Lesson 12: "Ye Have Need That One Teach You Again. . ." (Hebrews 5:12)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome again! Welcome to lesson # 12. We're going to spend some time on v. 11-14, i.e. the last four verses of chapter five. However, let's take just a minute to review. God hath spoken. God spake in olden times by the prophets; but, in these last days, God has spoken by his Son, Jesus the Christ the express image of God, the Father (Heb. 1:3). Jesus by the word of his power upholds all things, i.e. by him all things consist. Our Lord was/is superior to Moses and the old prophets and He is superior to the angels. The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (1:14). We must not neglect this great salvation or let it slip (2:1-2-3). God put certain things under man, all things of this physical world, the animals, our environment (etc) AND God has given us part in our salvation. In other words, certain things are expected of us to be saved or to receive an eternal home or "rest" as it's termed in ch. four. Jesus even though superior to the angels, took NOT upon himself the nature of angels; but, took on him the seed of Abraham and tasted death for every man. In doing so he became the Captain of our salvation. He was thus an appointee of God or an Apostle of God (3:1). Or using a figure those first century Christians understood, Jesus was/is the High Priest of our profession. All Christians are priests of God in that we must offer up certain sacrifices acceptable to God. This, of course, is a reference to our attitude, conduct, obedience and worship. We must not harden our hearts as the Israelites in the wilderness did. The HEBREWS writer says, "let us fear...[AND] let us labor ...to enter into that rest" (first part of ch. 4). Then he says, God's word is powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, it can distinguish the thoughts and intents of our hearts which lay open and naked to the eyes of God. Then, in our last lesson (4:14-5:10), Jesus, our High Priest is passed into the heavens. He learned obedience by the things he suffered. He was tempted, yet Jesus did no sin (4:15). He is a priest after a new order, that is to say, not of the Levitical priesthood; but, a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek i.e. in a figurative sense or a metaphorical sense. He became the author of eternal salvation. Grace and mercy can be obtained at his throne and He is the author of salvation to all them that OBEY him (5:9).
Now, as you undoubtedly have suspected, the writer next probes into this obedience aspect to which he has been leading up to and setting the stage (we might say). In v. 11-14, the last four verses (here in ch. 5), i.e. our text in this lesson, the writer lets them have it with both barrels. I.e. the writer lashed out with a strong rebuke to those in and around Jerusalem, who were goofing off and backing off from their Christian profession, so-to-speak. AND, you better believe this was written for our learning and our admonition also. He makes us wonder if he hasn't been reading our mail in the twentieth century. Are you ready? Let's read v.11-14! Please read with me. Have you got it? Here we go.
"Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 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."
Most of us don't like to be told we are babyfied, even if we are. However, if we are, we NEED to be told, obviously. We need to be stirred up, encouraged and inspired to do better. You see, we do what we are motivated to do. If we see the need and understand where we are, if we recognize the state of our faith and what needs to be added to our faith as Peter put it (in Il-Pet. 1:5); then, there is a good chance we'll begin to work at it. Faith cometh by hearing (Rom. 10:17). We must exercise our senses (v.14) to discern both good and evil. If you don't exercise (the athletes have a phrase for that) if you don't use it, you lose it. Have you heard that? Now, the apostle Paul said, "bodily exercise profiteth little" (I Tim. 4:8); "but, godliness is profitable unto all things". So, it's the same principal: physically or spiritually. And you know and I know, that much more could be said about that. We don't like to say it; because, most of us don't want to hear it. Isn't that what the writer is saying (in v.11)? If we don't want to hear it we get a little "dull of hearing," he says. Now, obviously the writer is not just talking about sound hitting your eardrum. He is talking about getting the message and heeding the message. It's one thing to hear it and it's something else to act on it and work at it. Those basketball coaches don't just take those players into the locker room and give them a little speech and say go home and come back at game time. You know that he gives them a basket ball and forces them to practice, practice, practice. You can't just tell someone how to ride a bicycle. They must get hold of those handlebars and get their feet on the pedals to learn to ride a bicycle. Now, if you have not learned to roller skate, throw a bowling ball, swing a golf club, cast with a fishing rod or ride a bicycle; then, it is because you never took the time to learn. If it had been important enough to you, you would have mastered it. Right? Like Paul's bodily exercise, some of these things are not as important as spiritual things. However, our learning both physical things and spiritual things follow the same principle. So, if you are not a Bible teacher, I can tell you why and I'm not gifted. I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet. I don't have to be to explain that. If you don't know the books of the Bible, then I can tell you why. If you cannot name the twelve apostle of Jesus, then I can tell you why. You never took the time to learn. Right? If you can't give an outline summary of every book in the Bible, I tell you WHY you can't do it. If you are not teaching others the Bible, then I'll tell you why. Your faith has not yet motivated you to see the need. Heaven is NOT a real place to you. It's still fiction, it's just good Sunday-School stories, it's not real. My friend, heaven is a real place. Hell is a real place and you better get it programmed into that little five-pound computer up above your eyeballs right now. And, don't tell me you can't do it! The reason has to do with "use" U-S-E, do you see that little three letter word (in v.14)? The writer explains it right there. Your,,senses have not been exercised to discern both good and evil. WHY? Look at v.12! "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God..." If you don't use it, you lose it. Yes, but, Bro. Horsley the preacher where I go is so boring. Yea, let me tell you something, he probably gets a little bored and maybe a little depressed: listening to your whining complaints too. It amazes me that so many people come to a worship service and just sit there and idle their motor and expect everything to just rub off on them without putting any effort into it. Those basketball players are performers. They must perform or they get kicked off the team. The players perform, yes. Who is the audience? Yea, that's right, the spectators. Let me ask you what's happening when you are worshipping God? Who is the performer and who is the audience? Most people think the preacher is the performer and the worshippers are the audience. That's not right! Turn it around. You, as a worshipper of God do the performing. God is your audience. Now, if that won't wake you up nothing will. "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." We just covered that (up in 4:13).
