overly complicated. But because they are not really interested in understanding what he has to teach them.
I can understand his frustration here. There have been many times when I have taught something that I thought was exciting and important. Yet those I were trying to teach were looking at me with a vacant gaze. It could well be that I was at least partially at fault. But I am convinced that many believers really are not interested in putting forth the effort to go beyond the elementary truths of our faith. It seems to have little value to them.
A Failure to Learn
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.Hebrews 5:12a NIV
We cannot reasonably expect a new believer to be able to teach from God’s word. They are still learning the basic truths of the faith themselves. There is no real timeline for how long it should take before a new believer has a good grasp on Christian theology 101. It is dependent on the person, their access to good teaching, and the encouragement they receive. But it really should not take a long time.
The author believes that many within his audience should now be qualified as teachers, able to pass on to others, not just the basics, but also some deeper truths. But they could not. They were like believers today who sit in a Sunday school class for years, or even decades, learning the same basic truths over and over again. But when they walk out of the class, they are unable to express what they should have learned.
Still Need Milk
You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.Hebrews 5:12b-13 NIV
Newborn babies require milk. It is all they are capable of processing. But as they grow we expect them to eventually begin eating solid food and drinking less milk. We would think it strange indeed to see a youth or an adult who was still sucking on a bottle and eating little, if any, solid food. We would rightly assume that something was wrong.
Yet all too often we see nothing wrong with people who have been believers for many years, and who are an active part of a local church, but have only a rudimentary understanding of our faith. They are content to just suck on a bottle and never develop a taste for meat.
But what is this milk, these basic foundational truths of the faith? It would include believing in the existence and love of God. Knowing that we were sinful. That Christ died to forgive us our sins. That we must believe in him to be saved. And that, if we believe, at the end of this life we will experience eternity with Jesus. These are, without question, important. But there is so much more we should be learning.
Solid Food for the Mature
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:14 NIV
In contrast to milk is solid food. These are truths that build on the elementary teachings and take us deeper into an understanding of God, his purpose for us, and how we should live. But these truths do not come simply by study.
Solid food does not make us mature believers. Rather, solid food is for mature believers. Only mature believers are able to grasp these deeper truths. To the immature, they will be incomprehensible. But if solid food does not make us mature, then what does?
The author here tells us that maturity comes from living in faithful obedience to what we have learned. It is by putting what you know into practice that enables you to learn even more. The knowledge of good and evil does not come from eating from the tree (Gen. 3:1-5). But from constant practice. As we live out the truths of the word, we learn to distinguish good from evil, even over things that are not explicitly mentioned in the Scripture. And as we do that, we grow in maturity.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.Hebrews 6:1-3 NIV
So after the author’s comments about the reluctance of his audience to be growing in their faith and knowledge, he commits to going on beyond the elementary truths. He lists a number of basic beliefs that form a foundation. We would all probably agree that repentance, faith, resurrection, and judgment are foundational. But cleansing rites and laying on of hands are, I suspect, outside the experience of most of us. But they were clearly important to the believers this was written to.
It could be that his move beyond the elementary teachings begins with what follows. But I suspect that it actually involves what he has already taught as well. He has been giving us meat. And he will continue to do so. This passage here is only an interlude. To pay attention because what he has to say is for the mature. For those who are willing to invest the time and effort in growing deeper in their faith.
The four gospels paint a picture of Jesus and his earthly ministry, culminating in his death and resurrection. But the author of Hebrews is taking us well beyond that. He does not contradict anything in the gospels. But he takes us much deeper into who Jesus was and what he did.
Hebrews Post List
- Hebrews: An Introduction - This article gives a brief introduction into the book of Hebrews. It is the first of a series of on this sermon from a pastor to his people.
- Hebrews: The Supremacy of Christ (1:1-4) - In the prologue to Hebrews the author identifies the supremacy of Christ over the prophets and angels as well as summarizing his Christology.
- Hebrews: Superior to the Angels (1:5-14) - This passage uses seven quotes from the Old Testament to demonstrate that Christ, the Son, is superior to the angels.
- Hebrews: A Warning to Pay Attention (2:1-4) - The author of Hebrews here warns us to pay attention to the great salvation we have been given. If we do not, the danger of drifting away is great.
- Hebrews: We See Jesus, Crowned with Glory (2:5-9) - Humanity is not what God created us to be. But we see Jesus, who took on a human nature, tasted death for us, and is now crowned with glory and honor.
- Hebrews: Made Perfect Through Suffering (2:10-13) - Jesus, the author of our salvation, was made perfect, as a savior, through his suffering on the cross. The perfect lamb sacrificed for us.
- Hebrews: Jesus Is Fully Human in Every Way (2:14-18) - Jesus became fully human in every way, allowing him to defeat death and to become our perfect high priest, offering himself as our atonement.
- Hebrews: Jesus Is Greater Than Moses (3:1-6) - To one raised in Old Testament Judaism, there was no one greater than Moses. But Hebrews here affirms that Jesus is greater than Moses.
- Hebrews: Failure to Enter God’s Rest (3:7-19) - Hebrews uses Psalm 95 to demonstrate that failure to enter into God's rest is because of our disobedience and failure to remain faithful.
- Hebrews: Enter God’s Rest (4:1-11) - The promise of entering into God's rest is still open to us today. Unlike many in the past, make every effort to enter into that rest.
- Hebrews: the Active Word of God (4:12-13) - God's word is active and alive. It is not just words on a page. It is his message for us that reaches deep within us to shape our lives.
- Hebrews: Our Great High Priest (4:14-16) - Because Jesus is our great high priest, who has experienced the life we live, we can confidently come to God for his grace and mercy.
- Hebrews: Obedience Learned Through Suffering (5:1-10) - Jesus, the Son of God, learned obedience through his suffering on the cross. He knows what it is to obey the Father, even in suffering.
- Hebrews: Move Beyond Elementary Teachings (5:11-6:3) - The author's challenge to us here is to move beyond the elementary teachings of the faith. To be growing ever deeper in the truth.
- Hebrews: A Most Explicit Warning (6:4-12) - There are a number of warnings in Hebrews about falling away. But this is the most explicit of them. How should be understand there warnings.
- Hebrews: An Anchor of Hope for the Soul (6:13-20) - The promise that God made to Abraham is relevant to those of us who have come to trust in Jesus. And that hope is an anchor for our soul.
- Hebrews: The Priesthood of Melchizedek (7:1-10) - Two priesthoods are examined here. That of Melchizedek and that of Aaron. And Melchizedek's is demonstrated to be the superior one.
- Hebrews: A New Priesthood (7:11-28) - Jesus has ushered in a new priesthood. One that is after the order of Melchizedek, eternal and fully able to meet our needs.
- Hebrews: We Do Have Such a High Priest (8:1-6) - Hebrews has been building toward this point. A high priest after the order of Melchizedek is not just theory. In Jesus, it is a reality.
- Hebrews: A New Covenant (8:7-13) - The new covenant that Jeremiah foresaw has found its fulfillment in Jesus. He is the mediator of this new covenant made with us.
- Hebrews: Worship in the Tabernacle (9:1-10) - The worship in the old covenant tabernacle was a shadow of what was to come. Especially the hiddenness of the Most Holy Place.
- Hebrews: The Blood of the New Covenant (9:11-15) - The old covenant was written on tablets has been replaced with a covenant written on our hearts and inaugurated by the blood of Christ,
- Hebrews: Entering the Heavenly Sanctuary (9:16-28) - The earthly tabernacle was only a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary that Jesus entered into on our behalf, offering a perfect sacrifice.
- Hebrews: One Sacrifice for All Time (10:1-18) - Jesus sacrificed himself for us. One sacrifice that was sufficient for all time. There is now no longer any need to sacrifice for sin.
- Hebrews: Enter the Most Holy Place (10:19-39) - Because of what Jesus did for us, we can have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place with full assurance. We have been cleansed and washed.
- Hebrews: Faith in Action (11:1-31) - The 11th chapter of Hebrews is nicknamed the Hall of Faith. The author here defines faith, and then shows faith in action.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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