God is observing our hearts. What kind of thoughts and intents are being discerned in your heart when you worship? That's what God, your audience, your spectator sees. Do you think God ever feels like booing your performance? Worship doesn't have to do with the preacher and the song leader and who ever passes the communion tray. Worship has to do with what's taking place up in that little computer located between your ears. Now, you are not there to judge somebody else's performance. You are there to worship. If you ever get a patent on that, i.e. get it turned around to see just how awesome it really is; then, I'll guarantee you that "ho-hum" boring stuff will disappear for ever. One member of a certain congregation moved to another city, this man was a building contractor. He came to say good bye to his preacher and as he shook hands, he said: I'll always remember being in your audience, I built a lot of houses during your sermons. My friends, there's a lot that takes place during worship services besides worship. As I take the Lord's supper as a preacher, it's easy for my thoughts to stray back to asking myself, did I select the best illustration to make such and such a point? You see, I have to fight myself every moment to keep my brains cells in subjection and my mind focused on the cross of Jesus. Even the best I can do is shamefully low...I submit to you. Now, take a look at v.13, are you skilful or unskilful in the word of righteousness? If you are unskilful, then you are a baby. That's what the writer said! I didn't say that! I simply read it to you. That came through the Holy Spirit of God, straight from the book. Let's face it! Most of us have a lot of growing to do. Peter said, add to your faith: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness: love (that's I-Pet. 1:5). Have you got it? Paul said to the Philippians over in ch. 3 and down in that unlucky verse number 13, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended..." What does that mean? Even Paul admitted he had some growing to do. It's a never ending process. God set it up that way. God expects us to DO SOMETHING with our life. Most of us haven't even sensed the tip of the iceberg, let alone being skilful in the word as the writer implies. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (I-Cor. 2:9). God has given us certain items of worship: praying, singing, eating the Lord's supper, giving and Bible study or preaching. When we assemble with those of like precious faith and do those things, i.e. at least TRY to focus our thoughts upon God (our audience, our spectator), then we begin to learn that servant attitude. Then we can begin to see why an assembly is called a service. It is in this way God changes us. It is in this way that God molds our hearts and our attitudes are righted, changed and corrected and we become more like God. Can you say with the Psalmist, "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting." (Ps. 139:23). Read Jer. 17:9! "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As a partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at the end shall be a fool." Paul said to the Corinthians, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." (I-Cor. 3:20). As we focus our thoughts upon Jesus and upon that cruel cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (i.e. as we worship), it is only when we give this mental submission to God to the n-th degree; that, God changes us and molds us after His will AND we are changed, we grow spiritually. God does not ask us to do that because he needs us. God doesn't need us! God doesn't need me! I need God; but, God doesn't need me. God loves me, yes! That's why God gave us certain items of worship. This worship does something for us that we can't do for ourselves. Oh, some think they can. Some try to get it in a class room. Some try all sorts of mental exercises and meditation techniques, counting beads and repetitive brain washing psychology. Why not just do what God asked us to do? He made this organism. Wouldn't it be better to follow his manual? And, not start experimenting like Eve led Adam to do. Now, it's not easy. No one has said it's easy. Learning God's word is a lifetime process; but, as you read the book, the book reads you. James, toward the end of chapter three, asked the question: "Who is a wise man...?" I would suggest you take the time right now to re-read James chapter three. James concludes by saying: "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." It doesn't come by experimentation and you can't substitute. Do you see what the HEBREWS writer is saying?
Before we run out of tape, please focus in on that phrase "first principles of the oracles of God" (in the middle of v.12). You know! some people think there are no such things as first principles, no formula, no format to obeying the Lord. What are "first principles?." To the Romans, the apostle Paul said: "ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you" (Rom. 6:17). What is a form? Did you ever pour cement into a form? A form is a pattern or a model. Paul told Titus to be "a pattern of good works" (Tit. 2:7) and the apostle mentioned doctrine in connection with that thought. Now, what are some first principles? Well, in the first two verses of the next chapter, the writer reiterates some of these first principles. He mentions, faith, repentance and baptism. We must understand there is going to be a resurrection of the dead and there is going to be an eternal judgment. So, my friends, there are first principles. And, not only are there first principles, those first principles fit into a logical order. The first is hearing the gospel. "Faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17). You cannot have faith in Jesus Christ before you hear the gospel. It is a literal impossibility. I don't care what your I.Q. is or where you grew up or whether you are a minority or a majority. You cannot have faith until you get the message. It's just that simple. When you hear enough, when the gospel message gets through to you; you will believe in Jesus (that he is God's Son). Once you believe in Jesus, you are a hypocrite if you do not act accordingly. Even the atheists understand that. IF YOU act accordingly, try to bring your life and your actions into harmony with your faith in Jesus, then you are repenting (in Bible terminology). And, you cannot repent before you believe...think about it! Once you repent, then confessing Jesus, the next step (as we are required to do, Matt. 10:32...and Acts 8:37 is an example); then, confessing Jesus comes very natural. It is the natural order. Following that form, you will want to be baptized for the remission of your sins...right then. WHY? Because Jesus said it. Now, those are first principles. What are the second principles? Living the Christian life. You see, after you are mustered in, then your service as a Christian begins. Have a good day of service, today.